To answer this we can gain some insight with a tale of two LinkedIn groups. But before we look at this lets have some context. You do use LinkedIn for more than just job search…. Don’t you? LinkedIn groups are often formal or informal communities focussed on a sector, industry or profession. With the right selection of LinkedIn group memberships you can keep up to date with industry news, ask and answer questions (building your credibility), make business connections and friends, as will as potential clients if you are in the freelance or consulting space.
A tale of 2 LinkedIn groups
Membership of the groups
Both of these LinkedIn groups have approximately the same number of members (just under 30,000, so sizable), and the same target audience (professionals in a given sector) and main country of membership is identical.
Activity within the group
This is where the groups are different:
What we can see is that in one group there is 3 times the number of discussions started, and almost 3 times the number of comments. So if the group size is the same, and the demographic is almost the same what is the difference?
The key difference between these two LinkedIn groups is how the groups are moderated. The group on the left is heavily moderated, with no self-promotion and links to articles is discouraged. When looking through the group on the right, the majority of posts are links to articles and blogs.
What difference does it make in what groups to join?
It can make a big difference. It all comes down to what you use LinkedIn for. What is your reason or purpose for using LinkedIn groups? Do you have a clear reason or goal for each you are a member of?
If you want a channel to promote your content, then the group on the right might be better. If you want to learn, engage and collaborate, then the group on the left is more suitable. Are you being active to raise your personal profile? To generate leads for your business? To learn and grow?
How to choose a group
It is easy to join many groups on LinkedIn, but there is a limit. In general you can only join 50 groups. This may seem like a lot, but there are some risks. If you do not follow the groups rules you can be put in moderation. If several group owners do this, then it will impact your ability to post in all of your groups.
The question you need to ask yourself is “why do I want to me a member of this group?” and “how will I use this group”?
Of course if you are a freelancer, your decisions will be different from someone looking for a new opportunity, and equally someone that wants to use the networking of LinkedIn as CPD for their personal development will be different again. Some people join and leave groups as their need for that group changes.
Open verses closed groups
If you want to promote your blogs and materials then a large and open group would be better than a smaller closed group
Make a decision to join… or not to join, that is the question
Look at the group statistics and if you can view the discussion stream see if it really is a community or just a news feed. You can find out what a group is like before you join. You can look at the statistics of a group, even if the group is private. Look at the ratio of discussions to comments, this can give an indicator. A group that has 100s or 1000s of posts every week may be too busy for you to engage in, on the other hand a group with only 2 or 3 discussions may not have enough traffic to be of value unless really niche. You need to understand what will work for you. Just joining a group because of its title can do you more harm than good
Less is more
You can only monitor the activity of a few groups and be active in even less. Being a “badge collector” is of little value. Think long and hard before retaining membership of a group