Guest post: top ten tips on how to manage a Linkedin group

Guest post by Julius Solaris, a community manager and social media expert.
Julius blogs at Event Manager Blog and manages the Linkedin Event Planning and Management group, which boasts more than 5300 event professionals from around the world. I have always been impressed by his entreprise, by his ability to run his own buisness and his obvious commitment to creating, enlarging and cultivating his community. Here he guest posts for These Digital Times.

 

When Linkedin opened up groups a few months ago, I was quick enough to create one for event people (28th February 2008). Ten months later, the group now numbers over five thousand people. Here are few things I learnt in the process.

1. What is the group for?

I made that clear in the Group information page. The group info page helps in keeping naggers away and attract only motivated members. I made the joining criteria even more specific, when one month ago the group felt a stronger need to emphasise quality – more of that later. Try to be clear with what you want and what you don’t want.

2. Bulk approve, but ban misuses

Having a lot of members helps. If I told you at the beginning of this post that I managed a group of 20 people, that probably would have not captured your attention. Therefore, bulk approving is a must.

On the other hand, having great numbers brings a lot of spam and lowers the quality of the network.

Make sure you state repeatedly the objectives of the group with a featured post.

Delete discussion violating rules and warn the abuser.

If you still get annoyances, ban users who perpetrated misuses. You can definitely do without these trouble-makers. Don’t be afraid of losing members, it’s for the win.

3. Follow the input of the community

The group has been like a craiglist for event professionals for a while.

One shiny day, somebody protested about the format and complained about blatant self-promotion.

Apparently this was the feeling of several other members. I respected that and engaged in more severe management, pruning spam and applying more severe rules.

I also made that clear with sticky ‘featured’ posts as well as in the info’ page.

4. Delegate responsibility

In introducing the aforementioned shift towards more quality, I made clear that the community should have been active in reporting spam or abuses.

Since earning a living from a Linkedin Group is quite tough, the majority of us do this as a hobby. If this is your case, I strongly suggest you reinforce the concept that mere complaints are not acceptable in a community.

You complain when you pay for a service, you complain when you are giving something in exchange.

Members have to understand that they can only complain with themselves in a Linkedin Group. Managers are not held accountable if the community acts like customers instead of users.

I got a great response from one member in particular who gave me incredible support and helped me through the “cleaning” process.

5. Praise those who respond positively

Anne was the person who helped me along the way.

What I have just done with you now (telling you the name of a dedicated user), I did repeatedly in the group.

Rewarding positive behaviour is as important as banning negative uses.

6. Advertise your group wherever you are active in the web

A major differentiator of the LI Event Planning and Management Group is that it already had big numbers compared to other groups, way before Linkedin introduced Group search.

This was possible because I was actively promoting the group wherever possible.

I got 10 people registering everyday from my blog alone. I posted about it on twitter and talked about it in all the events I attended.

If you are not convinced about your group, close it right now and dedicate your effort to a new, better project.

If you feel your group is really worth joining, then make the world aware of that!

7. Monetize it

For a while I monetised my group. I worked together with an online event registration/ticketing service.

I made a newsletter to make the group aware of the sponsor and invited the members to have a look at the profile of the company.

The company sponsoring the group had immediate benefits from event planners registering to events using their registration platform.

 Usually groups work more to generate brand awareness rather than converting clicks and you should be aware of that when pitching to companies.

8. Empower members to meet offline

 During the aforementioned period, I got the sponsor to support group events across the world. We had more than 7 meetups and it was great fun.

I created a dedicated umbrella for all the events called http://www.spicynetworking.com

I also started a regular London Meetup for that.

9. Know where to address your efforts

While Linkedin had no discussion or news section facility, I created another group on Ning, another social networking provider, for members to interact. I manually invited thousands of people and got 500 members together.

When Linkedin allowed a bit of interaction, I had to let go and move on. I shut down the platform as of 1st of Jan 2009 and am very happy to focus my effort in one place.

10. Linkedin is not on your side so be creative

The platform as it is does not give you management tools such as newsletters, broadcasts, sticky posts in home page or whatever necessary for basic admin.

That is why you really need to be creative, I wrote my own newsletter, learned how to use external broadcasting services, customized a Ning, created a Meetup.

A lot of effort is required and results are not always immediate, so try to shake things up if it’s not working until you find your way.

What’s your experience?

by Julius Solaris

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About John Welsh

John Welsh has spent his entire working life in business-to-business media, first traditional publishing, having edited three magazines over 14 years, and, second, exhibitions since 2007. He started this blog on 22 June 2008 and ended it on 18 May 2010.
This entry was posted in Communities, Guest post, Links and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Guest post: top ten tips on how to manage a Linkedin group

  1. Jamie says:

    Good Article. I was looking for information on managing a group in LinkedIn. I started “Linked Business”, a group with about 800 members, and have been wondering how other managers improve the discussions and whether others are deleting or managing discussions or comments that break the group rules. I believe that if the discussions aren’t engaging, members will stop following them or turn off the email updates, then the group spirals downward in quality.

  2. Phil Clark says:

    Hi Julius,
    This is a very timely post for me. I’m looking at a networking strategy across my company – its a sister firm of John’s which serves an audience of construction and property professionals in the UK (and increasingly abroad).
    Probably like a lot of B2B players we have made patchy attempts to build communities. The results have been patchy, again for the usual reaons: lack of clarity or purpose; not enough time spent on some of the basic you have mentioned when you start one (being firm but fair); and at times some confusion about how much you as the owner/runner of the community should be involved. I’m currently wondering whether we need to: partner with an established brand such as LinkedIn; go with a more niche player in property or construction; or start our own.
    A few questions:
    Why did you choose LinkedIn – because the audience was already there?
    Do you intend to move out of LinkedIn at some stage?
    How much time would you guess you had to spend getting the group off the ground, and then on the ongoing management?
    Sorry to ramble on but I’d be interested in your perspective.

  3. Julius says:

    Thanks Jamie for your comments and consider me at your disposal for further tips.

    Great question Phil and very relevant to what companies are going through.

    I faced a similar situation lately while I was consulting for a client willing to start a recruitment social network.

    If you are within a corporate environment, Linkedin or Xing work great to display belonging but not as platforms to gather and discuss.

    Unless you don’t use the above to make business, it will be a waste of time for everyone involved. Therefore first tip, create a group or list your company there, but that would be it.

    What I implemented for my aforementioned client is a strategy with a main blog to engage and a side community with microblogging capabilities to complement and stimulate discussion.

    The tip you can get from that is to actually engage first with internal communication (possibly made of quality content) and then offer the chance to communicate horizontally, all of this with small steps and being flexible to responses.

    I have a couple of suggestions for open source and/or free solutions, feel free to get in touch via John or http://www.juliussolaris.com

    Thanks

  4. Hi Julius – Thanks for this. I just started a group on LinkedIn for job seekers that is based on my blog and website. After three weeks I have 137 members. I try to stay very active in the discussions and news articles (starting and commenting). I can’t imagine doing this for a group of 5,000! Of the 137 users, there are only about 20 people actively contributing. Is that about average? I’ll implement some of your ideas. Good ones!

    Any more promotion ideas? Especially ones that don’t feel like spam to people? 🙂

  5. Julius says:

    Hi Tim,

    well done.

    Great you have 20 people contributing, it’s a very good number.

    Make sure you discuss rules with the group and define what sort of promotion is allowed.

    I warned my members that whoever decides to sponsor the group will have the chance to be included in a newsletter.

    If you don’t want newsletters you can feature a post from sponsors or play with the few tools available.

    As for now, the only tool you have is the ability to delete messages and highlight others, so let’s wait for Linkedin to release more.

    By the way, we are 6000 now 😉

    Julius

  6. hantuttel says:

    Just a quick note to say: Thank You!
    excellent post – will certainly assist me and others to enhance our groups on LinkedIn.

    regards, Han
    (twitter.com/tuttel)

  7. Tara says:

    I was wondering, is it possible to invite people to groups who are not your friends?

    How do i invite people to a group of mine but not my network?

    Thanks all!

  8. Julius says:

    I think the only way to do that is to send the link over. There is no way to share it with other non-connections

    Thanks
    Julius

  9. Pingback: How to Promote and Manage LinkedIn Group | Search Engine Journal

  10. Christine says:

    I am considering starting a group on Linked-In on health care innovation that would be related to a government web site that I manage.

    The purpose would be to foster discussion around health care innovation, create awareness of the web site through branding and direct people to articles on the Web site in response to questions, etc. Do you see any problem with repurposing some of the Web site content?

    How proactive should the manager be in putting content out to the group and engaging in the discussion?

    How much “care and feeding” of the group is involved to keep the group dynamic?

    Christine

  11. Hi Christine,

    “Do you see any problem with repurposing some of the Web site content?”

    Just make sure you do your research. If there are already big groups covering the broad topic, try to be specific and differentiate.

    “How proactive should the manager be in putting content out to the group and engaging in the discussion?”

    Very proactive, specially at the beginning. On the long run find members to support you and moderate with you.

    “How much “care and feeding” of the group is involved to keep the group dynamic?”

    Fostering involvement at the start is not an easy thing, make sure you invite all the relevant stakeholders you have access to. It will take a bit of your time although there is no pre-fixed time you should dedicate to it. Set an objective of reaching a number of members and discussions, that could help in setting the right time.

    Thanks
    Julius

  12. Nicole says:

    Good afternoon Julius
    I would like to start a linkedin group for professional expatriates mainly focussing on women – with a job board as well.
    I will look at discussion that are for all women, however I have had a couple times that friends did not get access to groups due to their academic or background experience. How do I still get the professional people, but equal to everyone?
    What did your sponsor do – ie you mentioned that you had a sponsor?
    Thank you
    Nicole

  13. Hi Nicole,

    thanks for your message. If I get it right you are wondering about making sure that members in the group are relevant.

    Well you can approve manually members and make sure that their backgrounds reflect the purpose of the group.

    We had a sponsor at the beginning but it did not interfere with members screening

    Hope this helps

    Thanks
    Julius

    ge

  14. Pingback: LinkedIn Groups: Everything You Need to Know to Find Jobs | JobMob

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