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Self-centered marketers are destroying LinkedIn communities

spam-smallI was reading some posts in LinkedIn and ran across one on how to use LinkedIn groups to add value to your business. Written by a marketer for other marketers, one of the things the author recommended was scheduled auto-postings in groups. I find this practice disgusting and I have zero respect for companies that promote and use it.

Companies and their shills using these techniques are ruining LinkedIn’s communities. In community after community, marketing spam takes the place of interpersonal interaction – i.e., the essence of what communities were designed to be and promote.

The original notion of these communities is that they would offer venues for (in my case) Learning and Knowledge Management professionals to exchange ideas, share knowledge, and build professional networks. This is the essence of this type of this type of online social network – or as LinkedIn prefers to call it, community.

And there’s nothing wrong with building your reputation by participating in such communities; and there’s nothing wrong with offering resources to others. Unfortunately, that becomes a slippery slope.


I’m currently participating in half a dozen great discussions in LinkedIn groups, several of which I started. I’ve started some with a simple question. I’ve started others with a controversial position or question that is then backed up with a blog post; however, I try to ensure that people can discuss the topic without having to read the supporting post.

There’s a middle ground that I also participate in occasionally, posting a link to a webinar. I’m conflicted about this, because it doesn’t really promote community, and I do it only when (a) I am at the top or near top in being a group contributor, (b) 75% or more of the other recent posts are links out with no discussion, and (b) most importantly, I am offering the webinar primarily for the professional development of attendees and not simply to sell some product or other. But as I say I’m conflicted, and I respect the communities that disallow such posts.

The posts that I abhor are ones that

  • Are click bait, the purpose of which is simply to get you to click on their link
  • Are dishonest, with titles that promise or suggest the author is taking a substantive position on a professional issue and wants to start a discussion, but are then thinly veiled ads for their LMS or eLearning production services
  • Are not even authored by the poster, who is usually a director of marketing at the company
  • Are posted, presumably by an auto-poster, in scores of groups over and over, or better yet
  • Are posted multiple times – one after the other – in the same group.

I counted 40 posts in a row in one LinkedIn community by the same person – all click bait for a product pitch.

It’s the tragedy of the commons, and if these auto-posted click baits aren’t reined in, fewer and fewer professionals will come to LinkedIn communities that aren’t tightly moderated. It’s a disgusting marketing practice that people use to selfishly put themselves and their product promotion ahead of everyone else.

As a consultant, one thing I’m trying to do is to make note of companies that I see doing this over and over, and ensuring that when I help implementors to choose vendors, I specifically mention this type of practice and companies that do it to them.

How does everyone else feel about this? What do you recommend doing about it?

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