[This post was the start of the journey. Read our ebook Nobody Likes To Dance Alone: How To Grow A Social Media Community to learn how to get your group off the ground and grow it into a boundaryless community. The Sticky Branding LinkedIn Group now has over 27,000 members]
LinkedIn Groups excite me. The more I dig into them, the more I like them. The LinkedIn community provides a strong platform for engaged professionals to network, share ideas and help each other. And the groups encapsulate this experience.
We launched our LinkedIn Group, Sticky Branding, on May 11, 2010 with 5 members – all of which happened to work for Sticky Branding. Eight months later, and at the time of this writing, the group has 1,188 members and is growing steadily. Since late December, 2010 we have been adding approximately 25 new members per day.
Crossing 1,000 members was an important milestone for us. It took a lot of work, but the benefits are materializing. The group is starting to generate leads for our consultancy, and is proving to be a useful business development platform.
As we look back on the past 8 months, we have identified 4 key elements on how to grow a LinkedIn Group:
What’s in a name? Everything
Before launching a LinkedIn Group spend the time to get the name right. The name sets the tone for the group, but also helps people decide whether they want to check it out or not. It provides that first impression, and influences whether a user should explore further.
Often LinkedIn users search for groups based on topic areas: marketing, branding, sales, customer service, intellectual property law, and so on. Your group’s name should speak to your topic area, but also provide an experiential tone.
Unless you have a really compelling reason, don’t name the LinkedIn Group after your company. This is the quickest way to stunt the size of your group. LinkedIn members join groups to learn, share and grow. Not to be pitched by companies shilling on social media.
Nobody likes to dance alone
In the early days of the Sticky Branding group, we did a lot of talking amongst ourselves. We set a mandate that each Sticky Branding employee had to post at least one discussion per week, and we responded to each others posts. The idea was simple: nobody wants to be the first to dance.
We looked at the LinkedIn Group like a high school dance. We knew there would be a lot of wallflowers initially, and we needed to be welcoming hosts. We worked hard to create an inviting group with interesting conversations that were easy to jump into. We talked amongst ourselves, sparked debates and invited others to participate.
The strategy paid off. Soon others were posting discussions and questions, and the group began to gel and take on a life of its own.
Invite, Invite, Invite
I’ve said this many times before, “If you don’t blow your own horn, nobody will.”
The first 500 or so members to the group came mainly through our direct solicitations. We started by inviting our LinkedIn connections, and asked them to participate. Next, we reached out to our networks outside of LinkedIn. We sent out invites with our email newsletters, and made a point to announce the group wherever we could. The more we talked about the group, the more people joined.
Eventually we hit a critical mass. Today, many of our members are finding the Sticky Branding group in the LinkedIn Group Directory.
Manage the culture, set the tone
Building an engaging, growing LinkedIn Group requires effort. It won’t build itself. You have to commit to it weekly, and continually invest in the conversations and the tone of the group. It’s a long term commitment. If you ignore the group or stop nurturing it, the community will die and all that upfront investment will go to waste.
But the effort is worthwhile. For one, it’s fun. LinkedIn users are smart, engaged and open to intellectual conversations. I am always amazed by the caliber of the questions and responses. Two, the groups are great for networking. If you’re looking to grow your network and extend your reach, the groups provide an excellent platform.
I encourage you. Participate in the LinkedIn Groups. Join the Sticky Branding group. And if you’re up for the challenge, start your own. To aid you on your journey read our free ebook Nobody Likes To Dance Alone: How To Grow A Social Media Community.