The Blue Dog Scientific Blog: A Solution to the Problems with LinkedIn Groups.

A Solution to the Problems with LinkedIn Groups.

Carii for Business Communities.
What is the one question that your LinkedIn trainer or adviser is frightened to ask you? That one question which you should have asked yourself before you even started using LinkedIn as a business strategy (but probably never did)? It is this:

"Q. Is LinkedIn right for your business and what are the alternatives?"

As for any other aspect of business, this is just a "procurement" or "background research" basic. Yet when it comes to digital marketing and online forums why is that such business basics go out the window?

I am always actively and constantly looking into it this question. So in this first in an "Alternatives to LinkedIn" theme of articles I am providing my insights - and yes, there are better options available depending on you, your business and your online strategy goals.

In this first outing, let's consider an alternative option to LinkedIn Groups.

Here are some major shortcomings of LinkedIn Groups:
  • They are isolated. Many times, news or discussion pieces span across interests and themes. For example this very post is relevant to Groups about LinkedIn itself, social media strategy, B2B, small business, local and global business networking, etc. I could post it to many different Groups, but then I simply start a series of isolated Discussions. I also risk getting flagged up for spamming in doing so. There is no cross-fertilization of ideas.
  • They are all or nothing. As opposed to the above point, sometimes a Discussion is only relevant to a particular subset of people in a Group. Sure, there are Subgroups, but these have even less engagement and they cannot be set up ad hoc.
  • They are not multi-media. Black and white text Discussions are not the optimal way to communicate anything online. The only "media" option available in LinkedIn Groups is to drop a link. In other words, all you can do is provide a thumbnail picture together with an exit door to the Discussion. Indeed, links are the death of community Discussions, because by their very nature they take readers away from the post rather than encouraging engagement.
  • They are where the members create the content, but where LinkedIn makes the money. There is no doubt that LinkedIn sees Groups as a great way to do targeted advertising. They profit from what we create and by our participation.
  • They are on the decline. There is also no doubt that LinkedIn Groups are not what they were in terms of quality of content, contributions or engagement. In other words, as lead generation tools they are becoming more and more inefficient. 
So what are the alternatives, specifically for Business related communities?  The major social media channels all suffer from at least a few of the same issues. I have found various possible alternatives. One I like which has potential, simply in terms of a place to ask questions and find answers, is MosaicHub. There are also various old-fashioned B2B online forums. But as an alternative for the whole LinkedIn Discussion Group experience a platform called Carii offers the most, I believe. Having watched it's development with interest, it does seem to me to have major potential for something better. Here are my arguments as to why Carii seems to be the one platform which might address the current shortcomings of LinkedIn Groups.
  • Communities are not isolated. Posts can be shared amongst several "affiliated" Communities. A single Discussion can be shared amongst relevant groups, which members from all of them can contribute to and interact on. Cross-fertilization becomes the norm.
  • Dialogues can be shared with specific members of a group or specific members from amongst affiliated Communities. Ad hoc, specialist, working and focus groups can easily be constructed.
  • It is the one place I know of where Discussions can include true multi-media components in-situ. Carii uses a special carousel system where any number of images, video, etc. can be embedded in a post, in any order. This means media can have a significant role in enhancing engagement and quality of discourse.
  • A shared revenue model. Yes! Advertising revenue in Carii communities is shared between the group owners and the platform owners. Groups can find their own sponsors and advertisers and get the lions's share of the revenue. No other platform lets business groups monetize themselves in this way. Morever, Carii now has a donate button for not-for-profit organizations - Carii groups can be used to very directly support charities.
  • It's on the up and it's fresh and exciting. You only have to talk to the platform developers to get the sense of the excitement and enthusiasm, the vision and mission of it. When was the last time we got any sense of such things from LinkedIn, either the platform or the company?
This week I will start giving it a whirl in earnest. I will be creating a business-to-business orientated community on Carii, record the steps and discuss how I found the ease of doing it. Then you're all invited. Stay tuned.

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