I feel like LinkedIn is a social media platform that receives a fair amount of attention but is still overshadowed by other networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
That’s a shame. Why? Because in the B2B space especially, I’ve found LinkedIn to be incredibly effective for professional networking and for marketing in general.
With 450 million registered users as of August 2016 and two new members joining every second, LinkedIn has a huge potential.
I think many marketers are still reluctant to go all in on LinkedIn simply because they don’t understand how to utilize it properly. It’s also possible they don’t fully understand all the opportunities it presents.
Maybe it’s because of its robust set of features, the inherent learning curve, or the lack of understanding of the nuts and bolts of the platform. Whatever the reason, there’s a definite trend of marketers failing to extract LinkedIn’s full potential.
In fact, a study from the Content Marketing Institute found that an overwhelming number of LinkedIn users consider it to be ineffective as a marketing tool:
B2C marketers in North America in particular saw only limited results.
But what if I told you that there’s a way to kill it on LinkedIn and generate valuable, ongoing leads for your business? What if you could have an amazing ROI by following a fairly simple formula?
It’s definitely possible. The key is to infiltrate LinkedIn Groups.
You have two options with LinkedIn Groups.
You can either start your own group or join existing groups relevant to your industry.
In my opinion, the latter option is your best bet, especially when you’re just starting out and have a limited network.
It’s easier to gain traction, and you can get your brand in front of hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of prospects without having to do a whole lot of legwork.
This starts by first visiting the Groups Directory.
As you can see, you can choose from a number of groups, and these are just a slice of the groups available.
You can browse the groups by name, or you can enter a specific search term in the search box at the top.
If a group is public, simply click “Join,” and you’re in.
If a group is private, you’ll need to click “Ask to join,” and an administrator will have to approve your request.
I’ve found that approval will usually happen within a day or so.
Relevancy is vital
One of the most important aspects of marketing with LinkedIn Groups is to join groups that are highly relevant to your industry.
This will ensure you’re interacting and connecting with like-minded individuals who have the same interests as you.
It also means the content you share is more likely to gain attention and get shared.
Keep this in mind when searching for groups to join.
What do I do once I’ve joined?
The first thing you’ll want to do is look over the rules and guidelines of the group.
To prevent spam and ensure a positive user experience, many groups have restrictions regarding the type of content you can and can’t post.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
Here you can see that this group doesn’t allow links and promotions.
Ideally, the groups you join will allow links and some type of promotions, but always double-check before you start participating.
I then suggest taking some time to check out the discussions. Take note of the conversations and the topics being discussed.
Are there any overarching trends? Which conversations are getting the biggest response?
When you’re just getting started with a new group, I recommend looking for questions to answer that are in your wheelhouse.
Try to identify a topic you’re knowledgeable about and to which you can add some legitimate value.
Here’s an example of a question from an HR-based group:
If you can nail it and come up with an answer that’s spot on, you’ll instantly raise your credibility, and other members are going to take notice.
This is how you showcase your expertise and start building leverage.
In other words, this boosts your “street cred.”
You can also start your own conversation with the group at the top of the page.
One of the best ways to get the ball rolling is to ask a thought-provoking question.
Make sure it’s open-ended so that members are forced to dive in deep and not simply answer “yes” or “no.”
But before you post a question, I recommend scanning over previous conversations just to make sure it hasn’t already been covered. Otherwise, its impact will be reduced, and you’ll likely look like a noob.
You can also post content, such as blog posts and articles, relating to your industry.
While I do recommend posting content from time to time, it’s extremely important you remain tactful.
What do I mean by tactful?
First of all, anything you post should be hyper-relevant and right on target with the type of discussions members are having.
Anything off topic isn’t going to add any real value and is probably going to make you look bad.
Second, make sure you’re not going overboard when posting content.
Even if every single thing you post is gold, you don’t want to clog up the group discussion with excessive content. Although what’s considered excessive is subjective, I would say that if you’re posting any more than three pieces of content a week, it’s too much.
Just use your best judgment.
Third, make sure you’re not being overly promotional or salesy with your content.
Over-promoting yourself and your brand is an inexcusable marketing sin regardless of the platform you’re using, and LinkedIn groups are no exception.
Group members can smell this type of douchebaggery a mile away, and it’s going to kill your reputation (and your ROI).
While it’s fine to promote your brand (that’s the reason you’re using this platform in the first place), you need to be responsible and respectful when doing so.
Here are some tips for tactful promotion:
- Keep it to a minimum
- Make sure every piece of content ties into the conversation
- Make sure your promotions add genuine value
- Don’t annoy group members with in your face antics like “BUY NOW!”
In other words, be cool about it.
You can liken LinkedIn Groups to a forum.
On most forums, there’s usually a handful of individuals who noticeably contribute a lot of helpful information and are highly respected as a result.
You want to do everything possible to be one of these people because it’s going to pave the way to success on LinkedIn Groups.
It’s also going to boost your ROI in the long run.
How exactly can you build authority?
- Be an active member, and don’t go MIA for months on end
- Chime in on conversations you’re knowledgeable about, and let other members get to know you
- Post awesome content from resources that aren’t your own
- Concentrate more on providing value than on shameless self-promotion
- Encourage others to join the group
Another great feature of LinkedIn Groups is that it gives you the opportunity to connect with other members in an extremely convenient manner.
I suggest you take full advantage of this and make it a point to be the first one to reach out.
You can get in contact with other members by scrolling through the members list:
Hover your cursor over a person’s name, and you can view information about their industry, region, skills, and groups.
You can also check out their profile, send them a message, or send an invitation to connect.
But before you reach out, it’s usually best if you interact with that member via conversations and build at least a little rapport.
This tends to make the process smoother and should alleviate any potential awkwardness/borderline creepiness.
If you’ve been interacting with someone in your group for a while, you may want to connect with them on other networks as well.
Most people will also have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or some other account, and this can potentially lead to additional opportunities.
Like with many other marketing techniques, it usually takes a little while for things to gel on LinkedIn Groups. It’s going to take some time and effort before you can reap the full rewards.
But by being active and working to establish a presence, you can potentially gain some massive exposure for yourself and your brand.
An added plus is that you can network with other professionals at the same time, thus killing two birds with one stone.
If you’re not currently utilizing this resource as a marketing tool, I would strongly suggest you get started ASAP.
With the right approach, you can effectively promote your brand while simultaneously growing your network.
Do you have any specific techniques that have helped you generate leads on LinkedIn Groups?