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Recently (December 4th) LinkedIn introduced a new way of encouraging its users to contribute in LinkedIn Groups. They launched a new status symbol which can be visible to everyone viewing your Profile. I’ve researched this new feature, here’s my analysis.

 

INFLUENCE v CONTRIBUTION
The whole concept of grading activity in LinkedIn Groups has evolved from being categorized as “influential”… TI 4

…to one now defined by LinkedIn as”contributory”.Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 12.40.02 PM

 

Why have LinkedIn changed the concept/definition of activity which they deem to have a positive effect on their myriad communities? A number of reasons:

 

(1) they already have “Influencers” (famous & semi-famous business personalities).
(2) influence conceptually is difficult to define, means different things to different people.
(3) the “contributor” label comes with less social baggage than “influencer”.
(4) anyone can contribute, it’s a warm fuzzy, egalitarian concept.
(5) LinkedIn Groups suffer from a lack of contribution (i.e participation).

 

THE LINKEDIN EXPLANATION
This is how LinkedIn explains “Top Contributor” (LinkedIn Help Center 12/3/13):

 

Fostering great discussions in your LinkedIn Group is important to keeping your group active and interesting to the members. Because of this, we’ve introduced contribution levels, a new system that shows members how influential they are in a group. On the right side of your group page you’ll see the Top Contributors in this group section as well as your own contribution level in this group. Top contributors are group members who post the most interesting discussions and comments. The top contributors will have a text indicator under their headline any time they post a discussion in the group. Clicking a profile image or name will take you to that member’s activity page. The Top Contributor indicator will also appear on a member’s profile.

Contribution levels are group specific and recalculated every day. The contribution levels are, in order:

  • Getting started
  • Finding an audience
  • Making an impact
  • Building influence
  • Top Contributor

Important: To increase your contribution level, start interesting discussions and comment thoughtfully on other group members’ discussions. As people interact more with you, you’ll see your score go up. Your contribution level will go down if you are not active or your posts are promotional or inappropriate for the group.

 

My summary: We want active LinkedIn Groups, we think good dialogue is key so we’re going to reward the good stuff by awarding you status. If you win this competition, your victor status will be displayed publicly. This competition never ends. You’re only as good as your last contribution to that Group.

 

“ALL-STAR” & “TOP CONTRIBUTOR”
LinkedIn are using the same stimulus approach deployed to encourage users to complete their LinkedIn Profile, the color scheme is almost identical:

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 11.03.34 AM

 

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Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 12.38.33 PM

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Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 11.16.25 AM

 

Though LinkedIn tells you there are 5 levels of contribution, I’ve found 6. If you’ve never contributed in one of your Groups (including ‘liked’ a Discussion/Comment) you’ll be greeted with the empty gas tank symbol. No color for you, not even a red warning light. You’re not even a “Beginner” since technically you’ve not begun anything. In LinkedIn’s eyes there is always room for improvement, so both “All-Star” and “Top Contributor” category have a 98% completion graphic. The only difference between “All-Star” and “Top Contributor”? The latter is public and is displayed in the Group in which you’ve attained that status and on your Profile in the Groups section, under the relevant Group. No one knows whether you are an “All-Star” or not.

 

WIIFM?
It depends on your professional goals and whether LinkedIn Groups are part of your networking strategy. If you’re in a customer-facing role then clearly being a “Top Contributor” will be attractive. Job-seekers will also benefit by having this status displayed to folks who ordinarily wouldn’t see it (i.e browsers who don’t belong to the same Groups). In fact anyone who is looking to add credibility to their professional image on LinkedIn could gain a minor (temporary) boost by becoming a “Top Contributor”. The other thing to note:  you won’t have to pay for this shiny new bauble. So job-seekers, save your money and invest some of your valuable networking time in high-quality, well-run, industry-specific LinkedIn Groups. Add value, not just your opinions. Be signal, not noise. Personally, I welcome this development and think it’s good for LinkedIn Groups. A step in the right direction. I run 6 LinkedIn Groups with close to 30,000 members and the vast majority (99%) never participate in public. There’s a populist saying “When everyone does better – everyone does better” and this is undoubtedly true and applicable to LinkedIn Groups. If you join a community and never contribute, the community suffers and ultimately so do you, there is an opportunity deficit. LinkedIn is trying to be that Teacher who picks on the quiet row at the back. Will it work? Only time will tell. I think having “Top Contributor” hidden away in the Groups section, buried on someone’s Profile, is a marketing failure – it needs to be more visible, displayed prominently like a Premium or Job Seeker badge, for this campaign to work. LinkedIn ought to give it the ‘Endorsement’ treatment – a dedicated Profile Section with a week and month view displaying when and where “Top Contributor” status was earned.

 

WHY VIEWS ARE PRIZED
“Group participants get 4x the number of profile views” why is this valuable? Views are incredibly important on LinkedIn. You may be supremely talented, great at your job, well educated, universally adored with a knock-out Profile (see (1) below)  but none of that matters a whit if no one ever visits your LinkedIn page. And you can forget about ‘searches’, those are not the same as ‘views’. Searches are mere impressions, views are actual clicks. I developed a technique to boost my LinkedIn Profile views by 200% (that’s 12,000 more views on my LinkedIn page) you can read more in my post “Measure Your LinkedIn ROI With Views Not Searches“.

 

LINKEDIN CONSULTING
If you liked this article, you’ll love my customized consulting service. I’ve helped many professionals to achieve their full potential on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is not somewhere you paste your resumé, sit back and wait for things to happen. It’s a complicated and nuanced website portal that requires action, consistency, insight, branding strategy and marketing know-how. What you don’t know – could hurt you.

 

Whether it’s getting more traffic on your Profile, engaging with a stunningly good Summary or refreshing your LinkedIn presence and brand – share your goals with me and I’ll help you to achieve all of them via LinkedIn.

 

Contact me now: linkedinsights@gmail.com / 773.469.6600 to find out how I can help you.

 

That’s all from me for this week. Have you noticed that I have no advertising on my site? It’s because I don’t want to bother or distract you, the reader. But I do need advertising! – if you liked what you read, PLEASE share this article with at least one person you know via LinkedIn, twitter, google+ or Facebook, it’s good to share 🙂

By Andy Foote

 

btw-  for those of you wondering what the heck the picture of the lady shaving has to do with the subject in hand…all of the pictures I use in this blog have some kind of relevant message….this pic was famous back in the day (’86) and the accompanying caption was: “Despite what some people think. advertising can’t make you buy something you don’t need“. I worry that the “Top Contributor” campaign may be an advertisement which is trying to sell something that people (may) think they don’t need.