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What to Know about the Latest Changes to LinkedIn Groups

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12-2015_LinkedInGroups_notext If you’ve checked your LinkedIn groups lately, you’ve noticed a pretty big change to the layout and security of these valuable sources of information, contacts and potential leads.

Let’s breakdown the changes and see how they are affecting social media marketing.

What’s a LinkedIn Group and Why Do I Care?

If you aren’t familiar with LinkedIn Groups, here’s a quick 101. On LinkedIn, you can join up to 100 groups. The groups could be professional like “Digital Marketing,” they can be geographically based like “Chicago HR Professionals” or they could be interest-related like “#1 Golf Networking Group Online.”

In those groups, you can connect with people who have similar interests by commenting on articles posted by other group members or sharing your own blog posts. Both of those actions lead to more connections and potential lead generation.

From a marketing sense, LinkedIn groups presented a perfect way to reach a targeted audience for free. Group members possess similarities and you don’t have to spend any money to reach them.

All LinkedIn Groups Are Now Private

In the previous version of LinkedIn Groups, the groups had two different accessibilities – open or closed. An open group was listed publically and anyone could join. The content from those groups could be viewed without joining the group. The open groups were getting blitzed with a lot of content – some good and some spam.

A closed group could be searched but potential members had to ask the group administrator for permission to join the group. Those groups had less spam due to the private setting.

Now, LinkedIn groups have two different accessibilities – standard and unlisted.

Standard groups require potential members to ask for permission to join. Either group administrators or group members can approve your membership in a standard group. Your first-degree connections can also invite you to the group.

In standard groups, the content getting the most engagement will be listed on a Highlights page. Sharing really good content in those groups presents a great marketing opportunity. With the group having a permission level, less spam should make its way through the system.

An unlisted group is exactly that. The group won’t show up in searches on LinkedIn. Group administrators must invite new members into the group. They are great to use within your company as the content won’t be shared publically. These groups won’t help with any marketing strategies.

How the New Changes Affect Lead Generation

One big change in the LinkedIn groups is that current group members can’t search for the other members of the group. (You can view members of a group, but it can be cumbersome.) That functionality used to be a great way to connect with new prospects. Now the main way to create connections is to post great content of your own or to engage with the content of other group members by liking or commenting.

With unlisted groups (previously known as private groups), those groups present no lead generation at all. If you aren’t a member of the group, you won’t know if they exist. The potential to make new connections is virtually nonexistent since you have to be invited into the group.

LinkedIn Groups are still a great tool to share content and engage with content from other professionals sharing similar interests. The format changes by LinkedIn appear to be to cut down on the spam that was overtaking some open groups.

Making connections with prospects is still a possibility, but it’s just a little more challenging. Take a look at your LinkedIn Groups, share your company’s great content (respond to all comments on your content) and engage with the content of other members. Putting time into the LinkedIn Groups will get your staffing company results!

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