LinkedIn Groups: Cans of Spam

Written by | @stickybranding

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LinkedIn has a problem with their groups. They have communities brimming with potential, but most are choking on spam.

It’s heartbreaking. Of all the major social networks, the LinkedIn Groups have a structure that is perfectly designed for business conversations and engagement. The structure is reminiscent of the old Internet discussion boards, but with the power of the largest business network in the world.

The potential is obvious, but the groups are being crushed by a culture of promotion.

Dumping and running is spamming

There are three types of spam that hit LinkedIn Groups:

  1. Obvious spam: offers for cheap Ugg Boots, get rich quick schemes and other promotions.
  2. Jobs: both people and robots bombarding groups with their job ads.
  3. Content Dumpers: people posting links to their content in as many groups as they can reach.

The first two forms of spam are relatively easy to manage. LinkedIn offers a feature to block these users, and prevent their garbage from reaching the groups.

The Content Dumpers on the other hand are a major problem. These are people that are trying to post links to their blog in as many groups as possible.

The Content Dumpers share “technically relevant” articles for the group, but their goal is click-throughs to their websites versus engagement with group members. The disconnect in goals makes Content Dumpers spammers.

Fight the culture of promotion

Dumping and running is not a marketing strategy. It’s social media litter. When you see users treating LinkedIn Groups as an extension of their Twitter feeds, check them on it. Call them out, and tell them they’re being inconsiderate. Flag their content, and move it to Promotions.

It’s time for LinkedIn users to get mad, and fight the culture of self-promotion that is rampant in the social network.

If one of your Personal Connection spams you with a promotional email, drop them. Don’t even think about it. If they’re behavior is that inconsiderate, they’re not even worth knowing.

If a LinkedIn Group you enjoy is starting to get overrun with Content Dumpers, ask the Group Owner if you can help moderate. I’m sure they’ll appreciate the feedback and support.

As users, we have to take responsibility for our networks and our communities. The best way to stop the Content Dumpers is to push them out.

Great groups have effective moderation

Unfortunately there’s only so much users can do to change the culture of LinkedIn Groups. The responsibility ultimately rests with the Group Owners and Group Moderators.

There are several LinkedIn Groups that are lively places with valuable discussions, but they’re often hard to spot from the outside. What makes them unique is their moderation policies.

Group Owners have to set the tone and structure for the group to thrive. Without their leadership and management the groups quickly get overrun with spammers and Content Dumpers.

Conversations trump content

In the Sticky Branding group, we’ve taken drastic measures to stop the Content Dumpers. We’ve recently instituted a new rule:

Do not post links to articles or content without a relevant question. The point of the group is to have conversations about branding, sales and marketing. Posts that do not have a relevant question or discussion topic will be moved to the Promotions tab or deleted.

My philosophy is a group is about discussions, not link sharing. If a blogger or marketer can’t take the time to engage the group in a relevant conversation, then their content isn’t welcome.

What’s your take?

What steps do you think need to be taken to make LinkedIn relevant, useful and engaging?