Do you manage or contribute to any LinkedIn Groups? Are you aware of these new features, which LinkedIn is now rolling out? Following discussions with clients in our social media workshops, we believe they’ll encourage more interaction and healthier discussions in three particular ways.
The first big change is that all groups will become member only groups but these will be either Standard or Unlisted. From now on Standard groups will appear in search results and members will be able to invite first level connections to join; whereas Unlisted groups won’t appear in searches and only owners and managers will be able to send invitations. This is likely to increase the visibility of groups with good content and engaged members, as we suspect search engines will rank groups on the number of active discussions rather than simply the number of members.
Increased privacy and involvement
Well-managed groups will start to feel more like business clubs. Only members will be able to see and join conversations or post new discussions: (the search results will only show the ‘about’ description – so managers might want to review this). LinkedIn is also handing more control over to members, as managers will no longer need to approve comments and discussions before they go live. This will increase the responsibility of members to moderate their own groups, as it will be up to them to flag inappropriate content for a manager to review.
Increased networking opportunities
Crucially, members will be able to invite their first-level connections to join the group. This ‘member-get-member’ approach gives you an opportunity to engage with your connections by introducing them to relevant groups. This could help you strengthen your relationship with people, assuming you use the option professionally and with discretion. We’d suggest only sending personalised invitations to join specific groups rather than messaging all your contacts with an invitation to join all your groups. Above all, think about why the person you are inviting would benefit from joining.
These changes will require group managers to be more active – asking questions, engaging in discussions and re-kindling conversations that fizzle out (if they are still relevant). But this should result in more lively discussions and faster membership growth for the best groups. Finally, better content filtering should ensure spammy, self-promotional content goes straight to moderation, so managers can delete it and moderate – or even block – the offending poster.
If you’d like more details of these changes, we’d suggest reading LinkedIn’s own ‘best practice’ guidelines for contributing to groups. And, if you have the time, there’s a comprehensive guide in this e-book.
What do you think – will these changes encourage you to get more involved in LinkedIn Groups? We’d love to hear your views, so please post them below.
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Huw and Wendy