LinkedIn Removes its Best Feature

PamAnnMarketing
Pam Aungst Owner / Consultant, Pam Ann Marketing

Posted on January 19th 2013

LinkedIn Removes its Best Feature

I was beyond dismayed to receive an email this morning from LinkedIn, indicating that they are retiring their (in my opinion) best feature: LinkedIn Answers.

LinkedIn Answers is (was) a Quora-type question and answer forum, where business people could ask for advice in a variety of topical categories. In turn, professionals could answer questions in their area of expertise, which in my experience, was THE best lead-generating activity one could do on LinkedIn.

Why LinkedIn Answers was the Best

LinkedIn Answers was better than any question and answer forum on the web for several reasons:

1) Credibility: Nowhere else on the web can you get an answer to a question and immediately click through to review the person’s entire professional history. This provided an instantaneous and thorough way to evaluate the credibility of the advice given.

LinkedIn Answers also helped professionals add credibility to their LinkedIn profiles. The act of answering a question generated an activity item on one’s profile, which also showed up in the news feed of their connections. Additionally, after answering enough questions in a category, one could earn “Expert” status and be featured on the Answers homepage and in those categories.

2) Focus: The questions and answers being traded on LinkedIn Answers were about business. Although other question and answer sites have categories for business, there are none that are as business-focused and as widely used by business professionals in the world. Because of LinkedIn’s enormous worldwide presence, one could find an expert to answer even the most obscure/niche business questions through LinkedIn Answers.

3) Organization: Today’s LinkedIn email suggests asking questions in groups and via polls. This is highly ineffective for two reasons. First, groups are incredibly noisy places where people constantly try to promote themselves. In my experience, very little “real” discussion occurs in groups. Secondly, Polls have no categorization and are only viewed by connections. In LinkedIn Answers, I could ask my question in a specific category and get an answer from an expert in that category, regardless of whether I was connected to them or not.

4) Lead Generation: In the experience of my colleagues, clients, and myself, LinkedIn Answers was hands-down THE best lead generation tool on the site – perhaps even on the entire web. The psychological concept of reciprocity never failed me when I was answering questions on LinkedIn Answers. If I took the time to give a very thorough and helpful answer, the asker would nearly always write me back a personal message of thanks, and would often either ask to have a further discussion (hello, LEAD!), connect with me and follow me elsewhere (increasing my exposure to their network), and/or share my content with others (because it helped them so much). The “pay it forward” and “give to get” concepts that go along with answering questions on LinkedIn Answers never failed to get me leads and enhance my business presence on the web.

Irreplaceable Value

Where can I go for all of that now? Nowhere.

How LinkedIn Killed its Best Feature

LinkedIn greatly diminished the potential of its Answers feature by hiding it. It didn’t even have it’s own menu item in the site’s main navigation. One had to click on the “More” menu item at the far right to find it.

I kid you not, just last night I gave a presentation about LinkedIn to 27 business professionals, of whom nearly all were members of LinkedIn. When I asked who had heard of LinkedIn Answers, not a single hand went up. I then proceeded to tell them about the feature and show them examples of how it had produced leads for me. Many were beyond excited to try it.

I now have to message them all and tell them that LinkedIn decided to remove this incredibly valuable lead-generating tool, and that there is nothing on the web as nearly as relevant for business people as this forum was.

What Great Feature will LinkedIn Kill Next?

First they nixed the Events feature (which was GREAT for driving business people to events like seminars and webinars), and now they killed their best lead-generator.

What feature do you think they will remove next?

 

 

PamAnnMarketing

Pam Aungst

Owner / Consultant, Pam Ann Marketing

Pam Aungst, owner and head consultant of Pam Ann Marketing, has been creating websites since 1997 and working in the field of internet marketing and e-commerce since 2005. She has an M.B.A. in Marketing and several Internet Marketing related certificates.  

Pam specializes in a comprehensive approach to SEO that mixes traditional optimization with content marketing and social media strategies. She is often a guest speaker on webinars and in "real life" seminars.

See Full Profile >

Comments

I really like the answers section of LinkedIn it was much more useful than groups. Maybe they could add an answers section to LinkedIn groups to reviatlise them.

That is an EXCELLENT idea, Jonathan. I wish I had a contact at LinkedIn to forward that to!

LinkedIn removed Event and Answers features but rolled out useless Endorsement feature.

Haha! Great point!

What are they thinking?

I agree that they've just removed their best feature and have gutted LinkedIn of its value as a networking platforms for business professionals. Will be interesting to see if business pros can ramp up to a level of outrage similar to that generated by regular folk relative to Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook snafus.

I couldn't agree more with your "What are they thinking?" sentiment. Unfortunately, I don't think that business pros are quite as passionate about the platform as users of Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are about those platforms. So I'm not holding my breath for an outpouring of rage, but I do think that Quora has an enormous opportunity here to improve upon their platform and win over the likes of you and I. 

Or even...you and me!  #GrammarPolice

Silly LinkedIn...
Oh well, that creates even more opportunity for dedicated Q & A platforms like Qhub.com !

This is because Linkedin is not a Q n A platform. LinkedIn is a networking or business relationship building platform. In order to build genuine business relationship, one must position oneself as an expert and LinkedIn Answers is one of the features.

I do agree that LinkedIn Answers is a great feature but since LinkedIn decided to remove it on 31st Jan 2013, there are many ways to position ourselves as well.

Networking is all about Q&A, so I share the disappointment that they have removed this feature. I also share the comments above about endorsements. It has become a competition to see who can get the most - if I endorse you, I know you will endorse me!

FWIW, I don't agree that this was LI's "best feature," nor do I share your dismay at this change. I used the feature a few times and thought it was okay, but I wasn't a huge fan. Because it really wasn't integrated into an individual user's experience, people had to make an effort to engage there - and I would venture to say most didn't. I also saw a lot of people gaming the feature, which detracted from its appeal.

I suspect LI has plenty of data and analytics to support their decision, as well as their recommendation that people use the group and poll features instead. I agree that groups have their challenges, but poor quality in them is generally the result of poor management. And the limitations you ascribe to polls can be managed as well. I've seen them used very effectively countless times.

I also disagree about the effectiveness of the Events feature. I never once saw it drive traffic in any appreciable way. Like the Answers feature, it wasn't sufficiently integrated into the user experience. I'd love to see an Events tab get added to groups, which could reduce a lot of the noise that currently occurs in them. The Q&A feature is effectively already built into them via Discussions.

One of the challenges with any of these platforms is "feature glut," so I think making a conscious effort to scale back is a good thing. Too many choices is too overwhelming, and we need to see more emphasis on quality vs. quantity. Everyone has their favorites and no change will be universally welcome, but I generally trust that LI is making a strong effort to optimize the platform in ways that make the most sense for a majority of their users.

And to think I had just discovered this and found it extremely useful! Another clever 'bait and switch' from the capitalists and quest for global conquering..another way of stifling us 'mere mortals' who can't afford to buy into expensive 'credibility' systems thus perpetuating the growing differences in classes. Shame on you LI!

It was certainly one of my favorite features.  Not for the lead gen aspect, but for the crowdsourcing aspect.

You can post something on Quora but you may not get an answer.  Post something on Answers and people hear you and you do get Answers.

 

So sorry to see it go. 

Linkedin's best feature? Certainly not, in my opinion. I only found out about it a couple of months ago, and I tried 2-3 times. It never yielded any interesting results. For Q&A, there is nothing like Quora or a good ol' search in Google, Bing or Yahoo.

I do agree that Events was a nice feature, so I was not too pleased to see that one go.

But really: how long until they nix that stupid 'Endorsement' feature? What a joke, it really reflects poorly on Linkedin, which had used to more thoughtful functionalities.

Cheers,

Frederic

Overall, I think LinkedIn is carefully evaluating what works/does not work and what REVENUE producing for them is moving forward.

Putting ANSWERS in groups would not be efficient because the entire purpose of ANSWERS was for individuals to provide replies to solve an issue, recommend an issue or to point the requestor as to where he/she could find help. What if folks in your groups have no expertise in what you are seeking then what? Your Q then just dies!

I agree that they need to kill the endorsements thing since it is a complete joke. Recruiters don’t take it seriously and I doubt anyone else does.

LinkedIn totally dropped the ball on the EVENTS page because they should have created an EVENT REGISTRATION tool (Hint: revenue producing) to go along with it. Another big mistake they did was that just because someone “clicked” to agree that they were interested in the event did not translate into the person actually purchasing a ticket/registering to attend the event. This was not interactive and died on arrival. This was the most frustrating thing as a former event host.

Frankly, they are going to kill anything that is not a revenue producing area on their site. The fact that it produced leads for others and not for them was the clear issue here.

I've followed this feature for a couple of years, but given the increased noise in responses, I've been weaning myself from this feature. I think the feature was too public and the quality of responses became watered down. I'd frequently see responses that didn't address the question. I really felt most responders were not listening nor caring to help someone - they just wanted a platform from which to pretend they were experts. In the meantime I shifted my attention to forums that were more niche-based. The quality of answers are noticeably deeper, and those receiving answers are clearly more appreciative. So long LI Q&A. I might miss you a bit - but I will not be the poorer for your absence.