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Is LinkedIn Your Friend or Foe? - 7/15/2014 -

Here’s how to migrate a LinkedIn group to your association’s website so that you can reap more of the benefits.

By Sarah Michaud

Can your association improve social media engagement with members more effectively through LinkedIn — or by building a private collaboration site? 

Gary Rubin and Anne-Margaret Olsson from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), and Heather McNair from Higher Logic LLC held a session titled "Implementing a Social Media Strategy: Is LinkedIn your Friend or Foe?” during this year’s Association Media & Publishing Annual Meeting. Their presentations centered on ways association staff can improve social media engagement with members and used SHRM’s HR Connect, an online community for human resources professionals, as a case study.

Rubin started the session with a discussion about how LinkedIn can help — but also compete with — association efforts to engage members. He says that LinkedIn provides a space for association members to network, but it does not build engagement. If association staffs rely solely on LinkedIn groups for member networking, they miss opportunities to directly engage members, as well as relinquish ownership of member lists, content, and analytics for the group. Staff also may miss out on increased or new sources of revenue because conversations on LinkedIn do not boost the number of visitors to the association website; numbers that are needed to justify ad sales.

LinkedIn can still be a tool for engaging members online, he says — It just shouldn’t be your only tool.

Olsson and McNair followed with a presentation on SHRM’s strategy for building a private collaboration site, HR Connect, and using LinkedIn to SHRM’s benefit. They summarized their efforts in 10 steps to success that others can use to migrate a LinkedIn group to their association’s website:

Step 1: Prepopulate profiles for your private collaboration site. Integrate information from your AMS database into member profiles to save members time and effort.

Step 2: Allow members to import information from their LinkedIn profile. Leverage your association’s LinkedIn group by giving members a mechanism to import information from their LinkedIn profile to their private collaboration site profile.

Step 3: Use "single sign-on” to make access to your private site easy. Allow members to access your private collaboration site with the same login they use for other online association benefits.

Step 4: Automatically assign interest groups to member profiles. Use information in the AMS database to assign members to groups based on interest areas, job titles, etc.

Step 5: Increase content quality with accountability. Require community members to use their real names. Without anonymity, there’s more accountability for user-generated content.

Step 6: Generate traffic to the private collaboration site. Make some of your site’s content public to increase page views. Having open-access areas on your private site is a great way to bring new people to the site and generate membership leads.

Step 7: Provide guest access for non-members. Offer trial memberships or limited access for non-members of your LinkedIn group.

Step 8: Extend learning opportunities on your private site. With community message boards, create content around your events and meetings to draw people to your site and to learn more about your attendees ahead of time.

Step 9: Earn non-dues revenue from your private collaboration site. With a private community, you create an opportunity for additional advertising and sponsorships, for subscription products, and to promote featured jobs.

Step 10: Draw traffic from LinkedIn to your private site. Don’t ignore LinkedIn; use it to generate traffic to your online community. Start a discussion, but drive LinkedIn group members to your private site for participation. Send out a weekly update on LinkedIn of what group members are missing on the private site.

Sarah Michaud is associate editor, Optics & Photonics News, at The Optical Society. Association Media & Publishing sincerely thanks her for volunteering to cover this Annual Meeting conference session for our members who were unable to attend.


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