The number of Professional Groups on LinkedIn seems to be exploding. I belong to 13 and just added another today.
As TechCrunch noted on March 20, LinkedIn made group management easier several months ago, when it allowed Group administrators to email updates to members. That's about the time I noticed some valuable activity on my LinkedIn groups. On July 7, Doug McSorley blogged the results of an informal poll that showed LinkedIn groups were getting much better participation than Facebook groups.
I couldn’t find a count on the total number of LinkedIn Groups, but I feel safe in saying there are enough for everybody. On June 24, the Applicant blog cited "10 LinkedIn Grops Every Job Seeks Should Join.” ODesk blog notes that there are 20 Groups for Freelancers. Bradley Will made a list of “Top 20 LinkedIn Groups ALL Entrepreneurs MUST Join." You get the point.
Louis Gray isn’t pleased with the way LinkedIn Groups function, though. On April 21, he noted shallow participation. "While my little social experiment is hardly comprehensive, discussions with other professionals in my network have offered much of the same qualitative analysis: Only a small percentage of groups see any significant conversation threads. So it would seem that in the minds of many I network with, LinkedIn groups are on the outs.”
Folks who commented on Louis’ post -- and if you're gauging whether or not to join a LinkedInGroup, you should read ALL the comments here -- generally agreed that group participation is relatively weak (few members comment, “discussions” fall flat, etc.), but many had useful suggestions. Sameer at Pretzel Logic said, "LinkedIn group discussions can certainly be anemic; however if you do get a conversation going, its far richer than many other social networks. The primary benefit to us in the early adopter crowd is that LinkedIn serves as a much more mainstream assessment of the point you're trying to get across. The tech echo chamber can get very myopic. The LinkedIn demographic helps to keep it real."
It takes only a few seconds to scan the email from Group managers and lately I’m finding that members are posting a lot more interesting articles, links, and suggestions. A couple of months ago the Twitter Innovators group invited members to pass along their Twitter names and profiles. Once they found out about it, a lot of spammers jumped on the bandwagon, but with careful culling, I was able to use the group to build my Follow list.
Bottom line: If a professional has time for only one social media effort, I'd recommend LinkedIn.
-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo