Today it is official. I am unsubscribing to receive digests for two of my favorite and most important Linkedin groups, SHRM and ERE.net. I was an early adopter of Linkedin groups, enjoying the recruiting advantage when joining niche or local groups. I started and engaged in the discussions, posted articles and made significant new contacts and relationships through these groups. As the groups became larger and larger, folks marketing products and services have figured out how to dilute the content of the groups. Once a community of engaged participants, Linkedin groups have turned into now marketing channels to reach consumers.
SHRM and ERE.net (and LinkedCincinnati) were my favorite Linkedin groups for sharing, learning and asking. So what has caused me to leave SHRM and ERE.net groups? Let’s look at the content of the daily digest for SHRM on 11/18/10 an example.
SHRM (the official group, not the bootleg one) discussions:
Three active discussions – Workplace bulling has 724 comments (ok, that is absolutely overkill on any topic). I commented on this one back when there were less than 20 comments and left the conversation when I realized that the comments were negative, angry and endless. It’s time to move on people. The other two active discussions are real questions from practitioners, but you can’t find them in the mess of discussions. More about that follows…
Forty discussions. Sounds like an active group, right? We’ll let’s look at these 40 discussions –
• 8 articles were shared, mainly by people trying to market services to HR professionals
• 18 personal blogs were posted by the people who write them. Some even commented on their own blog posts in the group discussion area. Nice.
• 6 discussions or questions posted by HR practitioners
• 7 people directly marketing products and services to HR professionals. I’ve included job postings that are not related to HR in this category. Yes, we do notice when you ask a question about communication and you are the CEO of a communications consulting company. That’s why no one responds.
• 1 duplicate posting
I’ll say that there might be 10 postings that are actually interesting to the target audience – HR practitioners, but they are so difficult to find that I just scroll right on past to the job section.
Jobs section. There were 20 jobs listed on 11/18/10 digest:
• 9 jobs were related to HR
• 8 jobs were not related to HR, including a pastry chef. Really?
• 1 posting was a duplicate
• 2 postings were blog posting in the wrong section.
Let’s be honest, the free job posting service is what really retains group members in Linkedin groups. This is where you will find your passive job seeker, right? Not if they don’t look at the group discussions.
I have not bailed completely on Linkedin groups. I’m still a member, follower and active participant of 16 Linkedin groups, including local and smaller, targeted Linkedin groups such as alumni groups and my local SHRM chapter. Even though the guy who sells LED lights continues to spam the group with his marketing literature, I’m in for as long as the personal, relevant discussions continue. There is still tremendous value in Linkedin, but professionals marketing their services need to be more aware of their audience. Connecting personally will never compare to mass marketing - and Linkedin is the best tool for that!