If you belong to any LinkedIn groups, you have probably seen him. He blatantly attempts to market his products and services to members of the group without adding anything to the discussion. He carpet bombs multiple LinkedIn groups with the same pitch. He sees the group merely as an audience for his marketing messages. We’ll call him “Sperry the Spammer.” We have all seen people like Sperry use these tactics, and many groups have been rendered nearly useless by them. Having said all that, third-party LinkedIn groups (not run by you or your company) may very well deserve a place in your marketing strategy.
If you asked 100 people in a LinkedIn group if they want to be marketed to, probably 100 of them would say “no.” The same would be true of fans watching a football game on TV or shoppers standing in line at the grocery checkout. What we find is people are generally willing to be marketed to if you offer them something of value. This kind of transaction is the basis of content marketing.
Let’s not reinvent the wheel here. LinkedIn groups are a form of Social Media and the same rules apply as on other Social Media channels: Add to the conversation, help people, put in the time to understand the uniqueness of the medium and its participants. (One of the key differences with Linkedin groups is you can only interact with people as an individual person, not a brand like you can on Facebook and Twitter).
So how do you market in a LinkedIn group without becoming another Sperry? First, choose your group(s) carefully. You should be very knowledgeable about the given topic the group focuses on and stick to that topic. Second, put helping others and adding to conversations above selling. Put your knowledge and expertise to work. Link to interesting content, even if it isn’t yours. If you have a content marketing strategy in place, chances are your company has readily available assets you can point to that will be valued by group members.
After pariticpating actively in a group for awhile, members of the group will see you and your company as a credible and helpful resource. And that can only help your company sell more products.