LinkedIn Groups: Are They Worth Your Time and Effort in 2024?

linkedin linkedintips Feb 06, 2024
Image on left: Groups of people at tables having conversations in large room. Text above reads: LinkedIn Groups before posting automation. Image on right: an empty room with promotional ads cluttering the walls. Text above reads: LinkedIn Groups After posting automation.

LinkedIn launched groups in 2005 as a premium add-on. They later opened groups to all members. The first 8-10 years went really well. Groups were engaging, with lots of discussions and helpful advice. 

Joining and participating in niche LinkedIn groups used to be a go-to strategy for growing your network and engaging with like-minded professionals. But in 2012, LinkedIn started allowing Hubspot and other platforms to auto-post content in groups without needing to log into LinkedIn or access the group directly. So they started simultaneously posting to multiple groups without actually visiting the group or engaging at all. 

As a result, groups became overwhelmed with promotional content. This worked for a short time. But as spam increased, engagement plummeted, and most groups eventually became wastelands where content goes to die a lonely death. 

Over the past few years, the quality and engagement in many LinkedIn groups has steadily declined.

So in 2024, are LinkedIn groups still worth your time and effort as a relationship-building and lead generation strategy? Or are they a wasteland of self-promotion and spam? 

Read on. We’ll explore both sides of the debate and provide tips to make the most of LinkedIn groups (or know when to focus your efforts elsewhere).

The Case for Abandoning LinkedIn Groups

Let’s start with the harsh reality: by some estimates, nearly 90 to 99% of LinkedIn groups are essentially ghost towns filled with content spam and little to no engagement from members. 

Even for active groups, it takes consistent time and effort from group managers to keep the spam out. Here’s why many marketing pros have given up on LinkedIn groups:

  • Overflowing Inboxes: In the early days of groups, you’d get notifications when fellow members posted or commented. But as groups grew exponentially, these emails became overwhelming and spammy, so LinkedIn removed the feature.
  • Declining Engagement: When the LinkedIn API opened up to tools like Hootsuite and Hubspot, it became easy to auto-post content to groups at scale. As a result, endless promotions and links to blog posts drowned out meaningful conversations. Engagement dropped drastically.
  • Poor Moderation: Managing and moderating a popular LinkedIn group takes significant time and effort. Many groups don’t have an active owner or enough moderators to keep self-promotion in check. This allows spam to take over.
  • Vanishing Analytics: LinkedIn used to provide metrics like post-to-comment ratios to showcase engagement. But they removed group analytics from their dashboard, leaving prospective members flying blind. Now you can’t evaluate the engagement in a group without first joining it. And even then, evaluating engagement is challenging.
  • Limited Reach and Visibility: If the group isn’t getting much engagement, it’s unlikely that members will see your posts. I’ve seen estimates that even active groups only get engagement from about 1% of their members.

For these reasons, it’s understandable why many marketing professionals believe LinkedIn groups are no longer worth the investment of time and energy compared to other tactics.

The Case for Using LinkedIn Groups in 2024

However, don’t trash your LinkedIn groups strategy just yet. While the heyday of LinkedIn groups has undoubtedly passed, they can still be worth your while if approached strategically. Here are a few compelling reasons to give them a second chance:

  • Niche Access: With nearly 3 million groups on LinkedIn, there’s likely a niche community for your target audience if you look hard enough. Joining relevant active groups gives you exposure and access to people you won’t find elsewhere.
  • Network Growth: Even in less active groups, you have access to all the members. You can send them DMs and connection requests, even if they’re further away than 3rd degree.
  • Thought Leadership: In the right group, you can establish yourself as an industry thought leader by sharing unique insights, experiences, and helpful resources. Position yourself as an expert vs. a salesman.
  • Relationship Building: Active groups allow you to start real conversations and build rapport with prospects over time. You can move discussions offline to continue nurturing relationships.
  • Increased Reach: When groups are active, your posts are likely to get more reach in the group than in the regular LinkedIn feed.
  • Lead Generation: Active participation in a well-matched group will lead to profile views, connection requests, and new conversations from targeted, interested prospects.
  • Credibility: Being an engaged group member communicates you’re actively embedded in the industry, not just broadcasting spam. It builds credibility.
  • Competitive Edge: Since many firms disengaged from groups, those providing real value can stand out. Your competitors may be missing opportunities.

How to Find Quality LinkedIn Groups in 2024

The key is finding and engaging with high-quality groups that are worth your time. Here’s how to assess if a LinkedIn group is valuable in 2024 (note, you’ll have to join the group to evaluate, but you can immediately leave if the group doesn’t pass your assessment):

  • Vet group activity: Scan through recent posts and discussions. Are members actively commenting and engaging? Or is the group a ghost town?
  • Check comment to post ratio: A healthy group discussion has lots of member participation. Scroll down in the feed to posts that are at least 2-3 days old. Do they have comments and reactions? Ideally, the average post should get at least 5-10 comments.
  • Review rules: Many groups prohibit self-promotion or have guidelines requiring value-add to share links. This reduces spam. Fewer links generally means better engagement. Strict enforcement of the rules improves the quality of the group.
  • Look for spam: Are there signs of automation like repeat posts from the same members? Or obvious self-promotion?
  • Search member profiles: Do members appear to be real professionals in the niche? Or are they anonymous profiles with few connections and little to no activity (those are probably fake profiles)?
  • Observe engagement: Does the group owner actively respond and spark conversations? Are there quality contributions?

Using these criteria will help identify active, human-driven groups where you’re more likely to gain value as a participant.

LinkedIn Group Participation Best Practices

To maximize your impact and results from LinkedIn groups, keep these proven best practices in mind:

  • Keep your posts educational, insightful, or discussion provoking. The less promotional, the more engagement you’ll attract. 
  • Comment thoughtfully: Reply to other members' posts by expanding on their ideas, asking follow up questions, and providing unique angles. Avoid simply saying “Great post!”.
  • Start new discussions: Initiate fresh conversation threads around topics and issues relevant to the group niche. Ask interesting questions.
  • Go above and beyond: Answer member questions thoroughly and mentor others in the group. Building relationships takes effort but pays dividends.
  • Follow up offline: If there’s a promising connection, continue the discussion 1:1 via LinkedIn messages. Move it off the group platform.
  • Monitor metrics: Keep an eye on the engagement on your posts. Track impressions, comments and reactions. You can also keep an eye on profile views from post members. 
  • In your member profile, use a specialized link to your website with a UTM tracking code. That will allow you to track how many of your visits are coming from the group.

Should You Spend Time on LinkedIn Groups in 2024?

Weighing all factors, here is my recommendation on LinkedIn groups:

Diligently explore niche industry and interest groups aligned to your target audience. Vet them thoroughly using the criteria provided above. If you find well-moderated groups with quality human-to-human conversations, they can be worth incorporating into your relationship-building strategy, especially if competitors aren’t taking advantage of them.

However, joining dozens of random groups and spamming them with content won’t provide results. It will just annoy people. Be selective and thoughtful. Focus on value-add rather than promotions. If managed actively, groups may still yield relationship benefits in 2024, but they require effort to maintain engagement.

I'd love to hear your perspective. What's been your experience and success with LinkedIn groups?

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