Six Reasons LinkedIn Discussions Are Crap

December 18th, 2008

Yep, another one. Deal with it.

LinkedIn Discussions has some real potential. You have professionals over at LinkedIn Groups gathering in numbers large and small, coalescing around issues significant and simplistic, and discussing … well, whatever the members of the group want to discuss.

Therein lies the potential … and the problem. LinkedIn Discussions could be a terrific real-time knowledge resource, a virtual salon where ideas are expressed and discussed, trends noted and dissected, successes and failures shared and analyzed — and more.

But it’s not. I belong to 18 LinkedIn groups and the signal-to-noise ratio is ridiculous. Lack of moderation is a problem: The creator of the group could separate the wheat from the chaff, but usually they don’t.

Here are six things contributing to the Discussions component of LinkedIn Groups being (mostly) a mess:

Too many people looking for free advice. “What’s the best way to market my business both online and off?” Sure, why don’t we take the combined brain power of the 50,000 or so members of this group and apply it to your business issue — since you’re clearly not interested in hiring a VP Marketing … or at least a marketing consultant.

Too much traffic whoring. “Here’s a great [article or blog post] I wrote about [insert topic about which 2,749,596 articles and blog posts have already been written] — check it out!” No thanks.

Too many people looking to arbitrarily expand their networks. These people are called LIONs, and I’ve never understood the point of this. “I’m looking to expand my network: Any and all invitations accepted!” Why? Do you really think that having a network of 10,000 or more strangers whom you ignore (or occasionally spam) will be more of a benefit for you than a network of 100 or so people with whom you keep in touch once in a while?

Too much job hunting. “Looking for opportunities in [insert business type and/or geographic region here].” LinkedIn: You need to create a separate place where job seekers can post their employment pleas. Please.

Too many blatant ads. Anyone who uses a discussion forum and doesn’t bother to participate in discussions but instead uses the digital real estate to post an ad touting their company or services is someone with whom I will never do business. Never. Ever.

Too much hyperbole. “The key to survival!” “The path to riches” And so it goes. Hey, I like hyperbole as much as the next guy (Are you kidding? I spent nine years with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey!), but posts like these make what should be a professional forum seem like ads in a ’70s comic book.

Give me questions that need to be answered. Give me ideas that need comment. Give me rants, snark, humor, insight, links to resources I can use and food for thought.

Wait, I know — how about maybe facilitating some actual discussion. Yeah, now there’s an idea.

Takeaway for marketers: If you’re a LinkedIn member, participate in the discussions — please. There’s an occasional needle in the haystack right now, but the forums desperately need a lot more signal to balance out the surfeit of noise.

DECEMBER 18 UPDATE: IT World has posted this article that explores the LIONs phenomenon.

4 Responses to “Six Reasons LinkedIn Discussions Are Crap”

  1. John Vornle Says:

    Comments are right on! Well done, good humor!

  2. When LinkedIn Groups Go Awry : The Independent Thinking Blog Says:

    […] an overview of what’s gone awry with LinkedIn discussions, read Craig Peters’ terrific post. In it, he outlines many of the things people are doing wrong, including looking for free […]

  3. When LinkedIn Groups Go Awry Says:

    […] an overview of what’s gone awry with LinkedIn discussions, read Craig Peters’ terrific post. In it, he outlines many of the things people are doing wrong, including looking for free […]

  4. Conrad Says:

    Totally agree. However, some groups are better at moderating than others. Some groups are moderating too much.
    It would also help if the experts jumped in once in a while and didn’t just lurk all the time.

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