Fellow Cvent blogger Donna Kastner recently did a post about LinkedIn Groups: How Self-Promoters Hijack Great Discussions. Self-promotion and spam continue to be a problem on all online communities, not just LinkedIn. As the Group Manager of a large LinkedIn group with over 120,000 members from every corner of the globe, I see it daily. Members would probably be surprised that the spam and self-promotion that they do see, is just the tip of the iceberg. A lot gets removed in the Manager's Submission Queue and never goes live.
What Can LinkedIn Group Members Do?
LinkedIn group members may also be surprised that, for a least the past 3 years, LinkedIn has given members the power to virtually eliminate spam in their groups. Every group has the following setting:
Automatically remove content flagged as inappropriate by group members. Number of flags:
The group leadership team can customize this setting and determine the number of flags needed so that LinkedIn will automatically delete the content. Once it is active, all members have to do is:
- Click "FLAG." Select "FLAG AS INAPPROPRIATE."
- Click on the "FLAG AS INAPPROPRIATE" link.
Once the pre-set number of flags is reached, poof! the content will disappear. So, it's puzzling that while members continue to complain about spam and self-promotion, very few of them take the 2 seconds required to flag content.
What LinkedIn Group Managers can do?
Every LinkedIn Group is different so there is no one size fits all when it comes to control of self-promotion and spam. LinkedIn introduced some really effective moderation tools a few years ago. Group managers would be wise to use them regularly in their groups. New members and members who post promotion can be placed on moderation. All their content will require approval before appearing live in the group.
To Blog or Not
Some groups take the step of banning all blog posts and posts from non-journalistic sources. There is usually a one strike and you're out rule. This seems extreme to me but it does work and some of the largest and most successful groups on LinkedIn use strict guidelines. The main concern with that is it's a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. True a lot of spammy and self-promotional blogs don't appear but the group is deprived of the high value content generated by many bloggers.
The groups that I manage take a different approach. We allow blogs as long as they have substantiative content and add value for members.
Migration of Content
One approach that the event planning group I manage has found to be extremely effective is migration of content. There are 2 situations under which content is migrated.
- High volume topics like social media and event geochronology that will crowd out all other content if posted in the main group.
- Spam magnets. I like to think that I coined the phrase to refer to content that attracts a lot of spam. For example, if someone asks for a referral for a caterer in New York, not only will this be irrelevant to the majority of members, but definitely some vendors will be unable to resist the temptation to shotgun their promotional pitches out to over 120,000 members, even if what they are offering is not at all relevant to the inquiry. When this request is re-directed and posted in the smaller New York Subgroup, it is more likely to get meaningful responses from New York based members. Since the New York subgroup is a lot smaller than the main group, vendors will be less inclined to pitch their services and products.
For this approach to work, there has to be member cooperation. LinkedIn does not give moderators the tools to move content. Content migration will only work if members cooperate and move content when requested.
Nixing self-promotion is never easy but LinkedIn has given group members and managers the tools to significantly reduce it. A team effort will be required to keep LinkedIn Groups spam and promotion free.
Photo Credit: The Seafarer