I have been managing and owning LinkedIn Groups for over 8 years. Up until Friday, I managed and/or owned 24 LinkedIn Groups. I am left as the proud owner of 6 LinkedIn Groups. I will be managing 5 actively and I am trying to migrate one of them to beBee.
I am in the process of tying up final loose ends for 16 of them. As part of that process, I just took a look at my groups. Take a look at yours. Go ahead and take a look at yours? You'll find them at:
Here are 40 of my groups. Notice anything?
In this snapshot of 40 of the groups I belong to, nothing much is happening.
No new discussions and, in the groups to which I still have access to group management tools, there are hardly any requests to join. Think I am exaggerating? Here are the next 20.
I recently shared these tips for LinkedIn Group leaders who are interested in breathing new life into dying groups.
Some Group Owners have contacted me by private messages on LinkedIn and beBee. They have shared their frustrations and many are asking:
- Do I keep trying or pull the plug now?
- Is LinkedIn planning to shutter groups as soon as the new interface has been rolled out to all members?
These are some of the most frequently asked questions in groups for the leadership teams of LinkedIn Groups. One LinkedIn coach told me he no longer covers LinkedIn Groups in his training but, instead, directs his clients to other platforms. The LinkedIn Group Experts group, which is filled with LinkedIn coaches, consultants, and experts is happily and actively engaging on Google+. Ouch!
Only time will tell if there is future for groups at LinkedIn. Anyone who has the answer to this question certainly isn't in a hurry to provide answers or reassurances and this does not bode well for groups.
In one of my first blog posts on beBee, I shared my perspective and how I have seen the platform decline over the last 8+ years.
I used to LOVE LinkedIn Groups and I wrote MANY favourable blog posts about them.
After a while, they became a ton of work to manage and a source of frustration. I now have the opportunity to give quality time to 3 LinkedIn Groups and see if I can nurse them back to health despite the decline in the quality of the group management tool suite.
The 4th, for B2B bloggers, has been converted to member moderated. It will exist on 3 platforms. Its success will depend on the bloggers themselves.
If I go up further on the list of groups I belong to, in the 12 groups where there are a lot of new "Conversations", members are tending to just post their new blog posts and run. In a tiny handful of groups (4), there is engagement, discussion, and interaction.
It's a lot of work for Group Owners, Managers, and Moderators to keep engagement going. Without the right tools, it's a losing battle.
What is Killing LinkedIn Groups?
- Removal of notifications to members (unless someone tags you or comments on a "Conversation" you have started).
- Broken announcement tools.
If you click on Send an Announcement, the LinkedIn system will indicate to how many people it has sent the announcement.
In test after test and group after group, even in groups that have been set up for highly enthusiastic Group Owners, Managers, and Moderators, the pattern is clear. People simply aren't receiving the announcement.
I opened a trouble ticket over a month ago for some of my groups and nothing has been fixed.
- Members not being proactive.
- Members not posting content to stimulate discussion.
By waiting for notifications that never come and not proactively checking into groups, members are contributing to the demise of LinkedIn Groups. Ditto for members who just post a link to their blogs and make no attempt to ask questions to get discussions going.
What Can Group Owners do?
If you are a group owner:
- Share links to your announcements and hot topics in your group in your Linkedin Status updates, through Twitter, and on beBee.
- Be honest with group members and ask them to check in regularly.
- Don't put all of your eggs in one basket.
Have a back-up plan. Don't just wait for an announcement that the end has come. Set up a back-up via an email list to keep members informed and also a beBee Hive, Facebook Group, or Google+ Group.
What Can Group Members do?
Group members need to realize that it is impossible for group leaders to fix the problem by themselves. Even if they make a point of posting great content and stimulating questions to get discussions going, it won't work unless members:
- Check in regularly.
- Participate in discussions
- Answer questions
- Post questions
- Add the group leaders to your network so that, if LinkedIn closes down groups, you'll be advised of any plans to move the group to a new platform.
Here are some more tips for LinkedIn Group Members:
Only time will tell what's going to happen to LinkedIn Groups. By taking these steps, Group Leaders and Group Members will at least be prepared if what some are fearing comes to pass.
Anne Thornley-Brown @executiveoasis is the President of Executive Oasis International, a consulting firm in Toronto that specializes in executive retreats and team building. She has been a LinkedIn Group Owner and manager for over 8 years.