By now, you may have noticed that LinkedIn has rolled out several changes to LinkedIn Groups. These changes are meant to improve the quality of the groups themselves and to keep them smaller and more engaging with less risk of spam.

We have learned, though, that the changes do have an impact on your LinkedIn marketing strategy when it comes to both running your own group or when posting to other groups.

What are some of the changes?

  • All groups are now private by default. Joining a group requires an invitation or an approval. And because they’re all private, group conversations no longer show up in an Internet search.
  • Conversations have changed… a lot. Conversations and comments are visible to group members, only, however you can now post images to conversations and tag group members, too (they’ll receive a notification so they can join in the dialogue).
  • There is a Groups Highlights section monitoring conversations taking place in groups you are following and provides you a digest of the most popular and recent conversations.
  • There is a new LinkedIn Groups App. The new mobile app allows users to follow in-group conversations and stay up to date on their phones. Currently, only the iOS version is available. The Android version is said to be forthcoming.

download-LI-GuideHow will your firm’s LinkedIn marketing strategy be impacted by these changes?

Perhaps the most impactful change we have noticed is that popular posts (conversations) are no longer “pinned” to the top. Instead, the conversations roll down much like a Twitter feed making it difficult for your post to gain traction. You are losing a significant amount of visibility with this change. A word of caution: you do not necessarily want to post more often to combat this, as you may get marked as being spammy. However, you might try posting an engaging question or two that relates to your content to see if you can get some conversation going that way.

Some companies may find that settings to groups they are running were changed with the rollout, making them unlisted. Clearly, this will make it harder for people to find your group to join, so make sure you double-check your settings! Group Admins will also want to be as proactive as possible about approving member requests.

One note on the bright side, you will be able to make your posts much more interesting by including graphics. We would encourage you to make the most of this and include images such as infographics to support your content.

So, what are some best practices?

Even with all of the changes, the LinkedIn best practices that have proliferated over the years still apply. If you haven’t looked at your LinkedIn marketing strategy or other social media strategies in a while, this may be a good time to take stock and make adjustments as needed.

First, you have to know what it is you are hoping to accomplish on LinkedIn. Has that focus changed since you first created your strategy? Have you stuck to your focus consistently up until now?

As a refresher, common goals of LinkedIn can include:

  • Brand building
  • Becoming a Visible ExpertSM
  • Content promotion
  • Lead generation and nurturing
  • Recruiting and job searching
  • Partnering opportunities
  • Industry research and monitoring

Each has a focused amount of effort required on your part for a successful execution.

Target Your Content

If you are clear on what your social media objectives are you will better know how to leverage LinkedIn Groups. Ideally you will want to use the groups to target your firm’s content specifically to each of your audiences. Groups allow you to reach fellow professionals and prospects in the right industries, in the right departments and roles and those who are outside of your existing networks.

SEE ALSO: Pro Tips: How to Increase LinkedIn Connections and Engagement

Involve Employees

Depending on your strategy, you’ll also need to engage your staff and colleagues for support. Employee advocacy is an emerging trend for professional services firms. Consider doing some research for relevant groups and developing a strategy whereby employees are assigned to those groups to join and post to. When your firm has new content, such as blog posts, employees can share the posts in their specific groups and monitor for activity. This is not only good for your firm’s visibility, but also for the employees’.

Be Engaging

Before posting in LinkedIn Groups, you will want to get a feel for the rules and etiquette of each particular group, the people who are in the group and what topics seem to be most popular with its members. You will want to mirror the tone and level of expertise of those in the group.

Engage with your target groups regularly to boost your contribution level and remember, do not just share your own firm’s content, but also make sure you are sharing others’ content and industry news. Comment on existing discussions from other group members and make sure you are monitoring your LinkedIn notifications so you can follow up with people in a timely manner.

It’s important to be as conversational and personable as possible – you don’t want to be too self-promotional! Reply to people by name (i.e., @John) and encourage more conversation and feedback by ending your comments with a question.

What should you post about?

There are a few different approaches you can take to posting on various topics. Try a few of the following ideas:

  • Current trends and issues
  • Offer advice, insights and support
  • Ask for advice, insights, and support
  • Share personal experiences and best practices

It’s also important to remember that your LinkedIn marketing strategy is meant to be a compliment to your offline efforts. Nothing replaces face-to-face contact. LinkedIn Groups have evolved, but there are still ways to use them to your advantage. Be even more strategic and focused to get the most out of your online and offline efforts. Follow the Hinge blog for more timely updates on changes and how to leverage them to your advantage.

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