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LinkedIn Groups: Yay Or Nay?

24 August 2016  

LinkedIn is the self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Professional Network’. But does it really deserve that title? Not if you’re judging it through LinkedIn Groups.  What about LinkedIn Groups: should you use them?

Don’t believe the propaganda you hear – LinkedIn Groups are not an exclusive online community where like minded individuals can congregate and share ideas and expertise. They are a cavern of noise, drivel and self indulgent promotion.

If you’re in a hurry, you can go away now and never bother your little head with LinkedIn Groups again.  But if you prefer to have the meat behind the data, read on….

LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups

Let’s take a look, shall we?

LinkedIn Groups are a subset of the main network. They are aimed at connecting members with common interests in a variety of topics.

When LinkedIn first introduced groups they were a great place to find potential candidates, a resource for relevant information and could’ve been a great way to get the most out of your membership. If only they’d done it right..

3 Reasons Why Groups Don’t Work

  1. Spam

No matter what type of group you join, the majority of the posts are nothing more than unadulterated spam. Postings seem to hold little to no value and have no relevant information pertaining to the group – they’re usually self serving postings by group admins themselves, aimed at redirecting members to their own websites.

LinkedIn Groups      2. Lack of Engagement:

If you’re expecting an answer to your question, or feedback on your posting then don’t go to a LinkedIn Group. Engagement is not something you’ll find here. It seems members generally ignore actual helpful postings in favour of spreading their own messages.

Here are a few examples of the levels of engagement witnessed by some of the more active LinkedIn Groups around town. These groups have in the region of 30,000 and 1,000,000 members each, but no one is seeing or engaging with their content!

LinkedIn Groups     3. Choice

There are thousands of LinkedIn Groups, and you can join up to 50 at a time. But doesn’t this practice lower the value of being a part of a LinkedIn Group? If members insist on joining as many as they possibly can, then they will not get the most out of them. Unfortunately I made this mistake, this is just a portion of the groups I joined, most of which have no active conversations.

LinkedIn Groups

Can LinkedIn Groups Be Fixed?

To be fair to the network, LinkedIn is trying to bring back the value of Groups, but if the execution doesn’t bring the desired outcome, is there any point to them at all?

First, let’s look at what LinkedIn is doing to fix them:

  • LinkedIn Group App: LinkedIn has rolled out an app for its groups to make it easier to access.
  • Killed Open Membership: This is to try and stop growth in what is known as ‘zombie groups’. Ie. Groups that have no value and are created just for the sake of it.
  • Anti-Spam Tools: LinkedIn are constantly working to lower the level of spam in groups but there is no permanent fix for this yet.
  • Implemented SWAM: Site Wide Automatic Moderation is essentially a way to block and delete members of LinkedIn groups and automatically moderate their participation in other groups.

Evidently, LinkedIn is trying to breathe life back into LinkedIn Groups, but there’s only so much it can do. The responsibility really lies with group managers, it is up to them to filter their members, moderate spam and encourage engagement.

Should You Join LinkedIn Groups?

It really depends on your industry as to whether you’ll find any that are good or not. Look for groups that are relevant to your business, and do your research before joining to make sure they aren’t just spammy and full of only self-promoting members. If you do this, there are a number of benefits to joining LinkedIn Groups.

  • Access all areas: The connections you want? You can bet they’re in groups and if you have common interests, that connection is more likely to be made. Bonus, you can also message people from within the group, without having to be connected.
  • Expand your Industry: Whether you want to stay on top of current news, headhunt and hire those in similar industries or simply just have a chat about the work you do – there’s probably a group for that.
  • Exposure: Share your expertise in your field with other like minded individuals. Or expand your knowledge by learning from them. Look at it as a way to generate leads for your business, the more relevant groups you join, the higher your brand’s exposure will be.
  • Quality content: Join groups where you’ll have access to relevant, high quality content. And groups where you can share your own. The opportunities are limitless – you can increase your readership and by starting a conversation, you might even be awarded the opportunity to guest blog for another brand.
  • Get to know the businesses in your area: This is especially relevant for smaller businesses – expand your network by getting familiar with the groups in your area. This may even lead to personal meetings.

Tips:

  • Only post high-quality content that is relevant to the group
  • Don’t start posting links to your blog straight away. Start conversations first, engage with other members.
  • Don’t spam. You’ll be blacklisted.
  • Find discussions to get involved with, just browse through ‘Latest Discussions’ or ‘Most Popular’.

 

Bring Back The Value To LinkedIn Groups

Members need to stop using LinkedIn Groups as a broadcasting channel or a way to promote their own work. And group managers need to be more focused on filtering out spammers and only allowing posts that encourage engagement.

LinkedIn Groups can be a great way to generate leads for your business, get your content out there and bounce ideas off other people in your field. You can even ask questions or share your own knowledge.

Wayne Breitbarth retains some hope for Groups and he has even produced a handy worksheet that you can use if you want to up your game with them.  Download it here.  

LinkedIn is essentially a networking community, and groups should be a support for that. All it needs is a little bit more value.

If you’d like to have a conversation about using LinkedIn in your marketing strategy – get in touch!
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