Growing Virtual Communities

  • 4 min read
  • Sep 22, 2010
Growing Virtual Communities

Social Media Platforms- How to Implement LinkedIn Groups

Of all social networking sites, one with a good deal of ‘pinstripe capital’ is LinkedIn. To those in the business world, we may refer to it as ‘Facebook with a curfew’. However we might want to label the site, a predominant element of LinkedIn is that represents an environment where business reputation is at stake. Leveraged the right way, Linkedin is a powerful environment for garnering a significant audience in numbers and influence relative to your virtual community objectives.

What s one of your biggest assignments as a virtual event marketer? Get to, engage, and sell to decision-makers. An example of this from the publishing world is the high value technology vendors place on obtaining subscriber or attendee lists from a reputable property. Frustration abounds in accessing it all, or in the format they want, or when they want, and what they are allowed to communicate to that list.

As we touch on in the previous Social Media Platform How-To series, trust drives everything. What LinkedIn provides is an open platform of decision-makers, identified by title and industry. By virtue of their participation, these professionals make themselves available to you – if you are effective in attracting them with genuine intent.

So- wherein we used to live in a sales and event marketing world where we spent our time finessing access to decision-makers- we now have that access. It is what we do with this access that now makes the difference.

Creating a LinkedIn Group

“Have I told you enough about our product in order that you can make decision today?”

The quote represents a trial close statement from a salesperson that was trained during the height of the Watergate scandal. And yet- look at the way we sell and market today- what has changed in the mindset of building a relationship that will lead to a sale?

Before we create a LinkedIn group- lets run a trial case study. You are charged with marketing and building community for an upcoming virtual event for a technology company that sells security software. The first step is to breakdown the target audience, by;

  • Title
  • Size of Firm
  • Industry
  • Current Security Solutions in Use

Notice that one of the many merits of a virtual event is that location or region is irrelevant. If you have the security solution they need- you can fulfill regardless of location- because your communication channel is the web. For the example- let’s say you are targeting CIO’s, and IT Directors. But wait, within LinkedIn – don’t you have access to all imaginable business titles within LinkedIn that can have an impact on security decisions? So let’s throw into the mix HR Directors, CFO’s, and Legal. By embracing the openness of LinkedIn, and because the decision-maker gatekeeper gone, you are empowered to author a unique event marketing strategy- while going after a wider audience, with great cost efficiency.

Here then represents the essence of your LinkedIn Group’s existence, dictated by desired content topics and voice;

  • What security content topics can we introduce that are unique to this expanded audience?
  • What security topics have been covered ad nausea, ones that could create contempt?
  • What specific security software initiatives are evolving now in market?
  • Impact by industry- Healthcare, Financial, Services, Manufacturing, and Human Resources?
  • Which of these markets are prone to genuine online collaboration, and which ones will respond best by providing a forum their own personal views.
  • Should I create a LinkedIn Group that allows both forums?
  • How might you identify technology champions within each industry to drive your LinkedIn corporate message?

After you have taking taken on these categories of target audience, content and voice, let the Linkedin Group https://www.linkedin.com/createGroup?displayCreate= creation page be your guide to final construction;

Group Name

From the above analysis- what is the most engaging (and believable) name for your group- based on its mission?

Group Type

Are you a ‘Corporate Group’, ‘Conference Group’, ‘Networking Group’, or ‘Professional Group’? The answer can lie in your overall objective. Is your virtual event theme tied to your overall corporate message? If so- you may want identify your group type as ‘Corporate’. If on the other hand your goal is to enlist a wider group of prospects for your event- then ‘Networking’ could be appropriate.

Summary

Entered here is a brief description about your group and its purpose. Your summary about this group will appear in the Groups Directory. The key in this submission is what you state as the group’s purpose. My recommendation is that you make it one sentence, and offers something no other entity has yet provided to its members.

Description

Your full description of the group will appear on your group page(s). The opportunity here is to list all benefits and deliverables active members should expect to receive. If you choose to have multiple groups- based on industry- the win/win is the ability to customize the group offering- based on their specific challenges.

Website

Ah yes- a calling of your hand. Will you direct group members to your corporate website, the virtual event website, maybe a partner website? Where you direct your audience in order to take action should illustrate the main objective of your group’s existence.

Group Owner

This is where you crown your Group leader- providing their email address, which opens the direct flow of communication to this individual.

Access

Here you make the determination if you will allow anyone to join your group- or if you require the approval of the Group Owner. Here again, an important decision exists as it relates to your Group strategy. Other yes/no Access selections include;

  • Display this group in the Groups Directory
  • Allow members to display the logo on their profiles. Also, send my connections a Network Update that I have created this group.
  • Allow members to invite others to join this group

Linkedin Groups provides a potentially effective social media tool to rally the decision-makers you want to aggregate- for both your episodic virtual event and your perpetual audience development efforts. Please let us know your input here at Virtual Edge Institute.