I find coins boring. When I go to a museum, I usually breeze by the coin exhibits without a second thought.
On the other hand, my numismatic (coin collecting) friend knows how to appreciate them, and she’s thrilled by the chance to stare down gold doubloons and rare silver dollars. She can see something I can’t: a story told by their textures, colors, and size.
Numismatists have a lot in common with LinkedIn group members. They’re niche professionals who speak their own esoteric dialect. Unlike other social networks, it takes something extremely specialized to win their attention; not just any old cat on a roomba gets watched and shared.
The effort is worth it, however, since success comes with a deluge of benefits.
(Image credit: MFA Boston)
As Ryan Sommer mentioned last month, LinkedIn has become a content powerhouse with over 175m professionals. But within that larger context, it’s LinkedIn Groups that have the clout in content strategy.
Consider the benefits:
- Descriptive profiles. Member profiles depict industry-relevance, influence, and buyer power. Marketers can then reach out to professionals who are the best fit for sharing content.
- Highly-specific targeting. You can find active groups in most niche professions, from transmission repair professionals to, yes, (dozens of) coin collector groups.
- Relationship building. Follow up on comments or likes on posts with private messages to foster engagement and spark potential for future collaborations. These professionals can even directly participate in brainstorming new campaigns.
- Prolonged exposure. If the content is popular, it stays in the limelight for a while. Well-received posts, with high traffic or engagement, linger in the popular discussion and top influencer sections of a group for several days to a couple weeks.
Speaking the LinkedIn Group language
Just because you’re not a seasoned collector of coins doesn’t mean that you can’t become a central cog in the group’s discussion. To fit in with this community of professionals, you don’t need to prove yourself as a coin expert. Instead, give members a platform to express themselves.
LinkedIn Groups are made up of members who have joined in order to refine and exhibit their professional strengths. Content that succeeds in these groups will function more like a prompt than a resource.
Put simply: create content that gives your audience a chance to shine. If you approach content creation this way, you won’t need to have the same level of expertise as the members of your target groups do. They will create expert content for you.
Kelsey Libert said it well on the Moz Blog:
More often than not, we believe our knowledge is the most credible source. Our knowledge is credible because we learned it personally, and it wasn’t hearsay or outdated. So, what we have to do is involve our audience in the learning process of our message.
A hazardous case study
We discovered the potential of LinkedIn Groups when we were creating content for our subsidiary brand, MySafetySign.com.
We wanted to interact with the huge community of safety professionals on LinkedIn. While we had a surface understanding of the safety industry as sellers of safety signs, we didn’t know enough to teach LinkedIn professionals anything meaningful.
Personally, I have no formal safety training. I have never worked in construction or a factory. I can’t hide that, it’s visible to LinkedIn Group members who choose to view my profile.
I knew just a few generalities about the industry. For example, I was aware that construction sites could be fined by the government agency, OSHA, for unsafe practices. I had little idea, however, what those violations were, let alone, say, 29 CFR 1926 and ladder lean ratios.
Our content campaign was inspired by a picture a co-worker snapped of workers on top of a makeshift scaffold. A horizontal ladder held up by two vertical ones.
Clearly, the safety standards in the picture were dubious, but we didn’t know much beyond our general suspicions. We wrote an article and made a few guesses at the safety violations. We posted the article on a few LinkedIn safety groups, asking the question: “what’s wrong with this photo?”
Sure enough, group members were eager to amend, add, and correct us. We used the relationship building power of the groups (following up with commenters) to collaborate on the posts that came later.
Within a few weeks, we had photos, volunteer experts, and robust commentary (even readers discussing with each other!): a self-perpetuating content campaign dubbed #HazardSpotting.
With the near-inexhaustible amount of LinkedIn Groups out there, it’s a promising place for interactive content experiments like this one. As you plan your LinkedIn content and outreach efforts, keep in mind these best practices.
- Target several specific, well-populated, and active groups.
- Don’t spam or double post. Come across as a real person and interact authentically with the group. If you’re trying to be someone you’re not, they can just look at your profile.
- Create content that allows your group members to showcase their professional skills. You can start small. For example, ask group members to think of a slogan or comment on an image.
- Remember that it’s a community. Keep it fun, creative, and even competitive.
What’s your marketing experience on LinkedIn? Comment, share, tweet. I’m asking you, you’re the expert…