Alumni Marketing Playbook: Six Tips for Engaging LinkedIn Groups

by on Mar 08, 2016

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If university pages are the front door to a LinkedIn presence, then Groups are the living room where everyone gathers to talk. These forums allow alumni to interact in a private and intimate manner about topics ranging from careers to social issues. When managed properly, LinkedIn Groups offer universities a powerful opportunity to build deeper, more personal relationships with their respective alumni communities.

Here are six tips for creating and maintaining polished alumni LinkedIn Groups:

1) Make Your Group Private: One of the common pitfalls of LinkedIn Groups are members that use discussion boards for solicitation. These discussions add no value and harm the credibility of the group. By making the group private, admins have the ability to screen all members before they are permitted to join and contribute. It also gives the group a sense of exclusivity among alumni members, which is a positive. Taking this extra time up front will save admins the significant effort of moderating discussions and banning members.

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Cornell Private Group Ask to Join Button

2) Clearly Highlight the University’s Official Alumni Group: LinkedIn Groups can be created by any user, and alumni will often create their own university-focused groups based on location, interests, professions, etc. In order to optimize the member base, it is important that universities use LinkedIn’s logo, title and description fields to clearly communicate which group is officially affiliated with the school. The University of Michigan accomplishes this with its unambiguous description, profile image and “OFFICIAL GROUP” addition to the title.

This simple practice will eliminate confusion and boost the group’s standing in LinkedIn search. It is also a best practice for admins to reach out to alumni-run groups and incorporate them into the official group to further boost the university’s presence.

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University of Michigan Official Group

3) Provide a Detailed Group Description: The description is prominently displayed on the group homepage and is an important initial touch point with potential members. The description is the perfect place to communicate the group’s purpose and the expectations the university has for members. Bolstering the description with links to other LinkedIn Groups affiliated with the university creates greater organization and broadens the community.

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Binghamton Group Description

4) Appoint Active and Diligent Admins: The success of a LinkedIn Group rests on the quality of its membership and the level of discussion engagement. Dedicated admins are the biggest differentiator between official and alumni-run LinkedIn Groups. Admins are equal parts security guard – keeping out harmful members and moderating discussions – and engagement driver – introducing new discussion topics, continuously fostering commentary and cultivating deeper insights within active discussions. Choose your admins wisely!

5) Incorporate Contributions from Notable Alumni: Getting famous alumni to post thought leadership or begin discussions on passion point topics is a powerful way to galvanize engagement within alumni LinkedIn Groups. Invest time in building relationships with notable alumni who can be contacted to contribute relevant content to groups on an ongoing basis.

6) Use the Announcement Feature: The best inherent aspect of LinkedIn Groups for marketers at universities is that they provide access to an interested, captive alumni audience. The Announcement feature in LinkedIn Groups allows universities to send an email (also sent as a post and discussion) to the entire group community. Announcements are perfect for highlighting interesting discussions and posts, promoting upcoming events and delivering important university news. With regard to frequency, send no more than one announcement per week to your LinkedIn Group.

For more information on Alumni Monitor and our research on alumni outreach and engagement, please contact Dana Peterson at dpeterson@corporateinsight.com or visit us at alumnimonitor.corporateinsight.com.