Monday, February 4, 2013

LinkedIn Groups: Social Recruiting Success Principles

In this social recruiting series, we’ve focused on how you can make social media channels a more integral part of your recruiting strategy. In our last post we looked at general principles for undertaking social recruiting on LinkedIn. Here we’ll be focusing in on how you can leverage LinkedIn Groups specifically as a key component of your social recruiting efforts.

LinkedIn Groups allow like minded members to congregate in one place and share content of mutual interest, answer one another’s questions and network – publicly or privately. As such, they have the potential to be fertile ground for recruiters wanting to connect with future hires. But many are also plagued by spammers and so devoid of interaction. Your challenges will therefore be to:
  • Decide whether to form your own group(s) or purely become a member of existing groups
  • Work out which groups are worth joining
  • Devise a plan for how you will engage in those groups
  • Ensure your personal profile drives the desired behaviour when members click through to check it

Should you create your own LinkedIn Group?

Creating your own group brings significant benefits. For a recruiter, principal amongst these are:
The ability to put forward a timely, consistent and effective message to your group network. The trouble I have found with a lot of LinkedIn Groups is that they have fundamentally been created to serve the aims of the group owners, rather than acting in the best interests of the broader group membership. Examples of this would include:

- Group moderators being able to add discussions and comment on questions instantly; whilst members are subjected to lengthy delays in their new discussions or comments being approved. You can lose a lot of time responding in groups, only to find your responses appear only some time later – or never at all if you are pointing members to an external resource that answers their question
- Group moderators ensuring that their own discussions – rather than those initiated by other members – remain the most active within the group (through selective moderation of comments), so that the coveted place in “Still Active Discussions” within the group digest email alert that goes out to members reinforces the credentials of the group owners rather than someone from another company.

The credibility that is bestowed on your brand (personal or corporate) from running a growing and well moderated group. Certainly for smaller businesses – or those trying to strengthen their position in a niche – this can be a very worthwhile reason for proceeding. Seasoned LinkedIn Group members will know that many groups are poorly run and spam-ridden, so a well run group really stands out and reflects well on the group owner. A spin off benefit is that there’s also a flow of invitation requests that come over time as you interact with group members, so your regular LinkedIn network is also strengthened.

The ability to engage your LinkedIn Group members by email. Whilst group owners cannot control (other than through selective moderation) what appears in the weekly / daily group digest emails, there are two valuable email touch points:
- Firstly, at the point of joining, new members are sent a welcome message from the group owner, customisable so that you can provide links to your website, brochure, social media profiles, etc. This is automatically emailed out and appears to have a very high deliverability rate.

- Secondly, once each week the group moderator is allowed to send an email broadcast to group members – providing the opportunity to seek group feedback on a particular issue, flag a forthcoming event, point members to other online resources, etc. This helps to maintain engagement and provides a form of email subscription that many recruiters might otherwise not have at their disposal.

The search engine benefits that can come from group discussions. Depending on the settings you choose for your group (covered below), it may be open to being indexed by search engines such as Google. Our own experiences have been that LinkedIn group content ranks highly on Google and so provides a means of garnering search engine traffic that is of itself quite valuable.

These upsides can be particularly attractive for recruiters who do not have the ability to quickly do these things on their own corporate website, or insufficient traffic there to make such initiatives worthwhile. However, there are some significant downsides to this approach which mean it’ll not be for everyone. For an in depth assessment of these and other pointers on how to run your own group see the following LinkedIn Groups article.

Which groups should you join?

Let’s start with the assumption that we want to engage with – and influence – professionals who are potentially good hires for our business, or who are likely to be connected to others who may well be.
This leads us to the conclusion that our primary goals of LinkedIn group membership are to i) reach out to an audience of relevant or relevantly connected professionals with content that adds value and ii) directly approach candidates to initiate career discussions.

The first of these activities will see us share content and answer questions that enrich the group. They will see us build credibility with the group members and result in our content and answers being shared outside of the group to a wider network of prospective hires (through LinkedIn updates). The key success factor here (asides from us being able to add value) is to choose groups that have a relevant and engaged membership.

You’ll find the statistics to determine whether a group’s demographics are relevant to you using the Group Statistics link within each group (under the More… menu drop-down). But you’ll also find here a chart showing discussion and comment trends within the group. You want to find groups where there is a healthy amount of commenting taking place, meaning group members are reading and responding to content and questions submitted by group members (and therefore facilitating this reaching their wider network). The polar opposite is true of many many groups, where the group moderators have allowed spammers to take over the group and so automated mass-posting of dubious content is the only activity to be seen.

The second reason for being a group member is that it allows you to take advantage of a little-publicised upside of group membership – the ability to contact almost all group members privately and for free. Through judicious choice of the groups one becomes a member of, this can potentially open up vast portions of one’s target candidate audience to direct approaches – without the need for a paid subscription. There are tips and tricks to doing this effectively – and for these I direct you to the following LinkedIn tips article.

For most recruiters, the right balance of group membership is probably going to involve a number of job seeking groups (eg. Ask Me About Careers At…) and a variety of niche professional groups where you can raise your profile – and engage – with highly relevant professionals, often before the point at which they’re considering a career move.

Devising a plan to engage in groups

Once you have joined some relevant and engaged groups, the key is then to add value to those groups by sharing valuable content; commenting in a constructive manner on content shared by others; and answering questions to help other group members.
The latter two require finding time to monitor group activity and respond in person. The former though can be largely automated as part of your daily routine using the buffer tool. Further insights on doing this effectively can be found on the Bullhorn Blog.

More Advice and Complete Article

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