LinkedIn Adds Group Features

LinkedIn today unveiled a premium service that allows groups to promote themselves or their events through word of mouth marketing among members of the social networking service. It’s the third premium service LinkedIn has introduced.

“The problem with a private network is that it’s not that productive on its own,” said Konstantin Guericke, VP marketing at LinkedIn. “When you include group information within the LinkedIn network, then it adds value.”

The beta version of LinkedIn for Groups has been used by more than 800 groups, mostly professional organizations, alumni associations, and conference producers. The organizations have been able to promote their group or event through existing members or past attendees who are also LinkedIn members by having their group featured in the members’ profiles.

“Our attendees are almost entirely executives, so networking is a primary attraction of our conferences. LinkedIn for Groups helped attendees leverage the value of that networking beyond the actual conference dates and connect more efficiently,” Greg Sterling, program director at The Kelsey Group, said in a statement.

A free version of the groups feature will give LinkedIn users access to an online membership directory of organizations to which they belong. A paid version will add member administration controls and the ability to add logos to members’ profiles, so LinkedIn members who are searching the network will be exposed to the group through people they know. Pricing for the premium version starts at $5,000 for the first year.

If group members only interact within the group, their information will only be accessible by the group. If they choose to interact with the broader LinkedIn community, they will be visible to other LinkedIn members in their network as well.

In addition to the groups, jobs and services offerings, the company expects to launch a fourth premium service next month targeting power users like recruiters and industry analysts. According to Guericke, the top 12 percent of LinkedIn users perform more than 80 percent of the searches. A new tool to help those users reach more of LinkedIn’s 3.2 million users is being developed, while keeping in mind the privacy of users. Later this year, the company will begin using member information to better target advertising on the site.

“Our business is not just making money from subscribers — we need to make sure user transactions remain highly valuable,” Guericke said.

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