Maintaining a social media presence is all too critical these days. How many followers, likes, and connections someone has seems to be part of our daily language and we have seen individuals, brands, and businesses benefit heavily from it.
One of the many great things that social media offers is access to instant information. This has been great for many consumers; people and businesses alike. I personally have used social media to ask questions about a product and received very timely and professional responses. It is access to customer service and information like this which makes social media platforms such a valuable tool in the business realm. One of the more popular platforms, LinkedIn, is a great example. It is the platform best known for its professional foundation and has become one of the most trusted and credible social communities on the web.
LinkedIn provides users with the ability to connect to other professionals and to join professional groups to engage in meaningful discussions. Creating a group on LinkedIn for any business would be advantageous, but in order to get the full reward you must nurture your group, which takes time. We have found a few guidelines for creating and maintaining a successful LinkedIn group to help you aquire the full return on your time spent.
Narrow Niche and Specialty Category
A good way to get started is by having a narrow niche. This helps you attract the right kind of individuals to your group. As a group creator you should focus on driving current clients/consumers to your group so they can utilize it as a forum for asking questions and gathering information; however, you also want to drive potential clients/consumers to your group too. Establishing yourself as a leading contributor to your industry through your group (by answering questions, posting industry relevant material), you build credibility, which helps drive potential clients/customers your way. This is why a specialty category is important; recognizing that not everyone using LinkedIn is going to use your service/product is a great way to begin thinking about investing quality time into those who will.
Participate, Engage and Closely Monitor Your Group
Participation and engagement are imperative to making a successful LinkedIn group, you must pull your weight. When people post articles or information regarding your niche, comment or ‘like’ the post. This shows individuals in your group that engagement with individuals is important; again, helping establish credibility. When someone new joins the group, greet them. LinkedIn has an option to send a specialized message after someone joins, use it.
It is also well known that people use LinkedIn to promote themselves and their qualities. Granted, people didn’t join your group to be inundated with spam and job postings, but helping people in your niche find jobs is always a plus. According to Jessica Faye Carter owner of Nette Media, creating a subgroup that allows individuals and companies to post job opportunities and resumes is a great way to mediate the situation and everyone is happy; people can look for jobs and those not looking do not have to be flooded with those posts.
It is also important to monitor what is posted in your community. A well moderated group typically outlasts those that aren’t. If an individual is contributing too much self-promoting posts, tell them. Do not be afraid to set strict guidelines for posting; LinkedIn also has group settings that allow for all posts to be approved, yet another great feature of this platform. Also, good moderating of your group typically means no 'auto-posting' by you. While, auto-posting seems to be a growing area, Susan Tatum, from the Conversion Company, explains that it isn't always beneficial. Different social media platforms are approached differently and auto-posting often doesn't take that into account; this can harm group engagement and even hinder sucess of the group.
Promoting, not just LinkedIn, but your group too
We see the blue LinkedIn icon everywhere. Websites, trade shows, commercials, etc. But it isn't often we see specific companies/people promoting their specific LinkedIn group. This is a great way to get people to check out your group, especially if you are promoting to the same audience you want to join your group, like at a trade show event. Taking your LinkedIn icon to the next level and incorporating your group can really help generate group members.
Another important rule to follow regarding your group, DON’T push sales. Individuals who join your group are doing so because of the information that you provide through answering questions, engaging, and sharing interesting industry news, not because they want to buy more of what you have to offer. If they want to purchase from you, they will do so via a phone call or email, not through your group. Many groups do not recognize this down fall. Yes, sharing a blog post you or your company has written is ok, after all, that is information you are giving away, but to try to sell group members something will get you absolutely nowhere and no sales and group membership will drop off quickly. Remember, this platform is used as a tool for nurturing relationships with people, actual humans, they aren’t credit card machines looking for a purchase. This will also devalue your credibility, which is exactly what you do not want. Remember to use this as a way to build relationships with other people, not get into their wallets.
With these tips success will follow. Moderating a group is no easy task and one that takes due diligence and time, building a relationship never is. But when done properly, the benefits outweigh the costs every time.