Is it time to reconsider Groups?
Welcome to another LinkedInformed.
I was all set to cover a completely different subject this week when a post from Greg Cooper popped up in my feed – ironically a post from one of Greg’s groups!
It was actually a re-share of an article from Anna McAfee titled ‘A case for LinkedIn Groups and Communities’. That in itself didn’t really grab my interest but this line did;
By reputation, most LinkedIn users believe groups to be the place where people pitch their wares but don’t start or engage in round-table discussions.
That may be a deserved reputation but is this still true and should we be taking a closer look at groups again?
More of that later but first…
Interesting Stuff I Saw This Week
If you love business podcasts then you might find this website a valuable resource.
Podcasts are split into sections such as Sales & BizDev, Growth marketing, Facebook Advertising, etc. For some reason, LinkedInformed is listed under Online advertising which is odd as that is a subject I barely touch on!
The good news is that my buddy AJ Wilcox has his podcast ‘The LinkedIn Ads Show’ listed twice in the top ten!
LinkedIn to launch Sales Insights
An announcement was made this week about a forthcoming product that LinkedIn will be launching in February 2021. It’s described as being a tool to help sales leaders identify opportunities through data collected from LinkedIn.
They have provided very little information other than reasons why we need it…but not actually what it gives you as you will see in this video!
The only clue we have to go on is this screenshot which is part of the article from Lindsey Edwards.
Looking at the above, it just looks like something you can easily do for yourself on a Sales Navigator search! Maybe there is more to it than that but it’s hard to know as they are giving very little away at this stage.
One thing we can be sure about is that it’s going to be designed for Enterprise customers and as a result, it will be massively overpriced!
LinkedIn are getting sued over the recent ads overcharging issue. Given that the average overcharge apparently amounted to just $25 I was somewhat surprised to see this article! Perhaps there is more to it than LinkedIn are admitting or perhaps some lawyers are just taking advantage of the situation!
This topic is motivated by this excellent article from Anna McAfee, it’s very thorough and informative. I suggest you read it fully before moving onto my take on the subject.
Anna interviewed three managers of successful groups to compile this article. Each manager adds excellent points and advice on how to run a successful group. You can see each ‘previously live’ interview below.
I agree with many of the conclusions that Anna makes and I think Jeff, Greg and Tsufit are great examples of managers who are achieving success but what about members rather than managers?
For me, the success of groups will be built on the benefit that groups give to their members. Why would you join a group and what can you get from a group that you can’t get from other areas of LinkedIn, principally the homepage feed?
Groups are just another feature that have the potential to allow us to win more business through LinkedIn – ultimately the true test is whether a well run group can provide that benefit more than interacting with general content in our feeds (of course group content does also appear in our homepage feeds now).
Targeted audience. One benefit of groups is that they provide us with an opportunity to engage with a highly relevant, niche audience. This clearly doesn’t apply to many of the ‘generic’ groups out there but I always feel groups are at their best when they attract a very clear, niche audience.
You can target niche audiences by searching for and engaging with specific posts aimed at a similar audience. Arguably people are drawn to content about specific topics rather than assuming that a specific group will provide them with equally interesting posts. In addition your content and comments are likely to be seen by more passive LinkedIn users. These people are less likely to join a group because they don’t actively engage on Linkedin but importantly they do see posts in their feed, thus providing us with access and visibility to many more people.
A Limited audience. Again this only applies to smaller groups but there is some benefit in knowing that your content and comments are only seen by a select group. This feels safer to many and may encourage more participation from those who would have reservations about engaging or posting to the whole LinkedIn network.
Surely to whole point in being active is to be seen by as many people (relevant because the topic is of interest) as possible. Groups might be a good place to test out ideas before posting to the main feed but surely the greater the visibility, the greater the benefit!
Alerts. If group members have their alerts on for a group, they are much more likely to notice posts and engage with them. Whilst we may occasionally see a post notification, it’s very rare whereas group posts consistently show up in our notifications.
The key word above is ‘If’! Most group members will not have this switched on and many won’t realise it’s possible to receive alerts from specific groups.
The key question here is this;
Is it worth spending time finding, joining and participating in a group?
LinkedIn users find it difficult to find valuable groups. Just finding groups that look suitable by their name mostly leads to joining and then finding the group is inactive or the activity is of no benefit to them! LinkedIn provide zero information to help a user decide whether a group is worth joining and the law of averages tells us that the vast majority of groups are not worth the effort!
I have always said (to LinkedIn directly and anyone else that wants to listen) that the only viable solutions to making groups attractive again will require drastic action, not the tinkering around the edges that we have seen previously.
What LinkedIn need to do;
- Rename the groups feature. Just the name itself makes most people switch off because of its reputation.
- Every group should meet a minimum engagement metric on a rolling 3-month average otherwise they are retired. This can be a fairly low bar but will allow a clean-up of inactive and spam ridden groups. I like the idea Greg put forward of it being a requirement for all managers and admins to complete a LinkedIn learning course (although I worry that the content will be poor!)
- The engagement metrics (I would propose the number of posts and ave unique comments /post) to be displayed on every group, allowing potential members to assess suitability.
Running a group
If you are thinking of starting a group, I would advise going through the following checklist;
- Understand clearly what your goals are.
- Be prepared to dedicate a significant amount of time managing and participating in your group.
- Create a unique url (as suggested by Tsufit) for your group. You can easily do this for free on bit.ly or buy a url and redirect it to your group.
- Make sure all members are educated on how to switch on notifications for your group.
- Set up a friendly but clear set of rules. Anna mentioned Tsufit had created some really good rules for her Step into the spotlight group (see an excerpt below)
We have the COOLEST people in our group & we want it to stay that way! 🌺
So, no blatant promo posts. We aren’t against promotion. This group is about HOW to artfully promote oneself to get known & get noticed.
We talk about marketing, branding, speaking, publicity, writing & publishing books, attracting clients, pricing, behavioral psychology, networking, promotion, messaging, advertising, media. We support each other stepping into the spotlight.
We’re here for real conversation. NO teaching posts, articles, promos, rants, lists, #hashtags, copyrighted images or videos, inspirational quotes etc. They’ll get deleted. Keep it conversational.
No teaser lines with links leading to outside blog posts. Keep it here.
Social media managers: you are welcome under your OWN name. Do NOT post on behalf of your client. We want to talk to each other, not reps.
You WILL see me break my own rules with Step Into The Spotlight! announcements, invites, teaching posts & articles & yes, occasional promos from me.
NO articles. Post super interactive short ONE or TWO line genuine QUESTIONS (re stuff you are NOT an expert on–something you are working on). Before posting your question, answer 4 or 5 other people’s questions so members will comment on your question. Our group is full of leaders of other larger groups, so TONS of opportunity here!
The goal is to keep this group FUN, lively & relevant AND to attract the leading players in the marketing, advertising, publicity, publishing & speaking industries and the entrepreneurs, professionals, speakers, authors, consultants, coaches, etc who want to learn from them & from each other.
Do not tolerate posts that are not intended to engage. Either delete them or ideally have your settings so that admins have to approve all posts. Group litter (garbage) is the main reason why members switch off – I’m amazed at how many people still think they are helping or adding value to a group by ‘littering’ the group feed with irrelevant articles or links in isolation – a link is OK if it supports a conversation but not in isolation.
People who keep posting litter should be kicked out, they probably do this for many groups and won’t even notice!
I loved Tsufits suggestion of inviting ‘loudmouths’ to join her group. If you see a relevant person who comments a lot on posts in the feed, invite them to join, the chances are they will be the same in your group.
Jeffs idea of finding advocates in your group who may wish to become admins and will set a good example to other members is excellent.
Finally Gregs comment below is the ultimate aim. In my experience this is a rare occurrence but entirely possible.
“Some of the best groups become communities. A group is any bunch of individuals who have a shared interest. When a shared interest becomes a shared identity and a shared purpose it becomes a community. Members have an invested interest, responsibility and shared ownership of making the group work even if they aren’t a manager or an admin.”
I chose this post earlier in the week because I thought it was very brave and also quite clever. It also involved Jurgen Klopp and as a Liverpool fan, that really got my attention!
I’ve been connected to John for a few years and occasionally see his posts in my feed, mostly videos. He always made me smile with his energetic upbeat style – a very typical scouser and a bit of a legend in the city of Liverpool.
I used to wonder why he was still actively working when most people his age would be happy in retirement but John always showed such energy and passion for what he does, I assumed he just couldn’t give it up and I admired him for that. Then this post appeared;
At first I was concerned he had drunk too much in celebration of his letter from Klopp and I felt embarrassed for him until I realised that holding the wine glass was his typical scouse humour, luring me into that thought before explaining he suffered from MND. I had no idea because all of his recent videos must have been older recordings where his speech was perfect.
I thought it was a great example to use as post of the week…and then this happened
I toyed with whether I should still use the post but in the end decided it would be my fitting tribute to a man who inspired many with his infectious enthusiasm.
John wrote a book, which I had bought but hadn’t had time to read. I’m going to make sure I read it now!