Is there really discussion in LinkedIn discussion groups?

LinkedIn News

Here's the impetus for this post. I got on LinkedIn today and was doing research for my day job, i.e. looking at LinkedIn groups for the equipment leasing industry. Within one of those groups, I found several people posting links to their own articles, either they've written or ones from their employer's website. I felt this kind of rubbed me the wrong way, so tonight I set out to see how prevalent this practice is, and if the size of the LinkedIn group affected the prevalence.

LinkedIn connections

We've all see the mass connector on LinkedIn who has 500+ connections, is a member of 50+ groups, and retweets all their latest from Twitter. And we've seen those LinkedIn groups where there is link after link, but no discussion, no comments.

Lots of people are drawn, at first, to the big groups, the ones everyone is a member of. In the social media world, it's the "Social Media Marketing" group with almost 450,000 members. Yes, we have large numbers, but is there interaction? I looked at the 20 most recent discussions (as of 11pm CST, Oct. 1, 2012) and here's what I found:

Spam Comments in LinkedIn Discussions
Hey! I liked my own post! Hooray!

  • 19 of the 20 discussions linked to other articles
  • Of those 19 linked articles, 3 had spam comments already attached to them (all from the same spammer).
  • 1 linked article was "Liked" by the Original Poster
  • Only 1 linked article had a comment that wasn't spam or from the Original Poster.
  • Only 1 asked a question of the audience, i.e. looking, asking for participation from the group
  • Most of these 20 articles were no more than 60 minutes old, with the most recent having been 2 minutes old.

Now, I'm going to look at a much smaller LinkedIn group, the Business Technology Association (This is a group in the equipment leasing industry, where I spend my time during the day.) The BTA group has roughly 2600 members, or almost 0.5% of the Social Media Marketing group. Let's look at the 20 most recent discussions of this group:

  • 12 of the 20 discussions were links to articles written by the Original Poster, or the OP's employer.
  • None of the 20 discussions had comments, or likes.
  • 1 discussion was a job posting
  • 3 of the discussions were "Industry Insight"-type articles, i.e. discussions providing deeper info on a trend within the industry
  • 2 discussions were links to news articles related to the industry
  • In the 20 most recent, some articles were posted as much as as 6 days previously.

Pimping Yourself

Yes, you heard me, and that's what I'm calling this practice. Now, I realize what I've looked at above is just a snapshot in time and probably not representative of either of the groups I've mentioned over the long-term. The next step in this is to see over a week what type of interaction there is within these two groups and whether the trends continue or not.

It is important to promote your business, your services, and how you can help others achieve success. I believe, however, that there is a balance to behold as well. That means linking to industry articles that speak to your point of view, yet from a neutral vantage point like a news outlet or industry periodical. Say for every 3 industry articles, you link to something you've written.

Don't Forget Dialog!

Only one discussion out of 40 asked for participation.

Notice what was missing from both of the groups? Discussion. Nowhere to be found were people commenting on the articles. Only one question-type post was found out of the 40 aforementioned discussions. I promise you, you will find better results where you find discussion and engagement. I'll address these two topics (followup and LinkedIn engagement) in two future posts.

Until then, let me know in the comments what you think about LinkedIn. Have you found it of value? How do you use your profile and connections?