LinkedIn Groups are Now Private – What Does This Mean for You?

LinkedIn Groups

In mid-October, LinkedIn made some big changes: LinkedIn Groups are private and there’s a new, standalone LinkedIn Groups app for iOS users. Many LinkedIn Groups were used for the purpose of networking, research, and prospecting, however many people were misusing, and even abusing, the Group option. Rather than using groups properly, to form relationships, engage with industries that could supplement yours, and keep up with hot topics, the group option was often used for self-promotion.

The Changes

According to LinkedIn, these changes were spurred by consumer feedback.  “Our research has shown that professional conversations are most effective in a private trusted space, so conversations in groups won’t be visible until you’ve joined the group. Joining a LinkedIn group now requires either an invitation or approval of your request. Our data has shown that open groups have historically attracted a larger percentage of low-quality conversations. Members-only groups have created significantly more participation and conversations than others (up to five times more), indicating that members feel more confident contributing in these types of groups.”

Some additional, prominent changes:

  • Moderation: Conversations will be posted without the need for approval from a moderator, manager, or group owner, however those people can still remove off-topic conversations.
  • Standard and Unlisted Groups: In an effort to simplify things for the consumer, groups will be either unlisted, meaning that they don’t show up in search results and only a manager/moderator can invite people members, or standard, meaning that groups do show up in search results and members can invite anyone with a 1st degree connection.
  • Content Filtering: Filtering of spam and low-quality content to keep promotional material out of conversations.
  • Subgroups: Subgroups will no longer exist to help clear up confusion. Any current subgroups will become their own, standalone groups.
  • Mentions in Conversations: Like other forms of social media, the @ symbol will now be used before a name in order to reference someone and bring them into the conversation.

Other changes can be found at LinkedIn’s Help Center page.

Group Etiquette

If you’re already using groups in smart way, you’ll only see improvement from LinkedIn’s changes. Say goodbye to spam and relentless self-promotion. Groups may become more meaningful with a more exclusive approach. The people who are genuinely interested in having specific, topical conversations will. Here are some tips on how to navigate the new Groups:

  1. Engage Don’t Enrage:

Keeping in mind that there’s a difference between narcissism and seeking feedback, wait a bit before you post your own blogs, articles, or other branded content. You may want a group of talented, knowledge people to review your writing, but you need to establish yourself as a valued member of the group first. Comment on and like others’ posts. Put in your time and build rapport.

  1. Prudence in Posting:

When there’s a discussing going about a topic that speaks to you, you might feel anxious to jump in with a relevant article you’ve written, but consider your timing. Only after posting third-party articles and blogs, to show your support of others and breadth of knowledge, consider posting your own. When you do post your first article, it might be helpful to connect it to the groups’ influence. For example, Based on the recent, rich conversation about the engagement of Boomers and Millennials in the workplace, I gather my recent years of experience with this and wrote an article I though I’d share with you. I appreciate the fruitful conversations here that helped spur this article.

  1. Connect Cautiously:

As with all etiquette, the idea isn’t to approach people with fear, but with respect. Sometimes, early on, respect can be established by being cautious in order to better understand individual and community needs and norms. Once you’re in a group, don’t be unknowingly creepy. Engage with people who might have similar interests or who you feel might be attracted to your brand. First comment on their posts, like an article, show that you’re engaged and have something to offer intellectually. Give them your thoughts before your products. Once some sort of engagement is established, then send a connection request.

The new changes to LinkedIn’s Group option is going to serve everyone well, whether you’re in marketing in or any other field. It means more meaningful engagement and less bothersome noise and chatter.

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