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Guide to LinkedIn Groups

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  1. 1. LINKEDIN GROUPS Guide to Creating Successful Communities Sandip My Groups: CIO Forum, Forrester Maria My Groups: Apple Users, Cornell Alumni Steve My Groups: Citi Network, Social Media Mafia Laura My Groups: White House (Official), KIVA, Green Alex My Groups: IBM, LegalNYC, Harvard ALumni
  2. 2. CONTENTS What is a LinkedIn Group 2 Why create a LinkedIn Group 3 How to create a LinkedIn Group Step 1. Make a Plan 4 Step 2. Set Up Your Group 6 Step 3. Enhance Your Group 10 Step 4. Open the Doors 12 Step 5. Build Engagement 14 Step 6. Moderate Your Group 16 Conclusion 17 APPENDIX 1
  3. 3. WHAT IS A LINKEDIN GROUP L inkedIn Groups are communities of like-minded There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn professionals who share a common experience, organized around a wide range of topics – from passion, interest, affiliation, or goal. Groups virtualization to entrepreneurship to sustainable provide members with a private and focused design. Members frequently belong to multiple space to discuss relevant topics, share news groups that align with different aspects of their stories, network, and collaborate with others. professional life, such as university alumni groups, trade groups, conference groups, and networking groups. WHAT IS A LINKEDIN GROUP
  4. 4. WHY CREATE A LINKEDIN GROUP L inkedIn Groups enable marketers to establish LinkedIn Groups are a great tool for brands to: their own community within the larger LinkedIn business network in a seamless and organic way. Enable the conversation Members join groups so they can engage with Marketers can easily deliver relevant messages like-minded professionals and efficiently engage with their audience of potential customers Create long-term interaction with customers and prospects Ongoing discussions and collaboration produce a vital and lasting community Generate viral, sustainable growth Groups are organically viral creating growth opportunities for the long-run WHY CREATE A LINKEDIN GROUP 3
  5. 5. MAKE A PLAN B efore starting a group there are some key things you’ll want to consider. Taking the time to think through your short and long term strategy will go a long way towards making your group successful. HOW TO CREATE A LINKEDIN GROUP
  6. 6. What is your objective Your objective will drive the rest of your decisions. What are you trying to achieve with the group? What do you want to communicate? Are you trying to build brand awareness? Do you want a venue for customers to discuss your products? Are you trying to expose non-customers to your product? Who is your audience Your audience will have a big impact on how you set up your group. Who are you trying to reach? Customers, prospects, potential partners, influencers, employees, etc. What is your message A topic-based group (e.g., “The IT Corner” by Acme Computer) is a great way to build broader engagement with your audience. Pick a topic related to your brand that will allow for more diverse conversations and draw participation from non-customers as well. Who will manage the group Managing a LinkedIn Group will require time to build engagement and moderate. It is important to identify a primary contact either in or affiliated with your company who will coordinate all activities for your group. It is also helpful to enlist others in your company to help build engagement in the early phase. Plan to ensure people at your company can make time to do this for at least six months to nurture and grow the group. TOP TIPS • Set a clear objective • Select your topic carefully • Establish a content team • Commit to six months STEP 1. MAKE A PLAN 5
  7. 7. 2 SET UP YOUR GROUP Now that you have determined the purpose of the Group and who will be managing it, you can move on to the set up phase. GROUP BRANDING Logo Name Description OPEN VS CLOSED GROUP HOW TO CREATE A LINKEDIN GROUP
  8. 8. Open vs Closed Group When creating a group, you will be asked to set access controls. Open groups automatically accept any member that wants to be part of the group. Closed groups require the group owner to invite, pre-approve, or individually approve members before they are allowed to participate. Open groups are popular for brands because they remove barriers to join and tend to grow faster. Closed groups give you more control over who is in the group but take more time to manage and as a result can ramp up slowly. Group Branding The name and description of your group will help people identify and find you. To highlight your brand, include your company name in the Group name. Choose a logo that quickly conveys the topic of your group, and keep in mind its small size on-screen. Avoid too much text and opt for simple, large, images that can have instant impact. Create a detailed description of your group outlining why people should join. Include the focus area of the group, the types of topics that will be discussed, and who will benefit from joining. Jobs Tab The Jobs tab is an optional feature that creates a space for members to post job openings. Managers and other members can move job-related posts out of the general area into the Jobs tab, helping keep your main discussion focused on core topics. STEP 2. SETUP YOUR GROUP 7
  10. 10. Subgroups Subgroups is a feature that enables you to break out a broader group topic into more refined categories. For example, a technology group might have subgroups for laptops, desktops, and printers. One drawback to creating subgroups when you are just starting out, however, is that your conversations become spread across multiple sections making it difficult to get critical mass. Subgroups are a great feature to activate once your overall group has momentum. Manage Templates Before launching your group you will want to set up email templates. This is a standard feature that allows you to automatically send emails based on one of four actions: acknowledge a request to join, welcome a new member, decline a request to join, or block a request to join. The content of the email is text-based and can be customized by the group owner. Sending a welcome email is a great opportunity to reinforce the purpose of the group and outline posting guidelines. TOP TIPS • Include your brand in group name • Design a custom group logo • Write email templates • Create a detailed group description STEP 2. SETUP YOUR GROUP 9
  11. 11. 3 ENHANCE YOUR GROUP C ustom Groups have unique messaging features that help you build and sustain a relationship with your customers. A custom content module enables you to surface any content that can be distributed via an RSS feed. Typical RSS content may include blog posts, Twitter feeds and photography. You do not have to limit yourself to your own content, however. Include feeds from other sources that are relevant and of interest to your group. You can also add a stand-alone video module to your Custom Group. This module pulls in specific videos that you have posted to YouTube. Starting your group with a video introduction is a great way to jump start engagement. Be sure to regularly rotate in other videos, such as interviews, presentations, and event coverage, to keep your members engaged. You can also use your customized space to distribute valuable information to your members by promoting white paper assets. Relevant, free content will be greatly appreciated by members of your group. It is important to keep content in your Group fresh. Plan on developing an editorial programming calendar and share your plan with members. They’ll be sure to check back often to get new information, watch new videos and download the latest white paper. Want to source feedback from the crowd and spark healthy debate? Custom Group owners can use one of their messaging slots to run an interactive poll. Ask members any variety of questions and receive real-time feedback and insights. TOP TIPS • Post a welcome video • Stream in a relevant blog • Encourage discussion with polls • Leverage third-party content HOW TO CREATE A LINKEDIN GROUP
  13. 13. 4 OPEN THE DOORS Now that your group is ready to go, it’s time to get the word out. With hundreds of thousands of groups in the LinkedIn Groups directory, it is crucial for you to be proactive in making your group more discoverable. Think about quality, not quantity of members in the beginning to ensure that you are building a valuable and focused group. Get the Word Out The easiest way to build membership in your group is by reaching out to those who already have a proven affinity for using LinkedIn tools – that is, your target audience on LinkedIn. With rich ad targeting capabilities, you can easily and quickly raise awareness of your group. Tap into your content team’s individual networks to start spreading the word on LinkedIn. Use network status messages on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to broadcast interesting discussions from your group. Include links to your group in email signature lines, on your website, in offline advertising and in collateral. HOW TO CREATE A LINKEDIN GROUP
  14. 14. Who to Accept If you have set up a closed group, you will need to accept, decline or block each request to join. Criteria for group membership should be defined by readily available information in the LinkedIn Profile. If it’s not, consider making the group open or invite-only. How to Decline Don’t simply ignore a request if the applicant is not a good fit. 1) Someone else on your team may not realize that the request is being ignored and may inadvertently accept it, and 2) It is bad for your brand image if a member feels like you are ignoring them. When to Block Blocking members is a last resort. You should block members that have been declined several times, repeatedly ignored the posting guidelines, or have been abusive to other members or staff. Start with Introductions Ask group members to introduce themselves. Have them to share their name, where they are from, their profession, something interesting about themselves, and what they hope to gain from the group. This is a great way to get them used to posting and commenting in discussions. TOP TIPS • Use targeted ads to build membership • Promote your group in your traditional marketing • Ask members to introduce themselves • Decline members that are not a good fit 13 STEP 4. OPEN THE DOORS
  15. 15. 5 BUILD ENGAGEMENT There are many things you can do to help foster engagement in your group. In the early days of your group, staff participation will be key. As your group grows, staff involvement can be reduced as members pick up the ball and run with it. CREATE DISCUSSIONS FEATURED DISCUSSION HOW TO CREATE A LINKEDIN GROUP
  16. 16. Post a Question Start a “question of the week” campaign to drive new discussions. Use different staff members to post the questions so it doesn’t look like all content is coming from one person. Pick topics that will provoke discussion, and keep the question brief and to the point. You can always provide more detail in the Additional Details section. Acknowledge Contributors Recognize both those that create discussions and those that comment on them. Comment on posts and give out prizes for the most active participants. The prizes don’t need to be big to get the desired response – branded t-shirts, hats, mugs, or even just simple recognition such as announcing prize winners in a featured post. Comments are crucial for creating an engaging forum, so give separate awards and recognition to those that regularly comment. Send Announcements Use the announcement feature to keep your group top-of-mind. You can send one announcement per week to your group members. Use this announcement to communicate the question of the week, list winners of contests or alert members to related upcoming events. Feature Discussions Highlight announcements or interesting posts by tagging those discussions “featured.” Featured discussions are denoted by a small pin icon and always appear at the top of the discussion board. Limit the number of featured discussions to two or three at a time (ideally from different authors). TOP TIPS • Feature interesting posts • Acknowledge active contributors 15 • Pose a “question of the week” • Send weekly announcements STEP 5. BUILD ENGAGEMENT
  17. 17. 6 MODERATE YOUR GROUP A ctive moderation is important to maintaining a vibrant, welcoming group. It is crucial that you and your team set the tone for discussions by establishing and communicating posting guidelines. You can use the welcome email template as well as featured discussions to inform new members of your guidelines. In addition to the group guidelines, you should also have an internal enforcement guideline – what actions to take for different types of infractions. This will ensure that all team members are on the same page. Moderation needs to be done on a daily basis, which is why it is important to spread the work across a team of people. The group owner and other group managers can take turns reviewing requests to join, deleting spam and removing inappropriate content. If a discussion is off topic, or violates the user guidelines, delete the post and send a note to the author asking them to adhere to the guidelines. If a member repeats the offence, remove (and block) them from the group. It is up to you to determine how many warnings you want to give a member before removing them from the group. If a discussion is spam or abuse, delete it and remove (and block) the member from the group. On the flip side, be sure to acknowledge members that post quality content to the group. Moderating is not just about removing bad content, but about encouraging and rewarding good behavior as well. Moderating 101 • Establish posting guidelines • Be consistent with enforcement • Aggressively manage spam • Block inappropriate members HOW TO CREATE A LINKEDIN GROUP
  18. 18. CONCLUSION L inkedIn Groups provide a unique and powerful way for brands to join the professional conversation on LinkedIn. Over 50 million influential and motivated members are actively looking to connect and network with others around topics of mutual interest, and marketers have a great opportunity to help them. By following the basic roadmap outlined in this guide, you demonstrate to your audience that you’re serious about building a substantive, long-term relationship with them. Be prepared to invest time and resources and strike the right note from the beginning. Create a well-thought out community, whose topic is targeted to the right audience and whose discussions are well moderated and curated. Your thoughtful planning up front and commitment to adding value will go a long way towards attracting the right audience on LinkedIn and help you lay a foundation for deeper relationships with your customers. CONCLUSION17
  19. 19. Start a LinkedIn Group Learn about Custom Groups Linked in ® Advertising Copyright © 2009 LinkedIn Corporation. All rights reserved.