Figures from October 2016 show that LinkedIn has 467 million users. Even being incredibly conservative, it’s reasonable to conclude that a decent handful of those users will fit your target audience and have an interest in your products or services.
But how do you find these users? LinkedIn Groups are a good place to start – and can act as a marketing platform that’s not only free and easy, but capable of introducing you to highly qualified leads.
What are LinkedIn Groups?
LinkedIn Groups are private forums where LinkedIn users discuss specialised topics. They are a great place for sharing ideas, meeting potential clients/customers and connecting with the biggest influencers in key verticals. As an example, take a look at the Our Social Times Monitoring Social Media Group.
Here are five reasons why you should be using LinkedIn Groups…
1. Enhance your credibility
Commenting on the latest industry developments; adding your 0.02 to user debates; sharing relevant news stories. It all helps to establish yourself as an engaged business with a brawny understanding of your field.
2. Expand the reach of your content
Blogging? LinkedIn Groups give you a highly targeted platform to share your content. Even better, Group members will receive email notifications when new content is shared. So there’s less chance of members missing your musings.
3. Generate ideas for new content
LinkedIn Groups can act as a ready-made focus group. Pay attention to the most-talked-about topics and augment your content strategy.
4. Learn about your target audience
The right LinkedIn Groups hardwire you into your target audience. Listen carefully and you’ll be able to gather all sorts of useful intel on your audience’s pain points, challenges, needs, fears and desires. That can influence everything from marketing strategy to product development.
5. Find the crowd for your next event
Hosting a seminar or networking event? LinkedIn Groups give you a great place to start with the invites.
7 golden rules when using LinkedIn Groups for marketing
1. Find the right groups
The best marketing knows its audience, and it’s no different with LinkedIn Groups. Hit LinkedIn’s search function or the Discover Groups page to begin finding groups built around industries, professions, skills and topics that are relevant to your business. Visit the profiles of your most valuable connections to see which Groups they hang out in. They may be useful for you too.
2. Follow the rules
Once you are accepted into the Group, spend a decent chunk of time reading existing comments and observing the type of content that gets shared. Yes there are published Group rules that you can learn. But there are often unwritten rules of etiquette that should be followed too. Watch and learn.
3. Get engaged
Don’t be that person who has obviously joined a Group to self-promote. Spend a few weeks easing yourself into the Group, liking comments, offering your thoughts on articles that others have shared and entering discussions that others have started. Go in like a bull at a gate and you’ll probably find yourself being banned for good.
4. Post as an individual, not a company
Even in the digital age, the old adage is true: people do business with people. So post from Group as yourself, not your company. Your headline, stating your job title and the company you work for, will give your business the promotion it needs and the context that frames everything you post.
5. Stay relevant
The end goal doesn’t have to be driving traffic to your website. Self-aggrandising content is a problem in many LinkedIn Groups. The content you share, whether it’s an article or a comment, should benefit the Group as a whole.
And when you share, share in a way that creates value for other members. Go beyond blandishment and banal comments. Explain your opinion. Offer a fresh perspective. Challenge the stereotypes. While it’s not necessarily measurable, don’t underestimate the value of simply connecting with the right people and contributing to industry conversation. People don’t have to visit your website to remember you.
6. Don’t cross-pollinate
LinkedIn allows you to be a member of up to 50 Groups at a time. By all means join as many as you can manage. But don’t just regurgitate exactly the same comments and articles in every Group. As above, it’s essential to stay relevant. Besides, there’s a decent chance that you’ll be found out by Group members who belong to a handful of the same Groups as you, which could see your credibility take a knock.
7. Go beyond the Group
Keep private conversations out of the Group. If a Group member connects with you, thank them over InMail. Likewise if a Group conversation between you and another member begins going off topic, select the option to reply in private by clicking the ‘…’ button to the right of your conversation. Not only will it keep white noise out of the Group, one-to-one conversations are a great way to cement new connections and nurture fledgling relationships.
Start your own Group…
As well as joining existing Groups, why not build your own tribe? The golden rules discussed above still apply, of course, but there are some nifty perks to owning your own Group. Chief among them is being able to send a weekly email to Group members outside of LinkedIn – a direct line to the inboxes of an audience you have curated for your business. Perfect.