You’re a smart, 21st Century savvy PR and marketing professional, so I’m sure you know what LinkedIn is. You’re probably using it as part of your social media strategy already (and if not, you should). But if you want to raise the profile of an executive as a thought leader, you might be missing out on one of the best ways to do it – LinkedIn Groups. Here are a few reasons why you should think about incorporating Groups into your social media plan:

  • Groups are targeted: Each group on LinkedIn focuses on a specific topic or industry, so they are a great way to find a specific audience for your company or product. Make sure to find groups with active members for maximum benefit.
  • There’s less noise: Groups have smaller audiences (some Groups can be quite large with tens of thousands of members, but that’s still far fewer than what you’d find on Twitter or Facebook) so there’s a greater chance of you being heard by the people that you care about.
  • People ask questions: People in many LinkedIn Groups ask one another questions about new products or services – a great opportunity to insert yourself into the conversation.

Best practices:

  • Be a person, not a company: The goal of working with LinkedIn Groups should be to raise your spokesperson’s visibility and reputation with that audience, which means being an engaged and helpful member of the community. Answer people’s questions. Pose a few of your own. Contribute real opinions to discussions.
  • Watch out for the mods: LinkedIn Groups are usually moderated by specific group members who have the ability to delete posts and remove members from the group if they break the rules. Standards vary from group to group, but most won’t put up with blatant self-promotion. This isn’t the place for normal digital marketing. Learn what the rules of your Groups are and be sure to follow them.
  • Be helpful: One of the best ways to network in a Group is to answer other people’s questions. Even if that doesn’t translate into a direct benefit for your company, it raises your visibility with a relevant audience and can have many positive effects in the future.
  • Be smart about your metrics: It can be difficult to quantify the benefits of engaging in LinkedIn Groups directly, so be sure you’re tracking sales leads and referrals to your company page and website via Google Analytics or with a tool like Hubspot. Upticks in these measurements mean that your strategy is working.