On 9 December, LinkedIn platform was named the most popular social network for content marketing by B2BNetworking.com, edging out competitors Twitter, Facebook, and others. And in truth, LinkedIn can prove a valuable tool for B2B content for no other reason than the professional audience that it provides. Luckily for us, it also gives other tools to work with.
Groups are one of these tools. Specific to an industry, company, or simply a common interest, these Groups give a common forum to discuss relevant topics. However, any LinkedIn users who participate in Groups likely noticed a large change in how they are accessed recently.
They invite us to check out the changes in this video, which neither displays nor explains anything new.
The original grid of all your Groups has been replaced with a blue-green banner, completely incongruous with the rest of the site’s design, featuring a drop-down menu of all your Groups in no particular order. This is accompanied by a “personalized selection of conversations from your groups” and the top 5 active groups.
Personally, I was more a fan of the grid list than having to scroll through all one-by-one. However, these are only the aesthetic changes. A number of functional changes have been made as well.
The most prominent of these is the membership and searchability. Edging Groups more toward the private side, all groups are now automatically set to private and require new members to be admitted by a group administrator.
Building on this, administrators also have the option to make their Groups Unlisted. These Groups will not appear on internal search engines and require an invitation or direct link to access.
Due to these new privacy settings, external search engines will no longer index the contents of any Groups, closing off outside influences from the conversations and, as LinkedIn hopes, make “members feel more confident contributing in these types of groups.”
The option to add pictures to new discussion topics is a welcome change and one I have already noticed in use frequently. Two features that have been eliminated from Groups are Subgroups and posting wait times.
The second of these has the potential to make some ripples in how Groups may and may not be used by marketers. One of the largest complaints of the old Groups was the consistent amount of posts with zero engagement. Often this was due to nothing more than oversaturation and irrelevance.
This new zero wait time has the potential for Groups to be immediately flooded with spammy postings. However, author Bob Woods tells us not to worry on the subject, saying, “Don’t take the ‘lower bar’ statement as a license to spam or post lower-quality content, though. You will get busted by a Group owner/manager or a Group member.”
Woods continues, “At least now the standard for new people to join that particular Group is much, much higher. The opportunity to build your brand will be much better in this particular situation.”
The hope of LinkedIn is that the higher tiers of membership scrutiny will filter out these spammers and result in more relevant and engaging discussions. The Unlisted Groups that were previously Private, Woods explains, will now become prime mediums to build significant relationships within your Group’s field and conduct higher quality discussions and business.
One final release came along with these changes; LinkedIn also released a companion LinkedIn Groups app. Though currently only available on iOS, it is promised to be released for Android devices soon. The LinkedIn Help Center post promises “You can follow conversations on the go with the new Groups mobile app . . . can receive push notifications for conversations in your groups so you stay updated. . .”
However, the response to this complementary app is not living up to the hopes LinkedIn had been touting with its release. In the App Store, it currently holds a meager score of 2 stars, with the highest review underwhelmingly stating “It’s just ok…..”
How these changes will improve LinkedIn’s narrow lead on Twitter for Content Marketers is something we will have to watch as we go into 2016.
This article was written by Benjamin Williams and originally published on TraDove.com.