What was Linkedin Thinking?

Discussion Damper!

Rick Stomphorst and I founded Silicon Halton a grassroots “unassociation” for Hitech entrepreneurs, companies and professionals in the Halton Region in Ontario, Canada. The primary tool and channel for our launch and to build the community was our Linkedin Group. If you live and/or work in Halton Region join our community.

What We Love about Linkedin

We were able to establish an online presence in the biggest social network for professionals on the web in under 30 minutes. We used it to build our membership, make connections, engage in conversation and promote and organize our monthly meetup events.

In 16 months the membership has grown to over 250 members, we’ve held sixteen meetups with an overall attendance record exceeding 500, launched a new website, met with local government officials and received publicity from the media. More importantly our members are connecting, creating opportunities and generating business together. Our use of Linkedin has helped make this happen.

Since the beginning we’ve used the Linkedin group for new member welcomes and introductions, for discussions, conversations and to make connections. These discussions have helped us refine ideas for our upcoming meetups, provide value add services such as building a Silcon Halton Twitter list and share thought leadership ideas and information.

But…Something Happened!

There are hundreds of comments and many discussions in our Linkedin group. Things were going great! Then Linkedin changed the way groups worked! My question is why? I like innovation and the desire to improve but I think Linkedin has taken a big step backwards.

What makes a Linkedin Group a success are the discussions that take place. While discussions are still the core feature of a Linkedin group a radical change has literally gagged most of them! Many discussions are now impossible to find and more importantly impossible to discover. Let me show you what I mean.

Before Groups Were Changed

Below is a screenshot we’ve used in our social media workshops to show how you could easily see all discussions in a group. As you can see you could sort the discussion by: recent activity, recent discussions and most comments.
These three methods of sorting discussions allowed you to see what discussions had fresh comments, what discussions had the most comments and which discussions had recently been added. As a group member and community manager you knew what discussions were more popular regardless of when they were posted.

After Groups Were Changed

Below is what the discussions tab looks like now. Real different!. You can click on the screenshot to enlarge it so you can see my notes.

It Gets Worse

Let’s look at a screenshot of the newest discussions stream. There are no discussions taking place here. Instead we see a bunch of RSS news feeds from members blog posts.

I can’t sort by most comments, recent activity. All we see are “new discussions”. There is no way to find discussions with most comments and recent activity. Yes, I can see my own but I’m interested in what other people are saying!

So What Should LinkedIn Do?

I think Linkedin should give group managers the option to use the old version. If not, make sure that the features that use to exist, like sorting discussions based on most comments and recent activity, are brought back. For future enhancements I suggest they do what Google does. They give you the chance to view AND use an updated version of one of their apps before they disable the older version.

Silicon Halton continues to use Linkedin to build our membership, make connections, and for event registration for our monthly meetups. But, the changes recently made, won’t help us build our community. I think they will hinder us. We may have to move to another platform and build our community elsewhere.

Chris HerbertChris Herbert is the founder of Mi6. Mi6 is a B2B (Business to Business) marketing and business development agency dedicated to helping companies build their brands and develop commercial relationships. He is the founder of ProductCamp Toronto and the Hi-tech community Silicon Halton. He tweets under the handle @B2Bspecialist