There are approximately 2.7M LinkedIn groups available to their over 900M members. This means that just about anyone who uses LinkedIn can find topical groups that match their interests whether it be professional or otherwise. They’ve done a great job at capturing their members’ attention…oh wait, they’ve actually done a great job at capturing your customers’ attention.
Let’s take a brief step back. The goal of your marketers, event teams, and customer success staff has always been to drive attention to your offering and build a world comprised of customer loyalty. Your organization likely spends hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars each year trying to accomplish this goal with ATL & BTL tactics. I noticed an interesting trend that many organizations have been tapping into over the past several years. Many organizations are relying on LinkedIn groups as extensions of their brand. Before LinkedIn, the best way to grab attention was through email newsletters, but LinkedIn introduced a more robust way with more interactive bells & whistles. It was acceptable to give up distribution lists to LinkedIn in order to achieve a sense of community. There weren't other ways.
This all sounds like a great plan to capture audience members where they already spend a good deal of their time, right? I’ll argue the contrary and by doing so you are
1. Diverting attention away from your brand and back to LinkedIn. When your customers aren’t on your site or interacting with your products & services, they aren’t spending money with you.
2. Providing LinkedIn with more eyeballs and offering up all of the delicious conversations that stem from your groups as social data back to LinkedIn which you aren’t privy to. This allows them to serve up advertisements; often ads for your competition or their own services (e.g., LinkedIn Learning).
3. Excluding your customers from remaining on top of important discussions as LinkedIn isn’t the best at notifying group members of new threads. Only those who actively check in on their groups reap any benefit.
This is a big deal. Let’s delve into two examples.
The National Association of Broadcasters, which is one of the largest associations with a top 30 annual trade show, has a LinkedIn group with over 25K members. These are 25,000 people who are spending their time away from NAB talking about broadcasting. When I recently viewed threads, there is limited engagement across a myriad of conversations. There are people promoting themselves, initiating thought-provoking insights, and even those that seemed to have slipped through the cracks sharing off-topic posts altogether. There is enough fodder for rich dialogue but yet the group is comprised of many one-offs. Broadcasting enthusiasts are trying to engage but failing in their attempts. This is likely a fault of the poor LI group algorithm, but the group organizer tends to take the blame for poor engagement which also serves as a ding against their core value prop. This can have a long-term effect on renewals and satisfaction.
Another example -
I’m personally familiar with two very popular event brands for market research professionals: Informa’s The Market Research Event (TMRE) and Quirks.
TMRE tried creating a LinkedIn group and successfully massed 15,000 members yet the bulk of the posts are from Informa and not group members. There’s very little interaction despite this being a very tight knit industry. Quirks, a competing event for market research professionals, massed 60,000 members in their LinkedIn group. Although there are fewer Quirks-based ads, there are very few posts that have turned into meaningful threads. I’m a member of both and yet I don’t recall receiving any notifications of new posts. If I lack awareness, I can’t participate. If I can’t participate, these brands can’t engage with me. Despite my experience being subpar, LinkedIn is reaping the benefits of knowing who is a market research professional and topics of interest. If you’ve been receiving ads for LinkedIn Learning opportunities, they are likely redirects from your group and posting behaviors.
This is all counter-productive for the group host. Great for LinkedIn’s bottom line.
There is a way for your organization to take back your customers and your data. You can create your own private community and build a professional networking platform that you own. You maintain attention, keep your customers’ eyeballs on your own content, and own your own data. CampfireSocial has been working with corporations, event organizers, trade & professional associations, and LinkedIn group owners on community creation. Sorry LinkedIn…Your run is over. Now that the tools exist that allow for custom community building, it is time to say farewell to you. You’ll have to find another way to monetize your members because individual organizations are ready to Own the Voice of their own industries.
Ready to join our campfire? Own the Voice of Your Industry®. Reach out to email@example.com to learn more.
Erica Bishaf, Founder & CEO of CampfireSocial
Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet the Author
Erica Bishaf is an award-winning global brand strategist (24 years), market research professional, and a 2X tech startup founder. Her startup experience includes CampfireSocial, the private community & marketplace platform, and Pet Gotcha Day!, the immersive video platform for animal shelters. In addition to her passion for startups, she has worked for consumer-packaged goods companies such as Kraft, Nestle, Kimberly-Clark, the Illinois Lottery, and MillerCoors in a variety of roles encompassing global product innovation, package redesign, brand equity, shopper & retail insights, and strategic planning. In 2015, Erica started her own consultancy where she led projects for startups, growth stage companies, Fortune 500, trade & professional associations, top 10 trade shows, and private equity firms that focused on building brand & communication strategies, strategic planning & workshop design, innovation, segmentation identification, UX/UI design, consumer journeys, A&U work, uncovering shopping & retail touchpoints, and more. Erica has also built teams from the ground up for three organizations. She enjoys bringing an entrepreneurial lens to her work to identify new opportunities for growth and using quantitative and qualitative methodologies plus financial data to accomplish her clients' goals. Her clients have said that 'Erica is a keen observer of human behavior who can translate observations into action and one who spurs others to better thinking and better results.' Erica can be reached at email@example.com.