I often wonder (usually out of frustration) what the intended purpose of the Linkedin discussion group was. Was it intended as sort of a “Flea Market” to shamelessly self promote or dare I say, a place where folks actually (and I’m going out on a limb here) engage in a discussion?
While I have a firm opinion on this, I’m not sure it matters what the intended purpose was because many people have had it and as a result they are writing off a valuable venue as a waste of time!
Some tell me that they are sick of having to wade through a minimum of 10-12 posts to find “content”, take the time to comment only to have the discussion die. Why? Because 10-12 more non discussions bump the legitimate post out of visibility. For this reason, people who post legitimate discussions get frustrated because their thread never stands a chance. Thus, the overall contributions of the group’s community diminish and people walk away shaking their heads.
So what constitutes a “Non Discussion”?
Self promotion where you create a thread to tell everyone that your company is the bestest company and launch into an infomercial. My response: Can I have some fries with that “spamwich” dude?
Articles and or links to articles: The accepted place for this is in the News section; not in discussions. Why? Um, because it isn’t a discussion. Either people don’t understand this or they weren’t loved enough as a child and need some attention . . . at the expense of the actual discussion that just got bumped. Thanks!
Open Networkers: I have a solution for this and will address it later in this post
Job Hunters: I am very sensitive to these folks because I am here to give back. I would think it makes more sense to post it in the Jobs section. No?
Announcing an event: The accepted place for this is also in the news section.
I guess the million dollar question now becomes . . . Where are the group managers? I kind of feel like they invited us all over to their party and then ducked out the back door! On the other hand, I also get the feeling that many of the people showing up to the group manager’s party are saying “OK, I’m here. Now entertain me circus boy!”
And its not like people aren’t openly complaining either. In one Linkedin group several members openly complained publicly about the excessive non discussions after having had their offline emails to the group manager ignored. She finally responded “I do not monitor this group and leave it up to the group members to self monitor” The response one of them wrote was priceless “Police your group or give to someone who will!”
So, in all fairness does the fault lie with the Group Manager or is it the members of the group screwing it up? The reality is that we are all guilty because a true community is the result of the actions (or non actions) of all who comprise it!
Perhaps its time for an agreement of sorts.
Post your rules clearly and concisely and take a stand against non discussions. Let everyone know where they can and can’t post within the group. Let’s remember that some people just don’t know. I can personally relate because when I first started with Linkedin I was one of them. Stop worrying about losing members who don’t like those guidelines. Institute a zero tolerance policy and actually enforce it. Understand you will piss some people off but also understand you are pissing more people off who don’t have a chance to contribute.
Make sure you encourage a culture of contribution and non combativeness. Do you remember that movie Semi Pro with Will Ferrill? He had this banner on the wall that read “Everybody love everybody” Learn it, live it and protect your culture!
Have a places for specific things within your group: In my group we have a thread called (get this) “Pimp my Company” This is where we introduce ourselves and what we do. Announce any upcoming events, special promos etc. I’ve experimented with Twitter Directories, Services Needed threads etc. Controlled pimping can be a good thing. I'm just sayin.
Encourage good content by making certain threads featured discussions. While you are at it, understand that every good discussion deserves a fighting chance so please don’t feature discussions for 4 months. Once the discussion gets up and running on its own, set it free dude! If it comes back to you it was meant to be if it doesn’t . . . well you know the rest!
You need to start showing up more. Participate and be a part of the community you started. While you are there, you need to keep an eye on things. The days of the absentee group manager need to come to an end moy pronto!
Understand that you can’t do this alone. You are going to need help from your community. I have 6,000 members in my Sales Playbook group and I have 2 other group managers to help me keep our group and culture in order.
And speaking of not being able to do this alone, that brings us to the other side of this agreement.
When you post a discussion, make sure its an actual discussion. Don’t post glorified infomercials, open networking requests, articles, jobs, looking for a job or anything else that screams “Look at me. I need attention” Aside from being annoying and destroying a culture of participation, you brand yourself as “Clueless”
On the same note, please don’t respond to an actual discussion with an infomercial or a link to your website. Perhaps an offline email might be more appropriate?
With that comes an understanding that if you contribute, unconditionally and in a way that doesn’t self promote you will not only bring in more business, you will create evangelists that love you enough to tell others about you.
When you create a discussion thread, don’t post and run. Stick around, acknowledge those who contribute and be sure to facilitate the discussion. Doing so, keeps it active and encourages others to join you in discussion. I’m curious, would you ask a group of people a question in the real world and then sneak out never to return. Kind of rude. No?
Respect the rules and the culture of the group. When in doubt, reach out to a group manager.
No rules in place? Feel like the group has become Dodge City? Reach out to the group manager respectfully tell them how you feel. Don’t just complain, offer solutions. Heck, send them a link to this thread with a “Hint” or “Wink. Wink” as the subject line.
If they are unresponsive or unwilling to clean up their group, the good news is that there is something like 250,000 groups on Linkedin. Send a final message by taking your contributions where they will be appreciated. Don't reward their behavior by sticking around!
Disagree with something someone is saying, take it outside amigo. Everyone else doesn’t need to be exposed to that and you can’t afford to look like an idiot in front of 10,000 of your closest friends.
Group Managers & Group Members:
Perhaps we all need to lose the whole “In aint my job” mentality, regroup, contribute and most of all; protect the culture of our discussion groups.
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