LinkedIn’s rise as a publishing force has not gone undocumented. Alongside publishing giants like Facebook, the ascendance of social networks into spaces typically occupied by The Wall Street Journal is changing how readers consume information. What social lacks in tradition, it makes up for in participation: The WSJ has a contributing staff of 2,000 journalists, and LinkedIn’s platform is accessible to 230 million users.
So with more than 130,000 articles posted each week, how do we leverage what we’re learning and sharing on LinkedIn? More so, what’s its business utility beyond hiring? If we’re expanding operations, it’s the first site I turn to. But when distributing content, can I not just post to Facebook and Twitter?
The answer is a deafening “no.” LinkedIn’s power resides in how it scales its community. It’s a place where macro ideas can be distributed and discussed on a micro scale. Much like niche publications serve as pointed targets for content, LinkedIn Groups offer a similar funnel for leads to slide down, perhaps a more powerful one. By being aware of changes being made to the platform, and the proper steps to posting within it, your business can leverage LinkedIn Groups to nurture leads and craft partnerships for your firm.
Since 2004, LinkedIn Groups have served as a fundamental arm of the network’s expansive platform. But recent changes suggest that traditional pain points with the feature are being acknowledged and addressed by programmers. Since October 14 of this year, LinkedIn has begun rolling out a series of updates:
It isn’t entirely rare to see groups overtaken by ivy, left unattended by moderators who can’t effectively manage the stream of garbage that spammers flow into their spaces. But these updates are expected to decrease the posting of spam or fluff content to groups, making them more effective conversation spaces. With these safeguards in place, moderators can curate at will in the interest of preserving groups’ vitality.
At Influence & Co., we use HubSpot to schedule and organize posts to LinkedIn Groups. Sure, you can post on an individual basis, but software maintains a paper trail for where and when you’re posting. Plus, the intuitive posting calendar allows you to schedule multiple posts in different groups at different times. Don’t spend all day posting by your lonesome — allocate manpower where it matters, and let the 21st century do the rest.
Every post in a LinkedIn group is attached to a personal profile. Whoever’s posting for you will become not only a brand ambassador, but also a reflection of the business that he represents. Make sure the individual to whom you grant posting privileges is someone willing to engage fully within these groups. Otherwise, he’ll appear to be a scammer — a risk you can’t take when establishing legitimacy and generating leads. Furthermore, too many people with posting privileges can become a bad thing. You don’t want too many pipes leading to one basin.
Identifying and petitioning groups for membership isn’t a Pollock painting; it must be done within the lines. Pick only groups that specifically apply to the industry your business lives in or is trying to sell to. For instance, there’s no use in a content marketing firm engaging the “Fashion Designers India” group. But “Thought Leadership Best Practices” fits us like a glove.
After selecting the groups you want to post to, it’s best to have an understanding of what they mean to you and what they require of you. We rate all of our LinkedIn groups on their importance to our business, a light metric that determines how often we post to them. This guide should also include the posting requirements specific to each group. Some groups ask that you pose a question in every post. Others have a posting limit. These things are important to know so you don’t irritate moderators.
Much like you schedule your blog posts, you should be scheduling when and where you’re redistributing them. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, external publications, or LinkedIn Groups, know when you’re posting, and keep track of posts’ engagement to determine their efficacy. The benefits of scheduling are limitless, which is why we created a downloadable content distribution template to help you stay organized.
It seems like a simple instruction, but done poorly, you risk alienating yourself in your group and harming your business’s reputation. You simply must post based on the guidelines provided by group moderators and do so with that group’s generally accepted tone. Mind you, personality doesn’t hurt. Speaking with a human tone invites conversation and can attract eyes to your content amid a sea of bot-generated captions. For example:
This post generated a relatively large amount of engagement — not only in likes, but also in conversations. As opposed to jumping straight to the insight, potential readers were funneled to it through conversational tone and humor.
If groups aren’t well moderated, they can quickly become saturated with content that’s impossible to differentiate. Also, no GIFs, please. Leave the dancing cats to your work group messages.
This is a marriage. Once you join a group, you’ve taken a vow to be an active participant, and you should be! Posting alone may not generate leads, depending on the quality of your content. Conversations create relationships that can benefit your business. Truly, leads are nurtured when you address the comments posted to your submissions and comment on others’. Take this conversation:
Initially, the content piqued David’s interest. From there, I was able to further educate him and explain the benefits of our services.
These steps are a strong way to approach membership and posting in LinkedIn Groups. But at the end of the day, if you’re not crafting content worth posting, it’s of no use to you. Content is fundamental to sharing your business’s expertise and thought leadership. Start there, and generating leads with LinkedIn will be a natural extension of the work you already do with publications and on social media.
When it comes to ideation, I love my 4th, 5th, and 6th thoughts. The first three are often contrived. Improvisational comedy is my art, Nelson Mandela is my hero, and Zooey Deschanel is my love.