LinkedIn has a lot of great features, but many of them are under-used. One example is LinkedIn groups, which provides a lot of opportunity for connecting and communicating throughout the marketing industry. Are you making the most of this social feature?
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
"Like anything else, you wouldn't just run one ad for your new product or service. If you believe the improved LinkedIn groups are target-rich environments, then you need to focus your efforts to establish yourself as an authority. Make sure you are responding to articles from others and providing strong and objective feedback. Engage with the members and build your reputation within the group."
"Use the groups as a networking platform. If you go in there expecting to sell, you will be in for a rude awakening. You need to enter these groups fully understanding that your time is best spent engaging in conversation and building meaningful relationships. This isn't the place to pitch or acquire social constants or email subscribers."
Find great moderators
"Marketers can use LinkedIn groups to their advantage by creating highly relevant groups that provide content of value. What separates a good group from a great group is active members who are posting interesting and helpful discussions. This can be facilitated by a good moderator."
Create valuable content
"Group members will have to take a more active role in making the content on the groups more valuable to not only attract new members but to retain current ones. By adding this new layer of exclusivity to groups, the members of the groups become more engaged and the content becomes more valuable since discussions aren't as public."
Grab attention with images
"The new features really enable groups to function organically, more like forums. When administering a group for your industry, these upgrades enable you to do every marketer's dream -- engage. Grab attention with images as you do on other social streams, attract industry influencers and engage them with mentions, and get direct access to member's inboxes with "highlight" emails."
Stand out and connect
"LinkedIn's limited messaging inside groups can be hard for some, but the massive upside for the savvy marketer and communicator is how much easier it will be to stand out and connect. With fewer messages to compete against, you can garner the attention of your ideal client. It'll be a little more work upfront to only message your best possible clients, but the payoff could be huge."
"Marketers can no longer mass publish irrelevant material on LinkedIn groups in hopes to land some leads. To take advantage of these changes, one has to hit these groups with actual value that will result in interested leads. These new improved groups force marketers to be more honest with the material they publish and it will result in leads that will be more likely to turn into clients."
Focus on fewer groups
"LinkedIn is not the stage for you to shout "me, me, me!" You've just got to be engaging and be personable. I think now is the time to focus on fewer groups. LinkedIn is making a push to improve groups and get more people involved. Pick two groups you care about. Focus on being a great member in those first. Then add more groups."
Target specific groups
"Groups will be even more tailored to specific interests and talents. The new algorithm for the discover tab displays results based on skills, industry experience, group memberships, etc. These factors determine what is recommended. Marketers will have to focus searches and clearly define target markets in order to use the groups to their advantage."
"There are a couple of ways marketers can use new features. You'll now be able to mention other group members by name to alert them, similar to tagging people on Facebook. This is a useful way to initiate communication with members who might not otherwise check groups that much."
Combat spam at all cost
"I've seen great Linkedin groups fall victim to spam and self-promotion, dropping users and engagement, and eventually becoming irrelevant. LinkedIn aimed to improve the quality of conversation within the Groups feature that many complain is often filled with spam. To take advantage of the improved LinkedIn Groups, play to the platform's primary goal: tighten the reins on membership and control spam."
Invite collaboration and research
"If LinkedIn is taking steps to make groups less spammy and boost engagement, then they become great places to go to for market research and customer engagement. Forget pushing a marketing message. Now, anytime you want to find out more about your target market, reach out to people and ask for their opinions via groups. Find experts who contribute regularly and turn them into brand advocates."
Cut through the noise
"There is more useless garbage on LinkedIn than people have time for, so don't add to it! Don't keep shouting into the void by posting generalized info to your entire base when it's only useful to about 10 percent of them. LinkedIn is creating a powerful platform corralling individuals in unique groups, so leverage this to get new product info or helpful tips directly to the customers who care."
Publish, publish, publish
"The more valuable conversations you can get going, the more fine-tuned traffic you can attract to your page. Write content and publish, publish, publish. Also, if you own or manage a group, curate all of the posts and discussions provided by other group members and praise those who contribute valuable content."
Include your group members
"With the changes that are now arising within LinkedIn Groups, members are gaining many more rights to publish content, approve pending group member submissions, and so much more. Involve your group members in your marketing and promotions. Let them take part in ideas that are shared within the group, and share their experiences with your company through photos, testimonials, and more."
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