LinkedIn Groups is finally here! (Ok it was there before and then it was not..and now it’s here!)
I’ve been waiting for this for months so when I got the e-mail that I can now set up my group, I was so excited that I dropped everything and signed on to LinkedIn to set it up.
The excitement, however, was short-lived and was quickly replaced with disappointment and annoyance. Here are the culprits:
The group needed to go through an approval process. It was fairly quick, it took less than half an hour for my group to be approved, but getting redirected to a page that says your group needs to go through an approval process was kinda annoying. I understand that this is just a precaution on the side of LinkedIn to ensure that the groups created are in line with LinkedIn’s professional and business image. But after seeing exactly what I can do on LinkedIn, which really doesn’t involve any content whatsoever, I don’t see why the approval process is necessary.
Adding members is a pain. It involves creating an invitation list on a spreadsheet. As always I try to see the reasoning behind it. It’s nice to know that I won’t be getting an invitation overload from people who just want to invite random LinkedIn users to their groups. However, if the users I want to invite are already part of my contact list (meaning they’ve consented to be my contact), I don’t see why I have to re-enter their contact information on a spreadsheet. It just doesn’t make sense, especially for those of us who see LinkedIn as our online Rolodex. I can’t help but bring up Facebook on this one. Facebook requires me to put in e-mail addresses if the people I want to invite are not part of my contact list. And they’ve also addressed the spam issue by limiting the amount of invitations a user can send out for apps, groups and messages.
Oh. And uploading the contact list isn’t how you invite folks. The list is the pre-approved list. You still have to do the e-mail and invite the people yourself.
Reasoning from the Groups FAQ:
“… we believe that the invitation should come from you as the group leader and/or your organization. Sending out group invitations to your members may be perceived by your members as a LinkedIn message when it is really a message from your group.”
So what if it’s a LinkedIn message? My group is on LinkedIn and there’s a reason why I’ve chosen LinkedIn to be my group’s home as opposed to Ryze, MySpace, or my own group on Ning and whatever other white-label SNS there is out there (Jeremiah has a nice list here). There’s a reason why I dropped everything to form a group on LinkedIn. It’s because having the LinkedIn brand attached to my group gives it a certain level of credibility. I feel that my members would be more inclined to participate in my LinkedIn group than if I formed the group anywhere else.
Here’s another reasoning from LinkedIn on why they don’t want to send out the invites on your behalf:
LinkedIn will not send out group invitation e-mails. From a privacy perspective, we feel it is better for the group organization to send out the invitations. Moreover, the members will be receiving their invitations from a source that they know. LinkedIn is happy to assist you in the invitation process by providing general content about LinkedIn that you can repurpose.
Here’s my take: I agree, but it would be nice to have the option to have LinkedIn send out the invites. If I’m connected to people on LinkedIn, it’s because they know me or at the very least, they have consented to “knowing” me on LinkedIn. All connections were consented to by both parties. So technically, I’m “a source that they know.” Having said that, I also recognize that there are those so-called “open networkers” who add pretty much everyone. But that’s their prerogative, isn’t it? So should I interpret this statement as LinkedIn recognizing that connections made there aren’t meaningful anymore?
I did mention that I was disappointed. Here’s why:
It’s useless. Other than being in the same group allows group members to see each other’s profiles…it really doesn’t serve any other purpose than just another list. That’s cool and all, but it doesn’t allow me to interact with other group members. I can’t discuss anything with them. There’s no forum a la LinkedIn Answers. For folks like me who only adds people I’ve met and know on LinkedIn, it doesn’t do anything to nourish or strengthen those contacts. Ok so we’re on the same group. We have the same logo next to our profiles. Big wow.
It doesn’t allow me to message my group members. Again, from the FAQ:
We do not provide any mass-mailing capabilities at this point because LinkedIn Groups is not designed for this purpose. LinkedIn is a tool that facilitates relationships and enables communication on a one-to-one basis. In the future, we or our partners may offer additional group communication options to group administrators.
I understand this is to prevent anyone from spamming members, but then again, members consent to be part of groups so by definition, this is not spam. Without any other feature but one-one messaging, LinkedIn Groups really doesn’t help me facilitate relationships among my group members. But the last sentence gives hope, that the feature may be coming from LinkedIn or their partners.
That’s right. I almost forgot. There are plans to open up LinkedIn to developers. I can’t wait.