2017 is a year of change for LinkedIn. They finally rolled out a new design for their professional network earlier in 2017 and have even released Instagram esque filters for your profile filter, albeit less extensive. This month (July 2017) saw LinkedIn jump on the video bandwagon with the ability to upload native video, which the marketing world is particularly excited about.
As per usual, let’s cover off the basics.
What is native video? It is when a user has the ability to upload video content directly to the platform (in this case LinkedIn) rather than having to upload to Youtube or Vimeo and then embed a link.
LinkedIn had trialled this with 500 LinkedIn influencers in the latter half of 2016, allowing them to upload native videos to be perused by their followers. As per other platforms, these videos appear in news feeds and auto play with the sound off. LinkedIn are now rolling out this functionality to those without the esteemed title of ‘influencer’, i.e the masses. It will take time for everyone to see it, with the majority of those in the US, although we have seen it in the office here in London! Whether you get chosen in the early roll out rounds does not seem to be correlated to your profile, usage statistics or amount of connections either.
Finally, like Instagram, you can only add video via LinkedIn’s mobile app. This can be frustrating but with everything moving towards mobile (think Google’s mobile first indexing and mobile first web design) it does not come as a huge surprise.
Growth of Video on Social Media
For LinkedIn it really is a no brainer. Facebook were responsible for starting the video revolution on social media with their uploading and viewing statistics growing exponentially since 2014. They hit 1 billion video views a day in the same year that they introduced it! In 2017 video is now centre stage for Facebook according to Zuckerberg’s Q1 earnings call with investors and video is prevalent on Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter as well.
As such, LinkedIn has for a while now been lagging behind when it comes to video, still relying on users embedding Youtube clips.
LinkedIn may be fashionably late to the party, but LinkedIn videos offer some interesting opportunities and could well be a great avenue for marketers.
B2B Specific Video Content
Let’s face it, B2C marketing tends to get more press than the less sexy B2B side of the marketing world. However, the B2B market is a behemoth lurking below the surface with companies relying on more traditional sales teams. Therefore, with LinkedIn being a network specifically for professionals, their inclusion of video may boost B2B companies’ inbound channels.
LinkedIn is a highly appropriate channel for B2B marketing. Engage your customers when they are thinking ‘business’ rather than when they are sitting on their couch at home trying to wind down. We often say that content is king, however in this case context is more important. Yes, LinkedIn has often been avoided by marketers for its lack of daily usage but video gives you a chance to engage far more than traditional posts. Do not underestimate the importance of displaying content to the user when they are ready for it, it’s one of the major reasons for the success of inbound marketing.
Great for sales and marketing teams. LinkedIn gives you far more information on the individuals that have viewed your content compared with any of the other major social media networks. Name, Job Titles, Previous History, Location. All highly valuable information for either sales teams or marketing teams to leverage. This is one of the most significant reasons as to why native video is better.
Create Specific Content. With LinkedIn video you can be laser focused on business. Thought leadership, product launches, expo promotions, they are all relevant on the platform. This may result in businesses producing video that have never before produced video, or a welcome change for B2B companies trying to make their product/video ‘fit’ for Facebook and its corresponding mass audience.
A serious upside for LinkedIn
A step towards engagement
A boost in video content, alongside LinkedIn’s relatively new design, may be a step to solving one of LinkedIn’s major problems. According to Business Insider less than 25% of accounts use LinkedIn on a monthly basis with average daily usage in the handful of minutes compared with between 30-50 minutes daily for Facebook and Snapchat.
LinkedIn also fall behind in engagement stats for their news feed. Okay, LinkedIn has a stronger focus on direct communication but still, the facts show that a fraction of their users are actually interested in their news feed content. LinkedIn’s new design which brings “content to the heart of the platform” along with their new native video functionality makes the news feed considerably more attractive for your average user.
Driven by Revenue?
2016 saw LinkedIn’s revenue growth slow and a successful acquisition by Microsoft. These two factors combined would place considerable pressure on LinkedIn to increase revenues. The upside is that native video will benefit the user first, with increased revenue as a by product rather than the other way around (which rarely works!). So, if LinkedIn’s video functionality is a success, how will this translate into revenue?
Advertising revenue is the first channel that springs to mind. Advertising has for a long time been the main staple of revenue for video content, whether that be on TV or online video streaming. LinkedIn should take care to allow video to grow on the platform prior to introducing advertising. After all, no one particularly likes being displayed an advert prior to the content that they actually want to watch! Gaining a critical mass of regular video uploaders and viewers would be prudent before trying to rake in advertising revenue.
The data available to video producers on LinkedIn (as mentioned above) is particularly interesting. Marketing and Sales teams will want access to this data and whilst at the moment it is restricted, we bet that LinkedIn will provide further access to LinkedIn Premium members. If video is a success for LinkedIn (and therefore its users), expect different tranches of access to data for non Premium and Premium members…therefore encouraging those outside the club to pay the monthly fee and join.
Is Video LinkedIn’s Saving Grace?
Not by itself. LinkedIn are late to the party and have not brought anything different in their functionality when compared to their competition. However, combined with the new design and further development of tools such as LinkedIn Learning and Pulse, we can see a growth in usage over the next year. Their video functionality does offer businesses a highly specific channel for B2B video content and combined with their new design represents a significant improvement for the platform. The point is that social media platforms are complex beasts and require more than just one piece of functionality to attract those all important users.
We are excited about the potential of LinkedIn’s native video functionality and are impressed by the changes being enacted on the platform, so credit to them!