LinkedIn Groups are online forums where members of this professional social media site can get together and talk about common interests and topics. For an offline business, a Group offers the chance to build a community, drive traffic, grow your network, generate leads, and put people in direct contact with you. A Group can also be used as an alternative to an autoresponder for email marketing.
Choosing Your Topic
There’s one crucial thing to consider when creating a LinkedIn Group ñ it is not for promoting your company. Don’t base the Group around your company, but instead around a topic that’s related to your business. Promoting on a Group will drive members away.
Groups can be based on a common interest or any kind of related topic. The best Groups are those that are narrowly focused. They are focused on a topic within a topic, and there are few other Groups devoted to it. There are already many Groups that LinkedIn members can join, so your Group has to offer something new and different.
The best way to come up with ideas is to look at Groups that already exist. Take the topic you’re interested in and look for Groups that are already in existence on LinkedIn. Also look for activity. Are the members engaged in conversations and is there regular activity? If not, it may not be a topic of interest to LinkedIn users, and you should avoid it.
Creating Your Group
On the left side of your profile page, you’ll find a link that says ‘Groups.’ There are several options and one is ‘Create a Group.’ By clicking this, you will be directed to a page where you can upload your logo and fill in basic information about your new Group. This basic information includes the Groupís name, the type of group, a summary, and a description.
The types of groups include Alumni Group, Corporate Group, Conference Group, Networking Group, Non-Profit Group, Professional Group, and Other.
The summary is what people will see when they’re browsing the directory and find your Group. It needs to be a quick blurb that gives people a good idea of what your group is about. On the other hand, the description is longer and is displayed on your Group page. Make sure that all information is keyword optimized because it will appear in searches. It’s a good idea to look at other Groups’ descriptions to get ideas for your own.
On the next page, you’ll be able to set a language, a location (if that applies to your group), and access. You can either choose ëopen accessí or ërequest to joiní. The latter is better because it gives you the power to approve new members, which will cut down on spam.
Completing Your Group
Once your information is complete, the site will ask you for members’ names and emails. These can be entered manually or uploaded as a spreadsheet. People on this list will get an email from LinkedIn inviting them to join your Group and when they apply, they’ll be automatically accepted.
At some point, you’ll want to add rules and regulations to your Group. It’s important to establish clear rules about what can and cannot be posted.
Managing a LinkedIn Group takes some time and work. It’s a bit like running a forum. You’ll need to supply content, facilitate conversations, respond to posts and questions, and moderate. Don’t start a LinkedIn Group unless you’re willing to put in this time.