Over the last year or so we've kind of confused by LinkedIn. Obviously we see the value in connecting with people and "discovering" people but what about all the other features of LinkedIn? What about their top tier recruitment product or their lower tier sales and recruitment products? What about their feed feature and their mobile app and their groups? All of these are different topics but today we're going to focus on LinkedIn groups.

We've been interested in exploring how to use groups for marketing and growing awareness for a while but we just never got around to it.  From the beginning LinkedIn has encouraged it's users to join groups and start discussions so everyone did. To this day LinkedIn will still suggest that we join groups to reach the maximum subscription of 50 groups.  So, quite recently we started digging into Groups and it's very interesting and disturbing what we found. 

LinkedIn Groups Suck!

We joined a Digital Marketing Group with 947,666 members and We joined a Recruiter.com Group with 786,650 members.  Once we were accepted into these highly exclusive groups, that require approval to join, we started playing around. 

​The first thing we noticed was that everyone was posting articles to their own blog or someone else's. No one was asking questions or adding any commentary, people were just posting articles as if this was a group for sharing articles. The weird thing is, when you go to make a post in a group, LinkedIn prompts you by saying "Start A Conversation With Your Group" NOT "Post An Article Here" 

If anyone has ever used reddit before, it's all about starting conversations and engaging in online discussions. It seems like LinkedIn wanted to create a similar outlet for its members. They wanted people to talk about issues in business and have public conversations that anyone in the group could join. But...that's not what's happening. 

If you look at the Digital Marketing Group, you'll see that 450 conversations have been added today. The conversation featured at the top will have a few likes and comments and everything after that is a ghost town. No conversation happening. Just link posting. No engagement. No user generated value. 

How is this possible with a group that contains almost 1 Million members? Doesn't that seem crazy? If we had a million followers on Instagram the amount of likes and comments would be so huge I'd have to hire an agency to manage it. 

And... we had to be accepted into this group? Why? To make sure we don't just post links to articles? The whole things is just crazy. 

Testing For Actual Engagement

​Our next move was to actually make a post and see it any of the 1 million members were listening. We started a pretty genius discussion title.  "Are People Really Participating In These Group Discussions?"
  It wasn't long before we had our first comment and like. But...the first comment just said, I'll start the conversation.... and left it at that. That's a pretty terrible conversation starter if you ask me. So engaged our commenter and did what we're supposed to do and developed the discussion. Soon after, another commenter chimed in and we engaged her. We did a good job too, check it out for yourself. This actually might be one of the largest discussions the group has ever had.  See below. 

Total Engagement Stats On The Group Discussion

2 likes and 2 commenters out of the 1 million subscribers in Digital Marketing - on a relevant topic to digital marketing. Are you kidding me? What the hell is wrong with LinkedIn groups?  Everyone is part of them and no one cares. You'd think people in a digital marketing group would be a bit more active in an area that was created for them!

The Reasons Nobody Cares About LinkedIn Groups

As you can see in the comments above, our two contributors had their own theories as to why no one is talking. Which, actually fueled a pretty good discussion on what's really going on in groups. 

Theory 1

Shameless Self promotion
People are just looking to post their content and hopefully drive traffic and they don't care about engagement or asking questions. It's just another place to post. 

Theory 2

People Are Too Busy For Conversation
This makes sense. People tap in for a quick read and then bounce. No need to comment or like, just read and ditch. Move on with your day! Right?

Theory 3

People Are Afraid
LinkedIn is a professional network and people are afraid to voice their opinions in fear of being ridiculed by professionals. People are in fear of ruining their brand image or their companies brand image. The risk of making comments and contributing to discussions is too high. What will your boss think? What will you mother think? People are afraid to look dumb. So that made us realize that people might want to post anonymously. Reddit is very anonymous and very active!

Too Bad, So Sad, LinkedIn Groups Aren't Super Rad

LinkedIn groups have so much potential. The ability to create real focused conversations with millions of people is an amazing thing. People watching these conversations could gain years of experience in minutes, just by tuning in or asking questions. If only people in these groups cared.

Have you had any experience with LinkedIn Groups? 

This article was written by Quintin Ford, a recruitment entrepreneur located in Playa Vista, CA. Quintin is the Founder of OCEAN | STREET and avid blogger and social media guru. Learn more about Quintin on LinkedIn.

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