Have LinkedIn just killed off groups?

I’m an avid fan of LinkedIn. As a professional social networking tool across all sectors, it has been amazing in the way you can connect with professionals in your area of work.  And for that, it is the “go to” place.

One of the key aspects that I liked about LinkedIn was the Groups.  You could find well run groups around your topic area, ask questions, gain insights etc.  What you want from any group or community.

But over the last few years, I had started to notice the change in the behaviour within the groups.  Moving from being the place to ask questions and read up on what was happening, to a place that was becoming swamped with spam, self-promotion and selling.  Not the reason that I joined the group for.

I was hoping that this was just the trend when some groups get too big and the management of the group has not been adequate to keep up with demand.

At the start of this year myself and a colleague took the jump into managing a group on LinkedIn. 

Why did we choose LinkedIn?

Both of us teach and show others how to manage online communities. My work is mainly with public sector communities on Knowledge Hub, and my colleague works with major brands and multinational companies.

And as we were looking at an audience outside of the Public Sector mostly people working in multi-national organisations, start ups, large brands etc.  LinkedIn seemed to be the obvious place as we had already connected and meet with a core group.  We also had no real intention of the group to be a place to share documents or co-create content.  At the most, we expected a few discussions and a place to gather people together and LinkedIn seemed the obvious choice for this.

 

Managing a community on LinkedIn

Our group was set up to support our face to face get togethers and regular webinars.  And to bring like minded people together.

  • We know what the purpose of the community is
  • We know the audience that we are looking for
  • We have an evolving plan of activities and content
  • We have a loose communication strategy
  • We know what success looks like for us

So, we have the basics.

The technology

I’ve used a few different community platforms in the past.  So, has my colleague.

Getting to grips with Linkedin was quite easy. 

Communicating - We found out that you could create Announcements that would highlight key content to members and appear at the top of the group when they logged in. 

Making members feel welcome - You could add customised messages when accepting or declining membership to the group

Moderation - You could pre moderate members content, to keep the spam away from the group.

Discussions - Yes, you can hold discussions in the group.  A big bugbear of mine is that I have to keep clicking “See more” on any replies that are over 250 characters.  But I can deal with that.

Membership requests - Not the best. I had mine set to immediate but I might get them through a couple of days later.

So overall not a bad experience.  There were enough tools there that would help me manage the group and only spend a small amount of time to do that.

 

Big changes

Mid way through August, there was an update to the LinkedIn Groups as part of the rebuilding process.

There were two key things that worried me from the announcement

  • Moderation queues will be “temporarily” unavailable.
  • Admin and auto-generated group emails (including digests, automated templates, and announcements) will be unavailable

Ok, so this means that it’s nearly impossible to deal with spam content.  One of the reasons that I was getting frustrated by some of the larger groups.

It was not going to be as easy to make members feel welcome to the group or even highlight / showcase some of the activities or content within the group.

So, to manage/ facilitate the group you would have to find workarounds and spend more time and effort on actions that you used to be able to do at a click of a button.

Yes, they might be coming back with bigger and better function in the future, but by the time they do, will the group be dead? Will the managers of the community be willing to put much more effort into it to keeping it alive while they potentially fight the stream of content they don’t want?

Who knows, only time will tell.

 

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