If you play your cards right, LinkedIn groups can be one of your most powerful sales tools. However, there's still a ton of confusion out there about how to use them effectively.
One thing that is very clear is how NOT to use LinkedIn groups. This graphic may overemphasize the point, but you truly can destroy your credibility if you aren't careful.
Think twice before you jump in and start using LinkedIn groups in the following ways. I even made one of these mistakes myself when I first started.
It may be very tempting to showcase your products or services in LinkedIn groups. After all, you can reach a very targeted group of people and you know your offering can really help many of them. And, best of all, it's free, right?
Sometimes I see a discussions like:
- "Are you looking for XYZ service? Let us know, we'd love to work with you!"
- Or, "I have high quality XYZ. I'll give you the best prices. Contact me."
- One trick I've seen quite frequently is people inserting that kind of advertising in the middle of a discussion that has a lot of comments.
Good LinkedIn group managers don't let stuff like this get through, but sometimes it slips by. And I can tell you from a group manager perspective, consistently seeing people try to push this kind of stuff through to the group members is frustrating. All I can say is... Seriously?
When you do that, it's painfully obvious that your #1 objective is yourself. You look like a self-serving salesperson and will turn people off from ever wanting to do business with you.
If you want to do direct advertising, LinkedIn has programs made specifically for that. LinkedIn groups is definitely not the place for that kind of marketing.
Unfortunately, more groups than not aren't discussions at all - they're a place where group members post their own articles.
Ok, technically it does say "Start a discussion or share something with the group..." So, why not share the article you worked so hard to write? It's informative, not salesy, and has great information in it.
And you may be absolutely right about your awesome article. It just feels salesy to me when people post articles as group discussions. It's like they're more concerned about getting clicks to their blog than actually having a conversation.
I don't know about you, but when I'm in a group, I'm looking for insightful peer-to-peer interaction, not to read a bunch of articles.
I do enjoy reading articles, but that's what I use my LinkedIn home page for. I scan my home page to see what people are writing about and will click through to articles from there.
Based on my unscientific research, it seems like discussions get significantly more comments than articles, so my hypothesis is that the majority of people feel the same way I do.
Real discussions are much more interesting - and fun. They actually make you seem like a real person with thoughts and feelings, not just a marketer trying to get clicks to your article.