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15 Top Tips for creating LinkedIn Groups
You should think hard before setting up a group on LinkedIn. What will it be about? Who will you allow in? Who won't you allow in? What will we talk about? What will it be FOR?
Assuming you've got this covered, these are my top tips for success (in the order you should carry them out).
- Have a logo, even if you just edit an image that you own to the right size. Having the default greyed out logo is so uninspiring.
- Be clear what the group is FOR and let people know. How is joining the group going to add value to their business lives? How are you going to entice people to create content for you? Make sure this is all clear in the group description.
- Make the group moderated – “Request to Join” rather than “Open Access”, that way you will know who is joining your group, and will be able to see if they are competitors or potential clients.
- Have the first discussions ready to go. You don’t want it to be your own picture all the way down the discussion board. Ask people offline to come and join the group to contribute a discussion piece, and invite them to the group earlier than everyone else. Continue to make offline requests for content to keep the content flowing until it takes on a momentum of its own. Remember to use your KEYWORDS in every post you make.
- Have a RULES post, and make it a “featured discussion”, that way if people break the rules (by advertising, or straying off topic, for instance) you have grounds on which to ask them to moderate their postings. Remember that EVERY discussion posted goes out to the whole of your mailing list, so you need to protect your members from SPAM or they may leave your group.
- Have an INTRODUCTIONS post, and make it a “featured discussion”, add a tagline that emphasises what the group is about (e.g. How are you using social media?, or How can you help small businesses survive the recession) This will enable all those who are tempted to advertise in your forum to advertise in a discrete discussion, instead of all over your group. It also gives permission to those who are less sure of LinkedIn etiquette to advertise themselves and their services.
- Pre-approve members from the same companies as your clients – inputting a URL will save everyone in a company from having to apply for moderated membership, they will each be allowed access individually automatically.
- Create Welcome and Pending Approval messages using “Manage Templates”. You may also want to create message templates when you refuse someone membership.
- Invite EVERYONE on your mailing list by uploading a .csv file containing first name, last name and email address. As they are invited they will not have to “Request to Join”. If they are on LinkedIN, the invitation will go through LinkedIN. If they are not yet a LinkedIn member, they will get an invitation to their email address.
- Set-up subgroups only at the request of your members. It is hard enough to find content to maintain the impetus of one group, without creating loads of subgroups as well. The members will make it clear when they want a new group. Or set up a subgroup for a particular task when it’s needed – such as a steering subgroup for the main group when it gets really big!
- Create News Feeds from your Blog or website/s – if you have an RSS feed, use this. Click on “Manage News Feeds” to ensure all your news is automatically fed into the group.
- Upgrade trusted colleagues to Managers of the group to look after it when you are not available.
- Market your Group – use your weekly announcement to send useful information, discussion summaries, invitations to offline events, or even just a recommendation that everyone recommends the group in their LinkedIn status update – make sure you send them a short link to your groups homepage on LinkedIN to use.
- Content is king! Remember, once you have created a group on LinkedIn, to make it really work for you, keep the content fresh and on topic. Use your keywords whenever you can (without seeming obvious), and the group will become more visible to those searching for groups on LinkedIn. Don’t let the group go for a week without content, even if it is just a comment from you.
- Now you have a lively, friendly, focussed group, invite new contacts to join it as the first step in a relationship. It is less formal than requesting a LinkedIn connection, and once they have joined the group, you can now soft-market using the announcements feature. You may like to review the group members on a monthly basis, and if you are not yet connected, invite all the non-connections to connect with you in one monthly task.
Don't forget to join Reach Further's group on LinkedIn, where we discuss online communities, e-learning and social media