HOW TO: Use Linkedin Groups Like a Pro

If you are interested in learning how to use Linkedin Group Statistics to find the best groups to join, this post is for you.  Social media training isn’t always easy to find, so I write a fair number of “how-to” tutorial posts like this, and as the coauthor of the first B2B social media book, it’s great to be able to contribute to Social Media B2B, definitely one of the best sites on this topic.

Most people learn how to use Linkedin by building a network of professional connections. Some even take the time to post updates to their activity feed. But if you haven’t noticed yet, not a lot of people hang out in the activity stream on Linkedin.

The loin’s share of real engagement happens in Linkedin Groups.  But not all Linkedin Groups. Most are veritable spam fests where unscrupulous marketers spam links to promotions or try to drive clicks to their blog posts.

So how do you find the really good Linkedin Groups?  How can you tell which ones are worthwhile, and which ones are worthless?

You could just join a bunch of groups, follow the activity that occurs in each one and learn that way. But that’s time consuming.  And since there are nearly 1.6 million Linkedin Groups and you can only join 50 at a time, finding the genuinely worthwhile groups that way could take a lifetime.

I learned how to use Linkedin Group Statistics to analyze the three B2B social media groups I’ve been a member of to see which one is the best.

I’d rather spend more time in one Linkedin Group where I can have real discussions with other professionals who are interested in exploring a common topic, then spread myself thin over a bunch of groups, particularly if some of them are spammy.

Here’s how to use Linkedin Group Statistics to see which ones to join.

Step One – Go to the Linkedin Group you’re considering joining.  But don’t join right away.

Instead, scroll down below the “Top Influencers of the Week” box in the right-hand column and find “Group Statistics.”  The “3,759” number you see in the image is not accurate. Every group uses the same generic artwork. So ignore it and click “View Group Statistics.”

Step Two – Once you’re in the Linkedin Group Statistics page, click the “Activity” tab (circled below) and check out the graph on the right.  “Discussions” are new posts left to the Group and “comments” made underneath new discussions.  A better way to think about “discussions” is as “new posts,” because if no one comments, they aren’t actually discussions.

Step Three – The chart will give you a snapshot of whether or not people are having conversations. If the number of discussions is much higher than the number of comments, people are leaving new posts, but they’re not starting conversations. Unfortunately, this is the case most of the time in Linkedin Groups.

Now and again, as in the Linkedin Group used in the example above appears currently to be hosting healthy conversations, but not until recently. In fact, comments surpassed discussions just last month. Could it be a fluke?

Step Four – Let’s check it out and see.  Just because there’s a healthy conversation going on, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a worthwhile group.  A low ratio of discussions to comments is necessary, but not sufficient. So hop on over to the group’s activity feed and see if the discussions are interesting to you. If they are, join up.

As a rule of thumb, closed groups tend to be less spammy than open groups because they are actively monitored by a community manager.  Some Linkedin Groups have rules for what they do and don’t allow.  If they have rules, the manger will send them to you if your membership is approved.

So which B2B Linkedin Groups are the healthiest?

I compared the following Linkedin Groups:

  • B2B Online Marketing
  • BtoB Marketing
  • B2B Social Media

Here’s what I found.

With more than 200 discussions posted in recent months, both B2B Online Marketing and BtoB Marketing do have more activity. But that’s not an indication of  worthwhile conversation because they both have too few comments. There’s almost no conversation occurring there at all in these group, and since conversation is engagement, these are, you guessed it, spam fests.

B2B Social Media, on the other hand, has around half the volume of new discussions being posted, but those discussions most recently have started drawing a healthy number of comments. As of January, the engagement level has picked up sharply. Fore readers of this site, if you like what see in the Group’s activity stream, this is the one to join.

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