LinkedIn recently made some changes to the way groups searches are done. Instead of focussing just on the name LinkedIn now also tries to match your query or keywords with the actual discussions or conversations taking place in the group. There are now over 1.2 million groups on LinkedIn and using the name alone as a basis for search has become inefficient and time consuming. Typically a LinkedIn user would have to check out a number of groups before they find one that is suited to their needs. You can get the exact details from the LinkedIn blog here. What are the implications for LinkedIn Groups?
A group has to be lively. In terms of the ranking that LinkedIn now uses, besides matching the keywords with the conversations in the group, LinkedIn looks at how active a group is as well. It’s not enough to just have lots of discussions being posted in a group without any activity resulting from those posts. Are members actually taking part in the discussion? This will become critical going forward. So the groups where there is no engagement will be penalised and be buried in the heap while those activite ones will be rewarded.
Groups will need to stay relevant. There is a good chance that LinkedIn members will seek to join groups where topical and relevant issues are being discussed. So groups need to stay on the pulse in relevant areas. For example a professional doing some research for example on the social media policy will be attracted to groups where there is a lot of discussion on this matter.
Quality of discussion
It goes without saying that quality of discussion in groups becomes even more important. Moderation in groups is critical to ensure that posted content adds value and is in line with the group goals and vision. Groups plagued by spam and promotional content will be shooting themselves in the foot as far as getting new members is concerned. A new member to such a group in any case will quickly realise that there is little value add and exit the group.
Size of the group Based on a few searches I did, if the other factors are the same, it would seem that size of the group will determine the ranking. The larger group will benefit from a higher ranking it would seem. This makes it even more difficult for the smaller groups to catch up in terms of the search ranking.
Value Groups that are committed to adding value to their members will become more visible while those groups without clear direction will become even less visible to potential new members. I have little doubt that LinkedIn will continue to tweak their algorithm for searches. This is a great time for active and focussed groups on LinkedIn while times will become tougher for groups without clear focus and direction.