LinkedIn has over 660 million members.
It would be an understatement to say that LinkedIn represents a massive media marketing opportunity for us all.
You might have thought previously that LinkedIn was only a good social network for those who are in the B2B sector to locate their target audience.
However, you can use it for the B2C sector too.
Either way, it’s clear that LinkedIn is a media site that can be used to grow a business.
When it comes to growing a business using LinkedIn, many have had success with creating their own LinkedIn groups, such as a real estate or investment group.
Yet, as with nearly everything on the internet, rarely does the saying ‘build it and they will come’ apply to LinkedIn groups.
The reality is that you need to know how to set up and market your LinkedIn group if you want it to thrive.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at how you can do just that.
By the end, you should know all that you need to, so that you, too, can join the other business owners who have created successful LinkedIn groups of their own.
1. Give your group a focus
If you want your LinkedIn group to be successful and fast-growing, you’ll need to get the basics right for this particular social media site.
One of the first things you need to pay attention to, therefore, is who your group is going to serve.
You might think that it’s enough to say that your group will help small businesses.
Because guess how many small business groups there are already?
Now, sure, we could try to compete against all of these other groups, but do we really have to to find our target audience?
Think about it — why would people want to join our group, as opposed to one of the other 8,819 small business groups?
In other words, what makes us different?
In most cases, when there is this much social network competition, it’s hard to differentiate ourselves from the others.
We need to come up with a way to separate our group from the pack. One way that we can do this is by giving our group a focus.
How do we do that?
You probably want to create a group that helps those who are in your target market.
Now, it may be that your target market is made up mostly of small business owners.
Yet, as we’ve discussed, we can’t just broadly target small business owners.
Instead, we need to create a LinkedIn group that reflects the way potential group members would refer to themselves.
We then need to implement that information into our group title.
Our title also needs to mention the topic that we’re going to cover in the group.
This will make the group seem more relevant when it comes to later marketing and growing it.
Plus, consider this — Would you join a group that is solely for small business owners or would you join a group that covers a specific topic for businesses in your niche?
Here is a great example of a group that follows this rule. It is focused purely on providing online marketing advice for accountants —
See how they’ve set up their title?
It follows a formula of:
‘What topic they’re going to be covering + who they’re going to be serving.’
Also, notice how there aren’t that many groups based around the topic of ‘online marketing for accountants.’
It is clearly something that people, specifically accountants, want to learn more about, as this group seems to be doing well.
They’ve got a decent number of members and there are quite a few discussions going on — a sign of a healthy media site group.
Accountants might refer to themselves as small business owners — though they’re more likely to refer to themselves as accountants.
This might sound like an irrelevant detail, but it can really help niche down your group so that it seems super relevant to those who may be interested in joining it.
The added mention of the topic supercharges the relevancy of the group.
Now that you know the importance of giving your LinkedIn group a focus, let’s take a look at how you’d actually create one.
Click on the interests tab and select groups.
Then select the option to create a group.
You’ll then see this page. You need to fill in all of the relevant details.
When it comes to the logo, you ideally don’t want to use the logo of your own business. There are a couple of problems with doing this.
The first is that you’re making it seem as though you have an agenda to later sell people.
Even if you are going to do this, using your logo makes it seem as though you’re going to do this in an intrusive way.
And, when you use your logo, it almost pigeonholes the group.
If you associate the group with your own company, you potentially give people the sense that this group will only be about your company or possibly only for current customers, not prospects of your firm.
To combat all of this, you may just want to head over to Fiverr.com and get a quick logo designed for $5.
For the group name, you’ll want to adhere to what has already been discussed. Remember, you need to say what you’ll be covering and who you’re group is for.
For instance, ‘online marketing for dentists.’
It is important that your title is keyword rich, as this will help your group appear in the LinkedIn search engine.
For the group type, you might just want to pick ‘networking group.’ You’re free to choose the others, though a lot of people who join LinkedIn are attracted to social networks for just that, networking
When it comes to the group summary you need to choose your words wisely.
The summary is the bit that people see when they see your group in the LinkedIn search engine or in the ‘Group Directory.’
You need to create a summary that is compelling and descriptive.
It needs to entice people to click, so that they can learn more about your group and why they should join.
The best way to do this is by following the template you used for your title. Explain who the group is for and what it can offer them.
You’ll want to make sure that your summary is keyword rich, as this will help it to be seen in the search engine drop-down menu or search results.
The description is what people will see when they click on the ‘about’ tab of your group.
This is designed to expand on the summary and once again encourage people to join your group.
It also tells people what to expect once they actually join your group.
Here is a great example from a group that is designed to teach online marketing to dentists.
Once you’ve filled in those details, you’ll see the following form fields as you scroll down the page —
Next, enter your email address. This is where you’ll receive updates on what’s going on in the group.
For the Access setting, choose ‘Request to Join.’
This might sound like an odd decision, though it can really help reduce the amount of spam that your group is going to receive.
It’ll also make it seem more exclusive and that has the ability to improve group growth, rather than hinder it.
Finally, click on ‘Create a Members-Only Group.’ The members-only option means that only members will be able to interact with the discussions that are taking place.
This helps because it reduces spam and encourages people to join, if they want to participate in the group.
Once you’ve done all of that, you’ll then see this page. We’ll talk more about what to do on this page later.
Once your LinkedIn group grows to be very popular, you can segment your group by creating subgroups.
For example, you could create subgroups based on location. This will help to keep your group relevant when member numbers begin to get high.
If you’re not sure which subgroups to create, ask group members for some suggestions in a status update survey.
2. Find people who might be worth inviting to your group
Now that we’ve improved the basics and given our group some focus, how can we supercharge its growth?
Well…we could just wait for people to find it, but that’s probably going to take a lot of time.
On the other hand, we can be proactive and search for people that might be a good match for our social media group and then invite them to join.
The second, more proactive approach, is more likely to yield faster results for your group when it comes to bolstering growth.
One in three professionals are on LinkedIn, so you shouldn’t find it too hard to seek out potential members for your group via the media site.
Let’s look at how you can find people who might be worth inviting to your group.
The first, best and most obvious way to go about this task is by inviting those who are already in your connections.
You’ll want to focus on your 2nd and 3rd level connections as well as the 1st.
So, you should easily have enough people to contact in the beginning.
Keep in mind though, that you don’t want to invite anyone and everyone.
You need to ensure that you’re only inviting people who will find your group valuable and of relevance.
If they don’t fit your group’s ideal demographic, they will not engage in discussions (something we’ll discuss later) and group activities, an important component of any successful LinkedIn group.
If you want to invite your connections to join your LinkedIn group, this is how you can do it.
Click on the heading ‘Manage,’ which can be found on your group page.
Then click on ‘Send Invitations.’
You’ll then see this page.
You can use this page to send unique, personalized messages to your connections.
Make sure that you’re making your invitations personalized, highly relevant and benefit-rich.
Explain the benefits of joining the group and always relate it back to them.
If you’re in the same group as someone, you can invite them to join your group, too.
Thanks to a feature in LinkedIn groups, you can easily message other people who are in the same group as you.
Now, of course, you don’t want to do this in a sneaky way where you just join groups to poach members.
If you’re in a group that covers topics that you don’t, there is no reason why the people in that group won’t enjoy your group, too.
You just need to ensure that the people you invite from other groups are a good fit, in terms of your ideal group demographic.
Let’s suppose that we’re looking to invite people to a group that is centered around supplying marketing advice for dentists.
Go to the LinkedIn homepage and set the drop-down option to people.
If I type in ‘dentists,’ I get tens of thousands of results that are related to the keyword dentist.
For some industries, you can just type in a keyword/job title and a bunch of relevant individuals will appear in the listings.
However, that does not happen most of the time — so you need to refine your search.
You can do this by selecting some of the options in the left pane.
The truth of the matter is that each niche is different, so you’ll need to experiment with the targeting options to see which kind of targeting brings you the right results.
If you have a LinkedIn pro membership, you’ll have access to more targeting options.
This has the capacity to make it easier to find people to invite.
Remember — You can cut the amount of time it takes to find someone if you know your target market well.
Once you’ve found someone who looks like a good match, send them an invitation to connect and mention your group in the note.
Remember, you want to be cool about how you do this, as you don’t want to come across as spammy and intrusive.
When sending a ‘personal note,’ always focus on the benefits.
The majority of business professionals think that LinkedIn is extremely important when it comes to growing a network, developing a business or finding a job.
It’s probably why they joined in the first place.
Your group probably makes it easier for people to do all of these things — so explain that in your message!
You can also focus on using InMails. If you have a premium LinkedIn account, you’ll be given a set number of InMails per month. When you run out, you can buy more.
InMails allow for you to contact anyone on LinkedIn.
InMails can be a great way to get in touch with VIP members. Once you have around 30-40 members in your group and you have some active discussions going on, you’ll want to identify some VIPs in your niche.
VIPs can be best-selling authors, well-known bloggers, CEOs of big companies or even just people with a big network.
Contacting VIPs was one of the core strategies used by this LinkedIn group to grow to over 500K members.
When you get these individuals to join your group, two things occur.
One is that they provide your group with a lot of social proof, encouraging other people to join.
The other is that these people tend to have a large following or a large number of connections. Many will post a status update, expanding your target audience through their social network.
As a result of this, any activity they take in your group is going to be visible to other people who are using LinkedIn.
Many people check the ‘Recent Activity’ section of a VIP profile to see what they’ve been doing.
Whether you’re looking to message VIPs or small business owners, you need to ensure that your messages are always thoughtfully constructed.
Personalization is very important here. Always use their name when writing to them.
Figure out what the other person is into and mention why the group might be of interest to them.
Relate the group to their interests — ‘I noticed you were interested in X. We were just discussing X in the group.’
You don’t want to make the message too long, but you can reference what is going to be covered in the future too.
You can also look at their past posts to get a sense of what they’re interested in.
If you can afford it, you might also want to use LinkedIn ads to grow your group. This can get a little expensive, though it is still something to consider.
3. Create a great experience for those joining your group
One way you can improve the growth of your group is by creating a great experience for those who join it.
This will help create a better impression and will encourage members to invest more time into the group.
If they invest more time, they might be more likely to come back and engage with the group over and over.
They may also be happier to invite other members to the group, as the group will make them look good.
Though you’re free to implement these tactics once your group has around 5-10 members, it might actually help to have some of these things in place before you even start inviting people to your group.
One item you should focus on is creating a ‘Welcome Message.’ A welcome message is the message that people are sent as soon as they join your group.
If you want to create a welcome message, do the following.
Go to the page where you can manage the settings for your group.
Then, pick the ‘Templates’ option in the drop-down menu.
Then, select ‘Welcome Message.’
You’ll see this page —
For the subject line, you don’t have to make it too complicated.
You can just say something like ‘Thanks for Joining the Group – Here’s What to Expect!’
You can come up with something much better, though this is a good starting point.
People will be more inclined to open this message because they will know who it’s from — so you don’t need to overthink the headline.
The message, however, is something that needs a lot of thought — It represents a few crucial opportunities that might be hard to get otherwise.
You’ll want to break your message down into certain sections.
The first section should thank people for joining. Let people know that you’re grateful for them taking the time to interact with your group.
Then, let them know what’s currently going on in the group.
For example — mention what discussions are already taking place and ask if they have any kind of input.
Add links to these discussions.
Then, ask them to introduce themselves to the group.
You’ll also want to ask if they have any feedback on how the group can be made better.
And then, if you’re looking to build a list using the group, consider putting a link to a landing page in the welcome message.
It’s important that you’re not pushy when talking about this landing page and the free offer it presents.
Just let members know what value is to be had and what they need to do if they want in on the action.
Your main focus is cultivating a group. If you’re too pushy at this stage, it will set a bad tone for those that are just joining. This can impede future group growth.
Here’s a basic version of something that you could try—
The example above is very thin, though it does give you a sense of how to go about things.
Make sure that you tick the ‘auto-send’ option, so that this message is sent to everyone who joins the group.
If you don’t, they’ll just be sent the standard LinkedIn welcome message — it isn’t very exciting.
You’ll also want to create some discussions in your LinkedIn group. These discussions are designed to increase the level of interactivity in your group, as well as its ability to teach group members something new.
You can’t just rely on members to boost the level of conversation going on in your group. You have to step in.
Discussions can be a great way to do this.
If you want to create a discussion, do the following.
First, go to the ‘Discussions’ tab on your Group Page.
Remember, you can access the group page by selecting ‘Groups’ from the interest drop-down menu and then selecting the group you have created.
When on the ‘Discussions’ page, enter in a discussion topic, — I chose ‘Is the Yellow Pages a Good Idea for Dentists?’ That’s because my hypothetical group is designed to help dentists.
You should then see this.
The most important thing to focus on here is coming up with great discussion ideas.
Think about controversial topics in your niche. If they’re current topics, they might be even more impactful.
Keep an eye on news outlets that are relevant to your niche. You can even do some daily searches on Twitter, or Google News to find out what’s going on in your niche.
Citi managed to get more people to take part in their discussions by rewarding the most active members with LinkedIn premium memberships.
You might not be able to reward members with this kind of gift, though there is always something you can offer — maybe a 30 min consultation?
Remember, the goal here is to get people interacting with the group by getting them to engage with group discussions.
All in all, when it comes to creating a great experience, you need to focus on adding value. Discussions are one way of doing this. The other is to provide free content.
As long as your content is of relevance and is high in value, it won’t hurt to share it with the group.
You need to make sure that your content is unique. There’s no point in sharing rehashed stuff.
Something to experiment with is creating content, putting it in a PDF and then offering it without forcing people to opt-in. This will help create goodwill in the group.
You could also experiment with running some webinars. For the first few webinars you run, you might not want to have something for sale at the end.
Instead, you might want to build up some trust, so that members respond better to future messages that you send.
Remember, 93% of B2B marketers say that LinkedIn is effective for generating leads, so the potential is there. You just need to pick the right moment.
Even if you do want to offer something at the end of the webinar, ensure that the content is amazing and that your pitch is not over the top.
When you consistently provide great content, people will return to your group and look for your latest status update.
It’s similar to the emails that you open all the time from the website or blog writer that always teaches you something new.
Another great way that you can provide value is by sending people weekly emails. These emails should be sent to the entire group.
The email should let members know what has been going on and what they’ve missed. This can also be a great way to keep interaction levels high within the group.
Mention exciting pieces of content that have been shared and also some of the popular discussions that have taken place.
You can give members a preview of what might be happening next week in the group. This may create a level of anticipation that causes people to login and see what’s going on.
If you’re struggling to come up with ideas on how to keep your group exciting and fresh, consider joining some of the other groups on the social media site.
You’re allowed to join up to 100 groups.
When you join multiple groups, you’ll be able to see what is working for some of the other successful groups on LinkedIn.
Keep an eye out for any consistent patterns of behavior taken by successful group creators and managers.
You don’t have to copy them directly, though you can apply the principles they’re using, in your own groups.
4. Moderate your group
If you want your LinkedIn group to grow, you’ll need to make sure you’re moderating it.
After all, would you stick around in a LinkedIn group if it was filled with spam and unproductive discussions?
The fact that you’ve made your group exclusive and that you’re screening everyone who joins, should reduce the chances of any trouble being caused.
Either way, you can further reduce unwanted activity by posting some rules for your LinkedIn group.
You can create rules by going to the manage section of your group, and selecting the ‘Group Rules’ option in the left hand pane in the drop-down menu.
When you click on that option, you’ll see the following page. This is where you can enter some rules for those in your group.
If you want to, you can post a link to the rules in your welcome message.
Alternatively, you may just want to post the full set of rules in your welcome message.
Either way, just make them easy to find.
When it comes to moderating the group, you don’t have to do all of the hard work yourself. Using the features found within LinkedIn, you can select someone as a group moderator.
You could, for instance, pick someone who is very active in your group. That is, if they want to be a moderator.
Having someone take over moderating duties will free you up to concentrate on the other aspects related to group growth.
You don’t always have to be in a reactive mode when moderating a group.
Thanks to some of the features created by LinkedIn, you can act preemptively.
If you go to the ‘Group Settings’ page, you’ll be able to control things like content publishing and commenting.
When you change these settings you’ll be able to control the direction your group takes.
For example, you can choose if you want your group to be used for job postings by disabling or enabling the ‘Jobs Feature.’
You don’t necessarily have to ban group features outright.
You can also choose the option of reviewing group events and approving them at your own discretion.
This is a great way to keep a close eye on what’s going on in your group.
Of course, if you choose the ‘Submit everything for approval’ option,’ you’ll need to make sure that you’re quick to approve things.
Failure to do so may lead to the group becoming stagnant and members feeling frustrated.
This can lead to people interacting with the group less and that can slowly kill your group.
If you want to get a little bit clever, you’ll also notice that there is a ‘Restrictions’ section.
This section is designed to automate the moderation process a bit.
For example, you can choose to only moderate someone who is new to the group. You can select a window of time in which their actions need to be monitored.
In that space of time, you can see if they’re going to be trouble. If they become a problem, you can either boot them or have a quiet word with them.
You can also moderate people who are new to the LinkedIn platform. These individuals might not be aware of the LinkedIn environment and how they should interact with other LinkedIn members.
Because of this, you might want to monitor these individuals for a set period of time, too.
There’s also the option to moderate people who have little or no LinkedIn connections.
Though this demographic may lack a high number of connections, it doesn’t mean that they’re not valuable members of the LinkedIn network.
So, you might not want to reject them from joining your group just because they have low connection numbers.
Alternatively, you might want to enable the ‘Require moderation for people with few or no connections’ feature.
This will allow for you to give them group access, while still being able to closely monitor their actions.
This is a good option to tick if you want to give genuine people a chance to grow their network, but you want to protect your group from spammers hitting everyone via status update all the time.
As for the ‘Members’ section of the page, we’ve covered this earlier in the post.
When you have the ‘Request to Join’ option enabled, you’ll be able to investigate the profile of a potential member before they join your group.
In taking all of these steps, you ensure that your group is a fun and interesting place to be.
When it’s like this, people won’t mind inviting other LinkedIn members to join the group, too.
5. Promote your group on other social media platforms
There’s not much to say here.
If you’ve already built up a hefty following on other social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, you shouldn’t be afraid to promote your LinkedIn group there, too.
Chances are good that the people who are engaging with you on these platforms are going to like what you’re talking about in your social network groups.
Promoting their group on other social media platforms helped Dell to grow their group to over 8,000 members.
Even if you’re just starting out on the other social media platforms, you can still promote your LinkedIn group there.
Whenever you’re promoting your group, always make an effort to emphasize the benefits of joining.
LinkedIn is growing second by second.
As opposed to the other major social networks, those who join LinkedIn are mostly looking for ways to advance their professional life.
If you’re a business, this represents a great opportunity.
You can harness the power of LinkedIn by creating a LinkedIn group.
A LinkedIn group will allow you to create a community of like-minded people who will potentially see you as an authority.
Because of this, you’ll be uniquely positioned to later do business with them.
However, you can’t just create a LinkedIn group and hope for the best.
You need to know how to set a group up properly and how to proactively go out and get people to join your group.
Even then, you’ll need to constantly monitor your group, so that it’s a good place for LinkedIn members to hang out.
Get it all right, though, and LinkedIn groups could represent a massive opportunity when it comes to gathering leads for your business.
What have you found to be true when growing LinkedIn Groups?