LinkedIn Open Groups###Update 2: as of this morning (December 21) it seems that the process of moving to an Open Group is being made available to the group owner as you will be given the option to change across to an Open Group automatically. There should be a yellow band now with a clickable area and it will explain some of the implications and a bit of housekeeping you should do ahead of it. Also in the “Group settings” area of the “Manage” menu in the group you should find a button at the top which guides you through the process! Decide carefully though – no undoing the process once you’ve elected to make it Open! 🙂 ###

### Quick update: I’ve had a number of people ask how to make their groups open – as of end November 2010, LinkedIn are still testing and rolling out and, if you are interested in enabling this feature for your group, they recommend emailing them at opengroups@linkedin.com or visit an update page at lnkd.in/opengroups. ###

In yet another departure from their current setup, LinkedIn has announced that it is introducing Open Groups onto the site – indeed, this will be the default format of all new LinkedIn Groups going forward, once it is fully rolled out.

So what’s an Open Group? Well, this isn’t, as you might think, one that anyone on LinkedIn can join – those already exist as “open access groups” – but rather one where the content will be visible to everyone on LinkedIn (group member of not) and externally to LinkedIn as well, therefore making it accessible to Google.

Currently, most of the content on LinkedIn, including in this instance that in the Groups, is essentially hidden from Google because they are locked away behind the password and login. The main exceptions to this are individuals’ Public Profiles, a cut down version of the company page and the Jobs section for obvious reasons. This will provide a large area of new content coming out of the site – there are approaching 750,000 Groups on LinkedIn so you can imagine the number of pages this will add!

All current groups will remain in their current state, that’s to say closed with either a moderated or open policy on membership according to the owner’s preference. The owner will be able, however, change it to an open group at which point all old discussions etc will be made read only and archived (for members’ eyes only) and the new content will be visible to all. Well, that’s the plan anyway!

A note of caution – once you change your group to be “open”, you cannot change it back again, so make sure that you are certain of your decision before press the button!

Members Only LinkedIn Group

Going forward, it seems that the default group setting will be Open Group – the “members-only” groups where content will only be visible to members (as is currently the case) will then be indicated on your Groups listing with a little “padlock” icon next to the name, as you can see in the image above.

It’s an interesting change and one that I guess will appeal to a lot of people looking to get a wider audience for their group’s activity and of course benefit from Google’s search power in terms of rankings. We’ll have to see how that pans out (and how to keep the rash of SEO only focussed groups at bay!!) but for now my advice would be set up any niche groups that you have been thinking about getting up and running to make sure you have the Group name “registered” and therefore the choice of how you wish to use the new functionality!

My passion is helping companies and individuals to use and APPLY LinkedIn more effectively - that is to use it to develop new business, find a new role, to market yourself, your company and products ... whatever your reason for using LinkedIn is! I run internal workshops for companies looking to bring their key people or teams up to speed and run public courses around the UK.
  • http://warner-carter.com.com/blog Warner Carter

    how do you change an existing group to make it an open group?

    • Mark White, LinkedIn trainer

      Hi Warner,

      Up until now, it has just been a case of writing to LinkedIn at the address I mention in the article to request the change.

      However, I think that as from today (or very shortly as they roll it out) the group owner will be given the option to change across to an Open Group automatically. There should be a yellow band now with a clickable area and it will explain some of the implications and a bit of housekeeping you should do ahead of it.

      Do let me know if that is the case with you as well – I can see that as I log into the groups that I have set up.

      All the best.

      • http://blog.egov-suite.com Sebastian

        I still cannot see such a yellow banner…

        • Mark White, LinkedIn trainer

          Presuming that you are the owner of the Group – the owner rather than a manager has to decide on making the change – then if there is no banner and no mention as yet in the “Group Settings” page then it may be that they are still rolling it out across certain groups. I guess it can take time to allow 800,000 to change (if they want to). If you are still in doubt, then you might like to drop customer service there a line, but response times tend to be slow. Let us know if this doesn’t come right.

        • http://www.linkedintraining.net Mark White, LinkedIn Trainer

          Presuming that you are the owner of the Group – the owner rather than a manager has to decide on making the change – then if there is no banner and no mention as yet in the “Group Settings” page then it may be that they are still rolling it out across certain groups. I guess it can take time to allow 800,000 to change (if they want to). If you are still in doubt, then you might like to drop customer service there a line, but response times tend to be slow. Let us know if this doesn’t come right.

          • Mavifvch

            Mark, thanks for your help. I am the owner of one group and I have change by mistake the group to a members-only group to an open group. I have read that there is no coming back but please, could you tell me if there is one possibility of close this group again?
            Or, if not, I do not want non members see the data (company or name) of the people that write something in the discussions of our group. Could you please help me? It is important! Thanks!!

  • http://www.clearwintech.com Vavani

    It’s a good idea

    • Mark White, LinkedIn trainer

      Glad you like it Vavani – which aspects do you think you are going to be using most?

  • Ahmet Kara

    Please check my elaboration on Linkedin’s new open groups at http://lnkd.in/xTrh38.

    My elaboration takes place on an open Linkedin group, namely Industrial Engineering in Turkey.