LinkedIn Answers - will you miss them?
For some time, LinkedIn has offered a question and answer forum called LinkedIn Answers at http://www.linkedin.com/answers. Similar to Quora, LinkedIn users can pose questions or provide answers to other user's questions and demonstrate their expertise. It's a service that has received mixed feedback, certainly, but LinkedIn has decided to stop providing the service by January 31. Will you miss it?
There were a lot of benefits to using LinkedIn Answers. It was a very convenient place to get credible answers to your questions. If any LinkedIn user were to respond to your question, you would be able to read their answer and then click through to their profile to see their background and experience - were they qualified to give the answer they did?
And being built into the LinkedIn platform created additional opportunities. The entire LinkedIn Answer system is geared to business, unlike Quora and other platforms that cater to all kinds of topics. This focus tends to make it easier and faster to get qualified responses. And, when reviewing responses to questions, it is possible for LinkedIn users to identify other LinkedIn users with whom they may want to connect, perhaps for employment or even lead generation.
LinkedIn has not offered much by way of explanation, but it is assumed that the LinkedIn Answers system was costing LinkedIn more than it was offering in value. They said only this:
"As of Jan. 31, LinkedIn Answers will be retired from LinkedIn. We will be focusing our efforts on the development of new and more engaging ways to share and discuss professional topics across LinkedIn. In the meantime, members can still pose questions and facilitate professional discussions through other popular LinkedIn channels including LinkedIn Polls, Groups, or status update."
LinkedIn Answers was introduced in 2007 but, like Facebook Questions, it seems as though more and more people are turning to Quora for that level of functionality. Personally, I have never used LinkedIn Answers and wasn't even sure where to find it at first with the new design - it's under the More tab. I have, however, been using Quora more often and can be found at http://www.quora.com/Mike-Allton.
It's not uncommon for social networks to introduce features, and then later remove them for lack of use or because the feature no longer fits into the overall plans of that network. One only need to look at the library of discontinued Google products for other examples (Google Buzz, anyone?).
Have you ever used LinkedIn Answers yourself? If you have, if you've used it as a serious part of your LinkedIn marketing efforts to help demonstrate your expertise, this may be seriously bad news for you. If you've never even posed a question, then you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. There are definite benefits to being able to provide help to others online, and in future posts we'll explore using Quora, your blog, and other alternatives so that perhaps you won't miss LinkedIn Answers after all.