If you’re a regular, or even infrequent, user of LinkedIn, by now it’s likely that you’ve noticed a big change. Namely, LinkedIn groups have been simplified, streamlined and generally given something of a visual overhaul.

Naturally, the changes are more than skin deep, but the first thing you’ll notice will almost certainly be new and improved aesthetics. The design of groups is now big, bold and – more importantly – simple. This brings desktop groups in line with the standalone app on iOS and soon, Android.

LinkedIn-Changes-2015-Groups

But what you’re interested in are the meatier changes. What are the more complex changes and how will they affect the way you interact with or manage groups on LinkedIn?

Standard Groups vs. Unlisted Groups

Probably the biggest change that will affect how you use LinkedIn groups is the introduction of ‘standard’ and ‘unlisted’ groups. Simply put, standard groups require you to request to join (though you can also be invited), and to join unlisted groups you must receive an invite. The latter are not searchable.

Big deal. Except it means that all groups on LinkedIn are now private and members-only. If you’re a community manager on LinkedIn this is a big – potentially nightmarish – change.

LinkedIn’s justification?

Our data has shown that open groups have historically attracted a larger percentage of low-quality conversations. 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.

Content Moderation & Filtering

Except that ‘conversations will now be posted instantly to a group without the need for manager approval’. Wait. What?

For some reason, LinkedIn has removed the mandatory quality control process of its groups. While this may sound like it removes work from community managers, it simply means that they have to actively seek out any spam. It sounds a little counter intuitive to us.

To tackle this, ‘LinkedIn has improved the filtering of spammy and low-quality content’, except that it has been shown that it doesn’t always work.

The Smaller Changes

Clearly, with these changes LinkedIn has – for better or worse – taken measures to simplify the groups experience and reduce the amount of spam content on the platform.

 …we’ve simplified several group features to ensure that groups will always be the most trustworthy place for you to gather with like-minded professionals.

The new Groups changes will make sure that the LinkedIn experience is easier to understand and navigate for all members.

And there are smaller changes too, such as the removal of the, largely spammy, promotions tab and often confusing subgroups. But there are also some rather more intriguing, potentially very positive changes too. Images can now be posted to new conversations, other group member can now be mentioned by typing ‘@’, and a digest has been created summarising ‘the most popular and recent conversations’.

For more information on any of these changes, or to read LinkedIn’s, often flawed, justification for many of them click here…