Six Ways to Grow a LinkedIn Group: Tips From the Pros
Do you want to create a LinkedIn group?
LinkedIn groups can be a great way to network with your customers, peers and other professionals in your industry.
But it can be challenging to grow your group and get the people you want to join and participate in the discussions.
We asked the pros to share their best tips to grow your LinkedIn groups.
Follow these tips and you’ll find it easier to create the type of community you’re looking for.
#1: Use Email to Send Invitations That Convert
You’ll need to send out invitations to get your contacts to join your LinkedIn group and LinkedIn has a form for you to do this.
The default LinkedIn message that’s sent when you fill out the form below is: “Subject: Name invites you to join Group” and “Welcome Message: I would like to invite you to join my group on LinkedIn.” Unfortunately this has about 1% chance of getting someone to your group.
Let’s face it. There’s enough noise out there. If you want to get someone to join your group, you need to give them a good reason. Instead of using the standard LinkedIn invitation, use email to craft the kind of message that will get your contacts to join your LinkedIn group.
In my opinion, the person who does this best is Jill Konrath. She has created a beautifully branded email that she sends out to her email list. It not only shares the link, but some of the reasons you might want to join her group, Fresh Sales Strategies.
Let’s take a look at how this works.
Use email to invite your prospective members. This allows you to expand beyond your LinkedIn network. For those of you who only want to invite your LinkedIn connections, you’ll want to create an external contact list:
- Create a specific group on whatever CRM or email service you use (Outlook, Gmail, etc.).
- Export your LinkedIn contacts.
- Send email to this Group only.
But why would you limit it to just your LinkedIn members? Invite your whole mailing list if relevant!
Brand your email with your website and LinkedIn group branding. Be sure to use a clear call to action, such as “Join Now.”
Lead with the WIIFM (What’s in it for me?). Be very clear on what your group has to offer. What are the benefits to the user? Tell your contacts what they’ll get by joining your LinkedIn group and make sure this aligns with your business’s marketing message.
LinkedIn group URLs are not easy to remember. Create a customized group URL (http://Bit.ly/join-the-group) that’s easy to use and remember and use this in your email invitations.
Send a simple, elegant invitation via email to relevant lists and you’re sure to see your LinkedIn group grow in size.
Viveka Von Rosen, author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day and is known internationally as the “LinkedIn Expert.”
#2: Set Up an Auto-Send Email to New Members
One of the keys to help you grow a successful LinkedIn group is to get new members engaged with you and your community quickly.
You can jump-start the engagement process by auto-sending an email asking new members to make a quick introduction to everyone. Make it really simple to do this and provide a link that goes right to your LinkedIn group URL.
Setting up an auto-send email for new members is very easy. Once logged into your group, click on the “Manage” link at the top, then click on the “Templates” link on the left sidebar. Make sure the Auto-send box is checked and click on Edit Template to compose your message.
Remember to keep your message quick and easy to read, with a URL to drive them to your group.
Here’s a simple template you could use to encourage new members to start engaging.
Another tip to boost engagement with members is to make sure you connect with them after they’ve joined your LinkedIn group. This will ensure you can engage with them in the LinkedIn stream too.
Mike Delgado, author of circled.us and the social media community manager at Experian.
#3: Set Up a Regular Email Plan
If you want a successful group on LinkedIn that benefits your business, then be sure to take advantage of the ability to email members.
Remember that you can email your members once a week using the Send Announcement option. Give these emails thought and turn your LinkedIn group members into leads for your business. For example, you might want to offer free content downloads and webinars related to the theme of your group on a regular basis.
If your group is open to the public, include a line in your welcome email and regular announcements and ask members to spread the word about the group to help it to grow. You can even include a tweet for people to share by using ClickToTweet to create a custom tweet that members can share with their followers that includes a link to your group.
Kristi Hines, freelance writer, ghostwriter and author of Kikolani.
#4: Focus on Creating Discussions
It’s not as easy to build a LinkedIn group as it is to build a Facebook Page. LinkedIn is used as a business tool and so is probably mainly used during work hours. Facebook is a form of entertainment and is used at all hours. The messages you receive from both of these platforms are very different.
Without the availability of cute inspirational picture quotes, your LinkedIn group content needs to be both useful and worthy of a discussion. So how do you know what will work and what won’t? The answer is trial and error—but very often it’s just the simple things that get the most traction.
Try to talk about something that will resonate with your audience or pull on an emotional string in some way. Members may have had an experience of a similar nature to share. People love to tell their own stories and others like to listen.
Remember also that not everyone in the group will click Like or leave a comment. There are also the voyeurs who are watching, listening and learning from those who are taking part. Just like your blog visitors, very few actually commit to take action, but they are there just the same, so keep posting!
Focus on creating discussions and members will want to come back and participate.
Linda Coles, founder of Blue Banana.
#5: Go Niche!
When you build a LinkedIn group, it can create a number of benefits for your company. For example, a LinkedIn group can position your company as an industry leader and also serve as a pipeline of potential leads for your business.
My best tip for building a successful LinkedIn group is to go niche. When you focus on a specific target audience for your LinkedIn group, magical things can happen.
As the old saying goes, “birds of a feather flock together.” Chances are, the members of your target market are already connected to people who are just like them on LinkedIn and other social networks.
As they join your group, their connections have the potential to see this activity, which is essentially a peer endorsement of your group. Additionally, you can enlist industry influencers to become advocates for your group.
These group advocates can help recruit members using their online influence, and they can also serve as discussion leaders to engage your members.
A more obvious benefit of focusing on a niche target market is that they’re likely to have similar needs and goals. You can create engaging discussions within your group that will increase participation when you focus on the needs, questions, concerns and issues that your members are collectively facing.
It’s much easier to come up with discussion ideas and content to share inside of your group when you understand the needs, issues and concerns of your specific target market!
When you focus on a specific niche for building your LinkedIn group, you can run targeted ads to promote your group within LinkedIn. For example, if you were targeting “financial advisors” for your LinkedIn group, you can run promotional ads within LinkedIn that target the job title “financial advisor” to get your group promotion ads in front of the right LinkedIn members.
Building a high-quality LinkedIn group is a long-term process and requires hands-on management, but you will get there much more quickly if you go niche with your LinkedIn group building efforts!
Stephanie Sammons, founder and CEO of Wired Advisor.
#6: Select the Right Name for Your LinkedIn Group
It’s important to choose the right name for your LinkedIn group. The name you choose can have an impact on how easy it is for others to find your group.
Before you decide on the name for your LinkedIn group, identify your goal for setting up a group. For example, are you looking to create a networking group for people within your industry or do you want to create a group for your ideal clients? Determining your goal is essential in ensuring that you select the right name for your group.
You’ll want to make sure the name you select targets the specific people you’re looking to attract. If you want to attract people from a specific geographic area, include the name of the city or area in your group name. For example, if your target market is businesspeople in San Diego, you may want to name your group San Diego Business Networking Group. It’s also important to have a custom logo made for your group to ensure it looks professional.
Select a name with the keywords that people would use when searching for groups on LinkedIn. This will ensure your group shows up in the search results. By doing this, you’ll see a lot more organic growth for your group.
Melonie Dodaro is recognized as Canada’s #1 LinkedIn expert and is the founder of Top Dog Social Media, a company that helps businesses leverage the power of social media.
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What do you think? Have you tried any of these tips above? Have you got any LinkedIn group tips you’d like to share? Please share your comments below.
Images from iStockPhoto.
Cindy King is the director of editorial for Social Media Examiner. She spent 25 years abroad in international business development and then built her own international business using social business networking. Other posts by Cindy King »