It’s no secret: LinkedIn is the number one social network for B2B marketers. Given the network’s user base of over 380 million and the fact it’s a source of 80% of B2B social media leads, LinkedIn’s prominence in B2B won’t change any time soon.
So if and when LinkedIn introduces change, it’s necessary to take note.
Such a change just took place in LinkedIn Groups. On October 14th, LinkedIn made its more than 2 million discussion groups private—a major step in the social network’s efforts to improve the quality and professional nature of group membership. The move was based on feedback from LinkedIn’s users, who crave real connections with peers and industry leaders that can help them learn and grow.
Along with making groups private, LinkedIn has introduced several changes that warrant a closer look for any brand hoping to make strides and gain greater social presence on the network.
Here’s a summary of the top 5 LinkedIn changes that B2B social media marketers should be aware of:
(1) Privacy of Groups means that content can’t be indexed by search engines
The information that’s shared in LinkedIn Groups won’t be searchable via Google or any other search engine. This exclusivity will immediately increase the value of conversations that are held in groups—new ideas and insights shared among group members will only be known to those involved in the discussion.
Because of this, B2B marketers have an increased chance to establish thought leadership, showcasing knowledge that can lead prospective customers to check out your Company Page, employee profiles and marketing collateral. However, more than ever before, marketers must engage prospects via LinkedIn Groups in a non-promotional way.
(2) All group members will now be vetted
In order to join a group, your credentials need to be up-to-date. Having a professional picture is a must, as well as having a fully-fleshed out profile, so that group administrators can assess how well you fit into their community.
This works to the advantage of B2B marketers who have already spent some deliberate time on optimizing company and employee profiles. For those who haven’t, now is a great time to get the ball rolling.
(3) There’s a new app for groups
LinkedIn has released a standalone Groups app, just for iOS, with an Android version in the pipeline. While searching for groups through the app won’t be possible, you can participate in discussions through the app, and a new “learning” algorithm will suggest new groups just for you, based on your profile and past interactions.
The new app will appeal to users who constantly engage in groups, whether on the go or in the office. Leveraging the convenience of the mobile app and staying on top of engagement opportunities, as part of an overall social media listening approach, will be important for increasing your brand’s social cachet and influence.
(4) Group pages have been redesigned, with cool new features
LinkedIn Group pages now have a much-improved, streamlined design. You can add images to discussions easily, and groups are now color-coded, making it easier to see at a glance which group you’re contributing to. You’ll also be able to mention other group members (but not LinkedIn users outside of your group) with the “@” symbol in your posts.
The takeaway for B2B LinkedIn marketers? Besides the attractiveness of the new, eye-catching design, the “@” mention will enable you to engage more directly. And that type of personal connection with the right prospects, generates new leads, some of whom will become your customers.
(5) Tools to help recruit talent without distracting the group
There’s a new tab within Groups specifically for discussions related to job opportunities. The appeal is that job-seekers can approach hiring managers and other relevant individuals about open positions separately, without detracting from the quality and focus of main group discussions.
With job-related conversation moved away from “pure” discussion, your insightful, influential messages will compete less with the personal interests of some group members. And as the quality of main group discussions goes up, more prospects can listen with undivided attention to what you have to say.
The recent changes to LinkedIn Groups means exciting things for B2B marketers who are already leveraging its power in the social landscape. Now is a great time to revisit your LinkedIn strategy and use the new features to enhance your brand’s social presence!
Cover image via @Nan Palmero