LinkedIn Groups, one of the most robust online group platforms, took a strong hit between 2016-2018. In its earlier years, users were eagerly joining groups and engagement rates were almost unbelievable.
Then marketers noticed this untapped space and decided to dive head in; they did what marketers do best – they beat eat it until it was dead.
The people who took early action enjoyed the most benefits.
Soon, engagement began to die down. Users were joining the groups not to engage others, but to promote their business.
This wasn’t the model LinkedIn created its groups platform for, so LinkedIn Groups began to fade into obscurity.
However, earlier this year (2018), LinkedIn announced some big changes to Groups in order to fight its declining engagement rates.
If you want to take advantage of these changes as a B2B owner or marketer, you will need an organic marketing approach.
Engagement efforts will have to be based on building connections, not self-promotion. And as many business owners will tell you, quality connections lead to long-lasting business benefits.
Latest Updates to LinkedIn Groups Feature
LinkedIn initially sent out an email to Group administrators at the beginning of the year, informing them of the changes to come.
Here are the major changes that were put into motion starting February 15th, 2018 but will continue throughout the year.
1. Removal of the iOS app
LinkedIn claimed that they could no longer support a standalone app for iOS devices. The removal did not affect any content that users created on those apps.
2. Easier access to groups
Unlike earlier times when users had to visit the group page to see new content, we can now find group conversations on the timeline. Users can also engage with other group members right on their homepage by liking and posting comments.
3. Video feature
Perhaps the most exciting update is the ability to publish videos to groups. Users can also mention (@) members who they require comments or contributions from.
Benefits of LinkedIn’s Group Updates for B2B Owners and Marketers
With these new features, you can now enjoy:
1. Even wider reach
Posts and conversations in the group are no longer limited to the group page. If you’re in a group with 2,000+ members, consider the impact of having your posts and conversations showing up on their timelines. Impressions and engagement are gradually climbing back up, especially with relevant content.
With 81% of LinkedIn users belonging to at least one group, there is so much potential available in every industry.
2. Video marketing
Video content still stands out against LinkedIn’s text-based feed. If there was ever a good time to up your visuals game, it’s now. Uploading relevant videos to your groups will definitely get you some attention, as most users still haven’t started using the feature. Your videos should target specific pain points in your industry that most members currently encounter.
By using a problem-solving approach, you will easily pull attention to the B2B solutions you clearly have knowledge on.
While doing this, avoid making videos that seem promotional. You can do something as simple as record yourself on your way to work, talking about a new development in your industry, and your thoughts on it.
3. Valuable marketing insights
Most of the answers you need from market research can be found in LinkedIn groups. In the right groups, you get insider access to the minds of your target business owners. You also learn about probable developments in your industry.
With the right proactive steps, you could be protecting your business from blowbacks and other effects that come with major industry changes. However, you should learn to develop a sixth sense to differentiate between speculations and probable events.
4. Running your own group
You can create a new group specifically for members who need the B2B solutions you provide. Of course, this won’t be a platform for direct marketing. Connections built from the group and recognition gotten from industry professionals can help push your image as a relevant voice in the industry. This approach should only be used if you can commit the needed resources to grow and moderate a LinkedIn group.
What are the limitations that B2B marketers might face?
To avoid some of the problems that caused a decline in user interest, LinkedIn also gave group admins access to:
Personalize group templates
In group templates, admins can create personalized welcome messages. They can also accept or decline requests and messages. The welcome note is to inform new and existing members of the rules and expectations that apply to the group.
Group admins can choose to moderate conversations by approving each message before it is published. In such groups, any sales-y message will most likely get trashed immediately.
To avoid getting blacklisted for self-promotion reasons, stay within the guidelines of all your groups. Also, make the effort to develop great relationships with the admin(s) and other members.
How to Build Good Relationships in your LinkedIn Group
The old marketing model using LinkedIn Groups failed because users wanted to self-promote. To make an impact, you should first contribute great value. When you do that, other members will naturally seek you out.
Here’s how you can build relationships and stay valuable in any LinkedIn group:
- If you join a group and realize it holds no value for you, leave. It will be a waste of time to linger in a group that won’t support your marketing goals.
- Ask thoughtful questions around your common interest. A good way to do this is by keeping an eye out for interesting industry news. When you encourage members to contribute often, they quickly take note of your name and engage with you further.
- Comment on other people’s posts to show that you see the relevance in their opinion.
- Don’t use a sales-y approach no matter what. Those conversations naturally show up in good time.
- Join groups you are genuinely interested in. This is the best way to encourage yourself to stay updated with all group activities.
If your company already has a good presence on LinkedIn, you can capitalize on that to some extent. However, remember that LinkedIn groups are more personalized. Don’t go in as a business executive. You must communicate as someone who is ready to learn and also share their opinion. Using the right strategies, the new updates to LinkedIn Group can be a major tool in your B2B’s marketing efforts.