LinkedIn allows discussion groups to open comments to the public
Social media is morphing continuously, adapting to technology and the needs of users. That truth was evidenced by a recent move by LinkedIn, one of the most popular social media web sites aimed at advancing networking between professionals. The company revised how it handles open groups, creating a new choice for its 750,000 plus virtual ‘group administrators’ to retain group comments closed or allow them to become open, rendering discussions and comments visible to anyone on the Internet, including Google.
Joining LinkedIn continues to be free, but membership to groups is not automatic. As in the past, membership is limited for groups that are ‘closed’. A member ‘wannabe’ of a particular group of interest has to apply to join closed groups. Then, that group’s virtual ‘owner’ approves or disallows an application at discretion. For example, if a group’s mission is to connect and educate marketing professionals who use social media, but a carpenter wishes to join to learn social media, membership might be denied. Open groups, on the other hand, have been around in the past and allow people to join without someone scrutinizing their membership.
The new change to open groups overhauls how LinkedIn contained information disseminated on its site in the past. Unlike Twitter, which shares every comment posted on it with search engine powerhouses like Google, LinkedIn confined content published on it within the LinkedIn community. However, now that LinkedIn has given group administrators the authority to open groups, comments made by users are visible to anyone on the Internet. That means anything new posted on an open group is now searchable.
This certainly opens up new doors for people who use social media to optimize their online presence.
Although this monumental shift took place in December, there was and continues to be intense discussions regarding the pros and cons of LinkedIn’s move. For example, supporters of the plan believe that opening LinkedIn group discussions to the broad Internet community will:
- Encourage a broader and more diverse discussion of issues, since the change makes LinkedIn comments accessible to anyone on the Internet
- Make it possible for comments and discussions to be searchable on Google, increasing their visibility by nearly unlimited proportions. Comments can now also be found on search engines and shared on other social media outlets such as Twitter.
If you happen to be the administrator of a LinkedIn group, how does the company’s decision to revamp group communications impact you and your group? Very simply, unless you have already made the switch, the next time you log into your group, you will see an option to convert the group from closed to open. But beware! Once you accomplish the steps needed to open the group, that action cannot be undone.
Opponents of the move argued that opening group discussions to the public would encourage spam to pollute the highly respected Web site. It should be noted that LinkedIn discussions held prior to the opening of a group would not be accessible by the public nor would they be searchable on the World Wide Web. The change exposes only those discussions held online after a group head alters that organization’s privacy setting, if they choose to do so at all.
In another move designed to expose the comments and works of LinkedIn users to the masses, the company recently launched a ‘Share’ button on the bottom of pages. By using that link, users can now disseminate content both quickly and easily to the global community, much the same way fans of Twitter and Facebook have been doing for some time. This offering presents users other ways of sharing content easily throughout the Information Superhighway, thereby exponentially increasing its viral exposure.