What makes a LinkedIn group valuable…and what frustrates group members?

by Kirsten Hodgson

Having fairly recently set up a LinkedIn group I realised there’s not a lot out there to help those who are looking to do the same. As a result I’m currently putting together a resource for those of you who run, or who would like to set up, a group that members will value. 

But what exactly is that?

In order to find out, I asked the question ‘What makes a LinkedIn group valuable?’ in a group I run ‘Social Media for Lead Generation in Professional Services firms’ as well as the ‘Marketing the Law Firm’ group on LinkedIn. You can view verbatim responses there but…

it essentially comes down to 5 things:

1. A proactive group owner – who moves posts that are self-promotion to the promotions category and who doesn’t tolerate spam, including off-topic posts. The group owner needs to be active, regularly posting interesting discussions and trying to encourage group members to feel comfortable commenting/voicing their own opinions.

2. A high signal-to-noise ratio – successful groups minimise the noise and maximise the number of relevant, thoughtful and insightful contributions (thanks to Gihan Perera for this term).

3. Good interaction/engagement amongst members – a good ratio of comments to discussions is important (although I do acknowledge that if you’re targeting certain groups such as legal counsel the vast majority will never comment). Many group members want to have conversations with others in order to learn and grow so exchanging views is something successful groups encourage. Simply posting links with no attempt to engage others in a conversation just doesn’t cut it and results in too much noise.

4. Regular posts – it’s important that there’s regularly fresh content in order to encourage group members to keep revisiting the group.

5. A discussion moderator who stays active in the thread – the person who initiates a discussion needs to stay involved in the thread. Their role includes monitoring the thread, responding to others’ comments (where appropriate), keeping the discussion on track and/or summarising it at the end.

There was clear agreement about what people don’t like – much of which can be categorised as spam:

While spam means different things to different people it generally includes

  • self-promotion,
  • off topic discussions and comments,
  • posting the same discussion into several groups (that are related in terms of interest – e.g. posting into several legal marketing groups),
  • posting a link without an introduction, and
  • responding to requests as a sales person (‘hire me and we’ll do it for you’ type responses).

If you run or moderate a LinkedIn group or Google+ community it’s important  that you set clear group rules and ensure the integrity of the group. You will need to either moderate discussions before they’re posted or to quickly remove those that won’t add value to your group members.

You’ll also need to drive the group, particularly in the early days, by regularly asking questions and sharing content and insights that the members will value and that will spark discussion.

You’ll need to invest time and energy if you want to build a thriving group. But it’s well worth it – both for you and your group members.

What else do you think makes a LinkedIn group or Google+ community valuable?

What behaviour/things annoy you in LinkedIn groups?

What other tips or advice would you share with group owners/managers or those looking to set up groups?

Thinking of setting up a LinkedIn group and want help? Please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you. 

 

Specialising in professional services and law firm marketing. I help firms to retain and grow existing clients and attract more of their ideal clients. My core services include social media for lead generation, voice of the client programmes and tender strategy and development. Outside of work I love to run. I’m a bit like Forest Gump in that I’m not that quick but can keep going for ages. I also enjoy coming up with new inventions. Unfortunately, most of them have already been invented! | * Professional services marketing consultant | * Legal marketing consultant | * Law firm marketing consultant