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There is no doubt that LinkedIn has taken the position as one of the leading social platforms for B2B communications. LinkedIn currently has around 150 million users and the platform is used almost exclusively for business contacts and business communication, which makes it a very powerful tool for B2B communications. Further evidence of this is the report presented by HubSpot recently, which says that LinkedIn is almost 300 percent more effective when it comes to generating leads, compared with Facebook and Twitter.
One of the most powerful tools to create and drive a community within LinkedIn is LinkedIn Groups, where any LinkedIn user can create a group to discuss an issue, a product or company. At Text 100 we have worked to create and manage LinkedIn groups for several companies in different markets around the world.
A LinkedIn group hosts a community of users with specific areas of interest, just like a Facebook page does. Hence, several of the principles of community management are therefore relevant to both Facebook and LinkedIn, but there are of course platform-specific differences and also differences in the audiences that require you have to think differently depending on what platform you’re using.
Many companies want to encourage two-way discussion in their LinkedIn groups, but often find it challenging to create an ongoing dialogue. From my own experience of managing LinkedIn groups, I’d like to offer some advice on how to create useful dialogue in your LinkedIn group:
- Provide interesting content that group members can discuss. In the LinkedIn group you can add news feeds from various sites and blogs through RSS. Create feeds relevant to your group and ask engaging questions about what they think about the content to encourage dialogue.
- Use LinkedIn Polls to start a poll within the group. LinkedIn Polls is an application that you add via the app directory in LinkedIn, that makes it easy to conduct polls and collect data from the group members on LinkedIn.
- Connect LinkedIn Poll to a competition. Let all who participate in the survey compete to win a product or prize. Competitions also work with regular LinkedIn posts, where everyone who posts a comment can compete for a prize.
- Involve partners in the group at an early stage. If you are a B2B company that sells mainly through partners, they will probably want to profile their skills in the group to show that they are experts in the field. Approach your partners and make this opportunity apparent to them. However, clarify that the group is not for their marketing, but for discussions.
- Check in LinkedIn Answers for content relating to your group. Link those discussions to your own group – this can increase the dialogue and also attract new members.
- Install LinkedIn applications that allow you to share content from other platforms, such as SlideShare, YouTube, Twitter, etc. This is done either in the LinkedIn app directory or directly in the settings for integrating LinkedIn with other platforms.
- Send group e-mails to group members when a new discussion is posted – unless they check LinkedIn frequently, they may not even know a discussion has started.
- Use the Manage Templates feature to create compelling welcome messages and request-to-join messages that encourage dialogue and share interesting links about the content.
- Provide information about the group to your audiences IRL. The LinkedIn Group should not exist in a silo – it must be linked to the company’s daily business. Therefore, take this opportunity to discuss issues in the group at client meetings, display it at conferences, etc.
- Create a forum for the group to meet offline. By getting group members to know each other for real, you can create a more natural dialogue. When you have enough members, you can invite them to a recurring breakfast meeting with a special theme. It could be combined with a business partner around content relevant to the theme.
And if you’re looking for a good LinkedIn Discussion group for inspiration, check out the Text 100-sponsored group, Communication Conversation – Digital PR Debates.
How do you get conversation going in your LinkedIn group?
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