LinkedIn Open Groups

Are LinkedIn Open Groups Great for Members or Great for Spammers?

I’ve seen a lot of back and forth discussions about the new LinkedIn Open Groups.  A lot of the negatives that I see people mentioning stem from the thought that this will further encourage spammers to post promotions and add little value to discussions.

LinkedIn Rant w/ a Solution

In 2010 LinkedIn decided to remove the New Article board from groups or per what they put out “combine the news board and the discussion board”.  At the time people were pretty good about posting discussion questions on the discussion board and links to blog articles, online news releases, and articles to the news board.

I assume LinkedIn felt it would be natural to combine the two opening up a new board called Promotions to give group members a place to promote products and services.  They were wrong.

The reality is that many group owners faced with an influx of blog posts to their discussion boards, overreacted in my opinion, by taking the draconian steps of banishing posts with Links in them.  Heaven forbid that someone should actually use a “Business” social network to actually grow their business.  Eventually the consensus seems to be that blog posts should be posted to the promotions board, which while some blog posts are blatant shills, the majority are written by people that seek to first share value and then benefit from the goodwill generated by what they shared.

The solution is simple.  LinkedIn should bring back the news article board.  That would mean that within a LinkedIn group your have a place to:

1.  Share Conversations (Discussion Board) – interact with fellow group members

2.  Share Content (News Board) – allow content producers to share content which encourages further content development

3.  Share Value (Promotions Board) – help companies promote their products and services and members to find discounts

4.  Share Wealth (Jobs Board) – help someone find a job

(end of rant)

Back to the Open Group Question

Given that LinkedIn missed the mark on removing the news board, my initial reaction to Open Groups was no.  I have to admit that there was no basis for opposing open groups other than I did not want to open the group to postings by others who are not members.  After reviewing the setting page I changed my mind and have taken my four groups to open groups.

Here are the Group settings and what I selected for my groups.

Section 1: Group Settings – Choose none, some, or all options

1. Enable the Discussions and News features. – YES

Sub Choices:

A. Enable the Promotions Feature. – YES

—– Allow only moderators and managers to move discussions to the Promotions area. – YES

B. Enable the Jobs Feature. – YES

—-Allow only moderators and managers to move discussions to the Jobs area. – YES

C. Automatically remove content flagged by group members. – YES

—-Number of flags: 10 flags automatically removes post

2. Display the Subgroups tab. – YES

Section Perspective: I wanted to enable as many features as possible to provide members options. Also wanted to remove the ability for anyone to move posts to jobs or promotions board. Too many past issues with this.

Section 2: Permissions:

1.  Options for Members of this group: Select only one of the following

A.  Free to post (discussions, promotions, jobs and comments). – I chose this selection

B.  Free to post promotions, jobs, comments only, and submit everything else.

C.  Free to post jobs, comments only, and submit everything else.

D.  Free to post comments only and submit everything else.

E.  Submit everything for approval.

2.  Options for Anyone on LinkedIn – Select only one of the following

A.Free to post comments, and submit discussions for approval.

B.  Submit both comments & discussions for approval.

C.  Submit comments for approval only (no discussions allowed).

D.  No contributions allowed. – I chose this option

Section Perspective: I want group members to be able to post freely.   I only want group members posting in the group

Section 3: Restrictions – Select none, some, or all of the following

1. Require moderation for new groups members. – NO

Number of days that a person is new to the group:  0 days

2.  Require moderation for new people on LinkedIn. – No (not allowed to post per above setting)

Number of days that a person is new to LinkedIn: 0 days

3.  Require moderation for people with few or no connections. – No (I only allow people with at least 10 connections to join my groups)

Section Perspective: Evaluating as I move forward, but I don’t want to limit new member (but if I begin to see a lot of spam from new members I will have to address)

Section 4: Membership – Choose one or the other

1. Auto-Join: Any member of LinkedIn may join this group without requiring approval from a manager. – NO

2. Request to Join: Users must request to join the group and be approved by a manager. – Yes

Section Perspective: My groups are all Georgia based and to join you must reside in Georgia. Everyone must submit a request to join. I make exceptions for recruiters (anyone offering potential jobs is welcome), to people who previously lived in Georgia, and folks looking to move to Georgia.Display this group in the Groups Directory. – Yes

Section 5:  Additional Settings

1.  Allow members to display the logo on their profiles. – Yes

2.  Allow members to invite others to join this group. – Yes

Section Perspective: I’ll take the additional exposure.

LinkedIn Open Groups Wrap Up

Based on my understanding of the setings I can do two things that make it worth moving to Open Groups:

1.  I can restrict comments to only members.

2.  By opening the group I allow members content to be seen by anyone and indexed by search engines

I get to increase exposure to the group and to members who contribute and I get to limit contributions to only group members.  I benefit as a group owner, members benefit, and non-members benefit.  Its a win-win-win solution.  LinkedIn may have missed the mark on removing the New Board but they nailed this on on the head.

What do you think?

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Related posts:

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About Sean Nelson

Sean has been a Keynote speaker at Norvax University, conducts social media workshops and webinars, and has released three books on LinkedIn and written several social media guides.

Sean currently runs Social Media Sonar, which in addition to providing free resources, manages social media strategies and tactics for companies. He is also a partner in Surge Labs, a conversion rate optimization company, helping companies improve conversions and profitability through scientific testing of Landing Pages, Websites, Email communications, and Shopping Carts.

Comments

  1. Steve Cassady says:

    I like your combination of options. I think it is a win/win. Some group owners must have selected all the broadest options given the volume of “spam” I have seen on some of the larger groups. The spam was so much, I didn’t even look at changing my managed group options. With your posting, I will no go look. I also agree with your rant.

  2. Rick Itzkowich says:

    I grappled with this decision myself. I asked for a discussion with among the members of the group and of the people who responded, nobody wanted it open. They all felt that having outsiders view some of the discussions without being invested in them or with the proper context would inhibit their participation. My understanding is that current discussions will also be archived and that no further interaction will be allowed – though I’m not 100% clear on this.

    However the biggest drawback is that the decision is permanent. You can’t go back. I would have liked to have a trial period as an open group to see it action rather than rely on opinions from others that are often not substantiated.

  3. Ross Dodwell says:

    Sean,

    You always break down topics and provide a logical (and often list related) set of facts. I really liked this post as usual, especially the part about Linkedin should just put the News queue back. Meanwhile, because of spam we have taken some pretty draconian steps in my group, including moderating new members until they confirm they understand of the group rules. I would like to get through the posting issue (I see both sides) before even considering opening it further. The jury is still out on this one!!

    Thanks,
    Ross

  4. Sean Nelson says:

    Rick,

    Each group needs to make their own decision based on what they feel is right for the membership. So far opening up my groups has had not effect that I can see. Time will tell though.

    Thanks for the comments.

    Sean

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