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Should LinkedIn Groups Be Part of Your Social Strategy?

Labeled the “professional” social network, LinkedIn boasts nearly 250 million users. But unfortunately, a lot of people take a “set it and forget it” approach when it comes to one of the larger social networks around. If this is your tactic when tackling LinkedIn, we’d like to share with you some thoughts on how to better utilize a very important and useful piece of your social strategy.

When people sign up for LinkedIn, a lot of them look at it as a place to house their resume and revisit only when they need to update some info or when they’re trying to discover where someone works. Well, those people are only scratching the surface of this very powerful social network and not experiencing its true potential. Even if you’re visiting LinkedIn on a daily basis and perusing the timeline like you would on your Facebook account, you’re still missing where the magic happens. This magical place is called LinkedIn Groups.

LinkedIn Groups are exactly what they sounds like, groups of people discussing a common subject such as social media, email marketing or advertising. But unlike groups on other social networks such as Facebook, you’re dealing with a very professional environment where people are not only trying to gain useful information, but they’re also trying to provide it as well.

What does all of this collaboration offer? It’s provides an environment where you can build solid relationships with like minded individuals which can have a very positive effect on you and your business. So what is the makeup of a LinkedIn Group and how can you get involved?

If you haven’t been back to LinkedIn in a while, why don’t we start with how to navigate to Groups and provide you with some tips on how to successfully make them a part of your overall social strategy. First, you want to log into your LinkedIn account. Then, click on the drop down arrow in the little gray box next to the long search box and click on groups.

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Should LinkedIn Groups Be Part of Your Social Strategy? image LinkedIn Groups 11

Finally, type in a subject in the search box that is pertinent to your business and click the magnifying glass. In our example we used social media:

Should LinkedIn Groups Be Part of Your Social Strategy? image LinkedIn Groups 3

You will not only see how many results are returned for your word or phase, but LinkedIn goes one step further by providing key information about the groups that are returned. You’re served up factoids such as how active the groups are, how many discussions have taken place this month, how many total members are in the group and how many of those members are in your overall LinkedIn network. This provides guidance on whether the LinkedIn Group is a good fit for you.

Now finding the group you might want to participate in is the easy part. Because as you’ll discover, not all LinkedIn Groups are created equal. A lot of groups are open and allow anyone to join and post. But others, like my Digital Marketing group example below are closed. This means that even if you join a particular group, you must still be approved by the owner or manager(s).

Should LinkedIn Groups Be Part of Your Social Strategy? image LinkedIn Groups 4

This allows the administrators to limit the members to subject experts thus leading to more quality discussions. It also curbs any spammers from infiltrating the walls of a particular group. But even if you’re invited into a particular closed group, you may have one more hurdle to jump, which is moderation. As with my example below, some of the larger groups (like Inbound Marketers with nearly 100,000 members) have people that come in and spam their wares and services. This sometimes forces the owner or manager to implement a moderation protocol. This chokes the group discussion dynamic but is a necessary evil to combat spam.

Should LinkedIn Groups Be Part of Your Social Strategy? image LinkedIn Groups 5

But this moderation aspect does validate my point about how to effectively use LinkedIn Groups as part of your social strategy. That point is to be human and stimulate real discussion. People, especially smart professionals that participate in LinkedIn Groups, can tell when you’re being genuine. If you’re simply throwing up links back to your website to generate traffic, people will get wise. But if you’re bringing great questions and sharing enlightening answers in the discussion, people will remember that. And, the great thing about having this activity take place on LinkedIn is that with a click of your name, they can jet on over to find out where you work.

So I’ll finally answer my own question: YES! LinkedIn Groups should certainly be part of your social strategy. But they have to be used in the proper way for you to see some real return on your investment. Tell us about your success with LinkedIn Groups because we’d love to know!

Comments on this Article: 9

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  1. Stacey says:

    I’d like to add that when you are looking for groups, make sure the ones you join have active discussions taking place. Some groups simply act as ad mills. In other words, there’s no real social networking going on, just folks promoting their products and services. I am in the process of un-joining such groups, because I just don’t see the purpose they serve. By all means, please enlighten me if you guys understand the point of their existence.

    • That’s one of my biggest problems with the LinkedIn Groups – trying to create or even have a meaningful conversation. If the group isn’t a glorified ad’s page it’s just a page full of people attempting to prove you wrong at every possible moment…even if you’re not wrong!

  2. Chris Green says:

    Of the 200+ million users claimed by LinkedIn, I estimate that perhaps a quarter are “active”. I know one person who lists as “current” a job that she left over 6 years ago. LI Groups are useful if you choose the right ones: join, watch the discussions for a week or two, then leave if the discussions don’t meet your needs – or are just jobs or adverts. A dozen quality discussion groups are far better than 50 nondescript ones.

  3. I’ve just written an article looking specifically at LinkedIn groups and it’s generated a lot of discussion. Whilst LinkedIn groups in theory are well worth investing your time in, this is not always the case.

    LinkedIn has a little known policy in place, SWAM – Site Wide Automatic Moderation meaning that if anything you do is flagged by a bot as suspected spam, without warning you will automatically be blocked from participating in all LinkedIn Groups.

    On it’s own such a policy would not be bad and would seem sensible but in practice it means a lot of professionals, contributing high quality, non spammy content are being wrongly flagged whilst blatant and some very obvious spammers are slipping through the net. Whatever algorithm LinkedIn are using, it’s getting it wrong an awful lot of the time and it’s stopping a lot of people from participating in groups.

    LinkedIn Groups are good (but not as good as Google Plus Communities in my experience), but for anyone new to them, do make sure you are aware of this blanket banning policy that they have in place.

  4. Stacey says:

    @Shell – Thanks. I had no idea about SWAM. That’s good to know. I’ve posted a link to a blog post a few times and did so in more than one group. I wonder if that would qualify as SWAM. Most of the time, I’m simply conversing, but on occasion, I have posted. Thanks again.

  5. Brian Rich says:

    Great post, I keep my Linkedin profile updated but I do not use it as a social tool for like others it is hard to find legitimate and useful groups.

  6. Kelsey says:

    I like LinkedIn groups, but it’s hard to find good ones that aren’t flooded with self-promotion.

  7. It wasn’t so long ago that Jeff Weiner proudly said LinkedIn was all about “members first”. SWAM has shown how quickly a company can go off track. In early November Jeff Weiner explained to the New York Times:

    “So our culture has five dimensions: transformation, integrity, collaboration, humor, and results. And there are six values: members first; relationships matter; be open, honest and constructive; demand excellence; take intelligent risks; and act like an owner. And by far the most important one is members first. We as a company are only as valuable as the value we create for our members.”

    Less than two months later his minions implemented SWAM. As I write in my new blog post, SWAM is anything but members first.

    Read more in my blog at: http://www.projectweavers.com/linkedin-member-first-no-more/

    Thanks,
    Matthew

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