If you use social media marketing software like Buffer, HootSuite, Sprout Social, Hubspot or many others, you likely started seeing notifications in mid-June that you would no longer be able to use those tools to post content to LinkedIn's Groups after June 30th. On that day, LinkedIn sunsetted it's Group API, and, along with it the ability to post or retrieve content from its groups through external tools. The result of the change is simple, if you want to share to or read content from a LinkedIn Group, you have to log into LinkedIn and share the content through the LinkedIn interface.
There was a lot of debate about the reasons behind the move, and lots of reactions by marketers. With LinkedIn considered to be the largest B2B social network, this change was especially concerning to B2B marketers. We specialize in doing inbound marketing for hi-tech companies, so our team was squarely in that group of concerned marketers.
The impact of this change is many-faceted. We've been tracking and collecting data about as many of those facets as we can. In this article we'll look at three of those facets; the change in our process and the time it takes to share content on LinkedIn, the impact we've seen in groups, and the impact on the traffic we get from the social network.
- Since social media management tools couldn't post to groups, B2B marketers would need to manually log into LinkedIn to share content and updates.
- Content aggregators and other tools used to find and browse content would no longer be able to show content published to LinkedIn groups.
- The lack of convenience offered by external tools will mean that people would publish less frequently.
- That same lack of convenience would make it more difficult to find and consume content from groups leading many time-strapped professionals (which is all of us) to decrease consumption of content in groups or give up altogether.
- Marketers will intentionally move to other platforms.
- Group participation will decline because less content will be posted to groups making them less valuable.
- Inconsistent publishing. Despite putting a plan in place, and allocating more time, our posting to groups became inconsistent. Content curation and content publication take time. Adding time to that process for a busy marketing team can break things. We target to post to LinkedIn groups once per day Monday through Thursday. After we switched to manual posting, we found we were missing one or two days each week. Team members needed more time to work manual posting into the daily process.
- Manually posting to groups takes longer than expected. Everyone knew it would take longer, but tracking time proved it takes longer than we expected. We use a word processor, Notepad works fine, to store a title, description, and shortened link. It takes about 30 seconds per group to copy and paste to create a post. Longer if you wish to add images. That includes pasting the different post elements, and, after the native link is populated, deleting the pasted link and quickly checking for errors. Unfortunately, humans get less efficient with repetitive tasks. The more groups you post to, the less efficient they become. We've seen 30 seconds creep up to a minute or more. It usually takes us about 15 minutes to post to 20 groups.
This drop is too big to blame on the summer dull drums or inconsistent posting. The more likely reason is that since aggregators and other tools can't access content from LinkedIn, people who rely on those tools to consume content, have stopped seeing the content posted to LinkedIn groups. It's simple; we're all busy. Those tools make it easy for to find and consume content. If that content isn't there, it appears that LinkedIn group members won't go looking for it. So I may have been wrong earlier. Easy means more than consistency, it means reach. Without the easy, B2B marketers may have effectively lost reach to many professionals they share LinkedIn groups with.
While we're still assessing the impact of LinkedIn group sharing API changes, some might say they diminish the importance of content sharing on the platform. Others might argue it's just the end of the free lunch. After all, we've never had access to Facebook groups for publishing from external tools. LinkedIn, like Facebook, is moving to a pay-to-play model. They'd prefer to you spend money to get reach. This API change appears, at least in part, to make foster that goal.
Over to You
Have you seen a drop in traffic from LinkedIn after June 30? How have you responded? Let me know in the comments.
CarverTC is a Hubspot partner agency in Portland Oregon. We specialize in inbound marketing and content for technology companies or anyone with complex or technical value propositions.