LinkedIn Groups have always been an extremely powerful tool for sales professionals and inbound marketers to engage with like-minded people, expand thought leadership, promote their content and perhaps do a little sales prospecting.
...but things are looking pretty different now in LinkedIn Land.
LinkedIn recognizes the value the Groups feature holds for its users, which is why it has recently made massive improvements to its Groups interface.
In their own words, LinkedIn stated:
"We want everyone to get the most out of every visit to LinkedIn Groups. To that end, we've simplified several group features to ensure that groups will always be the most trustworthy place for you to gather with like-minded professionals."
If you're in a hurry, here's a quick list of the more major changes LinkedIn has made to Groups.
- All Groups are now private & "member only."
- Group types are now either "Standard" or "Unlisted."
- Available iOS mobile apps for each group.
- Subgroups are now gone.
- Improved content moderation & filtering.
- Images now allowed in conversations.
- Find the full list of changes here.
For a deeper understanding of the biggest changes made to LinkedIn Groups, read on...
LinkedIn Group Privacy and Type Changes
The feedback LinkedIn was receiving from its user base is that all the settings within each group page were simply too confusing (and I would agree).
So, LinkedIn trimmed things up considerably, making all groups either "Standard" or "Unlisted."
The primary differences being as follows:
- Standard Groups - Visible in LinkedIn search results with the ability for any member to invite their 1st degree connections to join the group. Between the two group types, Standard groups present the best opportunity for marketers and sales professionals to grow their influence and accomplish a little prospecting...but it will require more savvy engagement and content contributions.
- Unlisted Groups - Shielded from LinkedIn search results and can only add new members if the manager or owner directly invites them. Unlisted groups are not as marketing friendly but do present a great opportunity for organizations to manage employee communications, host targeted market research initiatives or even manage client communications exclusively.
In either scenario, all conversations within the group will be completely private.
LinkedIn Group iOS Mobile Apps
Currently, the LinkedIn Groups mobile app is only available for the iOS with the Android app available "soon."
The app itself is very sleek and user-friendly with four primary navigation options: Highlights, Groups, Notifications and Discovery.
- Highlights monitors and displays the most popular conversations taking place within your groups. This highlight feature is new to the entire Groups overhaul, not just the mobile app.
- Groups is simply a vertical listing of your current groups.
- Notifications allow you to monitor who's commenting on your posts, invitation requests/approvals and where you may have been mentioned in other posts.
- Discovery displays recommendations of groups you may find interesting based upon your current memberships and connections.
While I've had this app crash a couple times after installing, I'm sure they'll work out the bugs. All-in-all, it's a very useful app.
LinkedIn Group Conversations + Images
You can now post images in your new group conversations.
This may seem like a small, almost irrelevant, change but it can have a big impact on social branding and engagement!
The only downside being that images are currently only allowed when you start a conversation and not when you comment/reply.
Regardless, it's always nice to spice up a conversation with some relevant imagery, making this new feature a welcome one.
What All These Changes Mean
Several years ago, LinkedIn Groups were structured very similarly to what you see now with these recent changes -- more personal relationship building with less promotional clutter.
While the increased privacy, membership control and content filtering will make it harder for spammy marketers to blast members with poor quality content, it will also require that good social media marketing professionals exert a bit more effort to establish relationships and thought leadership.
Ultimately, these changes will represent positive progress as spammy members are weeded out, good members form tighter relationships and content quality improves (hopefully).