LinkedIn Groups are an uber-powerful tool for networking, prospecting and marketing. Here's how to use them to impact your business.
LinkedIn Groups are probably the most powerful aspect of LinkedIn when it comes to marketing.
A recent survey found that it’s the site users' number one favorite feature.
Since it was launched in 2004, LinkedIn has become home to more than two million groups for professionals.
According to this business-oriented social networking service, a profile is five times more likely to be viewed if you join and are active in groups. But what other ways can you be using Groups to impact (and benefit) your business? Here are some ideas.
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1. Join Groups That Your Prospects Are Engaged In
If you haven't joined any Groups yet, this might be a good place to start. It will not only build your personal network, but also help you market your products or services. Moreover, it opens an opportunity to help others as you become a leader in your niche. These are just some of the benefits.
Having a first-hand experience with LinkedIn Groups will tell you what other wonderful opportunities you could get for your business. In this post, we will focus on how to use LinkedIn Groups to engage your audience.
Albeit there's nothing wrong about joining groups where your contemporaries are hanging out, it does not guarantee you to big business opportunities. Best-selling author and LinkedIn trainer John Nemo said it will be better if you join where your prospects are gathered.
2. Ask Questions in the Discussion's Subject Line
Nemo said doing this invites people to comment and cues them to the fact that you're looking for a discussion. This is a fresh strategy to get to know your target audience better. The community can also help give you feedback on ideas you’re developing. Asking questions as well as providing thoughtful answers is one of the best practices in engaging with members.
3. Engage in the Conversations
Make it easy for others to reach you by displaying your contact information on your profile. However, you should have some sort of connection to people before reaching out to them. The "alumni" feature will help you find connections from your previous schools. One important tip, never send an invitation unless you've spent some time participating in the group.
Avoid using the automated invitation message which goes like "I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn." Personalize it. It will not hurt to understand first the psyche of the group's moderator and participants before starting a discussion.
4. Tailor the Length of Your Posts for Your Audience
Keep your posts in Groups from 500 to 1,200 words. Post relevant and helpful information as much as possible. LinkedIn has found that 20 posts per month can help you reach 60 percent of your unique audience. When is the best time to post on LinkedIn?
According to The Social Media Hat, it's Tuesday and Thursdays, between 7 am and 9 am local time.
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5. Add Value to Your Group
Marketing consultant Jay Baer said one way to do that is by sharing visual presentations that will interest group members. Around 47.6 percent of users only invest up to two hours per week on LinkedIn.
Make your visuals more noticeable for a better chance of reaching your target audience. Sara Flick, the manager of content strategy and PR for ZOG Digital, said you can create content such as articles, how-to’s and blog posts relevant to that group.
6. Choose at Least 3 Groups and Stay Active With Each One
Finding a relevant group is as easy as pie because of the search tabs. You can join a maximum of 50 groups. However, that will make it hard for you to focus on what’s important. Z Group PR’s president Julia Angelen Zunich said being a member of 39 groups does not necessarily mean more contacts, referrals, or projects.
On average, users join seven groups whether for professional growth or to learn more about a passion. Decide which ones that really matter to you. You can still make excellent connections and raise your professional profile by focusing on being active in one or two groups.
7. Use LinkedIn Group’s New Features to Make Valuable Connections
LinkedIn recently launched an update that made all the groups private. LinkedIn groups actually get ruined by some users before, so they came up with these changes. There are marketers who posted too many spammy and self-promotional content hoping to drive traffic to their sites. Instead of taking these changes as a hindrance for inbound marketing, use it to your advantage.
Make it your intention to always add value to the group and to share branded content sparingly. Aim for authentic interactions rather than self-promotion. This will make you a more trustworthy marketer.
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8. Connect Privately and Build a Personal Relationship
Once you observed that people are consistently offering helpful responses in your groups, it’s time to take the final step: build a personal connection with them. Content marketing associate Joshua Rodriguez said it’s one of the ways to expand on your inbound marketing efforts. Some other ways are interviewing your members for a guest post on your website and asking them to become a beta user for your product.
Image via Flickr, Creative Commons: Koka Sexton