LinkedIn Groups – great for engagement, bad for advertisers and spammers.

LinkedIn groups are a great place for engagement, professional networking, and education. They’re also one of the most valuable tools for sales and marketing professionals.

LinkedIn groups are great for finding highly qualified prospects.
Prospects who have self-selected their professional interests, job titles, levels of expertise, and possibly even geographic region, etc, by simply being choosing to be a member of a specific professional group on LinkedIn.

Unfortunately, like all great public communities, unless moderated, the community ultimately can be over run by self-interest, and spammers.

About 18 months ago, LinkedIn took a knee-jerk reaction to dealing with spam on LinkedIn Groups. They had to. It was getting out of control, group membership and engagement had flattened.

Similar stories are abound, UUnet newsgroups were rendered useless because of spammers. Google bought the newsgroups, thinking they could solve the problem. After a couple of years of declining membership, they killed them.

Ning tried to solve the problem by going to a paid model, but that didn’t seem to work.

LinkedIn was a little different though.
LinkedIn was able to survive the early spam attacks because each post was connected to a LinkedIn profile, and a LinkedIn profile was connected to a valuable professional network. So there was an inherent negative consequence to spamming. Spam the community, get your profile removed… loose your professional network.

Spammers and fake profiles could be analyzed much easier, through a series of queries and actions taken on LinkedIn. No profile summary, no current job title, no recommendations, no picutre, but 100 postings in newsgroups… Algorithmic Red Flag.

d a lot longer because a user needed a professional profile, andLinkedIn had to come up with a way of eliminating spam, from “off-topic”, or straight advertisements in discussion groups.

Looks like over time, a number of group owners have put your account into “Auto Moderate”. Once you hit a treshold, of enough group moderators doing this, you’re posts are automatically banned from all groups. No warning. No way to fix it. No way to see who banned you. While the exact process has never been fully understood, SWAM, was a knee-jerk reaction from the Group Security team to ban posting from all groups, when enough group owners complained. Admittedly, even LinkedIn knows it was not launched as well as it could have been. They are in the middle of trying to fix it, but don’t expect anything soon. Consider it a learning curve.

If you want to post to groups, follow these rules:
1. Follow the posting guidelines from the specific group. If you don’t you’ll get banned from that group. If you do it in a enough groups, you profile will automatically be banned from all groups. (ie. above).
2. Never post unless you are going to create and encourage engagement. Creating engagement isn’t easy, and take time, so there are no short-cuts.
3. Never cross post to multiple groups, unless you follow rule #1 and Rule #2. Posting without engagement is like coming over to My house, during My party, standing on a soap box, with a megaphone and yelling your companies name. Then, immediately getting up and walking out the back door. The only response you’ll get is a bunch of people thinking you are an annoying idiot and should never be let back into the party.” so you get SWAM banned.

LinkedIn is too good of a sales and marketing and professional tool to screw with.
UUnet went away because of uncontrolled spamming.
LinkedIn did what it had to do to save the groups platform from spammers.
Sure spammers are frustrated, so are others who thought it was OK, because they got away with it for a while.

LinkedIn groups are about ENGAGING with other professionals.
If you don’t want to engage, start buying clicks with LinkedIn Sponsored Updates, Facebook Ads, or Google SEM, because that’s what you’re doing… Advertising, Not Engaging with your market.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of really great ways to do direct marketing on LinkedIn, and they are Extremely Effective, but posting links to blog posts in LinkedIn groups, isn’t one of them.

Believe me, I used to “Post and Run” , too…
I knew it was on the edge. .
I knew it was becoming less and less effective. Clicks on the links started dropping off, as more users started doing the same thing. Then, spammers started doing it, and the writing was on the wall.
I knew it could cost me, to continue, so I stopped posting to groups, unless I’m going to engage, respond.

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