LinkedIn announced today that it is retiring LinkedIn Answers, a feature that enabled users to ask questions and provide answers in a variety of topic areas. We frequently monitored and participated in the Q&A discussions. We also regularly passed along relevant opportunities to our clients. We felt the feature provided real value for professionals seeking input and insight.
That said, the end of Answers does not come as a complete surprise, since LinkedIn never did a particularly good job of promoting the feature, positioning it prominently on its site or managing it effectively to weed out irrelevant questions or spammers.
While LinkedIn develops “new and more engaging ways to share and discuss professional topics,” users are left to wonder how best to gain insight and share information on the platform once Answers retires on Jan. 31. Here are a few options:
- LinkedIn is home to more than one million Groups. Professionals use these to connect with others in the same industry or with similar interests. Groups are a popular feature on LinkedIn and provide real opportunities to share knowledge, experience and best practices. In the short-term, Groups are the best alternative to Answers. The challenge is to find those that are relevant to specific topic areas and encourage thoughtful engagement. Some groups have hundreds of thousands of members, creating an environment in which it is easy to get lost in the shuffle or buried in a constant feed of promotional posts. In other words, be selective.
- The LinkedIn Polls application enables users to pose questions to their network connections and other members and offer up to five answer choices. The application is easy to use and includes a feature to share polls on Twitter and Facebook for the purpose of gathering maximum responses. These polls are a free alternative to more scientific market research, but they do not allow participants to share experiences and expertise in the same way Answers does.
- Status updates are another, simpler means for asking question of fellow LinkedIn members. While this approach limits the pool of prospective respondents to a user’s first degree connections, it does ensure that feedback comes from trusted sources.
Early reaction to LinkedIn’s announcement is mixed. It will be interesting to see what new feature, if any, the platform offers to take the place of Answers. In the meantime, please take a moment to share in the comments section how you use Answers now and how you plan to use LinkedIn once the feature is retired. I’d love to include your responses in a future post.