6 Ways B2B Companies Can Replace LinkedIn Answers

LinkedIn has announced that they will be shutting down LinkedIn Answers on January 31. This under-utilized area lets anyone with a LinkedIn profile ask questions of the entire social network. The section shows questions from your network, top experts and categories to browse. Members demonstrate their expertise by answering questions. One of the biggest problems for B2B marketers who tried to use this feature for business was that there was no way to be alerted to relevant posts. You had to manually review every question in the appropriate sections.

If you were using Answers, here are 6 ways you can use LinkedIn to connect with prospects and customers and generate leads:

1. Start and Manage a LinkedIn Group

There are two ways to interact with Groups. The first, and most common for B2B companies, is to create your own Group and encourage customers, prospects, employees and partners to join it. Rather than using your company name, create a name that represents your industry or your target audience. Posting content with links back to your website, third party articles and asking questions to get people talking requires the dedicated time of a community manager. Even though members of the Group can be emailed with updates, and can be sent a weekly email from the Group moderator, there is no visibility of the Group posts to non-members.

2. Participate in LinkedIn Groups

The other way to create a presence in LinkedIn Group conversations is to participate. This is not just the job of one person at a B2B company, but can be handled by several people, including subject matter experts. Start with a point person who joins many Groups and receives updates via email or RSS so they are alerted to relevant discussions. They can let the most appropriate person at the company know about the discussion, and even offer suggestions of what to post. The best approach is a mix of your own companies content, third party articles and short and engaging answers. It is best to be consistent so people get used to seeing and engaging with people from your company. Most groups are dominated by a handful of individuals and by regularly providing valuable contributions to the group your company representatives can join that level.

3. Post Status Updates on Company Page

Build a following on your Company Page by promoting it on other platforms (including your website). Post updates and links to company content that followers will see in their feed. Engaging posts will be seen by your followers’ network and will drive traffic back to your website. These updates can also be targeted by company size, industry, function, seniority and geography. Over time you will learn the right mix of content and offers for your followers. LinkedIn will show you impressions and engagement percentage stats approximately 24 hours after the post.

4. Post Photos and Files on Company Page

Taking a page from Facebook’s playbook, LinkedIn gives companies the ability to post photos and other files directly on their Company Pages. This may create more engagement and extend the awareness of your LinkedIn Company Page, but you need to mix these sparingly into your posting schedule along with links that drive visitors, especially prospects, back to your website to get them into your lead funnel.

5. Encourage Employees to Post Status Updates

People can post status updates on their personal profiles. Most, if not all, of your employees have profiles on LinkedIn. Encourage employees to keep their profiles up to date and share company content in their status updates. Coordinated employee updates are an underutilized resource for spreading B2B company blog posts, ebooks, webinars and other educational content. An active profile includes updates from other sources besides the company blog, so it is helpful to provide suggestions to employees of other sources of great content.

6. Encourage Employees to Connect Slideshare to the Profile

Slideshare has always been easy to connect to a LinkedIn profile, even before LinkedIn bought the presentation sharing site. If employees don’t have their own Slideshare account, encourage them to connect the company Slideshare account to their LinkedIn profile. This means that whenever the company publishes a new deck or ebook to Slideshare, it automatically appears on employees’ profiles as an update. These decks should include their own calls to action, giving prospects another chance to learn more about the topic presented in the deck or PDF.

What is your B2B company doing on LinkedIn to connect with prospects and help them along their buying process?

Photo credit: Flickr

Comments

  1. says

    I have to point out that you never had to manually go through all the questions as you could use the ‘signal’ functionality to carry out a keyword search with appropriate filters on. Similarly, I would suggest that the obvious replacement for LinkedIn answers would be to get into the habit of regularly searching conversations in groups and status updates for questions and comments of relevance that you can respond to and get a conversation going! (If you haven’t found it yet, it sits under the ‘news’ subheading on the menu bar. Think I’ll go and write a quick blog now!

  2. says

    Q&A Expertise earlier used to appear in your profile. Now thta Q&A is gone, your expert ratings is gone from your profile too. This is a bad move from LI. As pointed out by Julia, its replaced with group discussions, and more likes, you can become ‘top influencer’. Thats the new way to estalish your credibility.

  3. says

    It’s true that Groups are confronting more spam than ever but many of the groups I belong to are taking steps to control that. Strictly promotional updates are required to go in Promotions and not Discussions.

    I’ve participated in several very interesting and dynamic conversations and been the Top Influencer in two groups — one for four weeks in a row on a controversial discussion I started. In another group for bloggers, I’ve been very active with a coterie of bloggers. We help each other out and have collaborated on projects. So Groups do work but you need to be selective.

  4. says

    Great suggestions, Jeffrey. I maintain hope that people will start using LinkedIn groups more for asking/answering questions and that the spammers will be blocked. I also see Quora becoming more popular as a place for displaced LinkedIn answer fans. LinkedIn Answers will be missed, but I’m sure people will be fine over time.

  5. says

    Answers fell into disuse as marketers and self-promoters invaded the space. No one wants to be stalked or spammed on LinkedIn. Does EVERYTHING on the internet HAVE to be a marketing opportunity for every self-styled entrepreneur with a get rich quick scheme? Now some of the less vigilantly moderated LinkedIn Groups are under siege and likewise Google+ communities!

  6. says

    Jeffrey,

    A lot of those suggestions are great for building social media engagement. For the far-reaching Q&A that LinkedIn Answers provided, I think Quora is poised to take over the slack and possible integrate with LinkedIn as many have been speculating.

    – @MrRyanConnors

  7. says

    Well, I like this article – quite a bit. I was, in fact, going to include it in my next email newsletter. Until I realized that your site has disabled copying and pasting text. See, the way I collect pieces I want to share is to copy them into my Evernote, along with the link and tags referencing the site name and the author’s name. I have never used copied text any other way, and that’s true of most of us. It’s a little like going to a doctor with serious pain and having him assume you’re an addict. Just my two-ish cents’ worth.

  8. says

    Annie: I’m not sure what the problem is. We do not disable copy and paste. There is a function installed that makes sure we get a link back, but nothing that should prevent pasting into Evernote (which I just tested, and it works fine). Not sure if you want to try a different browser. I can send you the post copy by email if that would help.

  9. says

    LinkedIn’s Answers feature is an extremely valuable marketing opportunity for your business because it provides a unique opportunity to really show what you know. It also really helps you to cement relationships with many different people with whom you may do business at some point in the future.

  10. says

    Jeffrey
    All very good alternatives to build engagement. Yet I feel they are not “replacements”. I think LinkedIn has thrown out the baby with the bathwater by discontinuing Answers

  11. says

    LinkedIn Answers was definitely one of the best Q&A sites out there, too bad it has been shut down. But since some time passed since, there are a few worthy alternatives by now. The best IMHO is the whole StackExchange network.

    I would like to add the recently we have started our own Q&A site, but in quite a different format, called Explain it to Me. You can find us at http://explain-it-to.me. We do not aim at general questions and answers, but in simple answers to tough questions. The idea is that you can ask any (complex or complicated) question there, and the community will answer/explain it to you as if you were a Five Year Old. We hope to build a community that can answer even the most complex questions in easy and simple words.

    Our site is quite young, so please don’t expect thousands of articles there. We have however already a small but recurring community that keeps the site alive. It would be really great if you would have a look, and even better if you can give us some feedback :)

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