In case you missed the news last week (easy to do), LinkedIn will be sunsetting LinkedIn Answers on Jan. 31, 2013. Might not seem like a big deal, but for some, LinkedIn Answers was a valuable professional resource used to find answers, resources and even vendor partners.
So yeah, I think some folks are sad to see it go.
So what’s a LinkedIn Answer fan to do? What tools and sites can they use now that Answers is soon to be on the shelf?
Below are five different tools or sites to consider as alternatives to LinkedIn Answers:
I know, the obvious choice, right? In fact, many people using Answers were probably also using Quora at the same time for their inquires. But, when it comes right down to it, Quora might be better than Answers. Why? Sure, LinkedIn had bigger numbers—200 million members and counting as of Jan. 9. But, Quora has some numbers, too. And they’re growing. Big time. Relatively recent stats have Quora growing at a brisk clip of 350 percent over 2011 netting 150 million visitors as of July 2012. And the fact that those queries are popping up more regularly in Google search results is also a good sign. However, those are “visit” numbers, not “member” numbers. Big difference–and therein lies a bit of the rub. Answers was still the best option for many. You were asking not only your specific network, but others with professional profiles on the network who were looking for the same types of information. Quora’s a little different–a little more general. And that’s OK, but it’s not exactly the same.
LinkedIn Groups (Example: International Association of Business Communicators group)
One of the logical alternatives for LinkedIn Answers would be another tool within the same platform, right? You would think LinkedIn Groups would be the next best thing. But, you’d be wrong. At least based on the majority of what I’ve seen. The LinkedIn groups I’m a part of (mix of local and national groups) are more about information sharing (post-sharing) than it is about Q&A. I’d like to think this solution would be a nice alternative, but I just can’t recommend it. It exists, but it’s not your best option.
Industry Google+ Communities (Example Google Analytics)
I just made a post on top Google+ Communities for PR pros to join last week. During that research, I realized that many people were using these groups as professional forums. Places where they could go to ask specific, technical questions of their peers. Take the Google Analytics G+ Community for example. The group is full of questions for members looking for answers to specific Google Analytics questions–it’s a virtual replica of what you found on Answers. Now, G+ Communities don’t have the active member numbers LinkedIn does, but when all is said and done with after Jan. 31, this G+ Communities might very well be your best option.
Industry Twitter chats (Example: #blogchat)
The good ol’ Twitter chat. It’s been around now for five years, and I feel like some people forget about it–especially as a research tool. But, that’s exactly how you can use it now that Answers is dying. What if you had a specific question about blogging? Enter #blogchat every Sunday night from 8-9 p.m. CT. Hosted by Mack Collier, this chat has been a staple for bloggers for years. And, Mack is pretty good about taking questions/suggestions from the community. Tweet him or send him a DM with your specific question, and I’d be willing to bet he’d put it on the list of topics for future chats. Result? You’d get a bunch of professional and amateur bloggers weighing in with answers to our specific question. Gold mine.
Niche Facebook Groups (Example: Facebook Advertising Group)
Yet another tool and subset of Facebook that flies WELL below the radar. But, find the right group and it’s a treasure trove of information. Take Jason Keath’s “Facebook Advertising” Facebook Group. With 152 members, it has gearth. But, more importantly, those 152 members include a ton of people who know their stuff when it comes to Facebook Advertising (which is a pretty nichey topic). This group is full of great discussions around Facebook Advertising best practices and what’s new with advertising on the social network. Almost every question I’ve seen asked on the group has been responded to multiple times–so unlike some instances with LinkedIn Answers where questions would go unanswered, you rarely see that with niche Facebook Groups like this. On the flip side, not every topic you have a professional question about is going to have a Facebook Group attached to it, so this approach does have downsides.
Any other alternatives to LinkedIn Answers I missed here?