In higher education, one of the greatest services we can provide to people in our community is a space to speak with each other about issues important to us. Whether it’s a professor creating that opportunity in the classroom or an administrator opening up a dialogue at an event, discussion is a vital component to university life. Thus, it makes good sense to create such forums everywhere we’re able, including through social media. Personally, one of my favorite ways to do so is via a LinkedIn Group.
I’ve talked with lots of colleagues who manage a group on LinkedIn for various purposes, and we all have similar questions. Nobody’s saying anything, so how do I encourage conversation? What do I do if there’s too much spam or negativity? What are my real responsibilities as the Group Manager? While my tips won’t be bulletproof, I’d like to share some strategies I’ve seen really work for group management on LinkedIn. The image below of the LinkedIn group manager’s suite, found by clicking on the “Manage” tab in your group, and text will guide the rest of this post.
A screenshot of the Manager’s navigation bar on LinkedIn, with arrows pointing to areas I’ll discuss below.
1.) Set up Group Rules & Messaging Templates (see arrows 1 & 2). This is one of the very first things I always suggest in group management. Rules and Templates help establish a sense of the group’s culture for members both new and old. The Rules also give you, the manager, the rights to moderate discussions and remove posts or people when necessary. I’d recommend phrasing the Rules in a more positive tone (i.e. “We encourage members to…”) as opposed to negative (i.e. “Do not…” or “You are not permitted…”). Assume people are responsible first, as this will encourage your best members to talk freely. As for Templates, they are a great way to communicate a with potential new member at every step in the process, from their request to join to their acceptance or denial. My tip: if your group is closed and you will decline people, make sure you explain why, politely, in your Decline message. I’m always surprised by how many people are thankful for the explanation.
2.) Use the Manager’s Choice feature and Comment on Discussions. Much more simply said: reward good conversations by promoting them. You can make any Discussion “Manager’s Choice” by clicking on its headline, then clicking the small typing above it which reads “Add to Manager’s Choice.” We’d all do the same in a real life conversation together. If someone brought up an important issue or point, we’d bring that into focus. You can also elevate a Discussion on LinkedIn by simply commenting on it yourself, which will draw more attention to it.
3.) Send out Announcements on a regular basis (see arrow 3). Announcements are a great way to bring people into your group. An Announcement is a message that will be sent via LinkedIn to each group member’s email address and will be posted as a Discussion in your group. As a manager, LinkedIn allows you to send an Announcement up to once per week. That’s a good maximum, as it’s good to avoid being too “spammy” to members. I like to think of this as another great way to facilitate your conversation in a group. If something big is happening, make an Announcement. Is there an event coming up where you might all meet in person? Did you reach a milestone in your group? Did a story just break in your industry? These could all be “Announcement”-worthy topics.
How do you manage your LinkedIn Group? What advice can you share to make it a great place to communicate? We’d love to know what tips you have, too.