Creating a Linkedin Group for scientists

Creating a Linkedin Group for scientists

Step-by-step guide for creating a succesful Linkedin Group for scientists

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Studio Lakmoes

April 01, 2012
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  1. Drs. Marjolein Pijnappels Alterra, Wageningen UR | Studio Lakmoes for

    Knowledge Visualisation | info@studiolakmoes.nl You are a scientist. You are passionate about your research and love to share your ideas. Most likely you’ll visit several (inter)national meetings every year and discuss ideas that enable you to fine tune your research agenda. Also, you publish your findings in peer reviewed magazines and maybe even in professional media. Possibly you’ve been interviewed for a newspaper article or radio show. And last but not least, you’re probably active in one of the ‘new’ social media like Linkedin (which is already close to ten years old by the way), twitter, facebook or Youtube – for personal or work purposes. So now you’ve picked up the idea to launch a Linkedin Group. You may be driven by a need to open up discussions and research results for a wider public. Or you are collaborating on a topic with international partners and need a medium to participate in discus- sions without cluttering your mailbox. Whatever the reason, you feel Linkedin will provide a good environ- ment to host this platform. So you choose a name, invite some people and prepare for some intense discussions. And than it is silent. You started by putting articles in your group weekly, but as no one responded, your enthusiasm faded away. Maybe Linkedin isn’t the right medium? Maybe no one is interested? Or everyone’s busy? Although all of the above may be true, the success of your group hinges on a few key points. Do your members find the group: Useful - The group must fill a need not otherwise met. If people meet each other at the coffee machine every day and have their informal discussions there, what use is there for a digital, time consuming, discussion platform? Active – Does anything happen in the group or is it mostly silent? Linkedin users judge a group by its activity. If no one of the other members has added anything for a week, or worse, a month, how interesting can it be? More activity generates activity, but inactivity is the death of every Linkedin Group. Personal – Do the members feel connected to each other? Is the information posted relevant to them on a personal level? Have you invited them personally, or have you simply sent out a uniform template? Do you regularly interact and ask for feedback, or just post news links and let others start the discussions? Do you let your own personality shine through, do members get a glance at the person behind the scientist? The above gives you some pointers to creating an interactive Linkedin Group. But to break it down, here is a 10 step program enabling you to create Linkedin Group that’s is Useful, Active and Personal? or: How to start up an interactive Linkedin Group? 1. Make sure you need a Linkedin Group. Ask yourself de question: what need does this group fill, that cannot be accomplished any other way? Linkedin Groups are a good idea when people are not able to regularly meet and discuss the topic, for instance in international projects, or after projects have finished, but researchers want to keep in touch and exchange ideas. 2. Make sure your topic is relevant and not yet covered by another Linkedin Group. Find your niche and make sure the topic is broad enough to interest a big enough group of people and yet narrow enough so the discussions remain focused and you attract people specifically interested in your topic. 3. Choose a good name. A good name ensures that people interested in your topic, can actually find it, either in Google or in the Linkedin Search. Make sure the name of the group covers the topic. You can change your name 3 times. 4. Choose a focus. What kind of discussions do you want to facilitate? What do you want and what not. Write these things down in the Group Rules. Make sure include a section in Group Rules about banning members that misbehave. It’s also good to include a Why don’t they talk? How to create an interactive Linkedin Group for Scientists Why don’t they talk (Marjolein Pijnappels, 2012)
  2. section that encourages people to share their own articles, or

    news items and respond to others. 5. Link your other (social) media to the group. You can link feeds from twitter or other news streams to your Linkedin Group. This way you have regular new content. Be warned though: the automated news streams should not be the major component of your discussions. Personal discussions where people are invited to respond are always better than random tweets. 6. Start your first discussion ‘Introduce yourself’. Start by telling why you started the Linkedin Group, introduce yourself, and ask new members to do the same. You might want to start a poll to get a clear picture of the (research) background of the members. 7. Invite people. You don’t need to be connected on Linkedin to someone to invite them to your group. You can send an email invitation. Be sure to write a personal text, inviting the person not only to be a member, but also to post their own articles, comment and like other people’s discussions. Invite them to respond to the discussion ‘Introduce yourself’ or take the poll. Point out the Group Rules. 8. For the first six months post regular new discussions. Regular means: at least twice a week. As a starter, try to write your own discussions and add the link separately, so you can ask people for feedback and response. Later on, when discussions have heated up, you can get by by simply adding a URL to the group. 9. Find ambassadors who respond to discussions frequently (at least twice a week). Ideally these are people you now personally and work in your sector. You ask them to be mindful of the new discussions and respond to them and post their own discussions. Seeing several people other than the moderator post links, discussions and reactions, will lower the barrier for others to do the same. 10. Communicate about your group in other media at your disposal. Include a link in your newsletter, place links on the website, include discussions in email updates and use your group to get input for symposia and IRL discussions. Tweet about interesting discussions, place links on your Facebookpage. When have you succeeded? There is no ideal number of members for a group. If the group is very close knit and passionate about a topic, 50 members can make for good and frequent discussions. If the group is more diffuse and people are not connected on a personal level outside LInkedin, you need a bigger group to generate regular discus- sions, I’d say about 300. There also isn’t an ideal frequency of discussions. Daily discussions can work well for some, but may be too much for others. Weekly discussions are a minimum. Group members will loose interest if they see that the last time anyone commented was over a week ago. Always remember: there’s a small group of active participants, posting and liking discussions. There’s a bigger group actively reading the discussions, either in the group or through email alerts. But each group will have number of members that will be a member, and not participate in any other way. So don’t think that just because your group has 50 members, 50 people will actually read the posts. Before you start, set a goal you want to reach in terms of new discussions per week (month) and number of members you want to get. Define a higher goal. Do you want to build a community? Do you want to keep in touch? Do you want to keep up to date with the newest insights in a certain topic? Review for yourself if the group has succeeded after a minimum of 8 months. Check with others how they feel and if they share your goals and vision. That way you can conclude whether or not your LInkedin Group was a success. Why don’t they talk (Marjolein Pijnappels, 2012)