Should LinkedIn Groups Be Part of Your Social Strategy?

Labeled the “professional” social network, LinkedIn boasts nearly 250 million users. But unfortunately, a lot of people take a “set it and forget it” approach when it comes to one of the larger social networks around. If this is your tactic when tackling LinkedIn, we’d like to share with you some thoughts on how to better utilize a very important and useful piece of your social strategy.

When people sign up for LinkedIn, a lot of them look at it as a place to house their resume and revisit only when they need to update some info or when they’re trying to discover where someone works. Well, those people are only scratching the surface of this very powerful social network and not experiencing its true potential. Even if you’re visiting LinkedIn on a daily basis and perusing the timeline like you would on your Facebook account, you’re still missing where the magic happens. This magical place is called LinkedIn Groups.

LinkedIn Groups are exactly what they sounds like, groups of people discussing a common subject such as social media, email marketing or advertising. But unlike groups on other social networks such as Facebook, you’re dealing with a very professional environment where people are not only trying to gain useful information, but they’re also trying to provide it as well.

What does all of this collaboration offer? It’s provides an environment where you can build solid relationships with like minded individuals which can have a very positive effect on you and your business. So what is the makeup of a LinkedIn Group and how can you get involved?

If you haven’t been back to LinkedIn in a while, why don’t we start with how to navigate to Groups and provide you with some tips on how to successfully make them a part of your overall social strategy. First, you want to log into your LinkedIn account. Then, click on the drop down arrow in the little gray box next to the long search box and click on groups.

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Finally, type in a subject in the search box that is pertinent to your business and click the magnifying glass. In our example we used social media:

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You will not only see how many results are returned for your word or phase, but LinkedIn goes one step further by providing key information about the groups that are returned. You’re served up factoids such as how active the groups are, how many discussions have taken place this month, how many total members are in the group and how many of those members are in your overall LinkedIn network. This provides guidance on whether the LinkedIn Group is a good fit for you.

Now finding the group you might want to participate in is the easy part. Because as you’ll discover, not all LinkedIn Groups are created equal. A lot of groups are open and allow anyone to join and post. But others, like my Digital Marketing group example below are closed. This means that even if you join a particular group, you must still be approved by the owner or manager(s).

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This allows the administrators to limit the members to subject experts thus leading to more quality discussions. It also curbs any spammers from infiltrating the walls of a particular group. But even if you’re invited into a particular closed group, you may have one more hurdle to jump, which is moderation. As with my example below, some of the larger groups (like Inbound Marketers with nearly 100,000 members) have people that come in and spam their wares and services. This sometimes forces the owner or manager to implement a moderation protocol. This chokes the group discussion dynamic but is a necessary evil to combat spam.

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But this moderation aspect does validate my point about how to effectively use LinkedIn Groups as part of your social strategy. That point is to be human and stimulate real discussion. People, especially smart professionals that participate in LinkedIn Groups, can tell when you’re being genuine. If you’re simply throwing up links back to your website to generate traffic, people will get wise. But if you’re bringing great questions and sharing enlightening answers in the discussion, people will remember that. And, the great thing about having this activity take place on LinkedIn is that with a click of your name, they can jet on over to find out where you work.

So I’ll finally answer my own question: YES! LinkedIn Groups should certainly be part of your social strategy. But they have to be used in the proper way for you to see some real return on your investment. Tell us about your success with LinkedIn Groups because we’d love to know!

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