4 Creative Ways to Use LinkedIn Groups to Build Relationships

4 Creative Ways to Use LinkedIn Groups to Attract New Clients

If you’re looking to network, you’re most likely to turn to LinkedIn, the number one social media network connecting professionals. Today, LinkedIn users are more engaged than ever; however, it wasn’t always the case. LinkedIn has a come a long way! Remember when you first joined, and it was pretty much just a forum to make your resume visible to employers and your job postings searchable for recruitment? As you’ve grown with LinkedIn, you’ve seen the many great opportunities it’s come to offer.

As an active user, you probably take advantage of these opportunities every day. You’re frequently sharing updates, giving recommendations and endorsements, commenting on posts and networking through messaging. But there’s one opportunity you may be not be utilizing: LinkedIn groups.

Like some LinkedIn users, you might have joined a bunch of LinkedIn groups when you set up your profile and forgot all about them. Maybe you occasionally join one that looks interesting if you see someone else in your network has, but you never bother to check it out more than once. By now, you’ve joined maybe 20+ groups.

You may already know that with LinkedIn groups, your company or organization can keep in touch with members about current events and to discuss issues of common interest. But did you know that they’re also beneficial for boosting your business and attracting new clients? By continuously contributing to group discussions, you will successfully make connections with prospects, both businesses and consumers, while establishing yourself as an expert in your industry and promoting your company.

LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups but there’s no need to join that many. Search and identify groups with members who are experts in your industry, but also ones with prospective clients/customers. We recommend joining a max of 5 groups that fit this criteria.

Before you begin searching for groups, identify your goals. Are you looking to connect with consumers, businesses or colleagues? Is promoting your business what you’re after or is it building relationships?

photo: HubSpot

4 Creative Ways to Use LinkedIn Groups to Build Relationships

 

In order to find the right groups without doing too much digging, here are a few steps to take.

  • Perform a search in the Groups category based on keywords. If you’re looking for prospects, use the Advanced Search. You can filter by relationship, groups, location and industry.

  • Take note of whether or not the group is active with daily discussions and a minimum of 50 members.

  • When you see a group that interests you, click on it and read through the description. For example, if your business does social media marketing for non-profits, the group Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations may interest you for B2B relationships. This group is for anyone interested in how nonprofit organizations are utilizing social media. Members can post resources, share information and/or ask questions or seek advice.

  • Click on the Members tab and take a look at the Group Profile to see more information about the group and its members.

  • If the group is private, you will need to join and your request will be reviewed by the group manager. If the group is public, you can join without waiting to be accepted.

  • You can also search for groups from LinkedIn’s Groups You May Like page.

So now that you’ve found groups that are right for you, what’s next? It’s time to start connecting with members and get in on group discussions! The last thing you want to do is join a group and just visit from time to time without contributing. Whether connecting with colleagues, consumers or businesses, be an active member – let yourself be seen and heard.

Let’s review four creative ways to join Linkedin group discussions while boosting your business and building relationships (without over promoting or being too pushy).

1. Create and share content relevant to the group

The sole purpose of joining a LinkedIn group is to connect with members, and the best way to do this is by sharing information that will interest them. Maybe the group’s topic is interior design, and you’re a professional interior designer. If you have a blog that you update weekly (we hope you do!), share your latest posts when published. We recommend republishing the content on LinkedIn by writing a new post.

Another way to share your knowledge and establish your brand as an industry leader is to create how-to’s and guides. An easy-to-follow step-by-step guide will surely be helpful to members and show them that they can turn to you for assistance. inBLOOM created a free Checklist for Social Media Newbies with 14 tips that will help you to get started and track your marketing and networking efforts on social media. You must sign up to receive our guide, but you can share yours by publishing on LinkedIn or making it downloadable from your website.

Sharing your own content is an effective way to self-promote in the group without being so in-your-face about it. Rather than posting something like “Hey check out our products and services at this link,” sharing informational content will allow you to self-promote in a way that is natural and organic. This method is found to be much more effective.

Just as you do on your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ pages, you should also be sharing articles, infographics, etc. from other sources. Whatever articles interest you may also interest the group.

Here a visual artist shares a link to his free design resources for interior designers and decorators in the group ASID (American Society of Interior Designers).

4 Creative Ways to Use LinkedIn Groups to Build Relationships

 

2. Contribute to group discussions

If you are simply just visiting a group from time to time, maybe posting once in a while but not really commenting or participating in discussions, you’re not going to succeed with boosting your business and building relationships. According to LinkedIn, people who post or engage in group discussions get an average of 4 times as many profile views. And more profile views can lead to an increase in your network and possible inbound leads.

If someone posts a question, give an answer demonstrating your knowledge on the topic. Use your own experiences or resources for reference. Be professional but also friendly and relatable –you don’t want to sound like a know-it-all. Remember, you’re contributing to share your knowledge but also make connections and establish relationships with group members.

Encourage employees to contribute – it will make a bigger impact! When employees actively engage in group discussions, it builds your brand’s reputation. People will see that you’re all passionate about what you do and your company as a whole knows what it’s doing. You’ll also create a larger company presence and build industry awareness.

3. Connect with the group by asking questions

Sharing content and answering questions are fantastic ways to connect with members, but you know what’s even more fun? Asking questions! Of course, the questions you ask should be related to the topic of the group. Post content along with your question to give some insight, then see if it sparks any interest with comments. Even better, share an article or blog post written by you. This will establish your credibility, and also drive traffic to your website.

You don’t necessarily need to accompany your question with content though – I’ve seen great discussions with just a question. For example, a member of the group Social Media Marketing posted the question “Can you describe Social Media Marketing in one word?” and it received 3,605 comments.

You can even ask questions you need answers to or for feedback on something. Either way, you’re sure to get people talking and get yourself noticed. Feel free to jump right in the conversation, too!

Here a social media manager member in the Social Media Marketers group includes a link to her blog post to give insight to the question.

4 Creative Ways to Use LinkedIn Groups to Build Relationships
Here’s an example of an interior designer who simply needs advice. She reached out to the group ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) to get some feedback.

4 Creative Ways to Use LinkedIn Groups to Build Relationships

4. Continuously engage with the group

You don’t necessarily need to constantly keep tabs on your LinkedIn groups each day, but you should be continuously engaging in discussions with content, comments, questions and answers at least 2-3 times per week. If you’re not engaging several times weekly, it will be difficult to keep up with discussions and you’ll lose noticeability. You’ll also miss the chance to develop new business opportunities, as well as create and deepen connections.

Another reason to engage: LinkedIn will award you for your continuous contribution! LinkedIn has established contribution levels, a system that shows members how influential they are in a group. Top Contributors are group members who post the most interesting discussions and comments. On the right side of the group page you’ll see a list of those with this rank. You’ll also see Top Contributor underneath their names and titles when they post content.

Contribution levels are group specific and recalculated every day. To increase your contribution level, start interesting discussions and comment thoughtfully on other group members’ discussions. As people interact more with you, you’ll see your score go up. Your contribution level will go down if you are not active or your posts are promotional or inappropriate for the group.

Maintaining a presence on LinkedIn takes effort and time out of your busy schedule –time that you might not have. Hiring a social media manager could help you take advantage of all the networking opportunities LinkedIn has to offer you and your business. If you need assistance with maintaining your LinkedIn profile or have any questions about joining groups and contributing to discussions, comment on this blog and we’ll be in touch.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email

4 Ways to Get Better Results with Email

HNCK3281-1300x866

What makes us read one email and dump another? Is it possible to get better results with a few simple changes to your email? Yes and the new year is your perfect opportunity to get the opens and clicks you need to build your business and nurture those customer relationships.

Recent data shows that email continues to play a big role in our lives despite social media advances. We get our news and learn about the events and products that enhance our lives by email. It’s also a lifeline for work, alerting us to new projects, client or customer needs, and the conversations that are essential to courting and working with clients and colleagues.

If you’re using a marketing tool like Constant Contact to send and track your email, you’ll find these tips helpful to get better results:

1. Target Your Message

Before you even begin writing and designing your email, think about the message you’re trying to get across. What is your goal for sending the email? Are you trying to get more views on your blog post? If you’re holding an event, are you trying to generate more ticket sales? Maybe you’re simply creating buzz for your business or updating folks on recent news. Once you determine your goal, targeting your message will be a lot easier.

You may want to target specific audiences by sending separate emails to segmented lists. For instance, you could create two promotional emails with slightly different messages for lists of regular customers and new customers.

In Constant Contact, you can check the email stats to see how many people in each segmented list opened your emails. If one list did better than others, consider changing your wording or design and try again in the next round for that specific group that didn’t do so well.

 2. Create a Compelling, Attractive Design

In Constant Contact, you can choose among a variety of attractive templates. Whether it be a newsletter, announcement, promotion, survey or event registration, Constant Contact has got you covered. Get tips and tools on using the Constant Contact Toolkit for events and registration.

But even though these templates handle the layout, you still need to be creative when choosing the right font, color scheme, images, header, and footer.  The ideal size for a header image is 600 pixels wide and no more than 200 pixels tall. We recommend your header include your logo with your company tagline and services. It’s a good idea to hyperlink your website with your header. For example, here is inBLOOM’s header.

 

image001

 

Even if you use different templates, keep a consistent look with your company’s emails. Stick with the same font, color scheme, header, and footer. That way, you’ll establish a consistent look for your email marketing campaigns – people will know it’s from you just by looking at the design.

As visual creatures, we know the importance of images, but try not to overload your email with too many – one might be plenty. Stick with high-resolution photos that have something to do with your message. If you must use a stock photo, choose one that’s not so boring.

Avoid creating image-only emails, as delivery problems, often occur. However, there are templates in Constant Contact you could use to send emails that focus on an image.

 3. Use Enticing Subject Lines

The subject of your email is a major factor in whether or not it will be opened, trashed or marked as spam. Similar to a blog post or news article, the headline needs to be good or else it’s less likely to be read. So the million dollar question is: how do you write an enticing subject line that will get the recipient to open your email?

The length of your subject line matters – keep it short, simple and descriptive. We recommend no more than 5-8 words or 40 characters. Many email providers will cut off subject lines with greater than 60 characters.

Here’s an email from The New York Times that captured my attention right away!

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 2.44.27 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-17 at 2.44.33 PM

 

Most importantly, the subject line should draw the recipient’s attention and spark their curiosity. Will they benefit from opening the email? Does it interest them? Is it relevant to their life in some way? Even ask yourself, would I open this email I was them? Add value before the email is even opened with a specific, personalized subject line.

Sadly, your audience won’t see your email if it ends up in the dreaded spam folder. To avoid this nightmare, stay away from spam-like characteristics in your subject line. Common characteristics include phrases like be amazed, your income, subject to credit approval; writing in all caps; excessive use of punctuation marks like!!! or ???; and excessive symbols like $$$.

Tip: Use Constant Contact’s Spam Checker while previewing your email. The Spam Checker is a content-filtering tool that can help increase email delivery rates before you actually send to your contacts. It uses a mix of Constant Contact and SpamAssasin content-matching rules to assess the spam potential in the body, header (including subject line), and footer of your email and has no relation to spam complaints that may be reported when your email is received.

4. Write Words that Work

Research reveals how a single word makes all the difference. Write in everyday language that resonates with your audience. The words, which you use in your subject lines, headers, calls-to-action and body copy, can change your email’s meaning, mood, and motivation.

Check out Buffer’s Big List of 189 Words That Convert: Write Copy That Gets Your Customer’s Attention Every Time for more on the power of words.

In the book, “Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear”, Frank Luntz reveals that 80 percent of our life is emotion, and only 20 percent is intellect. Luntz frequently tests word and phrase choices using focus groups and interviews to learn the words people use. Referencing Orwell’s “Essay On Language”, he adds it’s important as to write with absolute clarity, to be succinct, to explain what the event is, to talk about what triggers something happening, and to do so without any disapproval. In summary, write for your people and in their words to guarantee they open your email.

To get started sending emails that get better results, you can start by signing up for a free trial of Constant Contact. Have questions along the way, comment on this blog and we’ll be in touch.

photo: Viktor Hanacek, PicJumbo

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email

The Future of Social: 9 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2015

The Future of Social: 9 Social Media Marketing Trends 2015

It’s 2015 and sadly, many of Back to the Future’s predictions failed to come true. As the Hollywood Reporter mentioned, power shoelaces, Garden Center fruit dispensers, robotic dog walkers, mid-powered video games, food hydrators and size adjusting clothing just never happened. They were way off on the fashion, too! Two things that have come close though are flying cars and hoverboards, thanks to how advanced we’ve come with technology.

This year, we’re going to see more of 3D printers, context-aware security, smart machines, apps you can use simultaneously on multiple devices, smartphone technology advancements and technology embedded everywhere.

Along with these new technologies, expect to see big changes on social media – new features, new algorithms, and new trends. Change can be fun, but also overwhelming! This year you’ll need to change things up and think of new social media marketing strategies.

Although you might not have a DeLorean time machine to see how these new social media features and trends will affect your business, if you stay on top of your social game your business will thrive. Here are our predictions for social media marketing trends you can expect for 2015. Be prepared to get those creative juices flowing – these trends involve authenticity, originality, personality and creativity.

1. Visuals dominate social media 

Video marketing is expected to take off in 2015 in exciting ways that will allow you to be super creative. Regular video segments, like podcasts and blog posts, are expected to come into their own as a form of content. Short behind-the-scenes style videos which give audiences a glimpse at the people who are behind the product or company will also be trending this year.

Video is the preferred communication style for customers. By 2017, it expected that 74% of all internet traffic will be video. So now is the time to start taking text-based information and turning it into a video. Have fun with it and get creative, but also keep your audience in mind. Will they enjoy watching? Or maybe you’re trying to attract a new demographic?

In the past, when we thought of posting a video on the web, we would immediately think to upload it on YouTube and share the link. Now, video posting has moved away from YouTube towards Facebook, Instagram and other social media networks. Statistics show that in 2014, Facebook videos received significantly more shares than YouTube. Check out Buzzfeed’s Facebook Page and enjoy their many short, humorous and relatable videos.

Not only do we see more video on social, but also more photos and graphics. But because visuals are trending like crazy on the web, users expect higher-quality images, resulting in a lot of competition.

Here’s a tip: If you’re taking photos with your phone and posting them on social, make sure they’re not blurry, too dark or unclear – people will be less likely to share your photo if it’s unattractive.  Read our post on free photo usage for blogs and social media for a list of our favorite free photo databases along with guidelines for using them.

If your business is on Instagram, we recommend using Iconosquare. It lets you manage multiple Instagram accounts, browse your most important statistics, search for users and hashtags and monitor competitor and hashtag feeds. Iconsquare is also available on Hootsuite.

The Future of Social: 9 Social Media Marketing Trends 2015

 photo: picjumbo

2. Mobile devices used more than ever to access social networks

For several years now, a majority of internet users have been consuming most information via smartphones and tablets, but this year the percentage is going to increase. In 2015, being plugged in at all times is essential, and the easiest, most effective way is with a mobile device – especially for those with an on the go lifestyle. Not only are mobile devices the go-to for searching the web, checking email and recently for making in-store purchases, they’re also first choice for accessing social networks.

In 2014, 80% of users engaged in social media through a mobile device, and that number is set to hit over 90% by 2018. These statistics mean big adjustments for marketers. We will need to put mobile first in our social media campaigns, which means creating designs intended for mobile devices.

Even social media managers are using mobile devices to update social pages –it makes our job so much easier when we’re on the go! Social media apps are used far more than the mobile friendly versions because they’re user-friendly and convenient.

Speaking of social apps, if you’re having issues with updating your Facebook page, try out Facebook Pages Manager App. If you manage several Facebook Pages, you’ve probably noticed it’s not easy to update your Facebook Page from a smartphone or tablet –the app can be a bit glitchy. The Facebook Pages Manager app helps administrators manage their Facebook Pages from mobile devices a lot easier.

3. More content, less promotion on Facebook

On Facebook, 2015 is the year of authenticity, creativity and wit when it comes to content. No longer can you be too pushy or promotional with call to actions like “click to see more” “enter here” “download now.” As you may know, this month Facebook will begin showing less promotional posts on News Feeds. According to Facebook, these are some of the consistent traits that make organic posts feel too promotional:

  • Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app

  • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context

  • Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

Pages publishing great content — content that teaches people something, entertains them, makes them think, or in some other way adds value to their lives — will reach their followers’ News Feeds. Be sure to monitor the reach of your Page posts by checking the bottom of each one to see how many people you’ve reached. You should also be checking Insights to monitor post engagement and organic and paid reach. All of this will give you an idea of what works for your Page.

You should also be avoiding content that is too promotional on your other social media networks as well. Your followers don’t want to constantly see your brand with logos, products, etc. Heavy branding just isn’t necessary, and it isn’t effective. Focus more on sharing experiences, interesting stories, high-quality visuals, and user-generated content.

4. Republishing updates grows your social reach

Between Facebook’s Newsfeed changes and the continued growth of social networks like Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin, it’s not easy to always make an impression on your followers. In order to be sure content is seen, social media managers are republishing updates multiple times throughout the day, week and even month.

On Twitter and Linkedin, post several other updates in-between the original and republished update, otherwise followers will see that you constantly post the same thing over and over. On Facebook, you can change up the message a bit with different visuals when you republish so it’s not so repetitive.

We recommend using Hootsuite to manage your social media accounts and schedule updates. This way, you can schedule your republished updates so you won’t forget, and you can keep track of how often you’re republishing.

The Future of Social: 9 Social Media Marketing Trends 2015

 photo: HubSpot

5. More personal interaction with fans and followers

You’re business’ employees are not robots – they are real people with personalities and interests! In 2015, your followers are going to want to want to get to know the people behind logo and see who it is they’re engaging with. Companies who are one step ahead and have already gotten more personal see more interaction on their content and a higher level of trust.

This is where the video comes in. By hosting a podcast or video segment, you’re introducing your audience to the people that make the company. You can even have a video Q&A and create a hashtag for it so viewers can join in. By having a Q&A like this, viewers get that personal interaction as you read out loud and answers user-submitted questions.

Connecting with followers on your personal Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin and Google+ accounts are excellent ways to establish relationships. Sharing what you know about your industry and interests outside your company allow people to meet the person behind the logo.

Be sure to respond in a timely matter on both your business and personal pages. This is very important for keeping that personal connection by letting people know that you’re there, and you care.

6. E-commerce and social media integrate        

In 2014, both Twitter and Facebook began beta-testing “buy” buttons, which appear alongside certain tweets and posts and allows users to make purchases with a simple click without leaving the page. Be prepared to see e-commerce and social media integrate in 2015.

For customers, the payment experience will be safe and secure – credit and debit card information will not be shared with other advertisers. They will also be able to save payment information for future purchases.

With this integration, businesses will truly profit from the direct relationship they build with their followers on social media. It all sounds fantastic for both customers and businesses. Facebook and Twitter have said they’ll be sharing more information in the future. We’re excited to see what comes of this integration!

7. Facebook uses voice-recognition technology

Microphone check 1, 2… In 2015, you might  be talking to your Facebook Page rather than typing. Facebook has recently announced it acquired the voice-recognition startup Wit.ai that claims to “turn speech into actionable data.” Wit.ai’s technology could allow Facebook users to speak commands that could be converted to text as posts or messages. The technology could have other uses as well.

This move could give the social network more information for targeted advertisements. If Facebook integrates this technology into apps and home-automation devices, it would allow Facebook to gather more data. It will be interesting to see if there will be any privacy settings.

8. Businesses and organizations budgeting for paid media

With the drop in organic reach and less promotional content appearing in the News Feed, you may want to consider budgeting for advertising on social media for any content you want to push. The great thing about advertising on social media is that the cost can be as low or high as you want, and you can target people based on their location, age, interests and more.

Although it is possible to reach your followers still organically, creating advertising campaigns with objectives such as to boosting posts, promoting your page or raising attendance at an event will help you expand your reach.

The Future of Social: 9 Social Media Marketing Trends 2015

 photo: picjumbo

9. Public Relations professionals manage social media

As we enter 2015, you may be wondering if you should change your social media strategy. With all the new changes and things you should be doing in order to succeed, it can seem overwhelming. Maybe the person managing your social media pages is wearing many hats and doesn’t have enough time to focus solely on staying social online. So what are you to do? Does your business need a separate social media division? Who should be managing all of this? The answer: your PR team.

If you’re a small or medium business, you probably have many things on your plate, so developing a social media strategy may seem overwhelming. Your PR team is your best bet for managing your social media pages. They should know that social is different from traditional marketing/PR and how to leverage those differences.

Social media is extremely public and whatever is said can be seen the second it’s posted. When a customer posts a review on your page, good or bad, it will stay there. If someone comments on your post and you don’t like what they said, you need to respond in an appropriate manner. When managing social media pages, be prepared to respond to both positive and negative feedback consistently. A customer complaint can easily turn into a PR nightmare. Let your PR team take the reins and handle everything for you.

Who knows – maybe sometime this year you’ll see us riding hoverboards while we tweet!

Have any questions about the social media trends for 2015, please feel free to comment on this blog or contact us. Subscribe to inBLOOM’s blog alerts, and you’ll get Social Media Marketing and Public Relations tips for success emailed to you weekly.

If you thought this blog post was helpful, here are similar posts on the topic:

cover photo: Terrabass

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Linkedin Email