Are LinkedIn groups dead?

Are you — or were you — a fan of LinkedIn groups?

I have long been a big supporter of LinkedIn groups because I always learned so much from the discussions. Because of that, I invested a significant amount of my social media time in group discussions — until LinkedIn redesigned the site in early 2017.

That’s when the group chatter just stopped.

LinkedIn groups seemed to disappear

The first clue that groups were in trouble after the redesign was that I couldn’t find them. I had to use Google to locate the 20 or so groups where I am (or was . . .) the most active.

Since then, group discussions have practically disappeared. A group post that might have generated 48 comments two years ago might get three or four, now. I truly, truly miss those discussions.

Traffic from LinkedIn to this blog has dropped, too. In the first quarter of 2016, LinkedIn was a top traffic source for this site. That volume started declining in the first quarter of last year after the site redesign and today? It’s about half of what it used to be.

Authors have noticed a difference

I asked the Build Book Buzz Facebook group members if they had noticed the change (it’s no coincidence that the group is on Facebook, not LinkedIn). Those who used to be active in the groups did see a difference, of course. One group owner said she created a new group for her community on Facebook because of the dropoff in group member participation on LinkedIn.

With confirmation that others had noticed a disappointing drop in LinkedIn group activity, I did a quick online search to see what I could learn about the what and why behind this apparent effort to kill off the social network’s groups.

Search results were initially discouraging — most had reached the same conclusion that I did — until I came across “LinkedIn Set to Bring Back Groups from the Dead (But, Why?“) on Inc.com.

Notice that, “But, why?” in the title.

The “why” is that they were amazingly useful before LinkedIn messed things up.

I emailed a LinkedIn publicist twice to confirm the article’s report that there would be “a renewed focus on groups” but never got a response.

What I did get two weeks later, however, was an invitation to the “LinkedIn Groups Listening Tour” in one of the company’s three offices in San Francisco, Toronto, and New York. I’m interpreting that as a sign that the company actually is trying to breathe life into groups.

Ask the expert

LinkedIn groups 2
LinkedIn expert Wayne Breitbarth

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I contacted my friend Wayne Breitbarth, author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success, to get his opinion about the future of LinkedIn groups.

“I am hopeful, but there is a real lack of caring right now from the members so it will take some real emphasis and focus” he says, adding,”I haven’t seen enough from them since the big January announcement. I do hear of some smaller groups still operating efficiently, but that is the exception rather than the rule.”

To quote The Clash, “Should I stay or should I go?”

Should we abandon LinkedIn groups? Or should we wait a little longer while the company begins to implement changes promised in January before making a decision?

“If you find a group that is being managed well and the membership is still made up of the right folks for you, stick with it and post, share, and engage in what is going on and try to take those interactions on to connections and then to phone calls or email or meetings,” Breitbarth advises.

He notes that people in groups can message 15 group members per month even if they’re not connected to each other.

“That’s like getting 15 InMails free from LinkedIn each month,” he adds.

What are your other options?

That’s not to say you shouldn’t be looking at other options, though.

“If your audience is on Facebook, I would probably move in that direction because of a general lack of LinkedIn showing they truly care about this part of the platform,” Breitbarth says.

Are you still using LinkedIn groups, as I am? What are you seeing with them? Are they fading away, or surviving? 

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  1. Thanks for this post Sandra. I’ve thought the same thing. In fact, I’m developing a new marketing plan using the message and it doesn’t need groups, blogs, podcasts or email lists to succeed. It’s aimed at building business rather than book sales. Far more profitable!

  2. From time to time I still check my LI groups to see how many responses there are. Sadly the groups no longer do the job, or are they worth much effort. Once LI was taken over by large interests who have little or no concerns for their membership they value has dropped drastically. I dropped “Premium” (@ $29. per month)as in my view it is now a waste of money.

    P.S. Keep up your good work Sandra

    1. Bill, I think that generating income will always be the underlying motive of big business. There has to be a way for LinkedIn to do that while supporting the group function, right? And thanks for the kind words! I appreciate them!


  3. Thanks for the post Sandra. I took over a group – Women growing small business in Australia – and have found it difficult to generate activity. I will continue!

  4. I find I get more comments and looks on my personal LinkedIn profile. I have one or two groups that are pretty active still. Most aren’t. Worse yet, the group I moderate doesn’t let me know when someone wants “in”.

    1. Ellen, do you have to go to the group then to see that someone wants to join? If so, that must be frustrating.


  5. I also noticed less activity in groups. Why would LinkedIn make a change that made the groups harder to use? Or it is unintended consequence of something they did with their algorithms (which I don’t understand how they work but I probably should).

    1. I think the problem started with the re-design. That’s when the company essentially hid the groups. I have to think that was intentional, but since LinkedIn didn’t respond to my interview requests, I didn’t get a chance to get an explanation.


  6. Hi Sandy,

    I pulled back on participating on LinkedIn a few years ago when they changed the design and got tough on membership on those of us who thought we had been grandfathered into Premium membership. Besides, the discussions were no longer as helpful as they once were.

    In the groups where I was a member, participation seemed to have dwindled to newbies asking the same questions over and over, and a few cantankerous (and sometimes know-it-all) members picking apart the responses, launching verbal fights.

    As you’ll recall, I was excited when they opened their publishing platform to everyone, thinking that would being more involvement. But sadly, the changes that came after that caused a lot of us to lose interest.

    Fortunately, my LinkedIn friends who were helpful moved on to other places, and I followed them.

    1. Interestingly enough, I’m seeing what you’ve described in Facebook groups, too. The most common seems to be the most basic of questions from someone who has done no research before asking the question, “How do I get a book published?” or a version of that.

      Groups need active moderators. From what I’ve seen, once the moderator checks out, the inmates start running the asylum.

      It will be interesting to see if LI groups come back to life.

      Thanks for stopping by, Flora!


  7. It might be a good idea to share in more detail the changes LinkedIn made to discussion groups so that authors who use them (and I am one too) can understand the impact it has for them.

    Firstly, these changes were not well communicated by LinkedIn for clear reasons – they are crippling its former functionality largely because discussion groups were proving costly to maintain while generating no clear revenue for them. Here are the most important changes catching most people out.

    1. Activity Notifications: Your activity notifications settings for your groups get reset to “none” every so often, most especially if you’re not clicking on the emails when you get them. You need to re-set them for each group, and you need to click through on the emails, or you’ll stop getting them.

    They also no longer tell you which discussions are the busiest, which is a shame since this was usually a good indication of which discussion to listen to. There’s no longer any way to know about this unless you visit the group’s home page regularly.Yes, very unlikely, I agree.

    2. You think your post is published, but it may be totally invisible to others: If you post something, and you get no response, it’s very likely that your post was deleted by a group manager. It will appear to be there for you, but NOBODY else will see it.

    Similarly, if an admin places you on moderation, you may not be able to tell that anything has changed. Both these cases are highly annoying, so if you are not getting any responses to your discussion posts, check this out and contact the moderator to put you back in.

    3. Group Rules: Since LinkedIn has removed the most critical tools for group management, many group admins have resigned or become increasingly likely to kick out anyone who breaks the posted rules. What rules? yes, a good question since they are not crystal clear.

    What you can do if you are getting no notifications any more:
    Go to your home page, to the drop down menu labeled “work.” Click on Groups. This takes you to the so-called group highlights page. Click on “My Groups” at the top of that page. From there, you can reset your notifications settings, but you can also click on the name. That takes you to the home page of each group. At the top of the right-hand column are the group details. The last line of that is a link to the group’s rules.

    Also consider: bookmark the homepages for any active and interesting groups you have. Revisit them since you have less ways now of knowing if active discussions are going on in them.

    I hope this information helps – Richard

  8. I belonged to several LinkedIn groups, mainly for writers. I knew the site had been redesigned – and not for the better – which substantiates the old maxim, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’

    In many ways, I miss that type of interaction, which was more cerebral than anything on Facebook. Obviously, FB stole thunder from many social networking sites (just ask My Space and AOL!) But, just like the Republican Party here in Texas, Facebook (namely Mark Zuckerberg) got too fat and too happy too quickly. While the Texas GOP hasn’t collapsed under the weight of its own arrogance yet, Zuckerberg pretty much has. People are starting to realize that what’s trendy and fashionable – even in social media – isn’t always best. I suspect the Facebook upheaval will force many to recognize this and reconsider what’s necessary and valuable for a cohesive online community.

    1. Alejandro, even if Facebook disappeared today, LinkedIn groups still wouldn’t be as useful today as they used to be, because LinkedIn did such a nice job of destroying them. The LI groups won’t bounce back to life immediately.


  9. I only belong to one group where real discussion take place run by Tsufit. This article was shared by a group member to support the discussion to the question are LinkedIn Groups dead. My view is that they probably are, but there are some if you search that are active like ‘Step into the Spotlight’, which is the only one I belong to now. LinkedIn have largely ignored groups as it doesn’t earn them any revenue. All development that earns revenue gets priority. Unfortunately it’s what drives all CEO’s these days. Shareholder value. Users really do not matter only advertisers and recruiters for LinkedIn. I will be downgrading my LinkedIn membership at the end of my subscription period in June.

  10. I was an active LI Group users. I used to get lots of lead from LinkedIn Group via my discussion

    One of the reasons I think LinkedIn decided to kill this or make this useless, is for sake of Advertisement.

    I mean I never advertised on LinkedIn when the group was active.

    Sadly, I have been advertising on linked in without such success rate as I did group was active.

    So I develop a plan

    – Add 20 to 25 connections per day
    – Post useful content 3 to 5 times daily on my own profile.

    I started to see new leads from Linked as I keep all linked leads into separate lists. It is growing but slowly

    1. Thanks, Faisal. I’m glad you found a workable Plan B. Your strategy could work for authors looking to make book-related connections there, too.


  11. Lowered activity is across the board, I think linkedin has changed its algorithm significantly to try and force people to pay for sponsored content. I have broad network, groups with a combined membership of around 35k and where I used to get 100+ likes / 50+ comments, I now get anything from nothing up to around 20

  12. I own 3 LI groups, from large to small. The bigger ones are beset by promoters promoting their own content — not exactly spam, but not generating discussion in the group. Late in 2018, LinkedIn took away:
    1) the ability to email group members
    2) the ability to feature a post
    3) automatic moderation

    This has made groups useless for many owners, who do want to promote their own business while providing valuable content for members.

    1. Ellen, about a year ago, LinkedIn announced it was going to do more to support groups. Have you seen any useful changes?


  13. my wife and I own a large LI group of 750,000. we always removed spam and keep the group clean and on point. LI has removed the tools for us to manage the group and it’s now a free for all with spam. over 15 years of building this group and LI new rules have stopped the interaction on our group….very sad linkedin

    1. How disappointing, Art. It sounds like LI didn’t come through with the support promised a year ago. I loved the LI groups I belonged to when the system worked — what a shame that LI decided to destroy them.


  14. Sandra, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I know I’m late to the game, but my company has developed an “audit” of sorts, for measuring the health of any LinkedIn Group. You can then benchmark against any cohort of groups. Since I maybe shouldn’t leave a URL here, just search for “Community Health Score” AND “LinkedIn Groups” — you’ll find an article about it. I am hopeful that we can collectively heal at least some of the “almost pretty good” LinkedIn Groups without Microsoft pulling the plug on them.

    1. Gregory, I didn’t find anything when I followed your instructions. The problem with the groups I’m in is that each group’s owner seems to have abandoned the group, so they’re overwhelmed with useless, unrelated promotional posts. Does your solution address that?


      1. Please try the search again, using Google or Bing — you’ll find my article for sure now. My solution doesn’t fix group Admin abandonment, but it does tell you just how “good” or “bad” your Group happens to be in terms of member engagement.

  15. Hi Sandra,

    Great investigation you did here! I wrote a similar piece for 2022, and unfortunately, as you may have suspected, they are quite dead for the reason Wayne mentioned.

    Sadly the groups are full of spam.

    I tried contacting a bunch of group managers too for comment but they seemed fairly inactive (or missed it) themselves.

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