Revitalizing the Professional Social Network: Where Do You Get Social?

Revitalizing the Professional Social Network: Where Do You Get Social?

UBER-linkedin-group

LinkedIn Groups are no longer top-of-mind. Where do you get social about business?

I recently updated and shared a post on LinkedIn about how the Groups were a great way to socialize your content. But as I was looking back over my activity in the last 12 months, I noticed, LinkedIn Groups have dropped off my radar as a valuable social network. I don’t pay attention to them and in fact, I’ve stopped sharing into the groups as well. Hmm. What’s gone wrong. Where did we lose LinkedIn Groups as a valuable networking and sharing platform? Are groups going the way of LinkedIn’s first experiment in social, the Question and Answer feature?

I recently started a new job, in a slightly different business than my primary marketing experience. It’s still tech and services, but the vertical (cyber security research and testing) is new to me. So I decided to clean up my groups so I could add a few on this new topic. But the reveal for me, happened in two parts. First, that I hadn’t considered groups initially as part of my FIREHOSE of learning. Second, when I did go into groups to see which ones I could drop in order to add the cyber security groups (LinkedIn has a 50 group limit, a wise idea to keep the spammers in check.) I was surprised by a few of the groups that had gone dark. (Very little activity.)

And I noticed I was “joined” into some groups that were so generic that I laughed a bit as I opened each one to actually UNJOIN them. Here’s a stellar example of what’s gone wrong.

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This group The Social Media Exchange seems relatively simple and yet painfully blah. Let’s take this first impression and break it down just a bit.

  1. The title is completely generic. And as “social” has lost a lot of its luster, the title of this group is as mundane as it could be.
  2. The group image is clip art. The same clip art that spammers use.
  3. The “highlighted” content from this group is from Sept. 2013!
  4. And the “manager’s choice” is suggesting we sign up for a 1 YR FREE subscription to a Monthly Magazine. WHAT? A monthly print magazine about online media? I can’t imagine a dumber concept today. I laughed out loud when I saw this group and I hit the Leave Group button with the same glee.

But that’s not the way it used to be. And perhaps as I’m getting ready to dive back in on with cyber security as my focus, I will learn some new things about what’s working and what’s broken. But today, as I am using them, or more accurately, not using them, the LinkedIn Group is of little value. Sure people still use them to market themselves and their “pitch.” But we’re not looking for a pitch, we’re looking for conversation, sharing, knowledge, tribal wisdom. Where is THAT conversation happening online?

I’m going in search-of the vital online group again. This time, perhaps, I’ll have to create it myself. Should it be a closed LinkedIn group? Should it be a Private Facebook group? Should I develop a community site on some platform like Jive or Lithium? Where can my peer group go for social sharing? Social sharing without ADS and without PITCHES? That’s what I’m interested in. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Where do you get social in your business life? Where can you share at a high-level? Do you? Or has social become simply another marketing and advertising channel?

While they have lost all value in my network, I’m ready to do some primary research of my own: Do you still use Groups? And if so, what are the characteristics of the groups that are still important to you? And if you don’t, where do you exchange business ideas and brainstorms (professional community) online?

Here are few of the old LinkedIn groups I kept. What are your GREAT GROUPS on LinkedIn? Do you have any?

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A few of the things I’ve noticed about LinkedIn Groups.

  • The highlights look like ads.
  • Most of the content is “shared” and not discussed.
  • Most of the shares are self-promotional pabulum.
  • Open groups are spam machines.
  • Closed and moderated groups still have potential value, but what is the ROI on that effort? And who’s willing to do it?
  • The bigger groups have even less conversation.
  • Groups have become more like Facebook.

As I am moving forward to establish or find community, I will share my journey here on *my* little community. I hope you will join in the conversation somewhere. And if we can start a conversation together, let’s do it. Hit me. Connect.

How do we revitalize the professional social network? 

John McElhenney
@jmacofearth (also seen on Google+: jmacofearth)

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