Sat, 22 April 2017
Welcome to episode 158, it’s been a very ‘buggy’ week this week, firstly connections were in reverse order in the ‘My network’ list then the ability to recommend someone disappeared. Both are now fixed but it is clear that something is going on behind the scenes.
I thought I would lighten things up a bit this week and relay a funny story I heard from a listener in the US this week.
Interesting Stuff I Saw This Week
Google quietly takes on LinkedIn with its own job listings site
New Privacy Settings
I was alerted to some changes in this article from LinkedIn this week;
Updates To Our Terms of Service
I was interested to see the ‘Using public data to improve your profile’ setting with the option to switch this off, this is a mobile only feature but when I tapped on it, I got this;
Genius! Back to the drawing board LinkedIn!
I also noticed a new setting that allows you to merge accounts, this has only previously been something the help centre could do for you. You can find this setting in the ‘Privacy’ section of your settings;
Productivity messaging bots can be switched off, a relief for many I’m sure but I’m sticking with them to see if they improve and become useful.
I’m very curious about the ‘Easily meet up with members’ feature. I can’t see any reference to this in the mobile app settings on iOS but it sounds like a pretty cool feature.
Groups Follow Up
Thanks for all your feedback following last weeks topic of what to do about LinkedIn Groups, I especially liked this input from Carl Whalley who runs a massive Google Android group on LinkedIn.
The story for me creating the Android group is legendary, I just wanted the badge by my name which is pretty much all they had back then. When I thought a bit more though, I was assuming they would grow into something much more - the phrase I hear often is "centres of excellence". Linked In already had a massive pool of business oriented individuals which alone is unfocussed. Groups are a way to segment those skills and interests into a more manageable system. They really had the potential to take on what many specialised forums on the external internet were doing. So if you were say an accountant, a lawyer etc using these specialised forums - why were you there? The immediate answer is "because thats where the others like me are" - which is the biggest chicken and egg problem anyone trying to grow one of these faces. For Linked In though, that issue never arose.
What else then? I can only go off my own experiences. I had as issue with my Audi recently, so I searched a few Audi forums. I'm not a mechanic, but I know if I phrase the question properly, or even search properly and the content is already there, I'll get my answer. I go to a centre of excellence relating to the subject I am interested in.
What makes a centre of excellence, and what keeps it that way? It's the knowledge of the people contributing. At the start, Linked In groups were like this. They were small enough to be able to keep up with, and there was a genuine enthusiasm from the members to share their knowledge, for free, because they valued the community spirit and assumed the quality would remain high because everyone else seemed to thinking that way too. This pattern is the same for external forums.
So what changed - i.e. the second part, "what keeps it that way"?
I think deep down people have to get value from something if they are to invest in it long term. With anything free, value is something other than monetary. Value *can* work in free forums on the internet - look at the programmers website, Stack Overflow. There is a badge and points system which members have to earn from their peers, but it's definitely recognised now in that industry and those with decent ratings are proud to trumpet them on their CV's. Imagine if Linked In groups were seen this way. You'd end up with people saying, for example, "I have 1000 points and the guru level in the Linked In Architect group". This clearly wouldn't work for all groups, or perhaps only a small minority, but without financial incentives the answer will be something like this. Also, the groups themselves must be seen to be credible, i.e. rated by Linked In. It's one thing having a zillion SEO web marketing groups, but we all know only a dozen or so would be well run - natural consolidation will have seen to that already. Having Linked In endorsing the group itself, or even rating it, instantly removes most of the noise we see today.
The software itself also plays a large part in all this. If you look at any successful internet forum, you'll see it just looks and behaves nothing like a Linked in Group. There are easy to identify sub groups, which Linked In did have at once stage but killed off. There are threaded discussions, often with user customisable views such as hierarchical, flattened, highest rated etc.
And why is spam so hard to deal with? As a first measure, any identical content posted in multiple groups is suspect. Let the group managers see what other groups and titles the poster has attempted before, so they can spot them right away. Again, external forums have smarter ways of dealing with this such as new members not being able to post anything until their "rating" is above a certain limit. This pattern keeps repeating - look at what makes external forums successful and do it that way.
Is is to late to turn around? No. The members haven't gone anywhere, and the issue of segmenting them into useful areas will always be present, no matter what you call them. The solution is to focus on making them centres of excellence - giving them value - and putting in place everything needed to support that.
This week, LinkedIn also produced some new information about some changes to the management features of groups and confirmed they are committed to the groups feature.
You can read the detail here;
New Groups Management Experience - Frequently Asked Questions
I think these are just small incremental improvements and the big change that is required. I suspect LinkedIn, possibly in conjunction with Microsoft are looking into much more significant changes to groups, I certainly hope so, as I said last week - chipping around the edges is not going to solve this problem!
I received 6 emails from a listener in the US this week who I will call Donald. In these emails he outlines a long and clearly frustrating interaction with LinkedIn’s infamous ‘Help’ Centre… I was almost crying with laughter when I read them so I thought I would share this slice of comedy gold with you!