LinkedIn recently launched an initiative meant to help Discussion Groups stay more focused on their respective topics. The problem is – this initiative ultimately resulted in some unintended consequences
By Daniel Kushner, CEO at Oktopost
There’s no question that LinkedIn is the leading platform for business professionals. Regardless of whether you’re interested in networking, or looking to generate new leads, a presence on LinkedIn is absolutely necessary.
One of the most popular ways to engage on LinkedIn is through Discussion Groups. With that in mind, LinkedIn recently launched an initiative meant to help Discussion Groups stay more focused on their respective topics. The problem is – this initiative ultimately resulted in some unintended consequences.
“Site Wide Automatic Moderation,” as it has been dubbed (the name was coined by a blogger and not by LinkedIn itself), was intended to deal with the spam that was infiltrating industry-specific Discussion Groups. Under the “SWAM” initiative, if you are blocked, deleted or marked for moderation – depending on whom you ask, you will then be “marked for moderation” in all of your other Groups.
The decision to introduce SWAM was very much under the radar – so much so, that most users (including Discussion Group owners and moderators) aren’t aware of its existence.
SWAM was introduced back in January of last year, with only a short announcement on a LinkedIn product-related Discussion Group. I only became aware of SWAM in October 2013. Since then, I have done extensive research to find out more about the policy, but frankly, have had a hard time locating solid facts.
In the last few weeks, it appears that a new caveat was added: SWAM will no longer permanently mark members for moderation. Initially, if you were “SWAMd,” the only recourse was to reach out to every moderator directly, and ask for him or her to manually change your “Requires Moderation” status. This applied to un-moderated Groups as well – which, by design, had little or no active moderation.
All of this talk about SWAM may discourage you from participating in Discussion Groups, but you shouldn’t let it. As marketers, Discussion Groups enable us to share our messages with relevant prospects, and industry professionals at large. After all, messaging is the best way to convey that your product, service, brand, or even you yourself, are a trustworthy investment. How can you avoid getting SWAMd and also maximize the benefits offered by LinkedIn Groups?
I’m glad you asked.
The best way to promote discussions using posts is to include questions. This – more than any other suggestion, is one that marketers should take to heart. If a moderator notices that a certain member is regularly posting purely promotional content, this will be viewed as taking away from the overall culture of the Group.
This doesn’t mean you can’t include a link to your content in posts – quite the opposite. Your social messages on LinkedIn Groups should not only promote engagement, but also motivate members to read the article prior to commenting.
LinkedIn Groups are not the place for a “spray and pray” strategy. At the risk of being repetitive – discussions require you to discuss. This means that your activity on LinkedIn Groups should reflect a two-way street. When you start a discussion it’s vital follow it and engage with other members who respond.
Post Thought-Leadership Content
When it comes to content marketing, establishing thought leadership is one of the greatest achievements you can attain. However, becoming a thought leader is easier said than done. A marketer, particularly a content marketer, needs to always keep in mind that whatever he or she writes must not be an overt sales pitch. In order to create quality content that will go over well when posting to LinkedIn, it’s crucial to understand the zeitgeist in your industry, and make sure your content speaks to it.
While slightly overplayed, writing “10 Ways…” “How To” and other helpful articles is always a good bet. Yet, given that these types of articles can be found anywhere, make sure that your writing covers new ground and provides value to the reader.
Keep it Relevant
Each LinkedIn Group has its own profile, which is a basic description of its mission, and occasionally a set of rules. Before posting on any Groups, it is extremely important to familiarize yourself with the Group, what is (or isn’t) being shared there, and the topics covered there.
By keeping the content you share aligned with the Group’s overall theme, you can kill two birds with one stone:
1. Distribute your content on a large scale to relevant, targeted audience
2. Establish yourself a valuable member and attain “Top Contributor” status
Ultimately, it doesn’t seem like SWAM will be going away anytime soon. Though it appears that the rules are changing quite frequently, these changes are generally not announced to the public.
In order to tap into the huge marketing potential of LinkedIn Groups, you need to play by the rules – the dividends you receive can prove to be invaluable.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/ LinkedIn URL magnified