I use LinkedIn. It is one the social media platforms I am on almost every day, which is probably the reason I was asked to manage the LinkedIn group page for a fundraising professionals organization where I’m a member. At first, I was happy to do it. After all, I’m on LinkedIn every day. Right? However, after a few months of being the volunteer community manager, I am left wondering: “What in the heck are we trying to accomplish with this group page?”
Of course, this got me wondering how many non-profit organizations find themselves in the same situation? So, I logged into my LinkedIn account and surfed around to a handful of group pages of agencies I follow. What I found was similar to the page I manage . . . a handful of followers and very little activity.
So, I thought it might be helpful to share a few thoughts and suggestions based on my limited experience with this project. Hopefully, you will also weigh-in with your thoughts and experiences using the comment box below. Why? Because we can all learn from each other. :-)
Your agency’s LinkedIn group page isn’t like your website. You shouldn’t treat it like a landing-place for all kinds of different stakeholder groups. The best group pages I’ve seen have an obvious target audience with whom they are speaking.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy has a page. It is “For Members Only,” which simply means that you need to ask to join and get approval from the person managing the page. I presume this decision was made because: 1) people like to “belong” to things and the more exclusive the better, 2) the Chronicle is probably trying to protect group members from businesses and spammers targeting fundraising professionals, and 3) they are deliberating focusing on developing a “target audience“.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands’ LinkedIn page is simple. While I can’t be sure, it certainly seems like their target audience is their employees. I can see a number of reasons why a non-profit agency would want to create a virtual space for its employees including: 1) ease of communication, 2) sharing of work ideas and best practices, and 3) creating a sense of community and family.
Who is your target audience? This really needs to be the first question you answer because it will drive every other decision you make with regards to your agency’s LinkedIn page.
Content is KING
I don’t care if you are managing a blog, Facebook page, Twitter account or a LinkedIn group. Content is ALWAYSthe key to success and engagement.
When it comes to your LinkedIn group, here are a few suggestions with regards to creating content (e.g. creating a purpose for people to belong to your group):
Be Mike Myers on SNL’s Coffee Talk sketch. Post a weekly discussion topic or question of the week.
Find blogs that might interest your members and post links to those sites.
Identify subjects that will be interesting and create a poll.
Use the group site to share information (e.g. webinars, meetings dates/times, etc)
Commit yourself to learning
There is so much more to learn about managing a LinkedIn group (e.g. group policies, promotion, etc). It is impossible to cram everything into one blog post.
If you plan on undertaking the job of creating or managing your agency’s LinkedIn group, I suggest setting aside an hour per week where you can just click around and read more from others on best practices. While you’re reading, I urge you to jump into conversations and discussions on blogs by sharing your experiences and asking questions.
Here are a few places you may want to get started:
So, does your agency have a LinkedIn group page? Are you thinking about starting one? Please scroll down and use the comment box to share your thoughts, questions, best practices, strategies, ideas, etc.
Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers 18 years and counting. In recent years, his teachable point of view around resource development has been dramatically influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donor are not ATMs.