Promoting Your Business Using LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn is currently the third largest social network with 150 million members, and because the focus of the site is professional it is more acceptable to promote your business on this site than it is on other social networks. With the number of LinkedIn groups rapidly approaching 1 million it is almost certain that there is a group that already has a discussion going in your niche. With so many professional opportunities to be had by networking with others in your industry, LinkedIn should be included as a part of every internet marketing plan.
Even though LinkedIn’s focus is professional many of the same rules that apply to marketing on other social media also apply here. Jumping into one of the groups and leaving promotional messages without engaging in any conversations on the site will likely be regarded as spam, the same as it would on Facebook or Twitter. The difference between LinkedIn groups and groups on other social media sites is that the conversations are often requests for advice, or for a product or service and questions about those products or services. This does tend to make LinkedIn more of a B2B rather than a B2C promotional tool but it also makes it easier to form a network of connections within any particular niche.
The best way to promote your business on LinkedIn is to create a business page for your company on the site. This way the link to your business page will appear on all of your comments and the comments of your employees whenever they join a conversation in one of the groups. Just as with other social media sites, LinkedIn is driven by the content posted by its users and so it is worthwhile to pay attention to conversations and use your input to demonstrate your expertise in your niche. When you have established yourself as a contributing member of a group it may be more productive for you to begin a conversation yourself. This is a good way to get people talking about your products or services and offers an obvious opportunity to promote your business.
LinkedIn users are limited to joining 50 groups so it may be a good idea to look at a few of them before deciding which ones to join and spend time creating a profile for. It may be more difficult to raise a well-known profile in some of the larger groups with tens of thousands of members, but choosing a group that is too small could be a waste of time and energy because it may not have the reach you need. It may also be productive to join groups that relate to industries or niches that are similar to yours, such as those for your suppliers’ industries or for businesses that sell products that complement your own. The advantage of LinkedIn’s professional focus is that it makes it relatively easy to find people with whom it will be possible to develop affiliate relationships.
Just as with all social media marketing, promoting your business on LinkedIn will only be effective if you put the time and effort into initiating, growing and maintaining relationships. While for most businesses it is unlikely that marketing on LinkedIn alone will produce many conversions, the professional network that it allows you to build helps to place your business in its industry with other professionals in your field, and it raises the general awareness of your brand which is the primary use of social media marketing. Used in conjunction with other Web 2.0 social sites, LinkedIn can make your business visible to a targeted audience of potential customers that may not see you on other sites like Facebook.