5 alternatives to the nearly defunct LinkedIn Answers

LinkedIn said it will shutter its Answers feature on Jan. 31. Here are five other places where you can ask—and receive—answers online.

In case you missed the news last week, LinkedIn will be shuttering LinkedIn Answers on Jan. 31, 2013.

This might not seem like a big deal, but for some, LinkedIn Answers was a valuable professional resource for finding answers, resources, and even vendor partners.

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?

Here are five different tools or sites to consider as alternatives to LinkedIn Answers:

1. Quora

This is the obvious choice. In fact, many people using Answers were probably using Quora at the same time. But when it comes down to it, Quora might be better than Answers.

Sure, LinkedIn had bigger numbers—200 million members and counting as of Jan. 9—but Quora has some impressive numbers, too. And it’s 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. However, those are “visit” numbers, not “member” numbers. Big difference—and there’s the rub. Answers was still the best option for many. Not only were you asking your specific network, but also other professionals in search of the same types of information.

Grade: B+

2. LinkedIn Groups

You might think that LinkedIn Groups would be the next best thing to Answers—they are part of the same social network—but you’d be wrong, at least based on the majority of Groups I’ve seen. The LinkedIn groups I’m a part of, which are a mix of local and national, are more about information sharing than Q&A. I’d like to think this solution would be a nice alternative, but I can’t recommend it. It exists, but it’s not your best option.

Grade: C-

3. Industry Google+ Communities

Last week, I wrote about the top Google+ Communities for PR pros. While researching the story, I realized that many people use these groups as professional forums—places where they can 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 near replica of what you found on Answers.

G+ Communities don’t have the same number of active members as LinkedIn, but they might be your best option.

Grade: A-

4. Industry Twitter chats

The good ol’ Twitter chat. It’s been around for five years, and I feel like some people forget about it 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 direct message with your specific question, and I 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. It’s a gold mine.

Grade: B

5. Niche Facebook Groups

Yet another tool and subset of Facebook that flies well below the radar. If you can find the right group, it’s a treasure trove of information.

Take Jason Keath‘s “Facebook Advertising” Group. It’s big, with 152 members. But more importantly, those 152 members include a ton of people who know their stuff when it comes to Facebook Advertising.

This group is full of great discussions around this rather niche topic, as well as best practices and what’s new with advertising on the social network. Almost every question I’ve seen has been responded to multiple times, a common occurrence with Facebook groups.

On the flip side, not every topic is going to have a Facebook Group attached to it, so this approach does have downsides.


Any alternatives to LinkedIn Answers you would care to share?

Arik Hanson is principal of ACH Communications. He blogs at Communications Conversations, where a version of this article originally appeared.

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