10 Steps To Creating Your Nonprofit's LinkedIn GroupTuesday, July 16, 2013
It’s Week 8 in our Summer of Social Media for Nonprofits series, and this week’s subject matter is as exciting as ever! By now, you understand why joining and participating in LinkedIn Groups is a valuable marketing practice. But now it’s time to really embrace the LinkedIn Group platform by creating your own nonprofit group!
Why start your nonprofit’s own LinkedIn Group?
When you start your own LinkedIn Group, you create an online gathering place for your nonprofit’s supporters, members, donors, volunteers, employees and beneficiaries. You can build your organization’s credibility by creating meaningful discussions about your industry or cause. You can gain valuable feedback from your supporters, and provide exceptional customer service. Unlike other social platforms, you have the ability to monitor and restrict the conversation. And in addition to engaging with your followers, group members get to engage with one another. Encourage them to ask questions, provide valuable information, share interesting content, express their opinions and contribute to the development of your organization.
It takes time to build a thriving LinkedIn Group, but if you continue to maintain meaningful discussions and communicate with your existing connections, you’ll eventually begin building new relationships.
Your Group Strategy
Just like any other marketing activity, you can only be successful in creating and managing your own group if you develop a strategy first. You need to define three things:
- What is your primary goal? To attract new people to your organization? Or to retain and nurture your existing supporters? (Note: If you want to attract new members/donors/volunteers/etc., create a group that can serve as an information resource, such as Charlotte Business Owners. If you want a group explicitly for current supporters of your organization, create a group like Charlotte Chamber Members.)
- Who is your target audience? Develop several marketing personas that include age, gender, occupation, seniority, income and education. What are their interests? What motivates them? What keeps them up at night?
- What actions do you want them to take? After they join your group, what’s the next step? Do you want them to become a member of your organization, contribute funding, volunteer, advocate on behalf of your nonprofit, share innovative ideas, or something else? You can pick more than one!
How you answered these questions will determine what kind of group you create for your organization.
10 Steps To Creating Your Nonprofit’s LinkedIn Group
Now that you have a strategy in place, it's time to get started! First, you’ll need to go to the main Groups page. You can get there by hovering over Interests on your main menu and clicking Groups. At the top right corner of the Groups page, click the button that says, “Create a group.”
The steps listed below line up with the steps in the “Create a group” page, so you can use this as a guide while you’re in the process of creating your nonprofit’s new LinkedIn Group!
1) Logo: Your group logo will become the visual representation associated with your group and has the power to attract or repel potential group members. Using your company’s established design elements, such as colors and font, is a good idea because it creates a clear connection between your group and your company.
2) Group Name: Try using one of the following tips to create an effective group name:
- Give a glimpse into the type of content that can be expected from your group. Nonprofit Board Member Ideas & Solutions is a great group started by VCG Governance Matters and boardnetUSA.
- Clearly state who should join your group: On Startups: The Community for Entrepreneurs
- Your group name should not sound like a sales pitch or promotional item.
3) Group Type: Your organization's group will probably fall under one of the following categories:
- Non-Profit Group: a group for people who support a similar cause or value
- Networking Group: a group where networking is the primary goal
- Professional Group: a group for people with similar industry interests
- Conference Group: a group for people attending the same conference or trade show
4) Summary: This is the place to declare your group’s mission and goals. Add keyword-rich descriptions, making it easier for members to find your group in search. Your summary will be visible in the Groups directory when people are browsing for groups to join.
5) Description: This should be longer than the Summary, and provide even more detail about your group. You might also consider including Group Rules in this section (more on Group Rules in a moment).
6) Website: Even though it’s not a required field, ALWAYS include a URL to your website.
7) Group Owner Email: This allows group members to contact you directly.
8) Access: There are a few options in this section.
- Select Auto-Join if you want anyone to be able to join your group. Select Request To Join if you would like to manually select who you accept into your group.
- Check the box to display your group in the Groups Directory—this will increase your group’s visibility. Same goes for the next check box allowing members to display your group logo on their personal profiles.
- If you selected to create an Auto-Join group, I suggest also allowing your group members to invite their connections. This is an easy way to increase membership.
- Enter any email domains you would like to be automatically approved, such as the email domain for your company.
9) Open or Closed? When you finally reach the bottom of the page, you’ll see two different “publish” buttons.
- Create an Open Group will enable users to share group discussions publicly.
- Create a Members-Only Group means content will be kept private, visible only to group members.
10) Group Rules: In order to maintain a valuable discussion board and eliminate spam and promotional content, it is important to have a set list of rules for members to follow. After you have created your group, click the Manage link and select Group Rules from the left-side menu on the next page. Here are some guidelines for writing your Group Rules:
- Summarize the group’s goals and outline appropriate group behavior.
- Tell members what types of posts and behavior will and will not be permitted. Let them know that spam will not be tolerated.
- Inform members that their content may be deleted and they may be removed from the group if the rules are not followed.
After you’ve written your Group Rules, members can click a link in the top right corner of your group page to read them. Check out the Group Rules for my group, the Digital Mastermind:
UP NEXT: Your Daily LinkedIn Routine
By now, you have a deep understanding of how to use LinkedIn Company Pages and Groups to network and engage with other users. But how often should you be interacting on LinkedIn, and how do you make time for it all? Next week, for my final post on LinkedIn, you'll learn how to put together a daily LinkedIn routine to help you make the most of your time!