LinkedIn groups have been a great resource for some meaty discussions and the ability to connect with business professionals in your industry. As a business platform, LinkedIn while making strides to be more interactive and has had great success with the sharing tool unveiled in April, the voting buttons to discussions and most recently adding user permissions to groups to help group administrators avoid spammers, the groups were still not seen outside of LinkedIn. The discussions and conversations on LinkedIn are very focused and useful not only for job seekers but for those who are looking for answers, a different POV and also connection with a targeted audience to grow their business. LinkedIn has added the functionality for group administrators to open groups to be indexed by the search engines.
LinkedIn Opens Groups
LinkedIn group discussions are contained within the confines of the LinkedIn platform and only available to LinkedIn members and group members. While this did increase the time LinkedIn members spent on the site, the discussions were only shared if a member of the group opted to tweet the link or share the link on Facebook. We know that generally the same group members participate and while this did provide an opportunity to build relationships with these group members, it was still limiting. In addition to be limiting in the members who participated, the maximum amount of groups members were allowed to join was 50. While this seems like a large number, it is challenging for very active LinkedIn users who were looking to be a member of diverse groups or who were looking to be able to find some targeted discussions, to grow their network, resources and knowledge base. The open groups is not limited to LinkedIn members nor do you have to be a member of the group to view the discussion. The search engines will be able to crawl and index the open LinkedIn groups and share them in the search results.
How do Open Groups Work?
LinkedIn open groups are housed on LinkedIn as they always have been and will appear in search results as a url to the discussion. Members and non members of LinkedIn will be able to click the link from the search engine and have the discussion available to view.
Performing a very detailed search (to ensure I would find a LI open group) you can see that this search yielded an open group result that was ranked in the #1 spot. Many times the LinkedIn groups discussions (or at least the ones that I have observed) are users asking questions or are posting blog articles that spark a sensational conversation. These conversations are very targeted to answering the question or to commenting on an article. Search queries that are very targeted as the one below would provide the LinkedIn open group result as it is an exact match to the search query.
A search query that is not as targeted to the LinkedIn open group as you can see did not yield the same results:
How does A Group Become an Open Group
LinkedIn will be contacting (if they have not do so already) all group administrators to give them the option to open their group. If a group is opened, all members will be notified and only the discussions from that point on will be open. The previous discussions will be only available to members of that group in the members only archive. In addition, while the content will be able to be viewed by anyone online, if they wish to participate in the discussion, they must become a LinkedIn member.
Sharing Open Group Discussions
LinkedIn has also added the functionality of being able to share the open group discussion from the web to your LinkedIn status update, on Twitter and also Facebook.
LinkedIn Open Groups and Personal Brand
Your personal brand is important. Trying to develop and garner positive results in the search results is not always so easy, especially with a common name. We know that LinkedIn will rank well as our profiles rank well already. Participating in an open group discussion(s) will definitely at some point be associated with your name in the search results. That helps your personal brand as people see you are active online and also with a common name, you will be able to distinguish yourself from others.
What are your thoughts on the open groups? Would you me be apt to join an open group and participate or a closed group that is not indexed and ranked? Will this change the way that you use LinkedIn?