Ever thought about starting a LinkedIn group? You’re not alone. I fact, there are 1.2 million LinkedIn groups today and competition for members is fierce. How do you start and build a successful LinkedIn community? Let’s look at what one group has done and see what we can learn.
Started in January 2009, the UK Marketing Lounge is the LinkedIn group of Only Marketing Jobs, a job board here in Britain. One of the founders is Simon Lewis who told us how they started this group when nobody knew how groups would develop on LinkedIn. They started at just the right time and they have done some great things, the group now has more than 35,000 members.
Keep it exclusive to begin with
When starting out the group Simon and his team decided to go down the exclusive route. They would only let people who are marketers or related to marketing join, and only people who are based in the UK already (or are on their way to relocate to the UK). This tactic usually works, the more exclusive a group is the more interesting it seems. Compare this to the cool night club with a long queue outside it – everyone wants to get in. Today, the group gets about 300 people applying to join on a daily basis but less than half these are let in.
Members probably have to leave another group to join yours
One of the biggest challenge is that LinkedIn users are disengaged. The idea is to get them to share more than just links, and to start real engaging conversations with each other. Nowadays we have to assume that everyone is a member of 50 groups. This means you have to first of all convince someone to leave another group and then join yours. This makes it harder for anyone starting up or growing a group.
In terms of content, the group managers are actively starting and joining in conversations. Simon says that in the beginning they took turns to begin different threads and keeping the discussions alive. Only when they reached about 10,000 members did things start to self-perpetuate.
A poll is run once a week: it’s an engaging, quick and easy way to get members to contribute to the group’s discourse. For example, this week is “Would you be interested in attending networking events where there was no annual fees, just the cost of attending the meeting?” Most people want to give their opinions on things, having them answer a multiple choice question is probably the easiest way to engage with members.
The UK Marketing Lounge has a zero-tolerance for spam. Anyone who’s a member of a group on LinkedIn will know how many spammers there are out there and how they can ruin the party for all.
The moderators of the group keep a close eye on activity and if you promote a job or your services, the conversation will be deleted. They do however encourage members to promote things by starting an engaging discussion and then mention their upcoming webinar for instance. So conversation and then promotion is fine, not the other way around.
The Manager’s choice
Once a week, a featured discussion at the top of the group is published: the manager’s choice. As the group has an important amount of members and therefore conversations, this weekly update is a good way to highlight the hot topics and polls. This manager’s choice is also a weekly mailshot, which is essentially a newsletter from the community. The aim is to add weekly value.
Job opportunities in marketing
Plenty of good marketing jobs are also available in the group: this is how Only Marketing Jobs make money from the group (they are a job board, remember).
The group has 20 sub-groups that are dedicated to various niches of the British marketing industry. These will be more niched than the mother group but still fairly sizeable. In order to join a sub-group you have to be a member of the main group as well.
How did the group become so successful?
1. Exclusive – they only let a specific type of LinkedIn member in
2. Content – they added their own content and join in conversations
3. Moderation – no spam allowed in the group whatsoever
4. Weekly emails – an email focused on adding value to the community
5. Tenacity – it took 10,000 member to get things rolling
If you’re thinking about starting a group, have a think about the strategy first of all. Who are you targeting? Why would they join your group? What content will you provide? Do you have a team of people that can help run the group? Here at Link Humans we’re of course happy to help you with all of this, just give us a shout.
For more ideas around LinkedIn groups, see How Philips Built a Community on LinkedIn with their Innovation in Health Care Groups.