LinkedIn has become a valuable social network for recruitment and job searches. Since 2004 it has also had LinkedIn Groups which enabled professionals to network and discuss business and common interests. To make them more useful, a new iOS application will be released on October 14th, 2015, and on the same day all Groups will become private.
The iOS phone app (And an Android version also being worked on) will be a standalone app for LinkedIn Groups which will offer notifications and updates for the groups you belong to.
But the bigger change is to make all Groups private - only members will be able to contribute and see what has been posted, and search engines will be blocked.
The hope is that the move will reduce spam, and encourage more productive communities - member-only groups already see up to five times more participation and conversation. In the future, you can choose to run a Standard Group, which allows members to invite their connections, or Unlisted Groups which won't appear in any searches, on profiles or allow members to send invites - only owners and managers.
LinkedIn is also introducing better content filtering, improvements to the moderation in groups, the ability to include images and use @ to mention other members by names and removing Sub Groups.
Reasons to Use LinkedIn Groups:
There are several good reasons for small and medium-sized businesses to use LinkedIn Groups. As a professional network, it's a good way to connect with suppliers, customers, potential buyers and other business owners in your industry - as well as being a great tool for recruitment. And it's obviously a great way for business-to-business companies to be more social in a setting which is more relevant than Facebook, for example.
- Join Groups Your Prospective Customers and Clients Are Using: It's a great way to research the concerns your customers have, answer common questions, and establish your business as one which really knows about the industry.
- Consider Starting Your Own Group: If there isn't a specific group for your industry, then it's worth considering starting one. The key questions to ask are whether you can devote time to promoting and maintaining a group, but it can become a hugely valuable resource - as as the founder, your business will be seen to lead the discussions and community.
- Focus on a Small Number of Key Groups: It's easy to end up belonging to lots of groups, and not have enough time to contribute properly to any of them. Pick two or three of the most relevant and active groups and concentrate on meaningful contributions to them.
- Conduct Market Research: You can identify new business opportunities and products, perhaps servicing other businesses in your industry by identifying common problems.
- Encourage Your Colleagues and Staff: Contributing to Groups to raise the profile of your business doesn't have to be the work of one person. With a little advice and training, your employees can get involved in not only promoting your company, but also in using Groups to find answers and solutions to problems they may encounter day-to-day.
Ultimately with any social network the results from interacting will depend on what you put in. It's important to make the most of your LinkedIn Company Page regardless of any effort you put into LinkedIn Groups, but combining the two can make a far bigger impact.
- Social Media,