There are many reasons an organization may want to use LinkedIn. Some may prefer this public platform because it's free while other organizations use it just to test the water. But what happens if you're successful? I've provided many good reasons why not to build your community around the LinkedIn brand, but what if it's too late? Let's assume that you've been nurturing your LinkedIn community for a while and have a decent amount of traction. At what point do you pull the plug and move all that engagement over to your own website and, more importantly, how do you do it?
10 Steps To Migrate Your Success:
- Setup Your Own Private Community Platform: The first step is to add your own private social networking platform to your website and it's fully integrated with your AMS/CRM. This is fairly easily done and is relatively inexpensive (it doesn't have to be the Higher Logic platform; these tips apply to any).
- Pulling the Plug: Decide when to "pull the plug" on your LinkedIn community and plan for it. For example, you need to give your LinkedIn group a hard deadline of when you'll stop accepting posts on that platform. When you first put the notice out, you should switch all postings to "require approval" in case any members of the group start to solicit people to join their own splinter groups. Ensure you articulate all the reasons why you are moving the community to your own platform, e.g. to reduce spam, add greater accountability and transparency of contributors and generate more value to the community (vs. LinkedIn).
- Simple Sign-Up: Give all group members an opportunity to effortlessly sign up for the new community. For example, give them a very simple sign up process where they only need to enter their name, email and password as required fields. When their account is created, ensure they are flagged as coming from your LinkedIn group. This can happen automatically from the link you give them to signup which will be embedded in your announcement.
- One-Click Import of LinkedIn Profile: Once the person has signed up, give them a one-click option to import their profile from LinkedIn. They will be frustrated if they need to upload their photo, bio, job history, education history all over again and this is great info for you to have so it's a win-win and fairly easily done.
- Allow Guest Member Access: If your private community is limited to "members only" ensure you allow all of these "LinkedIn Members" who are not members of your org "Guest Member" access to your network. This should give them full member privileges for a period of time (perhaps three to six months).
- Start The Migration: If you haven't already done so, you need to launch your own private community. This requires its own strategy which I'll write about in a separate blog posting. However, assuming it is up and running, the next step is to entice your LinkedIn members to start migrating over. On the planned cut-off date, you'll send a final notice that group discussions are now taking place in your own community but you will send a weekly update/digest of all the conversations in that community to the LinkedIn group for those who are interested. Then, depending on the level of traffic in your own community, schedule a daily or weekly digest to be posted to your LinkedIn group summarizing all the discussions taking place within your own community with a link to the thread of each one and a link for them to respond on your private community. Ensure the format and schedule of these messages are adhered to and you constantly add reminders of the value of this more private community (no spam and a much larger, more qualified audience being the biggest advantages). As the manager of a LinkedIn group, you have the ability to send an update to all members of a group via email.
- Require Approval of New Messages: Stop approving discussion messages posted to LinkedIn and use the approval process to capture would-be posters for your own private community. Rather than just declining the message, use the opportunity to reach out and ask them to post it to your private community and remind them of the value that community brings to the table. For example, while there might be just 2,000 people in the LinkedIn group, many of whom are vendors, there are 10,000 people in your org's private community (assuming you auto-subscribed your member database). This reminds them of the member benefits and encourages them to experience your community. If they are reluctant to do so themselves, offer to post it for them (from their profile).
- Create a Welcome Message Template: Set a welcome message template on your LinkedIn group which basically tells the user, "Use this group if you want, but we encourage you to use our official community." Also provide a link they can click for free access to the community (I'm paraphrasing, obviously; your message would be more polished and customized to your org). Do this once you have decent activity on the official community so new members will be compelled to return and to post future topics on your community instead of on LinkedIn.
- Restrict Job Postings: Recruiters are rampant on LinkedIn and job postings are a dime a dozen within LinkedIn groups. If your org has a job board, use LinkedIn to generate new job ads for your board by prohibiting job postings in the LinkedIn group. In the welcome message, mention that job postings are not permitted in the group but group members are entitled to a discount on your org's career board using promo code X [something identifiable as LinkedIn preferably, so you can track leads coming from the group].
- Convert Guests to Members: At some point after you've executed this campaign, your community should be thriving (assuming it was launched correctly) and the value being generated is clear to all subscribers. This being the case, if you want the community to be "members only" then now is the time to convert your LinkedIn "guest members" to regular dues-paying members. For most, this should be an easy sell since they are reminded of the value every morning when they receive their daily digest. Ensure you leverage this as part of your marketing efforts and track all those who did convert from LinkedIn and signed up to become a member so you can later report these measurable results. Also, remember this is an ongoing process as these guest members will continue to sign up from LinkedIn, so the campaign to convert these prospects is continuous and not a one-off thing.
Do you have any other tips you think have worked well to move your community engagement out of LinkedIn? Please use the comments below to share.