This is why LinkedIn should never ‘retire’ a feature

Posted on June 24, 2014. Filed under: New features, Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

Linkedin Axe Man

This is the now infamous LinkedIn Axeman. He appears in my status updates every time LinkedIn ‘retire’ a new feature

This is happening quite frequently as LinkedIn ‘improves’ the user experience. LinkedIn rarely explain why they ‘retire’ features, other than a standard corporate PR type message that talks about focusing resources into new areas to improve the experience. It is all in our supposed best interests, of course, even if we do not see it!

Most of us do not like change and to be fair, it is often needed.  I have often moaned about change; months later I find that I am quite happy with a shiny new feature!

I do think, however, there is a serious issue that occurs as a consequence of dropping features…

The risk is that members will become reluctant to use features because they are concerned LinkedIn will end support for those same features! (tweet this)

Let me give you two new features that are suffering because of this;

LinkedIn Contacts is a fantastic feature; it is effectively a free social CRM system built into LinkedIn. So, why aren’t people using it? Well, what happens if I write notes, add reminders etc, and then find they have all disappeared because LinkedIn changed its mind, and decided that this was not the direction they want to go!

LinkedIn Publisher Platform LinkedIn wants us to abandon blogging on WordPress, or our website and instead restrict our content to LinkedIn. What happens to our content if they decide that the publishing platform was not such a good idea after all?!

Interestingly, I’m starting to wonder if the publisher platform will mark the end of the status update feature. Updates are primarily links to external posts and LinkedIn want us to stay on their platform so the master plan is to get everyone posting their content on LinkedIn so that ‘sharing is all within LinkedIn. I discuss this point in more detail in the latest episode of my podcast LinkedInformed. If you haven’t subscribed already then have a listen at http://linkedinformed.com/ or search for LinkedInformed on iTunes or Stitcher.

Someone recently commented that the ‘Apply with LinkedIn’ button that can be used for job adverts has recently been abandoned as well. Another feature which people could have invested time and money incorporating into their website, only to find it is no longer supported. I wonder if these people will be more cautious to adopt similar features in the future.

I don’t enjoy it when LinkedIn remove features but this is not my point, the real issue is that LinkedIn may find that they are ‘shooting themselves in the foot’ if they persist with this policy and that is significantly more damaging because members may stop using features and eventually the site altogether.

The cycle of introducing new LinkedIn features and then dumping them because no-one uses them is a self-fulfilling prophecy (tweet this) and LinkedIn need to address this sooner rather than later!

What do you think?

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7 Responses to “This is why LinkedIn should never ‘retire’ a feature”

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I agree, Mark. There are parallels with Apple and their behaviour currently. I know you have recently come across this ‘strategy’ with their GarageBand/Podcasts apps and the removal of very useful and popular features. But it has spread elsewhere and caused masses of people to protest and swear they’ll never buy Apple products again. They introduced a new Pages app, new Keynote et al – and Final Cut Pro’s revamp is probably the most public customer-losing move Apple have ever made. They insist, these unfathomable changes are in the interests of their customers. If that were true, those customers wouldn’t have moved in their thousands to Adobe products as a direct result. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when all this stuff is being discussed and agreed before they press the button to go live with it. I’d love to get a full understanding of their logic. Meanwhile, we all have to suffer and go short – so that we may benefit. Go figure…

Thanks Chris, you are right about LinkedIn not being alone in this respect. That said I think the Apple example has a crucial difference. Apple have updated their products and in doing so some features have been dropped but they do still allow access to the previous versions. My issue with LinkedIn is that they remove features entirely and this will put people off using features fully for fear of losing them as well.
Adobe are a different issue again, they produced stand alone products and then decided to change their charging model to a subscription method for a suite of products which resulted in a massive loss of customers. Changing features is one thing but making people pay more for products they don’t want or need is in another league altogether!

Depends on the extent of “access to previous versions”. Not if you upgrade to a newer OS. The place is littered with apps and hardware that will not work and will not even install on the latest Operating Systems. The latest iMac (albeit their new “low cost” model) has soldered memory and is un-upgradable. The latest FCP X will not work on the previous Op System – I could go on. In essence, if you’re prepared to stay put on old hard and software, yes, access is there. If not, and you want to move up, those features are permanently out of your reach. Pedantics aside, there remains this odd approach where the customer’s best interests/wishes/desires are pushed aside. Your example of Adobe’s cloud-based application system was never going to be popular amongst the industrial-strength users because they shouted out there fears of; “but what if the cloud bursts and we can’t access our programs?!”. Adobe said they were worryimg unnecessarily. Guess what happened?
Anyway, this is all too stressful. I’m going to play some CDs – oh no, maybe not… 😉

I take your point Chris. Re adobe is it true that if I just want one product I have to subscribe for others that I don’t want? If so, that is a much bigger issue than it being cloud based.

Mark, totally agree – very frustrating when tools disappear with little notice and no explanation. Definitely makes me more reluctant to embrace new features. But i doubt we will all abandon LinkedIn in the foreseeable future.

Thanks Charles, I think you are right I can’t see people abandoning LinkedIn but new features may not be fully embraced and this is what I am warning LinkedIn about.

I agree… this has introduced a significant trust issue… and confuses the value proposition of LinkedIn. Their target audience is BUSY… and they are not looking at LI the way some people look at Pinterest or Facebook (to unwind, etc.). But LI tries to copy their features… and changes the value prop. I don’t get it (but I’m not involved in their strategic decisions). I feel like LI switched focus from providing value to professionals TO their new customer: the stock market. Ugh.

Another issue, in addition to “how long is this feature going to be around,” is the policy and heavy-handedness that LI has shown. I blogged about this issue with regard to Contacts various times, including here: http://imonlinkedinnowwhat.com/2013/04/26/linkedin-contacts-vs-linkedin-policy-now-this-issue-cant-be-ignored/ – this goes way beyond “will the feature be around in a few years.”


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