A few months ago, LinkedIn announced that as of July 2017, it would no longer support the LinkedIn Groups API. According to LinkedIn, “This means you will no longer be able to access content from or share content to, a LinkedIn Group through external platforms. Your continued use of LinkedIn Groups must be performed natively within LinkedIn.”
LinkedIn Groups have long been a favorite for most recruiters and sourcers. However, its demise in popularity has undoubtedly increased over the years. This move by LinkedIn isn’t necessarily a death blow to LinkedIn Groups. According to LinkedIn, “All Groups will continue to be active, and you will still be able to share professional content directly to your LinkedIn feed and LinkedIn Company pages.”
LinkedIn added, “We remain invested in the LinkedIn Groups experience. Professional conversations are at the heart of what LinkedIn has to offer. We’re always looking for new and improved ways to help our members engage with, share, and discuss timely and relevant topics with other professionals.”
Are We Still Using LinkedIn Groups?
LinkedIn hasn’t directly given us a reason for shutting down its Groups API. However, it can be argued that it’s LinkedIn’s latest move to crack down on spam. As a Group moderator, I plainly see my fair share of “spam” that funnels its way through the SourceCon LinkedIn Group. It’s amazing how many recruiters feel it’s necessary to post their latest Java Developer opening in our Group. Spam isn’t necessarily an argument for closing LinkedIn Groups. It’s the fact that hardly anyone uses LinkedIn Groups. Which means, no one is noticing the spam or the fact that lazy recruiters post Java Developer positions to the SourceCon LinkedIn Group.
It has been a while since I played around with my LinkedIn Groups. SourceCon had 300 pending members (sorry folks). Out of the 55 groups that I’m a member of, only five had recent activity, four if you exclude the SourceCon Group.
We recently shared 15 Signs You Might Be a Sourcer on the SourceCon website and across all of our social channels. This has been our most popular article in weeks. The post received thousands of social shares, including hundreds of likes and shares within our SourceCon Facebook Group and Facebook Page, but zero activity within our LinkedIn Group. The post was shared over a thousand times on LinkedIn and received over a thousand impressions and clicks within our LinkedIn Page. But yet again, zero activity from our Group. With these statistics, I’m quite confident in saying that the death of LinkedIn Groups API will not affect my day job. But will it affect yours? I don’t think so.
The only real value for sourcers and LinkedIn Groups is the ability to find members within a particular LinkedIn Group and to send them a message, which is still free. Sure, you can find a few hidden gems by sourcing on LinkedIn Groups, but it’s time-consuming. You will most likely be able to find these candidates more efficiently through a regular LinkedIn search, or through a traditional Xray of the LinkedIn domain. You can still source for members of a LinkedIn Group through Google and Bing.
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Don’t get me wrong, I love free messaging, but I also like saving time. If we aren’t spending as much time as we used to on LinkedIn Groups, then our candidates aren’t either. This also tells us that people aren’t joining LinkedIn Groups as often as they used to. If you solely rely on sourcing and message candidates through LinkedIn Groups, then your candidate pool has significantly decreased. No one wants to fish in the same pond they’ve grown up with for years. Sure, it’s familiar, but you’ll eventually starve.
I’m not entirely sure what the future holds for LinkedIn Groups. If they disappeared, I wouldn’t miss them. Sourcers will panic for a day or two, but we will get it over it. We always have, and we always will. After all, I’m starting to enjoy this whimsical game of cat and mouse. Are you still using LinkedIn Groups?