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Show Transcript

On LinkedIn Ads, you can target members by specific groups that they’re in. By name! I know right? We’re talking about targeting LinkedIn groups on this week’s episode of the LinkedIn Ads Show.

Welcome to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Here’s your host, AJ Wilcox.

Hey there LinkedIn Ads fanatics! The ability to target the members of specific groups on LinkedIn has been a blessing to advertisers since LinkedIn came out back in 2008. I can hear you Facebook advertisers out there salivating, because Facebook has never allowed us to do this. And it really would be incredible. Groups on LinkedIn had been through quite the journey over the years. But on today’s episode of the LinkedIn Ads show, I’ll walk you through the pros and cons, as well as some tips on how to use it and make it work even better. Make sure to stick around until the end of the episode, as I’m going to share a little known hack to targeting groups. Let’s hit it.

First off, what are LinkedIn groups? When I very first joined LinkedIn, groups were one of the things that were most widely publicized as it being a great place to interact with others. So I went and joined a bunch of marketing groups, a bunch of technology groups, and a bunch of automotive groups even. Being a new marketer. and being really into cars, I went and joined one of these automotive groups, and ended up having a conversation with a marketer from Ferrari, I thought that was so cool back in the day. Over time, those LinkedIn groups have kind of turned into a bit of a dumping ground due to a wide variety of factors that have made LinkedIn groups less attractive than, let’s say meta groups. People stopped actually coming to interact in groups and the ones who did were usually just going to help promote something of themselves. So they became kind of a spammy link dumping ground. If you go look at your groups that you’re a member of just look through and see, I would say every once in a while you find a group where there’s real conversation going on people actually helping each other and making suggestions, but for the most part, I just see link after link after link with very little explanation as to why someone is even putting a link there. And when you’re in a group, and all you see is basically a bunch of bots that are dumping content and leaving, you’re not going to stick around either. But anyone can go and start a group on the platform, and it’s free. If you’re a marketer, which you probably are if you’re listening to this, you can go and join a group called marketing executives group, or digital marketing optimization, or digital marketing manager and agency owners. What’s really cool about these groups is you get a bunch of people who are like minded in the group together. And because it’s on LinkedIn, it’s really easy to tell who is who, what companies they represent. And because of the lack of anonymity, I think people tend to be a lot kinder, and a lot more helpful. Also, being part of a group is really cool when you go to actually make a connection with someone because now you have something more in common with them than just, I saw your posts show up in my newsfeed, you can say something like we’re in a common group together, we’ve had a conversation. So common groups membership can be a really good way of getting the attention of someone and getting a connection request accepted. So we talked about how LinkedIn groups have kind of devolved over time. But something that I really appreciated about it is that most of the time, you’re not going to leave a group, you’re just going to stop going to visit very often. So what that means is someone goes and joins a group around a topic that’s really important to them. And even if they’re not spending time in that group, LinkedIn still knows that they’re a member of this and then we can target that trait using LinkedIn Ads. And it’s an important distinction to note that, when we’re targeting using groups names on LinkedIn, it doesn’t mean that we’re targeting them with ads only when they’re in the group. Rather, we’re targeting them wherever they are on LinkedIn, because we know that they are a member of this group. So even if they never come back, we can still use it for targeting. And you can join up to 50 groups last time I checked. And in the show notes below, there’s a link to the LinkedIn Ads group on LinkedIn. And it’s one of the good examples I can think of. They’re doing a really good job of curating it, keeping the spam out, and there are a lot of people, they’re asking really sincere questions about the platform.

So when should you use groups targeting? I think it’s really important to compare the other different methods of targeting that you could use to see really where groups fits in. So if you’re targeting by job function, a lot of times that’s way too broad. I would fit under the job function of marketing. But because LinkedIn ads is such a specific skill, and not every marketer has that skill. And so Job function is oftentimes very, very broad, especially in my case. Skills are even too broad. Sometimes, you can list up to 50 skills in your profile, just like groups, and it’s another one that a lot of people will list skills and then forget to remove them later. Skills can be too broad sometimes as well. Of course, we can also target by job title. But titles can be too restrictive. And groups targeting tends to produce very small audiences. But think about it, if someone went way out of their way at some point on the platform to go and join a bunch of groups around topics they cared about, they’re probably going to be a lot more active and engaged on the platform. So think about it this way. They produce small, but mighty audiences. Because of this groups tend to be a very underutilized targeting method for my experience. Okay, here’s a quick sponsor break, and then we’ll dive into how to select groups to target.

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All right, let’s jump into how to actually select the groups that you might want to target. There’s a couple of ways that you might do this. The first is you can go on to LinkedIn, click on their search feature, their universal search, and just start typing keywords for the types of groups that you might want to join. You could then filter that search just to the names of groups. And you’ll see quite a few options there. Group membership is also something that’s on someone’s profile. So another way you could go about this is start doing some persona research. Go and look at the LinkedIn profiles of those within your ideal customer persona. They may even be your current customers, and scroll down to their group section and see which groups they belong to. If you start to notice some of the more common ones, you could add them to your targeting. Another way that you can select groups to target is to go in and actually try this targeting method. And inside of campaign manager, you go to audience attributes, interests and traits, and then member groups. And you can start by just typing the keyword that you might care about. So for instance, if I was going to target marketers like myself, I could type in something like marketing. And LinkedIn would suggest about 20 different groups, all about marketing. Or I could type LinkedIn Ad. And the only option I really see here is LinkedIn advertisers group, which happens to be the one that I suggested earlier to go and look for a good example of. It may be helpful to you to try to find groups that have larger audience sizes within them. Because sometimes they’re too small to be meaningful. If you’re targeting a whole bunch of groups that have like 10 people in them, maybe those are just a waste of space. Or you could do a ton of tiny ones, and try to get enough audience members to try to make your audience large enough to run or be successful. But whichever direction you decide to go, realize that you can only target 100 of anything inside of campaign manager. Except for companies, you can target 200 companies at a time. So that means if you’ve found over 100 groups to target, you’ll want to weed it out and go with only the larger ones and leave the smaller ones out. As you’re reviewing these groups within campaign manager, if you hang over the question mark next to the group name, it’ll show a little pop up saying how many people are in the group. And as you hover over that, you’ll see the group size. That can be helpful in narrowing things down. Sometimes I’ll hear people bashing groups targeting on LinkedIn, they’ll say things like, well, are people even active in LinkedIn groups? Or do they even join them? We kind of addressed this earlier, when we said that when someone goes and joins a group, they don’t often leave the group. And so they’re still attached to it for targeting. And so even if they’re not active, they’re signaling that they have a large affinity towards this topic. And that can help us a lot in our targeting. Do people join groups? Not really, LinkedIn even tried to do a refresh of groups a few years back, trying to revive them? And spoiler alert, it didn’t work very well. There was a lot of talk about what it was going to do, how revolutionary it was going to be. But in the end groups didn’t change all that much. I don’t think they did enough of an overhaul. So it seems like LinkedIn is not proud of their group’s product anymore. Because if they weren’t proud of it, they would be pushing it. They would try to be recommending to members more groups that they should join, but instead what we see is they kind of hide it. It’s really difficult to even go and find groups even when you’re looking for them. So that means when you are using groups targeting, you’re gonna get small audience sizes, and they’re probably not growing all too much. When you’re using groups targeting criteria, I like to layer other targeting criteria on top. Things like seniority and company size, and company, industry, and all of that. So it really is right for using. Groups really can be a good place to play as an organic marketing method. The trick is that you just have to start real conversation. You can’t turn into a link dumping spammer and expect to have any sort of real interaction in the groups. Get in, actually interact with people, don’t just dump links. And anytime you do share a link, make sure you provide enough information about why it is you think what you’re sharing is valuable. Then actually connect with other like minded people who are engaging like you are. One cool thing that groups have done here in the last few years, is that group posts are now sometimes shown in your newsfeed. You’d have to wait around hoping that people go back into the group to see your stuff. Now, the best group stuff is actually going to show up in your newsfeed.

All right, I did promise a hack here towards the end. This is a trick that I’ve used now for years, that when you are targeting by groups, if you type in a keyword, let’s say you type in something like marketing, LinkedIn is only going to suggest 20 different groups to you. And if you like all of them, and you’ve selected all 20, that’s the absolute max you can target. Like LinkedIn is not going to show you any others. Until you do what I call the ABC trick. I have to give credit for this trick to my very first LinkedIn Ads rep. She showed me back in 2011, how to do this, the platform has advanced quite a bit, but this still works, there still isn’t a better way. So what you do is you type your keyword. And then after you’ve exhausted those 20 suggestions, you do a space and then A and then LinkedIn is going to suggest the 20 that match that starting with an A and then you select whatever suggestions there, that’s maybe another 20, you delete your A and you go back and do B, then you go and do C, then you go and do D, you go all the way through the alphabet. And Lincoln’s gonna keep showing you suggestions and by the time you’ve gotten to the end of the alphabet, you’ve really found most groups. And in fact, if there are so many that you’re going after, you’re gonna get over 100 and then you’re gonna have to decide which ones do I take out anyway. All right, I’ve got the episode resources for you coming right up. So stick around

Thank you for listening to the LinkedIn Ads Show. Hungry for more? AJ Wilcox, take it away.

All right, like we talked about the LinkedIn Ads group, there’s the link right in the show notes that you can go and join. Get involved in conversation about LinkedIn ads, it really is a great example of a group. Also, if you or anyone you know, is looking to learn more about LinkedIn Ads, make sure you check out the course on LinkedIn Learning that I did with LinkedIn. It teaches a lot of the same principles as we go over here on this podcast, but it’s very high quality and very inexpensive to use. I think it’s like 10 bucks to buy the course. A lot of people even get LinkedIn Learning for free with their elevated LinkedIn profile. But definitely go check that out. If this is your first time listening, welcome. Thanks so much! I’m glad to have you here. Make sure to hit that subscribe button and your podcast player so you keep hearing us here in the future. If this is not your first time listening, please do us the favor of leaving a review for the podcast. You probably hear it a lot. I know I say it every time, but it really is the very best way you can say thanks for all the content that we put out. With any questions, suggestions, or corrections, reach out to us at And with that being said, we’ll see you back here next week. Cheering you on in your LinkedIn Ads initiatives!