Over the past week, many LinkedIn users who use the platform to showcase their products and services may have been surprised to see that their Products and Services tab had been removed. For those who’ve become used to the feature, the change may be unwelcome, but, LinkedIn still has plenty to offer for marketers seeking to build product or brand awareness. This post will discuss the change and what LinkedIn marketers need to do for their profiles.
LinkedIn’s decision to discontinue the Products and Services tab may seem sudden, but the company had been warning about the changes for weeks.
“We aim to provide a simple and efficient experience for our members,” the company wrote in an online notice announcing the change. “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.”
A key thing that LinkedIn users and marketers need to remember is that this change is in no way a prohibition on promoting products and services on LinkedIn. Rather, LinkedIn wants users to think ways to use their other services to do it. The company specifically mentioned their Showcase Pages and Company Update pages as good alternatives for the Products and Services tab.
Showcase pages, like this one from Microsoft promoting Office, are a good way to start an in-depth and on-going conversation about a flagship product or service. Showcase pages require a continuous presence, which make them an inappropriate for a smaller product in a company’s line or if there isn’t enough content prepared for a long-term discussion.
“Showcase Pages are designed for building long-term relationships with members who want to follow specific aspects of your business, and not for short-term marketing campaigns,” the company explains on a help article on Showcase Pages. “It makes sense to create a Showcase Page when you want to establish a dedicated page to represent a brand, business unit, or company initiative.”
The company also recommended that business owners use their Company Page to post updates with product and service information. This is a more traditional social media tactic and there’s no reason why business owners on LinkedIn can’t use the same product-based posts they have for Facebook on LinkedIn. In the end, getting LinkedIn users accustomed to visiting Company Pages provides better exposure for businesses.
Removing the Products and Services tab has implications beyond product exposure that LinkedIn users need to keep in mind. In the past, LinkedIn users were able to give recommendations on this tab. This information could be extremely valuable to marketers and business owners. It’s possible to copy these recommendation into a document, but users only have until May 30th before the data is lost. LinkedIn also cautions users that before they use recommendations for marketing purposes, they need to get the permission of the person first. Remember, when people click or take actions on a social network, they’ve agreed to all kinds of legal conditions that don’t automatically transfer to the business owner. Just because some recommended a product on LinkedIn doesn’t mean their recommendation can be used in off-LinkedIn marketing without their permission.
LinkedIn’s decision to remove the Products and Services tab may require business owners to adapt their tactics, but the move in no way jeopardizes the usefulness of LinkedIn for marketing a particular product or brand from a company. There are still Company Pages, that can be used like traditional social media, and there’s also Showcase Pages, which can be used to connect and engage with customers in new ways. However, business owners who think they may want to save the recommendations from their Products and Services pages need to act soon. Remember, all data from these pages will be gone on May 30, 2014.