LinkedIn

Everyone’s favorite career-focused social network is revamping its Groups feature to improve quality and conversation.

First launched in 2004, LinkedIn Groups was one of the first places career-focused individuals could visit on the social networking site to create connections, start conversions, and discuss common interests.

Now, the number of groups has peaked to more than 2 million and the company is ready to revamp the entire experience. On Oct. 14, LinkedIn will reveal a new and improved Groups feature available on desktop and a standalone iOS app (with an Android app on the way). The app will offer push notifications for Group conversations.

Why the Update?

The changes, first reported on VentureBeat, are aimed at improving the quality of the feature. Many LinkedIn groups are inundated with spam and self-promotion. LinkedIn says that the changes were made after studying internal data and soliciting feedback from users. The general sentiment they heard: make groups simpler and tighten the reins on membership.

The biggest change users can expect in Groups is that they were going to be made private; only Group members will be able to see the contents of conversations, and only group members will be able to contribute to the conversations. Outside users and even search engines will not be able to see the discussions. LinkedIn believes that this will better create a trusted space for people to communicate and network.

“Our data has shown that open groups have historically attracted a larger percentage of low-quality conversations,” LinkedIn wrote in a post in its help center. “Members-only groups have created significantly more participation and conversations than others (up to five times more), indicating that members feel more confident contributing in these types of groups.

What Does This Mean for Group Owners?

Group owners will have to decide whether they want to make their Group a Standard or Unlisted Group, the only two classifications will remain after next week. The main difference between these two types of Groups is control and visibility. Unlisted Groups are unlisted and won’t appear in the LinkedIn directory of groups, Group badges won’t display in members’ profiles, and only managers and owners will be able to invite and approve new members. Standard Groups, members can invite first-degree LinkedIn connections to join and can also approve requests to join from connections.

The update has caused a little bit of controversy among Group moderators who want to remain in full control of a Group that is visible in the directory. No matter, among these changes in Groups, LinkedIn users can also expect:

Better Content Filtering – LinkedIn has improved its filters to strip spam and low-quality content. It has removed the Promotions tab, which was the place that would collect such posts and will now flag these posts as promotional and send to a moderation queue. Any posts about jobs will automatically be removed from the main conversation feed and redirected to a Jobs tab.

Moderation – Conversations and comments will go live immediately after a member posts. This is to improve the timeliness and quality of the Group conversations. Group managers and moderators will be able to remove any off-topic content and place problem members in a moderation penalty box.
Images & Mentions – People starting a new conversation will be able to upload a photo and members can @tag other members when starting a conversation or commenting in one.

Removal of Subgroups – All subgroups will be created as independent groups. LinkedIn recognizes that subgroups are important and some larger Groups, but felt that the experience was confusing to a majority of members.

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