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?