LinkedIn Points Users to Groups, Polls and Influencers for Answers
On the heels of the removal of LinkedIn 3rd party applications like SlideShare, WordPress, BlogLink, TripIt and others, LinkedIn, a professional social network with over 200 million users worldwide, is retiring their “Answers” product on January 31, 2013. Answers has been a staple of LinkedIn ever since I became a member in October of 2007. It was how I discovered new people with similar interests and as well as thought leaders. I have used Answers a number of times to discover solutions and gain perspective on important issues. Others have used it to locates resources for their business or professional career. I have met a number of very interesting people through LinkedIn Answers. In my opinion, it’s where every new user should begin to build additional branches to their existing network.
In an email I received from LinkedIn, they encouraged further use of their Groups, Polls and Influencers products. These three products are not a replacement for Answers and this will only limit the perceived value of the answers you receive. How many times has it been said that we need to have an outsider’s perspective on a question? Asking a question using LinkedIn Answers was a way to reach people outside of your network. It was a reliable product people could turn to. LinkedIn users know that when they ask question in a group, especially a large group, their question could be buried by the obscene amount of articles or other discussions that look more like promotions.
I’m interested to see which direction LinkedIn is going. If they are heading down the human capital route, which includes the migration of professionals from job to job, then they risk alienating all those members that are small business owners that have no use for LinkedIn’s recruiting tools and no way to quickly find answers to important issues that face them every day.
Update: In an interview by Charlie Rose, Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, was asked to define LinkedIn. Hoffman said, “LinkedIn is a tool for solving professional task.” Is LinkedIn straying from this?