Are LinkedIn Groups Out Of Control?

Are LinkedIn Groups Out Of Control?THE WILD, WILD WEST OF LINKEDIN

Many LinkedIn groups are out of control. Group members have discovered they can spam the group and get away with it. Many group admins are not doing a good job managing their groups.

I’m not talking about the occasional post that has a link to content that members of the group might find interesting and valuable, and that is directly related to the profession, industry, practice area or subject that is the focus of the group. I’m talking about the oddly-placed comments and updates that include a link or a comment to something that appears to be either:

  • Completely unrelated to the group
  • Related but directly selling something the poster benefits from without alerting group members


It matters because it’s ruining LinkedIn groups for everyone. Group Admins and Managers have grandiose plans when they start groups. They want to build a gathering place for people in their subject area to, among other things…

  • Get together to share and discuss
  • To learn
  • To get to know one another
  • To build their reputation as a curator of quality content and conversation
  • To find referral partners

Many of these spammy posts are being left in the main stream of group comments, which turns group members off, irritates them, muddies the waters and ruins the effectiveness of the group. I continue to hear people say groups are being destroyed by this kind of behavior, which is a huge shame.

People have reported a post or two in the Legal Marketing Association Social Media SIG LinkedIn group I co-manage, which we have then reviewed and kept from posting. This kind of oversight is not happening in a lot of groups. If it was, then inappropriate promotional material would end up in a promotions tab (or banned if they are way out of line), leaving the main feed for discussions and content-sharing.

I know this takes time, but when you sign on to create a group, that brings a great deal of responsibility. You not only have to set the tone by reminding people how to be good group members, what to post, what to place in other tabs, etc., but you also have to follow through with management of these guidelines.

Getting excited about being the owner of a group on LinkedIn that has grown to be large is misplaced if these groups are littered with junk. Is it an accomplishment to have created a group filled with updates the group members find inappropriate or irritating?

I know that some people don’t understand when their content is inappropriate, so we have to manage behavior and expectations. I’ve had a few conversations with people who I tried to mentor through what appeared to be a misplaced or oddly timed update in a group. My goal was not to embarrass them, but to help them learn what might have been a better approach.


To Admins, I offer this advice:

  1. If it becomes more than you bargained for, recruit additional admins to help you manage the workload.
  2. Establish written standards and guidelines for posting in your group.
  3. Remind people from time to time that you are the group admin so they know they can message you if they have a question or concern.
  4. Flag posts that you see as promotional, and encourage group members to do the same. When they do, this holds these updates for you to approve or disapprove before they get posted as a discussion.
  5. If you see members who appear to have good intentions lean toward posting what you or other groups members have deemed to be inappropriate to the group, or that might be better off in its own new discussion thread, message or talk to them to let them know your thoughts. Honest people want to learn what is acceptable.

LinkedIn can be an extremely valuable networking and sharing tool when used logically and strategically.

What do you say….let’s all do a better job managing our groups before they completely lose their effectiveness, okay?


What do you see happening in the groups you are a part of?

What do you wish would happen in the groups you are a part of?

Do you run a tight ship in your group? If so, tell us about it below.

Do you need advice on a particular situation? If so, feel free to post it as many of us would love to offer some advice.

[Cowboy photo is used under a Creative Commons license from Rare Jackson Hole Real Estate]

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  • dennisdeansmith

    Great insight.  How easy or difficult is it to co-manage a group? Have always done my BOOM Panama group solo, but have often wished for help.

  • Hi, @dennisdeansmith, it depends on your relationship with your co-managers. It is a good idea to talk about separation of duties, or even split days of the week, whichever works best for you and the amount of group activity you are dealing with.
    If you discuss duties on the front end, or you are simply great friends and know how to naturally fill in for one another, then it will definitely be easier than going it alone…..if it is too much for your current schedule, that is. I co-manage with @lindsaygriffith, @gaillamarche, @lancegodard and @lalaland999.

  • Thanks NancyMyrland for this post.

    I addressed this issue a while back   ===>
    Nils Montan and I had discussed some issues about our LinkedIn group.

      I run one about social media monitoring on Xing (European network like LinkedIn) and it is less of a problem that people post things that have nothing to do with the group’s focus (self-promotion, etc.). Nevertheless, sometimes I have to remind people …. but it usually works. 

    One challenge I have – the other side of the coin it seems, is to keep people engaged. Like with LinkedIn, people love to post something …. but commenting on somebody else’s post (i.e. listening and then writing a reply) is difficult for some. However, without people answering questions that were posted, how can there be a conversation. Put differently, where is the added value without people really discussing but, broadcasting instead?

    Thanks Nancy for sharing.

  • JaimieField


  • @WebUrs, yes, the lack of conversation is a big challenge, also. It seems that people like to scan what they read these days because there is so much on their plate, and they get so many emails, and there is so much in there reader to catch up on. People have found their comfort zone, or are finding their comfort zone, and have decided that they like to read and not discuss because they don’t have time or because they are more worried about distributing their content then they are about interacting with others.

  • Hi Jaimie! Yes, absolutely, I do find this is more a challenge in public groups than in private ones. Group owners got excited when their numbers grew by leaps and bounds, not taking into consideration that it takes a lot to manage these groups, and to keep the conversation flowing. When people don’t feel like talking, it falls back on the group owner or manager to keep feeding the group with additional content. Many don’t take this into consideration.

  • dennisdeansmith

    NancyMyrland @dennisdeansmith. Nancy, I agree that co-managing is often a viable practice. In fact, when I am doing business development consulting for startup and small business clients, we look at whether or not implementing the strategy has possibilities. Is always good to let those do what they do well, do it….

  • NancyMyrland  Thanks for answering
    I like 
    “much on their plate, and they get so many emails, and there is so much in there reader to catch up on. People have found their comfort zone, or are finding their comfort zone, and have decided that they like to read and not discuss because they don’t have time or because they are more worried about distributing their content then they are about interacting with others.”

    But if what you say is true, Nancy, then we cannot have a conversation because unless people not only broadcast or consume, but also listen/read and then join the conversation, it remains a stillbirth 🙁
    Have a great weekend

  • Yes, WebUrs, I agree, & think it is unfortunate so many are running at breakneck speed these days, not having conversations like the one we are having here. Perhaps we will see people reverting to a more “social” form of behavior if Google tells them it’s advantageous to rankings! 😉

  • kirstenhodgson

    Good post Nancy and I totally agree. Unless managers and moderators are checking the group frequently it can get littered with spam. I actually hold all posts until I, or one of the managers approve them. I tried leaving it open but found there were some spammy posts getting through and so felt that even if they were only there for a few hours it wasn’t worth it. The advantage of queuing the posts is that, often well-intentioned group members will post a link to content that’s valuable but there’ll be no intro or attempt to engage others. In that situation I send them a message saying the content’s great, that we want the group to be a place for conversations to happen and would they mind re-posting with an intro or asking a question. That works really well. 

    The other thing queuing posts allows us to do is to check the post hasn’t been simultaneously posted to several groups with similar focus – this is one of the biggest bugbears members of the group I manage (and two others I canvassed) have and it fits their definition of spam so we’re doing our best to prevent it. I do get that content is relevant to more than one group but think people should tailor their intro or at least post at different times so people don’t see the same stuff in every group they visit. 

    I do think as groups grow they can lose some of their ‘community’ feel – like Urs said it can be hard to get discussions going. Has anyone else found that? One thing another group owner recommended was to send a personal email to members of your group who you think should comment on a particular discussion saying ‘this is a new discussion in the group – wanted to alert you to it incase you haven’t seen it as I know you’d have a great response to this/view on this’. 

    I put together a Slideshare presentation on how to set up and run an effective LinkedIn group a few months ago that provides some tips for those wanting to run groups that offer value to their members – it’s based on my experiences as well as interviews with owners of other well-managed groups on LinkedIn –

  • nakosar

    A very relevant topic, Nancy – thanks. One of the problems I see is that LinkedIn Group digest emails only show the title of a new posting or article. Many people do a poor job titling their posts so that it’s difficult to tell what the article is about when you look at a digest emails with a dozen article titles. LinkedIn needs to change this format so that Group email digests are designed like LinkedIn Pulse emails:  where authors/posters can key in introductory/teaser copy and can add a photo or graphic. Pulse emails usually are limited to about five articles. In effect, it would be a bit more like Google+ in which you can “sell” (in a good, constructive way) your post to potential readers. The email digest format hasn’t changed for years, and needs to in order to invite more participation. Now it feels spammy. (And if it feels spammy, then it probably IS spammy!)

  • Great observations, Nancy. I run two LinkedIn groups (Trial Technology; and California Legal), and one of the first things I did (as a result of aforementioned violations) was to come up with a group anti-spam policy and notice. It really does need to be watched and managed, or else unscrupulous spammers will flood the space with junk. 

    One other item of interest to LinkedIn group managers was just published in Law Technology News – It seems they’ve decided to remove our old poll data. 

  • I agree, nakosar. This sure would be helpful. LinkedIn has several features they need to polish to enhance the user experience in order to make the site as usable as possible. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Regarding group involvement, WebUrs / ComMetrics.  I agree about getting people to stop long enough to take the time to converse and comment. It’s an ongoing challenge to remind others, to reach out to people personally and to moderate to the point where people can’t forget the group, and can see its value. LinkedIn’s recent addition of grading our group involvement is interesting, isn’t it? I don’t know that people will be shamed into interacting more, but I know I haven’t been fond of seeing my grade in a group or two look like I’m a beginner, so I have actually slowed down a bit to comment. Who knows…maybe others will follow suit? 🙂

  • litigationtech  Thanks, Ted. You are smart to have come up with an anti-spam policy and notice early on. It might even be a good idea to post it as an update every so often because people that post in several groups sometimes lose track of the policies of one vs. another. Yes, the issue of taking away poll data is very unfortunate. All of this data that resides on sites that we don’t own is subject to removal at any given time, isn’t it? It makes having one’s own blog or site even more important.

  • Nancy, great article, thank you for writing it! Have you noticed the change LI made last week? The most important for me is the format change and the Job Discussions and paid Jobs sections are now gone on the daily digests. They are also now sending the digest emails in the middle of the afternoon vs early AM. I can guess why they made this change but I would be very interested in seeing what you are hearing, thanks!!