Anne 🐝 Thornley-Brown, MBA in Executive Team Building Network, Directors and Executives, LinkedIn President and Founder • Executive Oasis International Mar 5, 2017 · 3 min read · 2.4K

Personal Reflections of a LinkedIn Group Owner and Manager

Personal Reflections of a LinkedIn Group Owner and Manager

Personal Reflections of a LinkedIn Group Owner and Manager

I am the President of Executive Oasis International, a Toronto team building and management consulting firm that was established in 1996. It's been over 12 years since I joined LinkedIn and just over 8 years since I started managing groups on LinkedIn. At the time of writing, I own:

I manage a community of 17 groups for event planners, the largest has grown from 4,000 members at the end of 2008 to 350,000+ members today. I have recruited almost every group leader (managers and moderators) and trained all of them. Here are 3 of the smaller groups in this community:

A Roller Coaster for Group Leaders

It's been a roller coaster. We've gone from the days when there were few group manager tools to a full suite of tools to manage groups. At first spam was a huge problem and spam gangs flooded groups with their content. Controlling spam has become a lot easier but, despite the fact that members have the tools to flag spam, few members bother.

Once the full suite of group management tools was in place, managing groups was a breeze. It didn't take a lot of time and it was fun.

After a while, some tools, like Block and Delete, stopped working and LinkedIn never bothered to fix them. One by one, the excellent tools for group management and communication with group members have been removed. In fact, on LinkedIn, you can't even send private messages to multiple recipients without all names being visible.

Functionality, layout, and navigation have changed so often that there has always been confusion about how groups work. 

Despite numerous reminders in announcements, members never really did understand subgroups and they were finally scrapped without notice. Instead of changing the functionality, the focus should have been on making sure everything works.

Beginning in October 2015, notifications from groups were gradually removed, until now, the only time that group members receive notifications is if someone tags them.  Announcements work in some groups but not others. Try communicating with a leadership team when the only way to grab their attention is to tag each and every one of them manually. You can't do that with a large group.

The result has been that many groups have become ghost towns. When members stopped receiving notifications of new discussions or comments in discussions in which they have participated, they didn't have a clue what was going on. Communication is the heartbeat of any community and, when it is absent, it kills engagement.

The removal of notifications from groups is not good news for bloggers. Even posting in LinkedIn Pulse has become a pointless exercise as content is no longer distributed to everyone in your network or all of your followers. Even if you share the posts in groups, no one will know they are there unless they visit the groups and manually scan through the discussions as notifications have been removed. Scrolling only goes so far so good luck on gaining visibility if there are a lot of "Conversations" posted in the group.

If a tree falls in the forest, and there's nobody around to hear, does it make a sound?
Source Unknown

The Final Nail in the Coffin

The recent changes in the interface was the final nail in the coffin. Most members don't even know that, to find their list of groups they have to:

  • click on the work icon in the top menu
  • then, click on the Groups icon in the panel that pops up

It is now much more work to manage groups and not as much fun. I had to ask myself, what is the pay-off? Other than some excellent peer-to-peer interaction and relationships with some great people, zero, zip, nada. Other than blogging, I can't think of one piece of business that my company has generated as a result of the many hours each and every week invested in group management. 

So, I have made a tough decision. I will be significantly cutting back on my involvement in group management and focusing on just a few groups. I will be reducing my involvement in social media across the board and focusing on just a few points of engagement. The many hours I save each and every week will be invested in off-line marketing and writing. While it's tough to start from scratch after taking 12 years to build a 4,000+ member network, I am also trying out beBee. I'll continue to manage a handful of groups, going from 22 to 5 or 6. 

I've already created beBee hives for them 2 of them and members DO get notifications of ALL content: 

I'll still use LinkedIn for peer-to-peer engagement. LinkedIn is great for that but it's useless for B2B lead generation and business development.

Lessons Learned

The main lesson learned for beBee and other virtual communities is that, if your interface stops working, you don't listen to your most experienced community leaders, and you constantly make changes that make no sense, even your most committed members will eventually throw in the towel. 

The lesson for me as a business person is that time is a precious commodity. I'll never get back the time that I have invested in the promise of social media. In future, I will assess what is and is not working much earlier and take action to eliminate non-value added activities much sooner. There is no point in hanging on and on and hoping that things will get better as they rarely do.

Image: Jenny Downing (Flickr)

Lance 🐝 Scoular Mar 13, 2017 · #41

New Twitter & LinkedIn 🔥
Added to next Twitter & LinkedIn 🏍

+1 +1
del me Mar 13, 2017 · #40

User removed

+1 +1
debasish majumder Mar 13, 2017 · #39

User removed

+1 +1
Javier 🐝 CR Mar 10, 2017 · #37

@Anne Thornley-Brown great lessons.

1) if your interface stops working, you don't listen to your most experienced community leaders, and you constantly make changes that make no sense, even your most committed members will eventually throw in the towel.

2) never put all eggs in ONE basket!

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#35 Thank you.

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#21 Thks, Anne. I will set up a feature when I get back from traveling.

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#20 @Franci🐝Eugenia Hoffman Finaly figured out how to tag you. I have share the links at comment 21

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