For about the past two months, those LinkedIn members who are very active with their groups and in sending group member to group member messages have found that they suddenly were unable to send such messages. The ability to send group members you are not connected to a message has been one of the most powerful features for free and premium members alike since the inception of LinkedIn groups.
Some of the first few people who suddenly found they were no longer able to send these messages turned to the LinkedIn Help Forum to find out what was happening and to share the response they received from LinkedIn in explaining this sudden turn of events to their account activity. It didn’t matter if you were free or premium, and those paying were extra specially perturbed. You can read all of the comments and see the evolution of LinkedIn’s responses here: http://community.linkedin.com/questions/323652/you-are-no-longer-authorized-to-message-this-membe-5.html#answer-335674
Today, one of the participants received a definitive answer. LinkedIn is limiting the number of group member to group member messages that anyone can send to 15 per month. On the first day of the new month, your allotment will renew. This limit EVEN AFFECTS group owners and managers who need to be able to communicate directly with their group members if they are posting inappropriate content or breaking the rules.
Two reasons…First, people have abused it and LinkedIn has mentioned that as a primary motivation. The second (in my opinion), is to get more people to upgrade to premium and companies to use sponsored InMail messages to have LinkedIn deliver this promotional information.
Using the group member messaging option has been a very powerful tool for me and my clients (it even helped me land my book deal). Using these messages for sales or promotional messages has been controversial and many people are against it. That’s because most people have done it wrong.
Each of these messages takes several steps to launch and must be done individually; it’s time consuming. People have hired low cost labor to just go into a group focused on the target market and just go down the member list indiscriminately sending the message to as many group members as possible. The problem is that it is unlikely that EVERY person in the group is a fit for your offer. I’ve even received messages from people telling me that they looked at my profile and thought I was a good candidate for a free webinar to teach me how to be more successful with LinkedIn. They obviously didn’t look at my profile and I wasn’t a good fit.
The second method is with the use of third party software that uses bots to launch hundreds of these messages against LinkedIn’s terms of service (like Mojo Global). The software automatically launches these messages without you reviewing or selecting appropriate recipients.That means there is a high probability that the messages are going to inappropriate people.
Those two methods are what drive people crazy because the messages are not only not wanted, they are irrelevant. There are always going to be people who hate any kind of advertising and promotion, but the vast majority don’t mind a custom-tailored, well-targeted marketing or sales message being sent to them.
Don’t believe me? LinkedIn’s own Koka Sexton held a LinkedIn Poll on this very question 2 years ago (before we lost the ability to poll too). Look at the results:
Less than a third said they were bothered by unsolicited messages. The primary qualifier was whether the products or services offered were relevant.
Those of us who have used this strategy selectively and with relevance and authenticity and gotten positive responses from the recipients, have lost a great tool. When used responsibly, it is not seen as spam by recipients. I have turned down clients wanting guidance on using this strategy inappropriately for mass promotion without interest in relationship development.
We now have only 15 of such messages to utilize each month, which means we will need to be even more selective in their use. You will need to focus such communications on quality business potential and not quantity. For those who want quantity promotion to prospects, you’re going to have to pay the piper…LinkedIn.
One potentially bad, big picture consequence to this change, is that it’s going to push more people to open network and connect more indiscriminately. Just when the tide was changing against open networking, we may see a shift back. I believe in building a network with purpose and not just with numbers. But if you can only message people you’re connected to and you want to message a lot of people, then you’ll need to connect to lots of people. LinkedIn is pushing people to act contrary to their own philosophy of connecting to only people with whom you have a relationship.
Did you use this feature? Will the loss of it affect your continued use LinkedIn in any way?
This article was originally published in Pulse. You can see it here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/extra-linkedin-limits-group-member-messages-crystal-thies
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Crystal Thies has been known as the LinkedIn Ninja since founding her company, Crystal Clear Buzz, in 2009. Although well versed and experienced in all social media, Crystal specializes in the utilization of LinkedIn for sales and business development. As a past financial planner, Crystal is one of the few social media strategists with expertise to work with those regulated by FINRA, the SEC, and IIROC. She is the co-author of “The Social Media Handbook for Financial Advisors” published by Bloomberg Press.