I went through the WF forums to see if anyone posted anything about LinkedIn, and couldn't find any so thought I'd start.
About 3 years ago I started my first niche group on LinkedIn, the Asian Investors Group. The initial idea was just to create a group which has investors, entrepreneurs, and anyone else who was interested in Asian-based investment opportunities to exchange deals and ideas. I then moved on to create 9 other groups, all with their geographical niches (European Investors Group, USA Investors Group, etc.) and everything started growing organically from there. I even went to the effort of "branding" the groups so that every group had a different logo, but had a similar feel to them.
The groups organically gets about 20-30 new applications a day, and I approve each and every single application. When someone applies to join a group, an email (which I can customize) is automatically sent to them from LinkedIn. Once the application is approved (or denied), another customized email is also automatically sent by LinkedIn. The only time I spend on managing these groups is just to go through the profile of the members who apply. Basic turnkey stuff.
Occasionally, I use the Group Manager function to send out a weekly group message to all members, usually promoting a press release or sharing an interesting piece of news that I find that is relevant to each group. I've tried ways and means to think of a revenue model around these groups that I've built in the past 3 years, but nothing came up.
The only success I have made so far was to build an automated data gathering process. Basically, as a group owner, you can set Templates which LinkedIn will automatically send to all new members who request to join the group. Another template can be set to those who have been approved/denied access to the group.
What I did in September:
1. Create a Google Docs form to gather data from new members who bother to complete a sign-up form (non-compulsory). This means that whether members complete the form or not does not affect their ability to join the group. I will tend to approve most requests anyway!
2. Put a link to this form in all the groups' Templates (joining and approved messages), and write a convincing paragraph for all members to complete the form. If you're curious what the form looks like, here's the link: Global Hedge Funds Groups on LinkedIn (I'm using a URL shortener just to see how much response I get from WF, no other hidden agenda)
3. Forget about what I did.
Below is a screenshot of the Google docs form, as you can see from the data, I am getting on average 1 submission every 2 days with no effort.
I wonder if anyone here on WF has any thoughts on this and could share a tip or two?