Managing LinkedIn: How to filter relevant discussions from LinkedIn Groups

By Nov.15, 2011

At this precise moment in time, I am a member of 44 LinkedIn Groups with one additional group membership request pending.  As someone with an avid interest in social media and who is taking time to learn new skills, it has been an extremely simple process to sign up to numerous groups and platforms. Every new lead or connection often leads to the exploration of new groups and other interesting sources of information. This is great in the context of information discovery; but it can quickly lead to information overload and a constant battle to stay on top of incoming messages.

LinkedIn Discussion Groups Experiment

On November 1st, I decided to try a small experiment.  I signed into my LinkedIn account and changed all of my groups’ settings to switch them to ‘email each new discussion’ and remove any weekly and daily digests.  The intention was to use the filters within my email client to divert the junk mail directly to my delete folder and try to achieve a more manageable email flow. However, what I actually did was set up a single filter to divert all of my LinkedIn Group notifications into a dedicated folder.

Over the course of the experiment, I discovered a number of  things:

  1. It is very difficult to set emails to automatically delete unless there is a specific subject or person that merits being avoided;
  2. I receive an average of between 15 to 20 notifications per hour, varying according to time of day and day of week;
  3. The vast majority of notifications contain links to articles, blog posts and marketing material with no commentary or additional value to warrant the use of the LinkedIn platform;
  4. There is a considerable amount of duplication across different LinkedIn groups, not to mention external sources such as other social networks, news aggregation services and monitoring tools;
  5. Closed groups are typically more valuable to me than open groups, in terms of relevant content, fewer problems with spam and more interaction.

So, what I end up with is a list of emails that looks a lot like this:

Linkedin Group Email Filtering

Sample list of emails from LinkedIn Discussion Groups

Filtering Discussion Group Notifications

At which point, it becomes necessary to employ a technique called ‘thin slicing’, which I first learned about when reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.  First of all I use the select all check box, then I skim the subject titles for key words, patterns and phrases that look like they hold some potential.  You quickly become blind to the words ‘New discussion’, which leaves only a short title to skim through. If one of the subject lines grabs my attention I glance over to the right to check which group the item was posted to and then to the left to see if I recognize the author. If the email subject looks interesting, I deselect the check box for that email and repeat until I reach the bottom of the list, at which point I delete all selected emails.

This technique allows me to filter out up to 98% of the LinkedIn Group notifications that make it to my inbox, which means that it is critical for messages to have well-written, concise and highly targeted subject lines.

One example of an email that attracted my attention was the third email in the list above, using the subject line: “Anyone know of any articles or resources that can justify the creation o…”. The primary hook being my interest in information research and the indication that this is a discussion question as opposed to a link share.  In my view, discussions on LinkedIn are worth following where there is the possibility that expert knowledge might be shared or where valuable connections can be discovered.

Clicking on the link revealed that the full subject line was even more interesting: “Anyone know of any articles or resources that can justify the creation of a branded Google Plus page? How is it different than a Facebook page? Will Google Plus be around next year?”

Linkedin Group Email Filtering 2

New Discussion Notification Email from Social Media Today Group

This is the second decision point in the filtering process: deciding whether or not to right click on the link to open it in a new tab before hitting the delete button. I will typically run through all of the emails that escaped the initial delete, before moving over to LinkedIn to check each discussion item that I have opened in a new tab. [N.B. It is useful to be logged in to LinkedIn before starting this process.] In the case of the example used above, there is no article link in the discussion posting and it generated ten comments in two days, containing some very useful links, tips and feedback.

Improving the Signal to Noise Ratio

LinkedIn have just launched group statistics, which are accessible by clicking on the graph icon on the My Groups page.  This can simplify the process of targeting group interactions; so it is possible to unsubscribe from email and digest notifications from groups, in circumstances where it may be relevant to be a member but not to have an active participation.  If we look at the activity statistics for two groups with strikingly different member and activity statistics, opting out of discussion notices from a larger group becomes a viable option, especially when the majority of postings may be duplication either within multiple LinkedIn groups or on other social networks.

Linkedin Group Statistics

Example demographics of a small LinkedIn Group

Linkedin Group Statistics

Example demographics of a large LinkedIn Group

Linkedin Group Statistics

Example activity levels of a small LinkedIn Group

Linkedin Group Statistics

Example activity levels of a large LinkedIn Group

The important thing to remember is that even though it is very easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information that flows through social media networks, there is an ‘off’ switch.  As you get to know the groups you have signed up to, it is possible to reduce the pile of messages and notifications clogging up your inbox by:

  • Switching off notifications from groups that are primarily used for link sharing and direct marketing broadcasts.
  • Switching digest notifications to individual notifications, because digests typically include ‘still active’ discussion notices, which are often more distracting than useful.
  • Using a social bookmarking service to direct followers to your preferred networks and groups.

In the process of writing this post I have received membership approval for my 45th LinkedIn Group, I think it’s time to update my XeeMe groups’ page.

Update – 5th January 2012

When setting up filters for LinkedIn emails, it is very useful to set up separate filters for ‘New job’, New discussion‘ and ‘New comment‘ to direct them to individual folders. I updated my own filtering system after I reached the maximum of 50 LinkedIn group memberships and these work for me for three key reasons:

  • I can automatically delete job postings when I am not working on a specific recruitment related project;
  • I can ignore new discussion items until I have a block of time to sift through them for interesting threads. In fact, by delaying responding to a discussion item it creates a buffer effect to renew interest in a discussion item and serves to encourage more responses overall;
  • I can easily pick up on and respond faster to comments on discussions that I have already commented on or started following.

Next on my agenda is to write a blog post on how to write good subject lines for new discussion items over at

Finding More Help with Social Media

I’d love to hear from you, if you would like to:

  • Leave a comment on this post
  • Find me on through my social bookmarks on XeeMe
  • Connect with me on LinkedIn
  • Follow the #ssmm tag or my #ssmm list on Twitter for useful tips and connections

One thought on “Managing LinkedIn: How to filter relevant discussions from LinkedIn Groups

  1. Very well written article – thanks very much.

    I just wondered if, in your ‘travels’, you have discovered a way to make the digest notifications more informative? All I need is a [groupname] prefix to be able to sort out the wheat from the chaff.


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