Can LinkedIn groups be saved? Maybe. Much of that will depend on group managers and individual members – and I’ll share suggestions for each in future articles. For now, I’d like to focus on the things LinkedIn itself can do to enhance their usefulness and value. Here are some of my recommendations.
Purge defunct groups. With all their computer power and sophisticated algorithms, LinkedIn should be able to identify groups that have gone dormant and/or been abandoned. After reaching out to the group managers and giving them a chance to save their groups, they could then delete the groups that no longer serve a purpose.
Separate News and Discussion items again. Managers have different goals for their groups. Some want every item to be intended to initiate dialogue, whereas others (like me) encourage people to share news items as well. Many moons ago, the two were separate, but LinkedIn decided to merge them into a single function. Separating them and allowing managers to control the functionality of each, as they do now for Promotions and Jobs, would not only untangle the two types of content, but would also create better visibility – especially for the Discussion items. In a group where lots of content is shared, Discussions can sometimes get lost in a steady stream of News. Having separate streams accommodates the different flow rates and creates better opportunities for Discussion items to engage members. It also enables managers who want to prevent the sharing of links to disable the News function.
Get rid of Manager’s Choice and change the feed on the main group page. Speaking of Manager’s Choice, I think it should be eliminated. There’s no longer a designated Manager’s Choice section in the right sidebar (instead, the access is buried under the Search tab), but these items still rotate through the banner at the top of the main group page. It’s kind of a pain to manage that section, and I’m not sure it adds much value anyway. I think it might be more effective to have “popular posts” rotate through the banner element, and let the main feed include a straight reverse chronological listing of the latest contributions.
Add an Events tab. Groups are a great place to share relevant events, but they don’t really belong in the Discussion/News stream. Although LinkedIn has a separate section for Promotions, it’s not really a good way to share event information, primarily because Promotion items don’t show up in group email notifications. To keep events from cluttering up the Discussion/News feed, I tried creating a Manager’s Choice item for Events, but most group members were either unaware of it or forgot to use it. With a separate Events section, it would be clear where people should share news and links about upcoming webinars, conferences, workshops, etc.
Allow for automatic purging of Promotions. I believe job postings are automatically deleted after 14 days, and I think it would be great to have a similar capability for promotional postings. These could occur automatically after a certain period of time has elapsed, or they could be purged based on a timeframe specified by a group manager. Either option eliminates the need for manual deletion and keeps that section lean.
Ping managers when there are requests to join. For groups that require approval to join, it would be great to have an (optional) email notification for pending requests, as well as a flag on the members tab indicating there are people who would like to be in the group (like the flag used for posted items that need to be managed). With the current design, a manager has to click on the Manage tab and then click on Requests to Join to see if anyone is waiting to be added.
Offer different alternatives for displaying groups on LinkedIn profiles. I used to like displaying group memberships on my LinkedIn profile, but it added a lot of unnecessary length so I eliminated all but the one I manage. I’d love to be able to highlight a few, with a link to a separate page with a complete list. In a related vein, Victoria Ipri once suggested: If it’s a feather in one’s cap to found/manage groups, why is there no place on the profile to mention this? That’s an excellent question!