Health IT

New LinkedIn Groups changes force its healthcare social media strategists to change up

Some of the most active LinkedIn Groups in healthcare will move a lot of that conversation off the site.

LinkedIn Groups changes coming this week are speeding an exodus of some of the medical industry’s most engaged LinkedIn members. They’re building their own sites and rethinking their healthcare social media strategies when it comes to the biggest B2B social media site on the planet.

“LinkedIn has been, next to Comcast, the single worst customer user experience I’ve ever encountered,” said Joe Hage said, who took over Medical Device LinkedIn Group in December 2011. Since then, Hage helped build the group from about 78,000 members to more than 297,000 through about eight hours a week of curation and communication. He also launched a conference, 10X, based of the connections built there.

On Monday he published – on LinkedIn – a plea to the site to reconsider some of the changes. The article also told his group members how he’ll work around the new policies.

“The No. 1 reason I am upset is that I thought the single greatest value I gave my members was that I filtered content for them,” said Hage, who gets about 50 submissions daily and publishes just a handful. “I wouldn’t publish anything not worth a busy medical device executive’s time.”

But maybe LinkedIn is fine with all this?

Word started to spread in early October about the changes to LinkedIn Groups. The updates include a new iOS app specifically for Groups. Plus, all groups will default to private, which means content won’t be indexed in a search engine.

The changes are meant to increase the quality of group conversations, which – as virtually anyone with a LinkedIn account knows – devolve into spam and self-promotions.

“Our data has shown that open groups have historically attracted a larger percentage of low-quality conversations,” LinkedIn wrote in a post in its help center. “Members-only groups have created significantly more participation and conversations than others (up to five times more), indicating that members feel more confident contributing in these types of groups.”

However, here’s the problem raised by Hage and other LinkedIn Groups die-hards. Any content published in a LinkedIn Group will automatically be published (as opposed to curated). Also, Hage won’t be able to directly to communicate with his members.

LinkedIn did not respond to a media inquiry on Monday.

Many top LinkedIn Group leaders have gradually relocated some of their content and conversations over the years. Paul Sonnier sometime ago transferred much of his Digital Health group’s conversation to StoryofDigitalHealth.com.

John Jones, who runs the nearly 74,000-member LinkedIn Group LiMS Forum, said these latest changes were the “proverbial straw.” Already upset by earlier changes in the LinkedIn Groups API, Jones is relocated most of the group to LiMSForum.com.

The namesake LinkedIn group will be a ghost town used to funnel members to the stand-alone site.

“Ironically, we will be using Linkedin in exactly the way they intended,” Jones wrote in an e-mail on Monday. “We will post discussions that drive more LinkedIn members directly to our new site just like all the other folks do.  We control spam at our new site and in our old group but LinkedIn seems to want to embrace spam as a way to drive up content.”