I wrote a blog post in August 2008 about creating a LinkedIn Group for a community site. Since then, LinkedIn has made it easier to set up groups and they have added new features to the Group pages to make them more useful. For example, you can now hold interactive discussions, post links to articles and blog posts, set up RSS feeds, add job openings and create sub-groups. Additional information on LinkedIn Groups can be found on the LinkedIn website.
With these new features and the growing influence of LinkedIn in the social media world, every business should set up their own LinkedIn Group – and you can set it up in less than 5 minutes. Here are some quick tips, benefits and ideas for maintaining your group.
Benefits – LinkedIn is seen as a business-oriented social networking site and people tend to act more professional in this network than they would in Facebook or MySpace. Plus, many professionals tend to visit this site more frequently than they would other social media sites as they use LinkedIn to research companies and potential contacts.
There are many great benefits for having a LinkedIn Group for your business.
- Individual Visibility — when someone joins your group, they can elect to have a small badge representing the group display in their profile (and people generally opt in for displaying the badge). This badge signifies that someone has a particular affinity with your company and brand.
- Corporate Visibility — the group gives your company additional visibility. When someone sees the group badge in your profile or the profiles of others, they may click on it to see what the group is all about. If a customer joins your group, it shows that they are committed to what you are doing and makes them ‘stickier’ and less likely to take their business to another company.
- Corporate Announcements — you can use the Groups feature to contact your group members with an announcement or other news. While you can only use this feature once per week, it is a low cost way to keep members informed about new programs, offers or company news. The alternative would be to use an email or newsletter solution that could cost you from $25 to $100 per month or more.
- Job Postings — you can also use your group to post job openings for your company or affiliates. Only members of the group can see the postings, so this is another reason for people to join your group.
- Better Connections – even if you are not directly connected to another group member, you can still send that member a message or invite them to connect with you because you share the group affiliation.
- Group Newsfeed — any activity in the group is reported in the news feed for anyone who has joined the group. For example, I can easily see if there are any new posts or news added to the group site by reviewing my newsfeed. Users can also opt to get daily or weekly email updates of new activity.
Getting Started – It is pretty easy to set up a group, and much easier than it used to be. After following these simple steps, your group will be set up in less than 5 minutes.
- Go to LinkedIn Create a Group
- Upload a logo or picture
- Fill in the details for your group
- Click on the Create a Group button
Building Membership – Once you create the group, you need to build up the member base. You should definitely put a prominent button on your website that says “Join Our LinkedIn Group”. Creating a group would make a great blog post topic for your corporate blog and you should also include it a newsletter or email blast. Some people even put a link to the LinkedIn Group in the footer of their email template.
Maintaining Your Page – The final step is the ongoing maintenance of the Group page. You don’t have to update the page daily, but you should definitely spend some time adding fresh content to the group on a weekly basis to keep your company in the forefront of your members’ minds. You can easily add the URL of an interesting news article or blog post, or start up a discussion topic that may be of interest to your group members.