12 best practices for using LinkedIn groups as a marketing tool

Last winter, I shared my tried-and-true 30-day B2B social media launch plan. While LinkedIn was already a focus, over the past nine months, LinkedIn groups have become an increasingly important content marketing and demand generation channel for many of my clients.

LinkedIn groups are great for building brand awareness and engagement with your target audience. Below are 12 best practices for making them work as a marketing channel for your business.

1. Seek out quality and quantity

In order to make LinkedIn groups an effective distribution channel for your content and a source of potential leads, you need to post to the right groups. Consider both the group size (for example, audience scale) and posting frequency (audience engagement, for instance) when developing your list of target groups. A simple search will produce a combination of the largest, most relevant, and most active groups related to your keyword.

2. Make it personal

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LinkedIn groups are made up of people. Therefore, you should post as an individual – not as a brand. Have each team member who is posting request acceptance into all the target groups and post as individuals.

3. Participate before posting

Just as in real life, when you join a new group online, you need to get a feel for the group dynamics before you start setting the agenda. Begin by liking or leaving comments on posts from others in the group. Spend three to four weeks doing this before posting your own news, content, and views.

4. Less is more

Even after you’ve established yourself as a valuable participant in the group’s dialogue, you’ll want to post sparingly. Depending on the frequency of posts to the given group, posting once a month may be sufficient. After all, you don’t want the group’s feed to become an echo chamber.

5. Start with industry news

When it comes time to start posting, what should you post? Across the board, curating and sharing relevant articles with each group is a welcome and easy entry point.

A word of caution: Don’t start by posting self-authored or branded posts, as this could be seen as self-promotion if you haven’t first established yourself as a valuable and objective contributor.

6. Share your point of view

When posting a news item, include a quick gloss on it or ask a question. Some quality phrasing suggestions for posting that have more potential to incite engagement include, “Do you agree with X in this piece?” or “I think this prediction is way off because…”

Just saying something is “interesting” or commenting with “Great piece!” is too vague and impersonal. Therefore, such posts are less likely to generate engagement.

7. Poll your focus group

LinkedIn groups are made up of professionals who have opted in to discuss a certain topic. They can also serve as a ready focus group for you brand.

Ask open-ended questions about industry trends, pain points, challenges, or even test your messaging – and get to know your targets better in the process.

8. Go visual

Given the text-based nature of the feed, visual content tends to perform well in groups. Heavy-up on:

  • Infographics
  • Images
  • Ebooks
  • White papers
  • Articles

9. Promote your content

Once you’ve established yourself as a valuable member of the community – which usually happens after six to eight weeks of performing the best practices above – it’s perfectly okay to start sharing your own content with the group.

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You can also invite members to your events and webinars, or post large company or product announcements. Hopefully by this point, the group’s members will be glad to hear your news, and they will even be eager to help spread your content to their own social networks.

Expert tip: Sponsored updates are a cost-effective tool for scaling your content to relevant professionals beyond the groups.

10. Beware cross-posting

Regardless of your industry or function, membership in many of your target groups will overlap. Be careful not to post the same article or question to multiple groups, or to do so with different angles tailored to each audience.

11. Be courteous

It is customary to thank members for their comments to your post. Also, be sure to respond to comments and answer questions as they come in.

12. Link only after engagement

Wait until someone likes or comments on your post before linking with them. When you do connect, thank them for their comment. Depending on the comment or response, you many have a new lead.

Final thoughts:

Effective use of LinkedIn groups as a marketing channel will:

  • Enable authentic connections and one-on-one conversations with your target audience
  • Provide a forum for sharing your brand’s news and values with qualified prospects
  • Build community around your brand, facilitating additional distribution of your content to the community members’ own social networks
  • Generate prospects and leads who have expressed genuine interest in engaging with your solutions

By following these practices, you’ll have an active social presence within the most relevant communities of your target audience. Connecting and engaging in this manner will only fortify your brand’s status as a force to be reckoned with in the digital sphere.

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