Despite all evidence to the contrary given my lack of posts over the past months, I’m still here. And yes, I’m still obsessed with the same issues, if maybe a tiny bit less since I just spent the last year working outside the association world. But it seems like no matter how hard I try to un-obsess about certain issues, I can’t help but persist. And sorry but LinkedIn as the home for an association’s online member community? That’s one of my obsessions.
Just as I felt it was a bad idea for myriad reasons back in 2012, and more reasons in 2013, yet MORE reasons in 2014...and still more…I’ll digress here, but you get the point....I still can’t help but take notice every time yet one more clue falls into place solidifying my opinion that LinkedIn groups are just NOT a good home for association communities. As a way to send members back to your own community and/or your website? Maybe...but more on why that’s increasingly a bad idea below. But as a members-only benefit that you think your association has control over? Sorry, but that’s just not the case anymore--if it ever was the case.
After LinkedIn acquired Bizo and accidentally announced it’s goal to become "the most effective online platform form [sic] (I assume they meant for) marketers to engage with professionals,” could anyone really still argue that sending your members to engage on LinkedIn’s platform instead of your own organization’s platform was a good idea? In this day and age of being data-driven and being able to quantify members’ engagement in large part by virtue of their activities on your organization’s website, why would anyone want to not only lose that intel but give it away to LinkedIn, for free? It’s like handing someone the keys to your house and telling them to help themselves, IMO. How many associations sell or rent various lists as a source of non-dues revenue? Sending your members to engage on LinkedIn is not only giving that data to LinkedIn to track and monetize--for free--but it’s also giving them the tools to be able to tailor future offerings to people around certain interests--like the profession your association represents. It also gives LinkedIn the ability to create robust targeted marketing solutions aimed squarely at your members, then turn around and sell that to the same people/organizations who used to need to go through your association to obtain it.
Now take the Bizo acquisition and layer on top of that the Lynda.com acquisition. More targeting. Then lay that over top of the potential that online learning and credentialing offers associations. Then Hulk-smash that potential by making it even easier for LinkedIn’s eventual learning platform to upend online learning targeted at specific professions. THEN get an email from LinkedIn like one of my assocations friends did, explaining why members’ posts in the association’s LinkedIn group are being automatically moved to the promotions tab:
“We’ve enhanced our content filters to promote increased engagement by significantly improving the quality of group content. We strive to have thought-provoking, dialogue-focused content published on the Discussions tab. As a result, you may see an increase in promotional, broadcast-type items moved to the Promotions tab automatically or displayed in the Submissions Queue (if you do not have the Promo tab activated). When content is reclassified by our system or flagging, members may be auto-moderated by for a period of time.
I hope you benefit from our initiative and find LinkedIn Groups the best place for like-minded professionals to discover and share insights with each other.”
This was in in response to the community manager being asked by association members why their discussions were being moved to the promotions tab when they were not promotional, and/or members were being “SWAMMED” (placed into site-wide automatic moderation and held there at LinkedIn’s whim). So now LinkedIn is not only mining your member’s data, serving targeted ads and, soon, educational programs based on their interests and discussions, but also removing any control you have over your members’ ability to post in your association’s group?
Add all these factors together and tell me you still think LinkedIn is a good place to house your association’s online community.