I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn. I’ve made amazing contacts, secured new business, found valuable strategic partners. etc. I’m a big fan of the way they do things: slow, methodical, insightful evolutions of the platform that do truly add value to users. In other words, the intelligent way of building out a product, and the antithesis of how most other social platform providers build their product.
But I have to say, today I received an email detailing their first fail (IMO). LinkedIn Answers is no more. They are “retiring” it as of Jan. 31. LinkedIn Answers was one of the things that made LinkedIn unique and useful. It was an amazing place to find people who need help, and therefore a great place to connect with potential clients and customers. Not only have I engaged with people who became new clients (my first international client, actually), but I have found great products and services by posting questions there. It was also one of the only places online to get instant expert advice for free. Why, oh why, would you take this away? It was a great forum with a model unlike anything else out there.
The thinking here–at least according to the announcement–is to focus more on providing ways for people to connect and share. Um…yeah…we can already do that…on LinkedIn, Facebook, G+, etc. I will say the news that they are also adding the capability to share custom content like videos and presentations is pretty awesome and frankly, long overdue. But I can’t help but wonder if these changes are somewhat of an attempt to become more like Facebook where the only value is status updates and ambiguously “following” someone? I’m just sad and disappointed. LinkedIn Answers was truly a great business tool and I will really miss it. And I know for a fact I won’t be the only one. Just please don’t take away Groups next!