Do you use LinkedIn groups to engage with others in your industry and your target market?
Have you thought about setting up your own LinkedIn group?
Having your own group on LinkedIn can be a great way to increase your thought leadership as well as attract a highly targeted group of people. You may already be familiar with how effective they can be if you have interacted in a few existing LinkedIn groups but it might be time to consider creating your own.
Before you rush off to create a group, you must first determine a realistic goal for setting up a group. For example, are you trying to create a networking group for people within your industry or do you want to create a LinkedIn group that would attract your ideal clients?
In this article I am going to share the ten steps you will want to follow to ensure you set up your LinkedIn group for success.
A few benefits to creating your own LinkedIn group:
- Create a suitable environment for interacting with prospects and/or strategic alliances
- Position yourself as a leading authority on your topic or in your niche
- Attract highly targeted people that are interested in engaging with new connections
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10 Steps On How To Set Up A LinkedIn Group
1. Choose the right name for your group
Make sure the name you choose targets the specific group of people you are looking to attract. The more focused your niche is, the more attractive your group will be to those people when they find it.
If you want to attract people from a specific geographic area include the name of the city or area. For example, if your target market is business people in San Diego, you may want to name your group: San Diego Business Networking Group. These are the types of keywords that people will actually be searching when looking for LinkedIn groups to join.
REMEMBER: The common first reaction to starting a LinkedIn group is to name it after your business and use it to broadcast all your company updates. This won’t be worth your time, as it is not engaging to people who have never heard of you before.
Be sure to have a custom logo made for your group to ensure it looks professional. Having that branding gives an additional layer of credibility that will be more enticing to potential members.
The following are some guidelines for group photos taken directly from LinkedIn’s help center that you should keep in mind:
Only group owners or managers can add or edit group logos. If you’re the group’s owner or manager:
1. Move your cursor over Interests at the top of your homepage and select Groups.
2. Click the group you want to edit.
3. Click Manage and then select Group Information on the left.
4. You can now browse and upload logos from your files.
5. Click Save Changes.
If your logo dimensions exceed 100 x 50 pixels or 60 x 30 pixels (for Group Logo and Small Logo), the logo will automatically be resized. The maximum logo file size is 100 KB, and the following file types can be uploaded: PNG, JPEG or GIF.
LinkedIn doesn’t allow excessive changes to a group’s identity because it affects member confidence in your group and in the LinkedIn Groups product.
You can only make a total of 5 group identity changes, including any group name and logo updates.
3. Optimize your group summary
You only have a few sentences to captivate your prospects’ attention and entice them to join your group. This is the brief description people will see when your group shows up in LinkedIn search results.
Make sure your summary is completely filled out and take advantage of the maximum character limit. Make sure you have all of the keywords you want to be found for so you are optimized to show up at the top of LinkedIn’s search.
There are a few things to remember when creating the perfect group summary:
- If you are trying to attract a specific industry or profession, make sure you mention it here
- A brief sentence about what users can expect and what value they can expect to gain by joining your LinkedIn group
- Use specific keywords that will grab your target audience’s attention
- You only have 300 characters, use them wisely
4. Optimize your group description
With 2,000 available characters, your group description can be considered an extension of your summary. This is what someone will see when they click to see your full group page from the LinkedIn search results.
You are still trying to entice potential members so continue to speak to your ideal target audience using keywords they will use when searching. Expand on why you created the group and exactly who will benefit from joining.
Give people a good idea of what they can expect in terms of content, interaction and basic ground rules for moderation. I like to be clear that blatant self-promotion that provides no value to group members will not be tolerated to maintain a high quality environment.
5. Set up your LinkedIn group rules
It is important that you maintain the integrity of your group and keep spammers out. Ensure the conversations are providing value and engage the group members. Here is a sample of the group rules from my group Social Media Marketing in Canada.
I highly recommend having a strict policy on promotional content. If you allow people to spam the group, members will stop visiting to interact because they will struggle to find posts of value. People should be allowed to make posts if they are of clear value and relevance to the group’s members and purpose.
6. Require pre-approval for members to join
You can either allow members to join instantly or require approval from an admin, it’s a wise idea to screen each member individually especially in the beginning. This creates a feeling of exclusivity but more importantly allows you to spot fake or spammy profiles before they ever get a chance to strike.
PRO TIP: Give immediate access to individuals with email domains of your choosing attached to their LinkedIn profiles. This feature is useful if you have a lot of employees or members within your organization and want a simple way for them to be approved. (For example: All emails from “@topdogsocialmedia.com” will be pre-approved.)
7. Decide if you want it to be Open or Members Only
There are two types of privacy settings for LinkedIn groups: Open and Members Only. Open groups on LinkedIn can gain additional SEO benefits as they are indexed in Google, making keyword optimization all the more important.
The only reason you should not select an open group is if you require the information and access of the group to be restricted to a very select group of people. A “Members Only” group is great for having an internal company group for employees, organization members or anything specific to a small amount of people.
8. Determine posting permissions
You’ll need to decide if you want to allow members to post freely within your group or require pre-approval from an admin. Although having pre-approval can maintain post quality, it requires each individual comment to be approved which can hamper engagement that could have happened between approval waiting times.
I recommend moderating all posts to avoid spam but then it is important that you monitor your group daily.
9. Set up a welcome message under templates
LinkedIn provides a default message to welcome new members but it isn’t personalized and doesn’t send anyone back to your website. Thank new members for joining your LinkedIn group and let them know why it was a wise decision to do so. Tell them what they can expect from the group and how they will benefit most. They should also be given a next step to follow whether that is to go to a link or some sort of action they should take.
When you go to your group click on “Manage” and then click on “Templates” on the left hand side, you will see a section that allows you to select a Welcome Message. Click on edit the template and personalize your message.
10. Promote your group
Before you begin to promote your group be sure to add some content to your group. Start with creating three to four discussions and get some of your co-workers or others to start some also. The more good content you have in your group the more that is there for people to begin to engage with once they join.
Now it’s time to promote your LinkedIn group. Invite all of your new and old LinkedIn connections to your group letting them know the benefits they will receive by joining. It is important to personalize these messages rather than just clicking on the generic “Send Invitations” that doesn’t allow you to customize, this doesn’t work well at all.
Also actively recruit the highest quality, most active experts in other groups. These people often bring their own followers along with them! Click here to learn more strategies for promoting your LinkedIn group.
One of the best features of setting up your own group on LinkedIn is the ability to send an announcement out once per week to all members. This is a great opportunity for you to stay connected while you also provide value, position yourself as an authority on your topic and share things like blog posts and webinars to drive more traffic to your website and build your email list. My LinkedIn activities alone have added close to 10,000 people to my email list in just over one year.
Stay Committed To Quality
The most successful LinkedIn groups on the network are those that have a relentless commitment to maintaining quality and staying consistent with their message. Sometimes that means putting the needs of the group before your own in order to maintain integrity.
Social Media Marketing LinkedIn Group
I have a LinkedIn group for professionals, business owners and entrepreneurs that would like to learn more about social media marketing strategies. In this group you’ll learn tips, techniques and strategies to leverage social media for your business.
Click here to join our LinkedIn group now.
What do you think? Do you think that having your own LinkedIn group could be valuable to your business? Share your tips, questions and comments below.