Change is inevitable. Anyone who has used social media for any length of time knows that statement to be very true. So when LinkedIn announced changes to LinkedIn Groups in late 2015, it didn't come as an incredible surprise to the platform's estimated 400 million users, and even went unnoticed by many.
LinkedIn has rolled out a few additional changes to groups already this year, but in essence all of the changes are aimed at providing a more engaging, less spammy experience for group users. For example, group conversations now won't be visible to non-members on the group's home page and the promotions tab has been eliminated from every group. Group conversations can now also include photos and you have the ability to tag other group members when you want them to join in on the conversation.
Sounds great, right? Well, yes and no. While overall this new set of LinkedIn Groups features seems to be a step in a positive direction, there is one change that poses a problem for both LinkedIn members and those that advertise on the site.
Group owners now have the option to make a group Standard or Unlisted. Standard Groups can be found by anyone searching LinkedIn, while Unlisted Groups are not searchable and only the group owner can invite others to join. These screen shots show how you will see the two types of groups for those you are a member of already:
This means that Unlisted Groups are now much harder to gain access to, and that they cannot be a target audience for sponsored updates or advertisements. Group targeting has always been a great way to avoid trying to figure out all of the potential job titles of those you want to advertise to, or to target individuals that may be attending an association's big event. So what's an advertiser to do?
Targeting Standard Groups is still an option, and you may be able to reach the same or a similar audience with a little creativity. If a national group that you want to target with your ad or sponsored update is Unlisted, look to see if there are local chapters that may have Standard Groups that you can combine in your ad targeting. Similarly, using our Atlanta Chapter of International Association of Business Communicators example above, we can see that the local group is Unlisted. However, a quick search reveals that the national organization is still a Standard Group. So, you could target the national group and specify Atlanta as your target location. Searching for new groups that have similar members to those you have traditionally targeted may also be a viable option.
While we anticipate that more groups will go the Unlisted Groups route as awareness of the option spreads, the workaround suggestions above are worth a try in situations where group targeting makes the most sense for your LinkedIn advertising.