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Where Did All The Value In LinkedIn Groups Go?

Do you find LinkedIn Groups useful and do you get any real value from them? This isn’t a trick question and I certainly don’t have any agenda by asking the question. I am genuinely curious to understand how LinkedIn users perceive them. For me they are now just a sourcing and networking tool only - and definitely not one for engagement, collaboration or conversation.

It was the new LinkedIn Group App that really highlighted this for me. I like the app as it makes visiting the groups really easy, and consequently (for the first time in ages) I was checking out the Groups much more often via my iPhone. What I have noticed is that there is still content being posted across the groups - in some cases, like the Digital Marketing Group or The Recruiter.Com Network - hundreds of posts a day! But, content doesn’t equal engagement, and when you scroll through many of of the posts are no (or very few) Comments and Likes on the across the LinkedIn Groups. While these don’t give us viewer numbers, they do provide an indicator of engagement.
These are mainly based on the fifty LinkedIn groups I am a member of, but I have also looked at open groups on LinkedIn across different sectors before writing this - and the trend was consistent.

There was a time when LinkedIn Groups were awesome - they were many genuine communities with content being shared, genuine engagement and people who used them for networking, collaboration and communication with other members on a daily basis.  Individuals and companies were quickly setting up LinkedIn Groups to take advantage of all these ‘features’ and everything was fine and dandy!

That was then and this is now.

Over the last few years two things have happened (in my opinion anyway):

  1. LinkedIn failed to exercise as much control and management over the fast growing Groups as they needed to. Consequently they became a haven for spam, relentless posting of jobs across the groups by recruiters which then started a slow (to begin with anyway) decline of people actually giving a damn about them.
  2. Then when LinkedIn tried to address the huge spam problems they jumped in and turned some Group functionality off and imposed new SWAM rules, which had an adverse affect. Then in the last iteration (and upgrade) of the Groups at the end of last year, they made more changes again with the functionality. Too little too late.
    What they did bring in was a new LinkedIn Group App which I do like, but (ironically) is the reason I am writing this post!

So there are now (best guess) in the region of 2 million LinkedIn Groups. Some are still very active and useful for the members, but way too many have seemingly become like little LinkedIn Group ghost towns, slowly dying without even a whimper!
Hence my initial question, “do you find LinkedIn Groups useful and do you get any real value from them?”

So, if LinkedIn Groups are dead on their feet, where have people taken the conversations?

I shouldn’t be surprised because I have found myself doing this over the last year, but I believe Facebook has seen a resurgence in Groups - open and closed. I am part of several closed recruitment focused Facebook groups and the level of engagement in them is superb - in fact if I want help or an answer to a question, the response times in these groups is surprisingly quick (and good of course). The level of debate is equally good.
This doesn’t stop for work related groups - the power of community is strong in personal interest groups with incredible amounts of engagement happening. No surprise there when people are passionate and interested about a particular subject - whatever that may be!
Unlike LinkedIn that give you a separate app for their groups, Facebook make it really easy to get the group updates and access to them via their mobile apps which (to be fair) is where I do most of my Facebook activity.

As an aside did you know you can source people in these open and closed Facebook Groups using Shane’s awesome free Chrome browser extension?

If you are not in any Facebook groups, do some searching in the Facebook search bar (at the top) and join a few - I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Somewhere else the conversation has moved to, is WhatsApp. WhatsApp groups are really popular with people as it is a closed community and it has all the sharing functionality you would want - files, documents, text, video etc. They can be really focused - i.e. a departmental work group, or a work communication channel, or can just be a group of people with a common interest debating whatever they want. Like Facebook groups, they are right there on your phone, and you can configure your notifications to keep you informed of any activity in the group. You can of course do the same with Facebook Messenger and iMessage
Are you using these messaging apps for recruitment purposes?

Another collaboration tool that is proving extremely popular with people is called Slack. Slack lets you communicate with your team on one easy to use platform combining messaging and file sharing in one place. Not only is it capable of replacing email, all the content contained inside Slack is searchable, including files, conversations, and people - brilliant!  And as you would expect, the Slack mobile app is really good - and like the tools above, notifications can be personalised to keep you fully updated. My friend Oscar Mager has written an excellent article about how (and why) you could be using Slack for recruitment.

Have you noticed common theme to all these other tools - the easy access and ease of use via good mobile applications. They are all a pleasure to use on a mobile device and as your mobile is with you all the time, you can keep yourself updated in real-time to any chat, conversation, debate or news you want from any of your chosen groups.

So if you are totally disillusioned (or even totally fed up) with using LinkedIn groups then you have plenty of other options to try to obtain the level of interaction, engagement and collaboration with your chosen interest groups.


If this subject resonates with you, and you need some help at your company getting your recruitment of future talent better aligned, just send me an email and let’s have a chat.

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