LinkedIn Withdraws Products and Services – what you must do now
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LinkedIn has quietly announced that the ‘Products and Services’ page available on every Company Page on the social network will no longer be supported after 14th April 2014. This popular feature is being retired to make way for ‘Showcase Pages,’ but the potential impact on existing users could be significant.
Don’t panic!Here are our quick starter tips to guide you through the change:
The ‘Product and Services’ tab on Company Pages on LinkedIn will be removed on 14th April 2014. The functionality will remain in place until this date, but the option to add new products and services has already been removed.
LinkedIn, like all online platforms, regularly changes its features and functionality. The Products and Services page was rarely used well and few companies embraced its full capabilities. Some companies, like IBM (view company page) and Oxfam (view company page), created dedicated pages for each of their major products/services and collected numerous recommendations for these from LinkedIn users. Creating these pages was clunky and time-consuming, and LinkedIn now believes it’s time for something better. ‘Showcase Pages’ is LinkedIn’s new way for company administrators to host content about each of their major offerings.
Hang on! What Happens to the content of My Products and Services Pages?
These pages will be removed on 14th April 2014 and their content, including all recommendations received, deleted. The only guaranteed way to retain this information is to take a local copy before this date, for example by copying and pasting the content into a Word document. LinkedIn has promised to email all affected Company Page admins with instructions explaining the change. Up until 30th May 2014 you can contact LinkedIn to request they send you a copy of all Company Page recommendations, but take note that this only covers recommendations received up to 4th March 2014, and none of the text and images added to each Product or Service Page. Our advice: act now to save your page contents, don’t leave this to chance!
What’s a Showcase Page anyway?
Showcase Pages were announced in November 2013 and are LinkedIn’s new way to share content and opportunities to company page followers. Think of a Showcase Page as a sub-page of the main Company Page. The major difference compared to ‘Products and Services’ is that LinkedIn users can elect to follow individual Showcase Pages instead of (or in addition to) a Company Page itself.
Crucially, other LinkedIn users cannot recommend a Showcase Page as they could for Products and Services before, but they can choose to Follow each page they are interested in. Effectively, each Showcase Page becomes a separate entity on LinkedIn, a place where administrators can post updates that will show up on their followers’ newsfeeds.
By default, each Company Page can have up to ten (10) Showcase Pages. This should be adequate for most companies but if you need more you can contact LinkedIn to request an increase. It’s not clear at this time if this would incur any cost, but it’s probably that extended functionality like this may become a chargeable feature in the future so keep this in mind when creating your Showcase Pages.
What happens to all those product/service recommendations we’ve collected?
After 14th April 2014, recommendations can only be left for LinkedIn users, not for products or services. All existing non-user recommendations will be deleted. If you have lots of non-user recommendations you might like to consider asking selected customers to repost their words as a recommendation for a person working at your company. But keep in mind that should that person change job, all recommendations will move with them. It may be safer, in the long term, to concentrate on building followers to your Company or Showcase pages as these should always remain your property (well, at least until LinkedIn decides to change these too!)
How can I access or find a Showcase Page?
Another benefit of Showcase Pages is that they can be discovered via the Search bar at the top of every LinkedIn page. For example, a search for “cisco internet of things” brings up results that point to Cisco’s dedicated showcase page.Showcase Pages can be accessed from the main Company Page on LinkedIn, via the right hand navigation column. This navigation pane only shows up once at least one Showcase Page has been created.
The URL for Showcase Pages follow this format: linkedin.com/company/[showcase_page_name].
What Can I Put on a Showcase Page?
In keeping with the trend towards more visually-arresting content, the dominant feature of every Showcase Page is a large hero image at the top of the page. This can feature any graphic content you like and you can change it as often as you wish. It’s not yet clickable so you cannot add hyperlinks to another page, but this functionality may be added in the future.
You can also add a description for the page (between 75 to 200 characters long), logos for each Showcase Page, assign it to a specific industry sector, add an external URL to a specific page on your website, and set the default language. And if your company has Linkedin Groups you can add them so they also feature on your Showcase Page.
There’s one other essential ingredient you need though: every Showcase Page needs regular news and posts to turn it into a living, breathing online destination. Creating a showcase page is easy, but turning it into an information source that people will want to follow is altogether more challenging. Regularly posting to each Showcase Page is the the key to building ongoing relationships with its followers. When your followers interact with your updates (liking, commenting, sharing etc.) , it spreads your message to their networks, giving you greater reach. Updates can be seen by your followers not just on your Showcase Page, but also on their newsfeed (across all devices, including mobile).
So, for every page you create, you also need an editorial plan and resources to ensure you can regularly post fresh news stories and insights that will turn it into a “must-follow” resource in LinkedIn. This is just one of many changes LinkedIn has introduced in its bid to become a more regularly visited, content-rich social network. Expect more changes along these lines in the future.
How Do I Create A Showcase Page?
You must be a LinkedIn Company Page administrator to create a Showcase Page. After logging in to LinkedIn, head to your Company Page, click the down arrow next to the blue Edit button and select ‘Create a Showcase Page. The information and content you’ll need include:
Your Showcase Page name
Your Showcase Page description (75-200 characters)
Your Industry sector
Name of at least 1 Showcase Page administrator (by default that’s you!)
Hero Image (highly recommended, but optional, see below for sizes)
What are the sizes for images on the Showcase Page?
Hero Image: Minimum 974 x 330 pixels. PNG, JPEG, or GIF are supported. Maximum file size is 2MB. Make it gorgeous and enticing – the hero image takes up a huge amount of the top of the above-the-fold page so make sure it works hard for you.
Logo: 100 x 60 pixels. Your image will be resized to fit if required.
Square logo: 50 x 50 pixels. Your image will be resized to fit if not perfectly square.
I Don’t Like It. Can I keep my Products and Services pages, please?
Nope, these pages will be cyber-zapped by LinkedIn on 14th April 2014. There is no way to retain this functionality on this platform. Don’t shoot the messenger, someone else make the rules!
OK, what Should I Do Now?
If you have existing content on Products and Services pages on LinkedIn you should take a copy of this before 14th April. Copy and paste the data, including all recommendations received, into a Word, or similar document format. This will ensure you still have access to the recommendations people have left for you and the text you used to describe your products and services after the kill date. Also contact LinkedIn to request they send you a backup of your recommendations; remember to do this before 30th May 2014.
Once you’ve backed up your data, consider creating new Showcase Pages. Before you do this, think very carefully about which pages you will need and make sure you have a plan in place to regularly update and post to each of these pages. Remember: if you don’t regularly post fresh content and news, your Showcase Pages are very unlikely to attract much traffic. Even Adobe currently only has two (2) Showcase Pages, compared to the 45 Products and Services they had under the old system. It’s likely they’ll add more soon but only if they’re convinced they have the resources in place to make additional pages a success.
On a social network, you get out what you put in, no shortcuts, even with a huge marketing budget. If your Showcase Pages are dry, dull and out-of-date, no amount of cajoling will convince lots of people to follow you. Check out LinkedIn’s short guide on SlideShare that explains how to create a great Showcase Page.