Not too long ago, I wrote a post suggesting that we need a moratorium on changes to social media sites. The request was made just after LinkedIn did away with the Products & Services tab we’d all been accustomed to using on the platform’s business pages and Twitter threatened to remove that most basic of tools: the hashtag. It appears that my plea fell on deaf ears, as we now learn that the Polls in Groups feature of LinkedIn is disappearing next month. In sharing the news, the company manages to sound quite reasonable:
At LinkedIn, we aim to provide a simple and efficient experience for our members. To do this, we’re continuously evaluating how our current products and features are used, and seeking new ways to focus our resources on building the best products. This sometimes results in the retirement of certain features. LinkedIn Polls in Groups will be retired on May 15, 2014. You can continue to engage with fellow members by posting a question to get the group’s response or sharing an update or participating in conversations directly on the LinkedIn homepage.
Despite the rational tone of the announcement, it’s hard to fathom the logic behind this move. Ever since LinkedIn eliminated Events in late 2012, I’ve wondered a bit what they were smoking in Mountain View. And the pace of changes has only been increasing since then, posing quite a challenge for users who attempt to keep up with the constant flurry of revisions. Even though I’m used to the rapid-fire modifications by now, I was surprised to learn of this latest change because the polls feature seems to be one of the platform’s most beloved and interesting add-ons.
Setting up a quick poll has been a practical and simple method for group members to share opinions on a given topic. It’s faster and requires less commitment than stopping to add a comment, and the feature is well used in the groups I have been a part of. The results of these polls are often shared through social media, leading to popular, thought-provoking articles and blog posts. No one confuses these casual polls with serious scientific research, but they have proven themselves to be very effective tools for testing the waters on new services, ascertaining group opinion on hot topics and determining where the public sentiment lies on a particular issue.
Most likely, the loss of polls has something to do with their new publishing platform, though it’s impossible to tell at this point quite how it relates. What I do know is that I’m sorry to see the polls feature go. I’m probably not the only one, either. Many active LinkedIn users will regret the loss of this convenient and highly functional tool.
Is this a watershed moment for LinkedIn, causing millions of previously loyal users to abandon the platform? Definitely not. But because of this change, LinkedIn is a bit less useful and therefore a bit less valuable to me as a business owner and a marketing professional. Inspiring that sense of disappointment and loss is a questionable move for any networking platform. It appears to me to be misstep for a platform that’s actively engaged – and successfully, for the most part – in increasing its relevance and user base as it works to be perceived as one of the major players in the online networking game.
Is it only me, or will you miss LinkedIn Polls as well? Will this change make any difference to you?
Great guest post by Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk, president of bbr marketing