There was a time when LinkedIn Groups were really useful. Full of engaging posts and discussion threads around topics that group members were passionate and knowledgeable about. But all that has changed.
In my opinion, LinkedIn Groups (and indeed, LinkedIn itself) are being ruined by indiscriminate spam along with shallow, off-topic, crappy content.
Here’s my take.
Spam in LinkedIn Groups
The first problem is Spam. These posts are easy to spot. They’re usually just straight-up promotions of a product, company, or event.
“Join our webcast, check out our new release, automate your blah blah blah with this super fantastic gee whiz software, etc.”
Spam and self-promotion have been around for a long time and aren’t going anywhere. And by itself, I don’t think promotional content diminishes the value of LinkedIn Groups. Yes, it’s annoying … but it’s also easy to identify and then delete or move to the Promotions tab.
So on to the next problem …
Promotional Content Disguised as “Articles”
These are posts that look like interesting and insightful content. But when you click through, you end up reading an article that quickly goes into pitching whatever it is they’re selling.
Usually something like “5 Tips for Improving Your XYZ.” Then lo and behold, all 5 tips promote their product or service in some way.
It’s really just lipstick on a pig or spam in sheep’s clothing.
What the title should say is “5 Tips That Bait You Into Learning About Our Products and Services.”
Think anyone would click on that?
So we’ve got spam. We’ve got disguised product pitches. And then we have off-topics posts. These are posts where the content isn’t relevant to the group.
For instance, I manage a VAR Marketing Group on LinkedIn – the focus is supposed to be on “marketing.”
Yet every week, I have to sift through (and delete) topics like:
- Inventory Management Tips
- How to Avoid IT Project Failure
- The Benefits of Cloud ERP Software
What does ANY of that have to do with marketing? Nothing. They don’t speak to the group’s purpose or primary interests.
In larger groups where managers have a harder time sifting through the volume of content, this off-topic crap gets posted. And that just makes it harder for group members to find content and discussions that are relevant and useful.
So members start to disengage because there’s certainly a better use of time.
It’s Just Too Easy Now
In part, I blame social sharing applications like Buffer, Hootsuite, and even Hubspot. These tools have made it way too easy for someone to just blast their crappy content and blog posts out to every single LinkedIn Group they’re a member of – with just the click of a button.
The Tortoise and the Hare
What’s more, there are too many people that just can’t resist the urge to sell and pitch their products 24 x 7. The concept that teaching sells – providing genuinely helpful content and delivering value without pushing your product constantly – requires an entirely different mindset.
Most people want to sprint to the revenue finish line (“you ready to buy now or not?”) versus the steady pace required for teaching (“let me demonstrate value and expertise around a topic. And when you’re ready to buy – whenever that is – I bet it’s from me”). In fact, one company I’m sure you’ve heard of and that’s really great at teaching is Hubspot. No doubt you’ve come across their articles, videos, guides, or extensive library of marketing resources.
When you put it all together – spam, disguised promotional content and off-topic posts – we’ve come to a point where many of the LinkedIn members I talk to are spending more time digging through the weeds and less time engaging with great content and genuinely connecting with their social network.
5 years ago, an hour spent on LinkedIn was 10 times more productive and beneficial than it is today.
So what’s YOUR take?
Agree or disagree? Still using LinkedIn as much as ever or (like me) a hell of a lot less these days?
I’m new to Linkedin and have been exploring groups everyday. Ive noticed this as well, and you wrote this article over two years ago. Most of the groups Ive joined and was excited about, i scroll through them and they are all external links either promoting something, and have nothing to do with the group. The ones that are related dont have any conversation started by the posted themselves.
It’s unfortunate but true Jeff. Once people catch on to a good thing (LinkedIn WAS pretty good a few years ago), they abuse it. There ARE still decent groups out there. But those groups tend to have very active managers filtering out the spam. It’s a time-consuming and thankless job which is probably why most group managers just check out – and then the spam and off-topic posts go wild.
ian bouchard says
Since the publication of your article, the situation has worsened. Where once, a member might post his pitch directly to a Promotions section, the option has been removed. Further, LinkedIn now auto flags posts their algorithm deems promotional…requiring the moderator (me) to clear or re-post.
Further, I vetted each and every applicant to my Group. Now, if I choose to require my personal vetting (as opposed to simply letting each member invite their connections) then my Group becomes invisible when someone is searching for a Group.
I’ve got three of the most populated, and judged best curated, Groups in my Industry. However, they are quickly becoming nothing more than spot for robo-publishers to send their crappy posts. Years of work being pissed away!
I totally agree Ian, it has gone from bad to worse. To compound things, it seems like a lot of LinkedIn Group Moderators (with the recent changes) have just given up and checked out – which allows the spam to run rampant.
I’ve been turning off my email notifications for all but just a few groups that I still want to track. There’s not much else you can do about it. It’s unfortunate because LinkedIn used to be fairly useful. Not as much anymore.
Hilary Buckley says
Looks like they’re trying to fix LinkedIn groups at least. We’ll see how that goes.
I’m not sure how much these changes will move the needle. I’ve seen plenty of spam and off-topic posts in private “members only” LinkedIn groups too. But I guess we’ll wait and see.
It’s too bad this article keeps bantering on about why one’s posts would be considered spam and doesn’t speak enough about what alternative routes to take instead to solve this problem. It mentions a couple of line on alternatives ways to market yourself but doesn’t offer much of a solution otherwise.
Fran – that’s true. But “how to improve your LinkedIn group posts” is a topic for an entirely separate article. It didn’t seem practical to include it here.
Karen Smart says
I don’t use it all anymore really. For those that are moderators, it’s a nightmare of constantly monitoring an open group or locking it down so tight you still have to check it everyday for those that want to join, etc.
Mike Renner says
agree with what you are saying, mostly these days I use linked in groups to get help for my clients or to help other people in the group, like working getting a customer off of FRx and ran into this issue, anyone else ran into this.
Terri L Maurer says
I continue to feel that the quality of a LinkedIn group is set by the owner/moderator. Those with clear definitions and guidelines about what will be acceptable – filled with people looking for quality discussion threads and willing to help monitor and flag inappropriate postings – seem to maintain standards. Others seem to be started by people who just want to ‘collect names’ as a lame marketing strategy. Those don’t realize how much time and effort it takes to do it right, soon lose interest and just don’t care what gets posted. Those I eventually drop out of as there is nothing of value for me.
Totally agree with everything you said Terri. An active/inactive moderator makes all the difference. As you point out, I think a lot of LinkedIn group owners discover it’s a lot more work than they expected (totally thankless job) and eventually check out. That’s when the spam posts go wild. It happens a lot (especially in “open” groups). Much more than years ago when there were fewer groups, fewer people, less spam, and better quality content/discussions on LinkedIn.
arthur aranda says
I have certainly noticed an increase in the volume of blatantly poor quality & promotional stuff lately. It is annoying. It takes much longer now to sift through the junk to hit on the occasional nugget of value. Following groups & adding to the conversation when I have something to say is still a good use of my time.
I agree Arthur. Contributing to LinkedIn groups/conversations and staying engaged is still valuable. That value is just harder to find and FAR more time-consuming than it used to be.
Patrick Haley says
Definitely agree. The thing that sucks about it is that if I don’t post these kinds of things my competitors will.
Steve Erickson says
Could not agree more. As group open up to attract more member they become the victim of this very process. I can name several groups that where very useful and now are loaded with the crap you list here.
Agree completely. The title has to be very interesting for me to read it