What makes a LinkedIn group engaging and sticky? Certainly the discussions, posts, content and interactions within the group, but you must first build your group on a strong foundation. For that, you need an excellent group description and set of group rules.
Fortunately we have Anne Thornley-Brown, group manager of "Event Planning and Event Management" (founded and owned by Julius Solaris) to show us how.
Let's take a look at some elements you should include in your group's description:
1. Invest in a branded logo.
It is worth taking a little time to upload (or create and upload) a nicely branded logo. This will lend a sense of trust and cohesiveness, especially if people already know you through other venues.
2. Put keywords in your group's title and description fields.
You might have the most awesome group in the world, but if no one can find it, it's going to be a lot harder to get new members. Make sure you include all the key terms you think people will use to search for your group. Those keywords should also be in the title.
3. Identify your USP.
What is your unique selling proposition? What makes you different from all the other groups out there? Use your group description to share it with potential members.
4. Explain what's in it for members.
Why in the world would a LinkedIn member join yet another group when there are so many other useless ones out there? Well, tell them why! Tell people what they can expect to get out of the group. Which of their problems, frustrations, needs and desires will your group solve?
5. Explain what members can do for the group.
Like children, sometimes group members need to be told what to do. Give them boundaries and ideas. What does their participation bring to the group?
6. Create a spam policy.
Have one, and then direct your members to it. (See group rules below.)
7. List contact information for the group's management.
Make it easy for your members to get in touch with your managers, moderators and you. Share email addresses, social links, etc. Let your members know if you have more than one manager or moderator for the group, and tell members how they can get in touch with them.
8. Make group links.
Create a bit.ly link for your group that is easy to remember (such as http://linkd.in/linkedinchat), and share it in the group. If you use your group description in your group invitation, the group link will be hyperlinked. Make it easy to share and find.
9. Use hashtags.
If you encourage your members to interact on Twitter, be sure to create and share a hashtag (and even a Twitter chat) for your group.
It is crucial to have a good set of group rules. The rules from Thornley-Brown's group are the most complete I have seen on any LinkedIn group to date.
1. Tell your members what constitutes spam.
I like what Thornley-Brown does in her group. She allows the membership to define what spam means to them. (I did the same with my group). You will notice a variety of answers. You can also define spam for your group. If people don't like it, they can leave.
2. Tell your members how to flag spam.
Let your membership help you manage spam. Show them what they can do when flagging and reporting spam-like content.
3. Tell your members what they can and cannot share.
Make it clear which members are allowed to share and how they are allowed to share. Can they include contact information? Is a free webinar spam? What constitutes valuable information? What types of content can they share? Give them details.
4. Activate the jobs and promotions tabs.
People will always have jobs and promotions to post in your group. Fortunately, there is a place to put them.
Don't be afraid to kick people out, and let your members know there will be consequences. Tell people right off the bat that you have a three strike policy, and don't hesitate to kick those people out.
5. Set your settings.
Another thing should do is make sure your settings are the way you want them. Fortunately, Neal Shaffer wrote an article on this topic. Click here to read it.
Viveka von Rosen is a LinkedIn speaker, trainer and consultant. She moderates #LinkedInChat on Twitter, and blogs at Linked into Business.