LinkedIn Relaunches Groups.

Written by  in category  Uncategorized
September 12, 2018

Just over a year ago a fierce debate was taking place in LinkedIn – to redevelop groups or scrap them completely. In the end the decision was taken to relaunch the feature. Over the last 12 months, LinkedIn has made big efforts to talk to users including group managers, power users and LinkedIn trainers like myself to understand what they needed to do to fix groups.      

Last week the new version landed on my desktop (and mobile) and it wasn’t what I was expecting. I am not sure what I was expecting, something radical or revolutionary perhaps but what we have got is the complete opposite – more of the same. Let me explain.

LinkedIn had promised to reintegrate groups into the core product and that’s exactly what they have done. When you click on a group you arrive at what looks like your homepage feed – except it is full of group posts, see below. 

 

Fig 1: A quick video tour on the new design

It’s not so radical, not so revolutionary. However, it might just be a very smart decision. The number one challenge for LinkedIn is to drive up user participation and engagement, by scrapping the old interface and mirroring the user’s everyday experience I am guessing LinkedIn believe it will encourage users to jump in. Unless LinkedIn can persuade users to join in more often then groups are dead anyway and arguments about what other features should have been included are academic.

What’s Changed

  • Here are some of the key changes:
  • The group page design mirrors the homepage
  • Members can add images and video to posts
  • Posts can now be edited
  • The topic search has gone
  • Group announcements are not available (for the time being)
  • Email notifications are discontinued
  • Group admin roles have been simplified
  • Beefed up spam filter

Essentially the design changes put conversations centre stage and encourage users to drive the discussions. The role of Managers will become less important. Many managers are unhappy about the loss of group announcement and pinned posts but it seems like this is only temporary whilst LinkedIn roll-out the core design.

What’s in the pipeline

Mitali Pattnaik, Director of Product LinkedIn Groups emphasises that the feature is a work in progress and in her blog article Unveiling a New LinkedIn Group Experience  mentions several features which are in the pipeline including:

Better navigation – a groups navigation panel on the home page.

The ability to start and join group conversations from the homepage feed

Relevant group suggestions on the My Network Tab

Separately LinkedIn has promised new moderation tools for admins and mentioned that they are exploring the possibility of a pinned post feature which would disappear once a member has read it.

As Mitali Pattnaik said – it’s a work in progress and I am encouraged that LinkedIn is investing considerable resources into the project. This is not a token effort.

Will the new design save groups?

LinkedIn had to do something bold with groups, which to be honest had one foot in the grave. By changing things to look the same they may just have done enough. There is no doubt that business professionals have an appetite for engaging in discussion around topics of interest, just look at the success of Facebook business groups. Personally, I am optimistic that new group design will prove popular. On reflection, it wasn’t commercially or technically realistic for LinkedIn to continue with groups as a separate platform within a platform.

By reintegrating the group experience back into the main product LinkedIn has changed the conversation, it is no longer a case of whether the new design will be successful or not, the fact is that LinkedIn has created an additional source of valuable content.

Have you got the new version yet? What do you think, has LinkedIn done enough?

 

 

 

 

2 Responses

  1. How can the new format put “conversation at the centre”? it does not
    It takes 4 clicks before an added value comment can be made. Missing titles make it hard for people to understand what the post is about

    I could go on but I wont. I have seen engagement in my highly engaged group fall off a cliff this week.

    as for “make it look the same and people will engage” – LI and others need to understand the psychology here – and they don’t. being different was an advantage. people could not engage in the past because the app did not allow it, because the notifications were poor – they are worse now

    • admin says:

      Thanks for your comment, Mike. Your group sounds like a rare exception, the vast majority of groups were lacking any engagement at all. LinkedIn had no choice if they were going to revamp groups they had to change the old model. Also, I heard from reliable sources that LinkedIn had decided that it was no longer commercially or technically viable to support two platforms i.e. the main platform + groups. I don’t think there is a perfect solution but I do know that the #1 priority is to generate engagement and I believe that the new version will do that but time will tell. I agree that improved notifications are key and these are still in the process of being rolled out.

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