I think Groups are one of the most important features of LinkedIn, particularly for lawyers or other professionals who are seeking to not only build their networks, but to establish their expertise with specific audiences (as you can see from my previous post about LinkedIn Groups and business development).
Group discussions are a great way to reach your target audience. But unfortunately, Groups have also become a place for blatant self-promotion and spam. LinkedIn has made some recent changes to Groups that should not only make them easier for you to use, but also help to eliminate the most common problems.
Group moderators have always had the ability to remove posts and set posting permissions, and Group members could flag posts to alert the moderator to a problem. But repeat offenders aren't always easy to keep up with, especially when their bad behavior crosses over into multiple Groups.
Now LinkedIn has introduced new tools to help reduce inappropriate posts in Groups. LinkedIn will keep track of both positive and negative feedback received on an individual's postings in Groups and they'll be given a feedback level based upon those contributions.
Group members who post relevant content and receive positive feedback will have good feedback levels. But members whose posts are: flagged as inappropriate or as a job or promotion; whose posts are moved to the jobs or promotions tabs within a Group or deleted by a Group moderator; who mass-post links to multiple Groups that are not relevant or don't provide any context; or who are blocked entirely from a Group may be in danger of being penalized if their feedback level drops too low.
Individuals with low feedback levels could become subject to moderation in all of their Groups - meaning that the Group moderator would need to approve that individual's contributions before they could be posted to the Group. According to LinkedIn, this moderation could last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the individual's history of contribution in Groups.
Individual Group moderators can still change posting permissions for their Group if they think an individual does not require moderation, but overall, this should cut down on unwanted posts within Groups if Group members do their part and flag inappropriate posts.
Groups Page and Feed
Another change LinkedIn has made to Groups is the way Groups and Discussions are displayed. Now, when you click on Groups under the Interests Tab, you'll be taken to the "Your Groups" Page, where you'll see tiles representing each of your Groups. You can see at a glance whether there are new updates in the Group by the grey number that appears in the upper right corner of each Group's tile. When you scroll over that tile, you'll see how many of those updates are discussions, how many are jobs, etc.
Beneath the tiles, you'll see your thumnail photo next to a discussion box. This is your opportunity to post a discussion to any of your Groups (but make sure what you post is relevant to that Group to avoid penalties mentioned above). When you click inside the box, it will expand so that you can enter a title for your discussion, and then add some details. Next, you'll choose from a drop-down list of your Groups to post to and indicate whether your post is a general discussion, job posting or promotion.
Below the discussion box, you'll now see a feed of all of the updates across your Groups, eliminating the need to visit each Group individually. The new feed puts all of your updates in one place, making it easy to do a quick check of what is happening in each of your Groups, and like or comment on discussions from the same page. Within the feed, you may also see other Groups LinkedIn suggests for you.
I think these changes will enhance your LinkedIn experience and make it even easier for you to monitor and participate in Groups. What do you think of these changes?