8 Ways Publishers Can Get the Most Out of LinkedIn Groups

March 29, 2012

This is a guest post from Monica Wright, Community Editor at Search Engine Land, and moderator of Search Engine Land's LinkedIn Group. - Ed

For publishers, LinkedIn Groups are a special place in the social media space. Like any other social presence, understanding what you want to accomplish takes precedence. What do you want to achieve? Are there "fan" groups already in place that you should participate in? Or perhaps it's as simple as avoiding the risk of becoming a "ghost town" once you start?

Search Engine Land's group is designed as a networking group, to be a place where people interested in search marketing can ask each other questions and get help. We actively encourage discussions, and strongly discourage self-promotion. The focus is clear, and as a result, the members benefit.

Below are eight tips that have fostered our group, and built a community that is nearly 40,000 members strong.

1. Set The Ground Rules. Search Engine Land is an active group that is closely monitored, so we developed rules for our group in order to maintain the discussion quality. For example, we clearly state in our group rules that we hold a firm line against people posting links since many are either self-promotional or just outright spam.  If a member posts links from outside sources, we delete them from the queue.

Unfortunately many posts don't add value, and risk burying the good conversations that do take place. We invite everyone to join, but we do hold all of our discussions to be moderated.

2. Disable News Feeds. As a publisher it seems counter intuitive to not have your news feed on. It’s natural to want to get the content out to where the people are.  But then again, if you publish a lot of content each day, you may be tempted to share the entire feed on your social channels like your LinkedIn Group. That’s not necessary. Don't bury the interesting posts shared by individuals - the group is not about you. If you want to promote dialogue and sharing, feed content is not the way to do it.

3. Enable Promotions and Jobs Features. Sometimes member link posts are legit, they just don't belong in a discussion. For example a free webinar on a relevant topic, or, of course, a hot job listing both provide value to the group. By enabling these categories, you keep the discussions clear of promotional content.

4. Seed The Discussion. We publish timely tech news as well as more in-depth how-to's, so we have an advantage to seed our discussions differently each time. Whether if it's results from a recent internet marketing study, or a new feature that Google has rolled out, we like to point to our content as a reference. Asking questions and taking polls are easy entry points.

Recommending to bookmark a source or sharing a guide is also a valuable way to make the most of the evergreen content you have on your site. Special editions, "best of" rankings, and seasonal content are all excellent fodder for any LinkedIn group.

5. Solicit Some Help. We are in a unique B2B space, with many questions specifically about website marketing or search marketing. The expertise within the group spans from extremely high level marketing professionals to more technical developers, with many providing resources as well as consultation. To handle the broad range of content, we recently asked one of our active group members to be an admin - he answers many of the technical questions even helping guide some of the newer internet marketers in the right direction.

Pro Tip for Members: In the Members area, check out your Top Influencers, you can get a good sense of who is contributing to the most active discussions in your group.

6. Use Manager's Choice. The Manager's Choice area in the group allows you to highlight an article or discussion - not just in the Group interface, but also in the regular email sent out to group participants. This is a great space to call attention to a timely topic that may be getting a lot of activity, or announce a special event.

7. Cross-Promote Discussions. If you have an interesting discussion going, spread the word. As publishers we naturally cross-promote on channels like Twitter and Facebook to drive traffic to our sites. The audience from those networks are usually already in place, as a result they provide a platform to easily grow your LinkedIn group participation. Recently we had a contributor looking for some volunteer websites to take part in an article he was writing for us. We had a call for volunteers on LinkedIn, and promoted the opportunity on our other social channels. Within days he had over 70 requests on LinkedIn, many more than needed, but it demonstrated that there was a need to be filled  - people were actively looking for help. We continued to promote the same thread outside of LinkedIn again, only this time mentioning that there were businesses looking for search expertise. We used the LinkedIn group as the starting point for the article, but continued to promote the discussion outside of LinkedIn to keep it going and aggregating responses.

8. Participate in LinkedIn Today. Although not directly related to LinkedIn Groups, one of the most beneficial things you can do as a publisher is to take part in LinkedIn Today. Although a stand alone website, it powers articles to also appear on your own personal LinkedIn home page. Because it matches content to people within specific industries, it can potentially drive significant traffic.

As a publisher, the LinkedIn audience will already trust you as an established, respected resource, and count on you to provide that quality community that is already associated with your organization. Be there to help. If you can point to a discussion or link, do so. If you can't, share it to see if someone else has the answer. Remember, you are there for your members as support, not just as your brand.

Do you have any other tips for either LinkedIn Group members or moderators? Feel free to share with us on the LinkedIn platform.