LinkedIn continues to win me over. While the buzz remains focused on Facebook and Twitter, I continue to see improvements with the LinkedIn Platform. Some of the changes in the past year alone have included the addition of applications (e.g. Tripit), better group management functionality, new LinkedIn Blackberry application, and the latest change is the in the look and feel (more like Facebook/Twitter).
If you’re in B2B communication and you’re looking for a place to start in social media – or expand – then you need to go back to LinkedIn if you haven’t already. The main reason I like LinkedIn for social media is that it’s very transparent: I know who you are based on your profile and most people have a real photo (not an avatar of screen name). I am also a fan of their group functionality. We use mostly private LinkedIn groups at the exchange as a way to connect users (we become a networker) and as focus groups for topics, issues and news.
Here are some thoughts and ideas about why pursuing LinkedIn groups can be a win for you and your organization.
Privacy– One of the concerns of public streaming networks like FaceBook and LinkedIn to internal and external stakeholders is the issue of privacy. The “private” feature in LinkedIn helps ease those fears since messages can’t be picked up in Google or other search engines. As a side note, one thing we have noticed by keeping our groups private is that the the number of people remains a manageable size and we can control who joins. As these groups grow we likely will look at creating subgroups (another new feature). There are some good ideas on subgroups here via @CherylHarrison.
RSS Feeds — A nice feature is that you can aggregate RSS feeds into your group, which may or may not include feeds from your own company. And you absolutely should include feeds from relevant trade pulications and blogs to drive content without you having to search for it. We mostly use non-CME Group feeds in order to help foster discussions and provide us with more credibility since we bring in outside content.
Discussion– Part of the focus group feature of LinkedIn groups is the discussion section that allows you to have an open forum for whatever you need it. Do you want the group’s feedback on a new product you’ve launched? What about input on how to improve your web site? More important is you should encourage your audience to post topics and then you can take notes, learn and jump in when needed. Just don’t try to manage too much of the conversation or people will stop contributing.
Legal and Investor Relations- My guess is your corporate counsel is not on Twitter. They might be on Facebook. I blogged earlier about investor relations using StockTwits for to reach shareholders, but they likely aren’t there yet. Here is where LinkedIn can be a showcase for your social media efforts. There likely is more of a chance that they are on LinkedIn and you should be get them involved to show what social media can do and win their confidence.
Company Profile- While you’re at it you should take a quick look at your company’s profile on LinkedIn. There is an enormous amount of data people can find on this one page and someone needs to update it and validate it. Since people may want to learn more about your company before joining your group. I suggest you find your company now and make sure it’s accurate. As a bonus your recruiting department will appreciate the update.
This video from Kyle Flaherty is a nice overview on how to set up and start managing a group.
In addition, Mashable has some good tips here on how to manage your LinkedIn groups. Are you managing groups on LinkedIn now? If so, share some of your best practices with us. What’s worked well? What have you learned? And while you’re at it why don’t you connect to all of us here at B2B Voices on LinkedIn: Kate Brodock, Anna Barcelos, Arik Hanson, Aaron Pearson, Allan Schoenberg.