Analysis of discussions in LinkedIn's shipping groups give six successful approaches
By Ryan Skinner (email)
After digging through months worth of shipping discussions, I've distilled six kinds of discussions that succeed; that is, discussions that generate constructive commentary. Use these insights to start discussions that generate more give and take.
LinkedIn is rife with discussion groups, and the shipping industry is well represented. The Maritime Executive group, maritime group, the Maritime Group group (?), the Maritime Industry Group, Maritime Network, Maritime Technology & Digital Shipping, plus all the major shipping media outlets' own groups - there's plenty to choose from.
Job notices are interesting, but the heart of these groups are the discussions. A lively discussion benefits everybody, and the group too. So many discussions, though, start stranded, numbly asking "Add comment" for an eternity.
Discussions are frequently cross-posted across many groups. Interestingly, a discussion that does well in one group, often does well in all the others, too. There has to be something that makes some discussions better than others. So...
Here are the six kinds of discussions that predictably and consistently generate comments:
- Honest query
The honest query is just what it sounds like: A businessman or woman looking for a supplier. These often take the form "I have a need. Can you solve it?" The honest query above drew four comments, maybe not so many but they were of quality, which is common of this kind of discussion.
- Speculation on a hot topic
Example: "NAFTA FLAG, We need a new North American Flag for Shipping. We need to expand the Jones Act to cover all of North America"
This curious discussion drew 29 comments because it speculated on a topic of great interest - that is, Jones Act and protection of mariner jobs. Arctic Sea also drew lively discussions. Environmental speculation does well too. Usually, a strong, clearly expressed opinion on a timely topic will kick start a bouncy discussion.
- Open-ended question
Sincere questions that invite different kinds of responses (particularly when the asker doesn't seem to be following some kind of specific sales agenda) often spur commenters. This question got seven quality comments. Why? It inspired people to discuss it, of course.
- Informed technical discussion
The informed technical discussion begins when someone with a relatively high amount of expertise in a specific field invites other specialists, or laymen with some experience, to discuss an issue. This discussion drew 23 comments, and a similar amount in other groups. These discussions benefit also from the high quality of knowledge exchange.
This simple request for ideas drew 16 comments. Research discussions involve someone who is trying to gather data, or ideas, for use in their work. These are often started by people working with information (writers, speakers and such). I did.
- Information request
Although it looks like research or an honest query, it is neither. The information will not be conveyed elsewhere and there is no immediate business sought. Rather, the asker seeks information or competence that he/she will apply directly. These discussions draw good short, instructive comments aplenty from people who are eager to demonstrate their knowledge (and perhaps win some business later).
With that, go and start juicy discussions in LinkedIn!