Mastering LinkedIn Groups and Becoming a Thought Leader
While the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest hog most of the social media limelight, LinkedIn quietly beavers away in the background. While the other social media channels mix work with pleasure (with more focus on the later), LinkedIn is very much a place of work with 300 million+ business users and a profitable history dating back to 2006.
As a B2B marketer I find LinkedIn the most useful social network out there. It helps me keep a track of my business contacts, distribute content, sell tickets for events, promote webinars, drive publicity for my books and help position myself and the organizations I work for as high profile thought leaders.
LinkedIn is more than just a social network. It is a publisher, it is a recruitment platform, it is a highly targeted advertising platform, it’s a place to find customers, partners and solicit and seek advice. In fact, if you are in business there is not a lot you cannot do via its network of business platforms.
Mastering LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Groups are just one of the many useful features on the site.
Harnessing the power of LinkedIn Groups to build your reputation and generate interest in your organization demands more than simply setting up your own group and posting the occasional update or comment as you would do on other social networks.
The key to finding success on LinkedIn Groups is to engage with people outside of your normal sphere of influence. This means joining multiple groups and contributing to them with useful and informative content.
LinkedIn Groups are not a place to constantly plug your products or services. People want solid advice (which might include a reference to your organization), not a sales pitch. Successful use of LinkedIn Groups demand you have an opinion and are willing to put your head above the parapet and engage with the conversation.
The most engaging members with informed opinion (backed up by case studies and testimonials) stand the most chance of being recognized as influential thoughts leaders and winning new business on the back of their enhanced profile and reputation.
8 Steps to Finding Success on LinkedIn Groups
- Join Relevant Groups: LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups. Remember, you are much more likely to win new business if you target your customers and not your industry peers. However, industry related groups will be useful to help you develop new partnerships or recruit new staff. Try and find a balance with your group membership.
- Be Useful: Great thought leaders use their experience and hard-won industry knowledge to build reputation, generate leads and ultimately sell more. This might mean sharing a few trade secrets but you shouldn’t worry about giving too much away for free. For example, just because a tax expert gives you all the advice you need to save money on your tax return, doesn’t mean you’re going to file your own returns. You’re more likely to give the work to an expert who has shown they know what they are talking about.
- Be Prolific: The more you are seen to engage with a community, the more you will enhance your profile (as long as your posts remain useful).
- Ask Questions: Don’t try and pretend that you know it all. The only way to truly get to know your customers is by asking them questions and allowing their opinion to help you form your business strategies.
- Be Nice: Don’t use the platform to attack or belittle competitor’s opinions. Everyone is entitled to an opinion (although some are better than others). Always try and add value to a conversation. Be careful not to pour fuel on the fire of someone else’s thought leadership.
- Be Human: People buy from people they like. Post comments from personal (not corporate) accounts and always use a high quality photo of the individual. Facebook profile pictures may not be suitable – pay a photographer to take a decent headshot and never hide behind a logo.
- Keep to Business: If you want to post about the cheese sandwich you had for lunch or share a cute picture of your cat, it will find a much more appreciative audience on Facebook or Twitter.
- Cross Pollinate: Drive membership to your own Linkedin Group with promotional activity across your other social media channels, email and content marketing channels. LinkedIn groups help you supplement your email marketing activity by allowing you to send your members a weekly group newsletter.
To find out how Viralheat can help you maximize your ROI from social media, join us for a free product demonstration every Thursday at 1pm (PST), 10am (EST), 6pm (UK).
Photo credit: Sheila Scarborough
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