If you're a B2B focused organization, you may have considered starting a LinkedIn group. You may also be wondering how to manage it.
Good news! In this article, I share with you 12 tips for successfully managing a LinkedIn Group.
First, What Does a Successful LinkedIn Group Look Like?
The answer depends on what your goal is for the group. If your goal is simply to have a LinkedIn group, then once you've set it up, you're done.
Most people who go to the trouble of creating a LinkedIn Group do so for other reasons: to create conversation around a specific topic, to build relationships with specific people, to promote an idea or product, to obtain feedback on specific topics, to generate awareness, to develop a community... In those cases, success looks different.
Success may mean that LinkedIn group members interact a lot with one another; that members regularly visit your organization's website or blog whenever you add a new update; that satisfaction with or loyalty for your business increases; that members increase...
Success will definitely relate to the goal you identified originally; and your goal will guide what you do in your LinkedIn group and with your group's members.
12 Tips for Managing a LinkedIn Group
1. Identify goals for your LinkedIn Group. Be able to answer why you are setting up a community and what you expect to happen as a result. What is your group about and why would someone want to join and participate?
2. Develop a content strategy and calendar which includes not just links to your content, but also relevant industry resources, discussion questions and conversational comments. It's ok to ask thoughtful questions that might engage your members' interest. You'll want to experiment to find the right mix of topics, content types and times of the week so you are relevant to your audience. Remember, you are creating a community which most probably doesn't want to be sold to.
3. Get to know your audience! A perfect opportunity to do so is by welcoming each new group member. Then, learn about each one using LinkedIn! Understand your LinkedIn group member interests, commonalities, and differences. The better you know audience, the easier it will be to draw each into participating in the group. Remember that members are all busy. What's in it for them?
4. Welcome new members, formally and informally. You'll want to craft a formal welcome message that new members receive immediately upon being accepted into the group. This message also sets expectations about what membership in the group means. You can also welcome them informally and publicly to other members.
(These next 4 tips come from LinkedIn for Business Tips: How To Manage Groups.)
5. Post Rules. LinkedIn group rules set the stage for interaction, which topics are acceptable, whether self-promotion is encouraged or not. Rules also allow the group manager to effectively moderate discussions. (See LinkedIn Group Guidelines or Rules of Engagement.)
6. Enforce the LinkedIn group rules equally and consistently. Be prepared to be tough on those who don't respect the rules. In order for those rules to be followed [and respected], they need to be real for everyone in the group.
7. Actively moderate requests to join your LinkedIn group as well as conversation contributions. Monitor the requests so you can respond quickly. As the group grows, you may need to identify additional moderators and administrators. Best Practices for LinkedIn Group Management says that "The most important thing is to be an active manager. Every registration needs to be manually approved, preferably with a welcome email telling them how they can use the group, interact with you and how to get in touch with you."
8. Nurture LinkedIn group discussion topics. Participate with your own comments, encourage others, add to the conversation. You may need to do some of this offline as you build up momentum for the online conversations. (I like the point Hollis Thomases makes in 6 Steps to Host a Successful LinkedIn Group,
"Lead the conversation, at least initially. Groups do not succeed because of member volume; they succeed because of the quality of the participation. As a group founder, you need to helm this effort. "Do a little research first, find out what your target market really cares about and have content ready to post," suggests Tillman... Expect lots of care and feeding."
9. Figure out how you plan to promote the LinkedIn group and grow your membership. Will you invite prospects by email? Have a link on your blog? Bring it up in conversation? Growing the community means that it is healthy and prospering from the interactions.
10. Beware of automation, especially for managing a LinkedIn group! Although you can autopost to your group, you'll get more value in you interact with your group members from within LinkedIn.
11. Always be on the lookout for successful LinkedIn groups. Go see how others do it: what kinds of conversation takes place? Who initiates? How frequently are new discussions started? Look for what makes them successful. Ask why and how you might apply what you observe to your group.
12. Be human in all your interactions. Remember, your LinkedIn group is about people and creating community. In 8 Tips for Managing a LinkedIn Group, Jessica Faye Carter refers to "use a personal touch." More specifically,
"LinkedIn provides a wide range of tools that allow you to stay connected with your members in ways that feel personal. The Templates feature allows you to provide automatic responses to new members, and even to those requesting to join your group. It's an easy way to envelope new members into your community. But you don't have to limit yourself to early interactions.
Most members would be pleased to receive a note congratulating them on an accomplishment, or to read your comment on a discussion topic they started. As Dharmesh Shah, co-founder and CTO of HubSpot observes, "LinkedIn groups are all about community and bringing people with common interests together."
Are you managing a LinkedIn group? What would you add to this list?