Whats happening in LinkedIn groups?

Last weeks post on my view of where LinkedIn is now as a channel attracted plenty of attention and comments from the likes of Matt Alder and Mr.LinkedIn, otherwise known as Mark Williams. my view is that the channel is predominantly becoming a people reference channel, and the place for targeted connecting and content posting/sharing, with an increasing number of users accessing the channel,commenting etc through third-party applications and e-mail.
When I first signed up for the channel, it wasn’t the case. I did plenty of networking and connections by being active in groups, and answering questions. Most of the books that I’ve seen talks about the channel operating in the same way, but in my view, it doesn’t. When I surveyed source of hire from 50 companies who promote hiring from LinkedIn, the source of hire story was much the same. This is the results that came back from the research, and this was data from the companies who were speaking loudly about their success on LinkedIn:

> 45% came from direct sourcing from LinkedIn where the recruiter initiated the approach. most had a LinkedIn recruiter account and felt it was effective.
> 19% came from PPC advertising. (In particular the ad featuring the picture from the profile in the “work here” ads) seem to have been very effective.
> 14% came from direct approaches to recruiter profiles or company profiles. (Hence the need for a well optimised profile and easy to find contact details.)
> 11% came from shared jobs and updates
> 7% came from company groups
> 4% came from other connections

You can read the full post HERE

I thought it was worth taking a closer look at group statistics to see what story they are telling. I took the data from 30 of the groups I belong to. The results are as follows:

> Total members: 343,010

> Average members per group: 11,433

> Largest Group: 134,980 members

> Smallest Group: 40 members

> Total Discussions: 2,144

> Average Discussions Per Group: 71

> Total Comments: 412

> Average Comments per group: 20

> Discussions per member: 1:168

> Comments per member: 1:596

> Comments per discussion: 1:3.5

From the groups that I looked at, only 2 stood out as being different to the trend:

> The Boolean Strings Network

> Recruitment Consultant.Eu

Both of these reversed the trend and had more comments than discussions, and conversation between members. These groups aside, the majority of members don’t contribute. The best way to get connections and to message without being connected is to belong to the same group. Sharing a group also raises your position in search, and recommendations for jobs, and as a “person you might know”. Looking at the contributions to the groups, I think most people are joining all 50 groups without getting involved in them. Joining a group in your target market is the most effective way to get reach and messaging, the channel is built this way.

Looking at the nature of discussions in groups, they are mostly links, rather than open discussions. You can share content with all your groups without going in to them, and I suspect this is where most of the discussions are coming from, and the reason for the lack of comments. The average user visits the channel directly 2.8 times a month.and according to comscore, spending 12 minutes in total a month. Thats not a lot of time for visiting groups, reading posts and commenting.

That said, I’m not saying that groups are a waste of time. Amongst the 50 I belong to there are probably 3 that stand out as communities. the common denominator amongst these is a strong and committed group owner or manager who takes the time to approve posts, generate discussion and move posts to promotions and jobs to jobs, they also spend time checking membership applications and issue warning messages to wrong doers. With the lack of quality groups, a good one really stands out, so there is opportunity, but you really need to be committed, as well as having an active plan for recruiting new members who are regular contributors and commenters in other groups.

Probably more concerning from the 30 groups I looked at is the week on week growth and decline. From the 30 groups, 5 grew by % of members, 8 remained static and 16 had shrunk in membership. The total decline across all the groups was 334%, showing a significant number of leavers against joiners.

What I am seeing from this data is that with a few exceptions, the channel is much more about posting and sharing via updates and groups than it is about connecting within the groups and having open discussion. I know from my referer figures that the channel remains the top source because of the targeted nature of the network. My LinkedIn connections, and those in the groups I belong to form my target audience. Posting in to LinkedIn is an essential part of my strategy, but I’m not expecting any conversation.



24 comments on “Whats happening in LinkedIn groups?

  1. To echo my previous comments Bill….you can’t make general conclusions based on such a small dataset. As of this morning there are 1,288,388 groups on LinkedIn. Your view is based on 30 which is 0.002% of the whole picture. You do say that you’re basing this on your target audience in fairness but even a crude one word search (“recruiting”) brings up 3,973 results which means you are only looking at 0.75% of your potential universe of groups………..

    I’m not necessarily saying you’re wrong and you are obviously seeing some trends in your micro view of the site but with such a well visited site generalizing your experience across the whole LinkedIn audience or even across the recruiting subset is not going to be an accurate way of discerning trends

    • Thanks Matt,
      I’d be interested in what trends you are seeing. I understand that it is only an opinion, as is mine, but it is based on what I’m seeing.

      • To be honest the opposite, I’m seeing more engagement via updates and it is very clear that LinkedIn reaches a different audience for my content than Twitter does and the shelf life is much much longer (days rather than minutes on Twitter). In the groups I follow closely discussion is tending to build but unfortunately in the recruitment groups I’m noticing a huge increase in people just spamming links in. As ever despite lots of nice echo chamber discussions about engagement it seems that spam is still the recruitment industry’s tool of choice. This doesn’t tend to be the case in the non recruitment groups I follow

  2. Matt,
    Thanks for clarifying this. I’m not sure if you mean recruitment agency or include corporate recruiters in this. The groups included direct sourcing, social media, digital media and 5 company groups. I will check a sample from a completely different sector to see if the story is any different.

  3. @Bill Nice to read that my group Recruitment Consultants (RecruitmentConsultant.eu is just the logo) with 97.000+ members stood out as being different to the trend. I guess the main reason is that I really am committed to provide its members with quality contacts, jobs and discussions.
    It’s a lot of work with 100+ postings (less than 5 real discussions!) and new members each day. But I don’t want to actively participate in a group, and most members agree, wihich contains 95+% of spam, self-promotion and irrelevant/misplaced postings.
    This week I had ‘only’ 872 new members joining (-11% since last week) but the trend is more each week.

  4. What is your view of recruitment consultants putting actual jobs on the groups? I belong to a group which actively posts niche info and news but rarely jobs – do you think jobs should be on there sometimes or never?

  5. Great insight from others. Thanks for sharing your opinion even if it is a small sample size. My opinion is even less scientific than yours…mine is based on what I feel is happening after watching members on a few small groups.

    It seems to me that the groups attract people but find it difficult to engage people. Group members are watching but not jumping into the discussions. I participate in several community sites on the web (non-LinkedIn) and the more closely controlled and better defined the membership of a group the more activity I see.

    Personally I tend to watch lots of discussions but contribute in less than one out of 50 situations even though I am interested and have a point of view. It is about clear and defined membership for me. I don’t want to be attacked by 20 vendors after sharing an opinion.

    I also see some of the better topics in LinkedIn Groups turned into something less than a civil discussion. Too many people fighting to be right rather than sharing a point of view.

  6. Bill:
    Actually my take away from your post was mostly about “engagement” or the usefulness of some groups over others.
    What I am seeing in many of the “job seeker” groups I belong to is that people are just posting links. There is little discussion or comments or idea sharing. It is a different audience, I’ll admit, but with the growth of new, uneducated users and the ease of just throwing up a link, I feel there has been a decline in the usefulness of groups to grow and share ideas.
    Thanks for sharing your insight/observations!


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