How to Setup Social Media Discussion Groups for Business

social media how to

Is networking a big part of your job or business?

Have you participated in or considered starting a discussion group?

The good news is LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ all offer options.

In this post, we’re going to look at how social media groups work for businesses and how you can benefit from them as both an owner and a participant.

#1: Google+ Communities

Let’s start with the newest kid on the block for social media groups: Google+ communities. When Google+ launched communities in December 2012, they grew at lightning speed. You can now find thousands of communities that cover every topic.

Benefits as a Member

One of the nice parts about Google+ communities is that you can participate in them using your personal profile or your business page—an option you won’t find on any other social network. This means that you can build your business’s authority on a particular topic within communities.

page activities in communities

Google+ page participating in a Google+ community.

The challenge for any member of a community, including businesses using their page, is getting past the Google+ community moderation filter. Most posts within a group that contain links will automatically be put in moderation, and will not be published to the group until the admin or manager of the community approves it.

This means that if you’re considering sharing a link in the community, you need to be sure it’s something that the community administrators will find useful enough to share. It helps to be an active member of the community so if you do share a link, the community administrators will recognize you as a valuable member of the community.

Benefits as an Owner

When your business creates a community, you get some perks as well. For starters, your community will be listed on your page’s About tab so that visitors can connect with you by following your page and joining your group.

communities owned by pages

Google+ community listed on your business page.

In the community, your business will be noted at the top of the right column of the page for all members to see.

communities owned by pages benefits

Communities created by a business page will show the page at the top.

As an added bonus, you can add links to your business on the community page in the About this Community section. This way, every time visitors and members of your community visit the page, they’ll have the opportunity to click through to learn more about your business.

add links

Add links to your community to boost website traffic.

If you want to increase click-through to your website and build your email list, consider creating some free content that is relevant to the topic of the group. For example, Unbounce, creators of the Conversion Heroes community, could market a free ebook on conversion tips that would likely be of interest to all of the members of the group.

#2: Facebook Groups

Creating or participating in a Facebook group is beneficial simply because Facebook is the largest social media network. The only downside is that there’s no way for a business to use its Facebook Page—all group interaction must be done through personal profiles.

Benefits as a Member

So how can a business promote itself within a group using its personal profile? The easiest way is to make sure your Facebook Page is linked to your personal profile. That way, when you make an informative post or comment within a group, people can hover over your name, see your business name in the popup and click through to your Page.

facebook groups page link

Link to a business's Facebook Page from personal profiles.

To make this happen, simply edit your personal profile and add your current employment information in the Work section. Be sure that your business Page comes up when you are entering your business name in the employer field.

adding facebook page profile

Adding your Facebook Page to your personal profile.

Your most recent employment listing will be listed on the front of your personal profile as well as in the popup when someone hovers over your name throughout Facebook, including the groups.

Benefits as an Owner

If you want to create a Facebook group for your business, you’ll have to do so using your personal profile. The only ways to promote your business that all members will see is to create a post within the group and pin it to the top.

You can also add a link to the group’s description, but only non-members will see it when they visit your group Page. Once people have joined, they would have to click to the About tab to find the link.

#3: LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn is best known as the top social network for professionals. Therefore, if you’re looking to build business relationships, participating in LinkedIn Groups is a must.

Benefits as a Member

Most people on LinkedIn are there for their business, either to promote it or to find resources for it. By participating in groups where you’re likely to find peers, it can help you build strong business partnerships. By participating in groups where you’re likely to find customers, it can help you build authority in the eyes of those most likely to hire or buy from you.

You can also use groups to build your network of like-minded professionals. If you’re interacting with someone in a group often, you can click on their profile photo to see their group activity page. From here, you can add them to your network based on your mutual group connection.

linkedin connection request

Using LinkedIn Groups to make connections.

If you want to message or connect with a member whom you do not know otherwise, using LinkedIn Groups can be a great way to do it. You can even bypass the need for a premium account since you can also direct message anyone that you share a group with.

These are just a few of the many reasons that Social Media Examiner decided to move the Social Media Marketing Networking Club over to LinkedIn.

Benefits as an Owner

LinkedIn definitely offers the best benefits for businesses that own a group. While you do have to create and own the group using your professional profile, you can incorporate it into your company page by adding your group under the Featured Groups section.

featured groups on linkedin

Featured groups on a LinkedIn company page.

One of the biggest perks for most businesses and marketers to owning a LinkedIn Group is the ability to email your group members. You can set up an initial welcome message template for all new group members to receive, and then you can follow it up by sending weekly group announcements.

linkedin group announcements

LinkedIn Group announcement template.

The key to getting the most out of your group announcements is to tie in promotion of your business with the group topic. Many businesses do this by offering free content giveaways (ebooks, webinars, etc.) that are relevant to group members.

A Recommended Group

Are you looking for a group for social media marketers?

Be sure to check out Social Media Examiner’s new LinkedIn Group: the Social Media Marketing Networking Club.

Social Media Examiner hosts the Social Media Marketing Networking Club group on LinkedIn

It’s a LinkedIn Group for marketers and business owners to network, learn and make connections.

You’ll find discussions around the best ways to use social media tools to help your business.

Your Turn

What do you think? Do you belong to groups? Please share in the comments and be sure to join the Social Media Networking Club on LinkedIn!

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About the Author, Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer and author of Kikolani, which covers content, search, and social media marketing. Sign up for her free training, 8 Days to Promotable Content. You can also follow her on Twitter @kikolani. Other posts by »




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  • http://theclosetgeek.net/ Barry Ricks

    So out of all the formats, which version have you found to be most successful for you? Or what is your favorite to use?

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Hi Barry! I find that the most successful in terms of driving new leads to my freelance writing business is LinkedIn. As far as favorite to use, Facebook simply because I have more personal interest groups there.

  • http://theclosetgeek.net/ Barry Ricks

    So I have started my own podcast/blog about all things geeky and I haven’t really touched it with LinkedIn, I have a personal profile, but I guess I haven’t found the need for it on LinkedIn because of the subject matter. But I guess I should do some more research about it.

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Hi Kristi! Thanks for this informative post – great tips and advice on business groups. I didn’t know much about the Google+ Communities option, so I’m glad you’ve included it here! Seems like there is a lot of room for business growth via this route.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    LinkedIn is definitely a great network if you are trying to attract business leads or a business audience in general. :)

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Definitely – Google+ communities has it’s perks for owners, and not many actually take advantage of them. :)

  • http://sproutsocial.com/features/social-media-engagement Sarah @ Sprout Social

    Thanks for the thorough info on discussion groups, Kristi. In my experience it seems like the group discussion is only as strong as the engagement of the members in it. Groups are much more attractive when members are commenting on the posts of others, asking and answering questions and posting more than just self promotion. I look forward to the discussions in the Social Media Networking Club LinkedIn group!

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    It’s tough, but if you are strict about moderating people who just want to “link and leave” in a group, you clear the path for meaningful discussions to open up on any network. Look forward to seeing you in the SMNC group! :)

  • https://bzbcornwall.wordpress.com/ Shari Larkin

    Thank you so much for the very informative post. I participate in many but and find them fabulous but I will definitely share. If that’s ok, lol

  • https://bzbcornwall.wordpress.com/ Shari Larkin

    I didn’t think you would mind Kristi. Cheers lol

  • Vivek G Maudgalya

    Thanks for sharing. These days LinkedIn groups are just become a spam. I hardly see people on Google+ Communities. I am not sure whether this really works.

  • Sue Monhait

    I’ll be very interested to watch SME’s LinkedIn Groups. I have one public group and one private group with subgroups available only to customers. I’m getting a lot of feedback that they are confusing and hard to navigate. But I still think its the best option. So jury is out right now.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    You should check out the SME LinkedIn group noted in the article – we have three moderators who are very vigilant about removing spam, leaving just room for discussions. :)

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Subgroups can be a bit confusing, but in general, having private groups is a great way to encourage more meaningful discussion.

  • The Lightwurx

    I started to realize this more and more while working with social media. Every social media place seems to hold a group/club/list type thing that you can create in alliance with your competitors. Even pinterest has shared boards and twitter has lists. I get to go make some! The only thing is Utah peeps don’t seem to be as active on these things.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    That’s kind of funny.. I’m in Southern Utah. :)

  • The Lightwurx

    Haha, of course that happens. Nice to meet you, Kristi! I grew up in Saint Goerge. What do you do?

  • Kaushiki Chatterjee

    Really informative and engaging article Kristi! specially about LinkedIn groups,can you suggest me how divert the minds of people in a group towards a question you have asked of their interest?How to make them answer your questions?
    kaushiki@http://www.iqecommerce.com/

  • Samantha

    Do you have any posts about how businesses can use Twitter to boost their networking? We are trying to expand into as many social media outlets as we can.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Hi Samantha! They have a lot of posts here on Twitter for business: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/tag/twitter/

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Nice to meet you too! I’m in Cedar and I’m primarily a freelance writer. :)

  • Michael Wilson

    I think that LinkedIn Groups is the best one because it is the most professional one out of the other ones mentioned. People can take a look at your profile and see what kind of professional background that you have, and then if you offer up some good discussions, they can even connect with you, like you mentioned. I never even knew about the Google+ one. With that site growing at a rapid pace, I bet it will catch on faster than anyone could expect.

  • The Lightwurx

    Very cool! Well, maybe we’ll run into each other somewhere else on the web, you might surprise me again haha!

  • Melissa Megginson

    Great article, Kristi! It definitely helped get some mental juices flowing.

    I’m honestly a bit embarrassed to admit that I only recently began using Google+ Communities to help share my companies blog posts! So far it’s proven to be an excellent way to get PinLeague’s message out to an extremely engaged audience.

    With that said, even the great G+ communities can’t compare to the traffic and shares driven by the Pinterest community boards we’ve joined. However, there’s certainly a chance that has more to do with nature of our company :)

  • Melissa Megginson

    Although Google+ has recently been growing on me, but since I happen to work for a Pinterest analytics and marketing company, I’ll have to go with Pinterest! For us, the community boards really have been a quick-and-easy way to get our message to a different audience than just our profile followers.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    LinkedIn is definitely the best if you’re looking for business. I’ve been more active in groups lately and gotten a couple of leads because of it. :)

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Yes, I think if your business is affiliated with a particular network, that network will probably (or should) win in traffic generation. :)

  • Jochem Koole

    Great article! In addition, I’d like to point out another feature of LinkedIn. It tells you which groups are active and which are not. This information is displayed when you search for groups.

    Also, under the More tab (after you joined the group) you find all kinds of Group Statistics: demographics, growth, and activity. Useful information to find out, if the group might be of interest to you.

  • http://kristihines.com/ Kristi Hines

    Great point Jochem. Unfortunately, “activity” could be just a lot of people sharing links in those groups – sometimes you don’t find out the activity value of a group until you’re in. :)

  • Jochem Koole

    Absolutely. You’ll need to join a group, before you can find out it’s true value. Activity is merely an indication.

  • http://www.seomasterexpert.com/ Swapan Kumar

    Amazing Post Kristi! Thanks for this insightful post. Great advices and suggestions on
    business groups. I previously don’t have much knowledge about the LinkedIn group thanks for including it here.

  • Frank Ranu

    I’ve been doing this on my own for the past week. You just made my life a heck of a lot easier! Great stuff. Thanks!







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