If you checked your LinkedIn groups this morning…

…you noticed a message that looked like this:

12 Changes Coming Soon To Your LinkedIn Groups, by Mindi Rosser of The Conversion Company
If you clicked the Learn more link, you’d find out that LinkedIn groups are being overhauled. These changes will begin taking effect on October 14. The reason for these changes is to improve the quality of LinkedIn groups and help LinkedIn group members enjoy authentic interactions within their groups.

Spending about half my workweek within LinkedIn groups, these changes will significantly affect how I manage my LinkedIn groups and how I participate in LinkedIn groups.

Wondering how these twelve changes will affect you, your clients and your team? Here’s a snapshot of the changes, what they mean and which actions to take.

1. Standard and Unlisted Groups – These are the new group classifications. Standard groups are similar to what many of us are accustomed to in Private groups.

Unlisted groups are not appealing to most of us in marketing and sales because these will not be searchable. Only current group members and group managers will be able to invite members to these groups. These groups might be ideal for closed communities who’d like to have an invite-only private forum for discussions.

I am happy that Open groups will no longer be permitted, as these tended to attract the spammers and low-quality discussions.

Action Step: If you manage a private group, your group will change to an Unlisted group in a few weeks. (Not good for most of us trying to grow our groups and gain visibility!) You’ll need to change your group setting to Standard as soon as this happens. If you manage an open group, your group will automatically change to Standard when the changes roll out.

Learn more about the differences between the groups here.

Standard and Unlisted Groups: 12 Changes Coming Soon To Your LinkedIn Groups, by Mindi Rosser of The Conversion Company

2. All groups will become private groups – Any discussions happening in groups will now become private to current group members. You can still post links to group discussions on other channels, but non-group members will not be able to see the discussions unless they join the group first.

Action Step: If you have been using a cross-channel strategy (i.e. posting discussions links on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook) to promote discussions in your LinkedIn groups, this will no longer be an effective strategy.

3. All groups will become members-only groups – No more open groups means that spammers will not be able to infiltrate groups, though the spammers already within groups will remain there (unless booted out!) I think that members will feel more confident contributing to their groups, when they know that not everyone can “get in.”

Action Step: If you manage a LinkedIn group, this may be a good time to re-evaluate your membership. If certain members are consistently flagged within your group or require heavy moderation, it’s time to remove them from the group. Having a large group filled with spammers will not provide as much value as a smaller group filled with engaged professionals.

4. Content Moderation – If you diligently moderate submitted discussions to a LinkedIn group, this change may initially frustrate you. All discussions will automatically be posted to your group without going through the moderation queue. This change is to ensure that discussions don’t get stuck in moderation and are posted in a timely manner.

Though I do understand the reason for posting discussions immediately—I’ve had my fair share of LinkedIn discussions approved weeks after initial submission and sending a reminder to a group manager—I am not sure I like this change. Members will be able to share off-topic discussions with the group, knowing that these will gain visibility before being removed or flagged.

Action Step: Group managers (especially those with active groups) will need to check their groups several times daily to ensure that content stays on-topic. It might also be a good time to post a revised Group Rules discussion to the group. Good news is that group managers will still be able to place unruly members in moderation. Group members will still be able to flag inappropriate content.

LinkedIn Group Moderation: Standard and Unlisted Groups: 12 Changes Coming Soon To Your LinkedIn Groups, by Mindi Rosser of The Conversion Company

5. Better Content Filtering – LinkedIn has improved its filters to remove content that should be placed under “Jobs” or content sounds too promotional.

Action Step: When posting discussions, be careful about your wording in the discussion title area. Even if it’s an on-topic discussion (real life example: talking about how to recruit top performers in a sales group), it could be caught in the LinkedIn filters. Group managers should review all of their tabs to ensure this doesn’t happen to members’ discussions.

6. Removal of Promotions Tab – Most LinkedIn group members don’t check the Promotions tab in their groups because it’s not worth their time. Too often Promotions can be a receptacle for off-topic posts and blatant self-promotion. I’d agree that this is a smart move by LinkedIn, as I rarely check this tab in any groups that I don’t manage.

Action Step: Group owners, managers and moderators will still be able to moderate any discussions that are deemed Promotions by LinkedIn’s content filter. If these are approved, they will appear in the discussions area.

Learn more about moderation in groups here.

LinkedIn Group Promotions Tab: 12 Changes Coming Soon To Your LinkedIn Groups, by Mindi Rosser of The Conversion Company

7. Removal of Subgroups – Many of the larger, broader groups use subgroups to organize their topics and help like-minded members connect. These will become independent groups, which may pose an initial problem for group owners during the transition. I think it’s a good move to separate the groups, as this will eliminate confusion for LinkedIn members who are new to groups. No need to become a member of a parent group to join a subgroup. A group is a group.

Action Step: Owners of parent groups could choose to rename their subgroups. A good way to “link” these groups to the parent group might be to include links to each of the subgroups in the About page description of the parent group. This will help members understand the hierarchical structure. The Group Information page is also a good place to include information about subgroups.

8. LinkedIn Groups iOS Mobile App – If you live on your iPhone, you might enjoy the push notifications to keep you up to date on conversations happening in your favorite groups. I’m an Android user, so I’ll be forced to wait until the Android version rolls out.

Action Step: Download the app and configure your settings for each group. Be sure that you’re only getting push notifications for the groups you care about, or you might be hearing that annoying notification buzz/beep every few minutes.

Learn more about the standalone mobile app and see additional screenshot previews here.

LinkedIn Groups Mobile App: 12 Changes Coming Soon To Your LinkedIn Groups, by Mindi Rosser of The Conversion Company

9. Posting Images in Conversations – You will now be able to post images to any new conversations, which means you will be able to include images when you reply to comments. This is an interesting feature, and I’m hoping it provides more value to conversations rather than becoming too much like Facebook.

Action Step: As soon as you see the “image icon” option, you should try out the feature. This may or may not be a feature to use often, as conversations could get a tad messy if members latch onto this feature.

10. Member Approval in Standard Groups – If you choose to transition to a Standard Group, you will notice that members will be able to approve their connections to join the group. Group owners and managers will be able to approve any requests to join.

Action Step: Group managers should be aware that spammers could approve other spammers to join the group. Reviewing all new members within the group will be critical to maintaining a high-quality membership.

11. Mentions in Group Conversations – On other social platforms, typing “@” before a person’s name will link to and notify that person of a mention. LinkedIn will now be incorporating this feature into group conversations (similar to LinkedIn’s status updates @mentions.) This is one of my favorite changes to LinkedIn groups, as it’s all too easy for group members to lose track of the conversations they’ve started or commented on. With the @mention, they will get a more personal reminder.

Action Step: Try using the @mention feature next time you comment on someone’s discussion. This is one way to build community with non-connections and connections alike. Group managers, owners and moderators will be able to use this feature to gently remind members, who’ve posted discussions and need to follow-up.

LinkedIn Group Mentions: 12 Changes Coming Soon To Your LinkedIn Groups, by Mindi Rosser of The Conversion Company

12. Groups Highlights and Email Digests – LinkedIn will help you to cut through the clutter of your groups by creating a digest of the most popular and recent conversations. Most members are already accustomed to getting the Daily or Weekly Group Digests, so this should be an improvement on that feature because LinkedIn should filter the spammy discussions. (I hope!) A personal Highlights page will pop up when you visit Groups to help you to discover discussions that are happening in all your groups, and this feature will also be available in the standalone groups app.

As someone who spends more than a few hours each week scouring groups for great discussions, I’m thrilled about the Email Digests and Highlights feature, especially if they can help me to find relevant, high-quality discussions.

Action Step: If you already are diligent about combing your LinkedIn groups for relevant conversations, this change should streamline your curation process. Be sure to check your LinkedIn Groups page regularly, so you will be the first to see the Highlights page.

LinkedIn Group Highlights: 12 Changes Coming Soon To Your LinkedIn Groups, by Mindi Rosser of The Conversion Company
Your Turn: Which LinkedIn Groups changes are you most excited about and why? Any other tips you’d like to share based on your experiences within LinkedIn groups?