You may or may not have heard some recent (albeit weirdly quiet) controversy regarding LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn has taken some pretty extreme measures to keep certain users from posting content to group and company pages and it seems pretty ridiculous. Now, it's only fair to mention that a large portion of LinkedIn posts are self-promoting spam, however in my opinion, that shouldn't give LinkedIn grounds to permanently suspend users who do so! LinkedIn is supposed to be used for networking and self-promotion purposes. I mean why do people use the site? - to find jobs and/or employees! Ugh. Let's take a closer look at what lengths LinkedIn is going to prevent spammers and ruin online community.
1. LinkedIn is becoming more and more focused on content...
Not news to anyone, I know. But this is a big deal when you think about what the next step might be. It seems to me LI is gearing up to start charging companies and users to post content because of the heightened reach and response garnered via posts on LinkedIn versus personal company sites and blogs. Not good, not good.
2. And less focused on community...
LinkedIn reportedly launched groups to become a more online community-esque platform, but they're ignoring a vital part of any successful online community: the community manager! Instead of letting community administrators deal with the issues of heavy self-promotion and excessive spam posts on a what's-best-for-my-group basis, they're taking matters into their own hands with SWAM.
3. And... SWAM
SWAM stands for LinkedIn's site-wide automatic moderation. Basically, any time a user clicks that little red flag button on a post (even if it's just on accident! ...of which I'm definitely guilty) the user who posted is automatically banned from posting anywhere on LI ever again! Ridiculous! It's almost like a timeout for naughty children, yet several users who have been banned are guilty of nothing more than posting a controversial article. Just because one user objects a piece of content, that doesn't mean the person who posted is any less a professional. LI is putting too much power into the hands of opinionated user and not enough in the hands of community managers.
4. They're pissing off professionals and industry experts...
We all know communities live and die by content. One way to ensure content is interesting and relevant is to share experts' thoughts and opinions. The problem is with SWAM running rampant, many industry professionals are being suspended from posting on their OWN pages! Several have even gone so far as suing for loss of business and defamation... I think it's safe to say it's gotten a little out of hand.
My advice... If you're using LinkedIn groups for your brand or business, SWITCH. Save yourself future anguish - if it continues to get worse, LI has given popular features the axe before and it could do so again. My picks for alternative online community platforms: