Back in January, LinkedIn sent out a note to LinkedIn group admins to let them know of coming changes to the platform's groups experience.
As can be the way with LinkedIn’s developments, it’s taken them a little while to come through, but now, TechCrunch has reported that LinkedIn's close to relaunching LinkedIn groups, with a range of new features and a renewed focus on making the option great again.
First off, as LinkedIn announced in their initial note to admins earlier in the year, the platform is removing support for their standalone groups app. LinkedIn split groups into its own app back in 2015, but according to LinkedIn’s Product Manager for Groups Mitali Pattnaik, that has since proven to be a misstep for the groups experience:
“Being a standalone app, Groups was not able to take advantage of the overall LinkedIn ecosystem. Everything from the news feed to notifications to search, these things move at a fast pace, and the minute the apps got separated, the main app innovated at a much faster pace and became more advanced than the standalone Groups app.”
Given this, groups will now be re-integrated into the main app, but there will be some changes to the ways they work, which LinkedIn hopes will stop groups from being turned into spam-filled, self-promotional opportunities.
The first update relates to notifications of group activity – LinkedIn will now highlight conversations taking place within groups in the main LinkedIn feed of members, as opposed to being within a separate tab previously.
That could make groups more appealing to users and businesses looking to generate more reach on the platform, adding an extra opportunity for exposure – you would assume that group updates would also be limited by the same algorithm reach limitations as regular feed posts, but still, it’ll be another chance to get your updates seen and boost interaction.
TechCrunch also notes that LinkedIn will be looking to push more group activity into your notifications stream, yet another opportunity to boost reach with your audience.
But then again, that’s the thing that made LinkedIn groups so spammy in the first place – with your connections only seeing a limited amount of your updates through LinkedIn’s algorithm, those seeking to push their messaging turned to other alternatives, like groups, to boost their chances.
So how will LinkedIn counter that type of misuse?
The biggest variation on this front will be the retirement of the group e-mail blast. Anyone who’s ever been a member of a LinkedIn group knows how annoying these can be, and LinkedIn will be culling these as a means to stop group members looking to promote their own offerings.
LinkedIn will also give group admins new capacity to pin important items to the top of a Groups’ individual feed, while they’re also working on a way to collapse those notifications once they’ve been viewed by each member, cleaning up the interface (and limiting repeat exposure).
Admins will also now be able to approve and remove group members from within the app – which is important, considering that the majority of LinkedIn users now access the platform via the mobile platform.
On top of this, users will now be able to post videos and GIFs in groups – and @mention users in group posts.
Really, there’s nothing ground-breaking here, and the spam reduction measures may not go far enough at this stage. But the fact that LinkedIn is putting renewed emphasis on groups could present new opportunities - with more than 2 million groups on the platform, which now has over 575 million members, if LinkedIn can get the option back on track, it could become an important part of the broader platform process.
Back in the day, LinkedIn groups were helpful, were valuable, but as noted, the flood of spam and junk eventually relegated the option to the social media sideline – with rumors even circulating more recently that LinkedIn was looking to cut groups entirely, rather than re-build them.
But with Facebook putting renewed focus on groups, and more activity switching to private forums, as opposed to public broadcasts, it makes sense for LinkedIn to also look to capitalize on their groups offering.
It remains to be seen whether they can be recovered from the spam swamps they had become, but it’s worth keeping an eye on LinkedIn’s renewed efforts, and then considering the potential for your social media efforts.