No cat videos, movie trailers, or baby pictures allowed. Levity surely, but, no off color jokes – remember we are standing around the corporate water cooler.
LinkedIn Groups are a closed off area of LinkedIn. Groups are formed around common causes, topical issues, subjects, product, or companies. LinkedIn groups are networking on steroids.
LinkedIn is grown up and is way way past the digital CV or job board of old. LinkedIn is so grown up Microsoft, yes, the Windows, MSOffice company, paid $26.2 Billion to purchase it last year. Serious, big league business stuff.
Connecting with people, personal branding and being active in groups is online networking on steroids.
LinkedIn groups are the centres of efforts to foster community. As part of the wider LinkedIn home page update both groups and company pages see updates.
As part of fostering community let us dive dive into the changes to LinkedIn groups.
LinkedIn Groups are Members-Only
Yes, Members-only, exclusive, inside the velvet ropes, special, VIP.
LinkedIn changed groups in 2016 based on feedback from users. The biggest change was access to groups and privacy of conversations.
Before 2016 groups were open to join. Because of the ‘open to join’ access conversations were low-quality, (read spam, link dropping, etc.) and group conversations were visible outside of groups. This ‘anyone can read what is said behind a closed door’ aspect stymied conversations.
Today, two types of groups exist – standard and unlisted. Discoverability in search results and who can invite who to join are the differences.
Post Approval is Gone
Community and conversations revolve around topics. The LinkedIn research found high engagement by group members and timeliness of posting are correlated. Therefore, a ‘post approval process’ does not exists.
When the conversation flows people want to add their views, therefore:
- Group rules have changed, allowing posts to post immediately without moderator approval.
- Owners/managers can still remove ‘off-topic’ posts and place members in moderation.
- Any group members can flag ‘off-topic’ and inappropriate comments.
The Value of LinkedIn Groups
Because groups are members-only, conversations and discussions are easier to foster, monitor and ‘control’.
Groups give owners:
Control – control over audiences and the people interacting with your brand, product, issue, cause, or topic.
Exclusivity – groups are members only club – people must ask and approved to join.
Find Leads – It is fair to believe if somebody joined your brand’s LinkedIn Group, they have a level of interest in your product or service. And if you do the right things in the right order they can become leads.
Listen – People like to talk about problems and concerns and issues they have with their own product or your. Listen and improve.
The Value of a LinkedIn Group
Building thought leadership – the owners name is the owner of the group. Based off perception, the owner is a thought leader for that niche (until proven otherwise). The more you back this up with quality content posting, and positive group management, your community will support you and anoint you a leader in that niche.
Connecting with your community – People want to belong. Belong to a community or tribe as Seth Godin observed in 2008. The more you allow and facilitate like-minded people to talk and share, the more they will appreciate you for doing so – and give a boost to your leader status.
Traffic / visits to your website – whilst overly promotional posting will push people away.
- Put your website URL in the Group Information section
- Website links in the 4 message templates
- Share blog posts from your website
Sending announcement to group member e.g. emails – “You can send one announcement per week” to all groups members. The announcement will go out as an email, a post, and a discussion. Recall this message is to members who have chosen to receive such emails.
Two types of groups exist in the new LinkedIn universe – standard and unlisted. Time for a deep dive and explore.
Two Group types – Standard and Unlisted
Standard LinkedIn Groups
Standard groups are open for discovery by any LinkedIn member and do show up in LinkedIn, Google and Bing search results.
Any group members can invite anyone and approve any of their 1st degree connections to join.
Standard groups are “request to join”
- Must have a LinkedIn profile to join (self explanatory!)
- Group members are allowed to display the group logo in their profile.
- The group is ‘find-able’ in LinkedIn search results and Google, Bing, Yahoo, Duck Duck Go etc. search results.
- Only members of the group can view conversations or post conversations
- Any member can invite their 1st degree connections to join, and
- Group members can approve their own 1st degree ‘request to join’
- The group owner can change the type of the group to unlisted.
Unlisted LinkedIn Groups
Unlisted LinkedIn Groups are not discoverable. Only group owners and managers can invite LinkedIn members to join.
Unlisted groups are “invite to join”
Anyone in the unlisted group can share the URL of the group and so non members can request to join.
- Unlisted groups have a ‘lock’ icon next to the group name – indicating group is unlisted.
- The unlisted group logo is displayed on members profile, but only members of same unlisted group can view the logo.
- As with standard groups – you must have a LinkedIn profile to join (self evident)
- Unlisted groups are not ‘invisible’ to search on and off LinkedIn.
- Only group members can view conversations from the group.
- Joining an unlisted group is by invitation from the group owner or manager
- or any member can send the group URL, and people can then request to join the.
What content to share or ‘what the conversation would I like to have in this community?’
What conversations accelerate the ‘know, like, and trust’ factors to move people to the next stage of their relationship with you or your brand?
#SorryNotSorry posting, repeatedly, special offers into your group will kill all conversations, and any nascent community, faster than talking politics or religion around the corporate water cooler.
Two Parts to LinkedIn Group Content Strategy
New members and ongoing weekly conversations
New member conversations and tactics
* Let Them Introduce Themselves
Try creating a separate discussion for introductions, it’ll provide the group with one destination for welcoming new folks
* Give Them Their First Kudos
Everyone wants his or her contributions to be valued. Try to share and show your support for new members by commenting on their initial posts.
Posting the group rules in a discussion makes it more likely members will see them. You can also collect feedback to continue refining the rules as the group grows.
* Say “ Hello”
The welcome email is a great opportunity to greet new members. You can personalize the template with an introduction, some features of the group and a “thank you” for joining.
* Lay Down The Law
A clear, detailed set of guidelines will help new members get in on the conversation. Use the Group Rules to let them know what type of content and discussion your group encourages.
* Send A Private Message To Make Sure You Connect
Private messages are the most-read communication on LinkedIn. They’re a good way to send an etiquette guide to clue new members in to the tone and “unwritten rules” of the group.
A LinkedIn group content strategy can be as deep and complex as you would like or as ah hoc as you want.
Complex group posting strategy – number of people dependent.
- Monday – What are you grateful for?
- Tuesday – Trouble Tuesday – what problem can the group help with?
- Wednesday – Shout out Wednesday – call out a good deed done by member.
- Thursday – I am looking for ____ . This is a partnership, JV, supplier help post.
- Friday – Promotion day – link
Here are weekly conversation starters:
- Ask open-ended questions to get the conversation going.
- Post polls
- Share timely and relevant content, for example, breaking news and exclusive product information.
- Ask your members about their goals for the group.
- Ask your members for feedback on how you can you make this group better.
Use a content curation process as your group posting strategy.
Pursue to this guide on content curation for my process on a content curation strategy.
The simple to say, easy to read, hard to do 5 content curating steps:
- Find articles
- Filter wheat from chaff
- Comment with your UCCP, unique content curation perspective
LinkedIn Groups FAQ
Are Group conversations private?
…professional conversations are most effective in a private trusted space, so conversations in groups won’t be visible until you’ve joined the group… LinkedIn
Where are my Subgroups?
Subgroups are treated as their own independent groups.
How do I change my Group type?
As the group’s owner or manager, you can switch between standard and unlisted groups from your Group Settings page
Note: It could take up to 24 hours for the group type to change. If you’re switching to an unlisted group, it can take up to 24 hours for it to be removed from search.
How do I change the name of my Group
Group owners and managers can change to the group information or group settings.
Note: LinkedIn doesn’t allow excessive changes (not sure what number this is) to a group’s identity because it affects member confidence in your group and in the LinkedIn Groups product.
Announcements to Group Members
Group managers can send up to one group announcement per week to members who have chosen to receive such emails.
The subject line is up to 200 characters and the message is up to 4000 characters.
By default, announcements are sent as an email to members and also posted as a featured discussion within the group.
This LinkedIn Group moderator field guide is useful resource.
Also published on Medium.