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    Maida Barrientosmaida

    A lot of businesses put a lot of time and effort into marketing themselves on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but many forget the other platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, or Pinterest.

    Though some businesses get overwhelmed with the sheer number of social media sites available, the more platforms you have to market your business on, the better. Every new platform offers new opportunities for more potential connections, and each one has unique focuses.

    If you’ve followed all the steps of our tutorial on How to get started with Linkedin Ads,  and then implemented the advanced strategies we suggested to market your business on LinkedIn, you already know how powerful it can be as a marketing tool.

    One of the reasons why is LinkedIn Groups. LinkedIn Groups allows for a great deal of marketing potential for businesses of all sizes, so in this post, we’re going to take a look at how to use LinkedIn Groups to market your business even further.

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    Changes to LinkedIn Groups

    linkedIn group changesSo before we go any further, yes, there were some changes to LinkedIn groups. And yes, some people were quite understandably not too happy about those said changes for some very valid reasons. The new changes are massive and are going to require some restructuring in our approaches to them in a lot of cases.

    In case you’ve missed it, LinkedIn updated their groups interface, and for reference, you’ll want to think an overhaul instead of a “tweak.” Part of the reason they’ve done this is so that the desktop and mobile app versions of groups are now the same, which has unfortunately led to a decrease in functionality for desktops (but bear with me, because they’re still worth using!).

    In addition to a new interface, there are some other major new changes, which include:

    • Members of a group can’t search groups for members or keywords. A lot of people are really angry about this one, but I actually understand the reason why. Previously, many members were joining groups just to be able to search them for potential prospects. Now they can’t do that. This keeps groups more about what’s actually happening in the group.
    • All groups are now private. Before, groups could be public and anyone could see the conversations of groups even without joining them. That’s no longer the case. The conversations you have within a group will stay within that group (unless you do something cruel or crazy, then it will get screenshots and appear all over the internet).
    • You have only two choices for groups. You can choose between “standard” groups, which members will request to join or can be invited to join, and “unlisted” groups, which are not findable by searches and can only be found when an admin invites potential members to join.Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 6.44.21 PM

    These changes to groups have obviously changed how a lot of people marketing their business within groups will need to approach them. They have not, however, eradicated the value LinkedIn groups still offer.

    Here’s a few examples of how you can use LinkedIn groups to market your business, even after the newest changes to the interface…

    1. Join Groups Where Your Customers & Peers Will Be

    Just because you can’t search for individual members once you’re in a group doesn’t mean that you don’t have opportunities to meet and connect with potential customers, peers, or vendors in LinkedIn groups. In fact, it’s better to build rapport and connections overtime by joining relevant groups and building relationships through genuine conversation and interactions within them.

    Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 6.41.47 PM

    Finding relevant groups and requesting to join them can be a good way to jump into a ready-made community.

    When looking to market your business, think about the audience you want to connect with. Do you want to find peers? New customers? Potential vendors? While I belong to some professional writing groups on LinkedIn, I also join social media groups. I’m often able to find peers and connections in both, but I’ve connected with a few clients through the social media marketing groups. Think outside the box, and focus on different members of your audience that you want to market your business to.

    Once you’ve made connections within the group, you can send members personal messages outside of it, building those relationships further and offering your services in an appropriate, non-obstrusive way.

    2. Be an Active, Contributing Member

    Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 6.53.00 PM

    Taking the time to craft a detailed, well-thought out response not only helps someone else, it can showcase your expertise.

    Everyone who is on LinkedIn and has joined groups for professional networking has to have seen at least one person who clearly joins the group just to spam links to their website, products, or blog posts, and then checks out. They’ll respond to comments on their own posts, but participate very little elsewhere in the group.

    While these members might get a few bites on what they’re throwing out, in general, their posts get ignored and they miss a lot of opportunity by being a flighty, opportunistic, and selfish group member.

    Especially with the recent changes in LinkedIn Groups, this won’t cut it. Being an active, contributing member in a group is the only effective way to participate in them. Respond to other threads and conversations instead of just being focused on your own, and you’ll start to be recognized and respected by other group members, allowing the content you do share to carry more weight. Being an enthusiastic and engaged member of a few groups (even if its just one or two) is much more beneficial to allowing you to market your business than being a barely-there member in many more.

    3. Showcase Your Expertise

    LinkedIn groups are all about discussion and sharing information, content, and ideas with other like-minded users who would be interested or knowledgeable about the subject. Establishing yourself both as an expert and a thought leader in your field is hugely important (it’s one of the reasons content marketing and blogging are so crucial for a lot of businesses). Not only will it make you look good, it will make your business look really good, too.

    Spend time providing thoughtful responses and participating in relevant conversations with group members, demonstrating expertise and providing links to relevant content and information when appropriate.

    4. Start Your Own Group

    Now, with the group options changed, starting your own group can be more powerful than ever, whether you choose for it to be a standard or unlisted group.

    Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 6.43.59 PM

    You can find the “create a group” option at the bottom of your list of groups.

    By doing this, you can build a community of members that you’re interested in engaging with and who would find value in engaging with each other in said group. You can invite specific members of your target audience, whatever that may be, and engage with them directly while building a community that came from your business or company. As the value of the group increases, the more effective the marketing for your business becomes.

    To see how to start your own group, LinkedIn has a walkthrough here.

    5. Take Polls & Ask Questions

    Have you ever wanted to get an opinion from your audience or do fast market research for free? Posting a poll and asking questions in LinkedIn groups can give you this opportunity. Asking questions is a well-known (and highly effective) marketing method used to increase engagement, and it works for LinkedIn groups, too.

    Here’s how you can use this tactic to promote your business: not only will taking a poll and asking other group members for their opinion get attention on your threads (and your business), you can then generate content from the findings (blog posts, infographics, or even just a Facebook status) and share them within the group. This comes off as a “Thanks for the help, here are the results” instead of “everyone come look at my fifteenth blog post this week.”

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    Final Thoughts

    LinkedIn groups allow you to make connections, show off your content, and build a valuable rapport with new people (peers and potential customers alike)—and you might even learn something while you do. Building not only connections but a network of connections while promoting your business can offer long-term benefits that even extend beyond just marketing your business.

    How do you use LinkedIn Groups? Have you noticed the new changes? What do you think about them? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

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