LinkedIn Live is coming: what does it mean for your business?

We welcome the news that LinkedIn is finally onboard the video live-streaming train.

The announcement yesterday of its new live-streaming service – LinkedIn Live – immediately got me thinking of the raft of opportunities it will provide businesses large and small, nonprofit organisations, professional experts and thought leaders, once it gets going.

But first, a bit of background.

At the moment, LinkedIn Live will be available only to a select few.

According to TechCrunch, which broke the story:

Launching in beta first in the U.S., LinkedIn Live (as the product is called) will be invite-only. In coming weeks, LinkedIn will also post a contact form for others who want to get in on the action

This was how LinkedIn rolled out its blog publishing platform some five years ago: it invited a small number of high profile influencers such as Richard Branson and Bill Gates to participate as a way to build buzz, and then over time rolled out the service to all of its members.

In 2017, LinkedIn enabled members to upload native video to their feed, and the take-up was impressive, indicating a huge appetite for the medium on the platform.

According to this HootSuite article:

In one year, LinkedIn video posts generated more than 300 million impressions on the platform. They also earn an average of three times the engagement of text posts. Plus, early findings from LinkedIn’s beta program show that LinkedIn native videos are five times more likely than other content to start a conversation among LinkedIn members.

Expect the early live-streaming content to be well produced.

According to TechCrunch, the plan is to cover conferences, product announcements, Q&As and other events led by influencers and mentors. It has selected several third-party developers of live broadcasting streaming services that creators will work with to create and post more polished live video on LinkedIn e.g. Switcher Studio and Socialive.

No doubt the idea here is to get people hooked on the format before rolling it out more broadly, but they might also be setting expectations for higher standards of live-streaming that what you might find on Facebook, perhaps.

How will we be able to use LinkedIn Live?

Okay, let’s get down to tin-tacks. What are some of the ways we’ll be able to use LinkedIn’s new live-streaming service to cut through with our message, share our ideas and connect with customers?

Here are six ways businesses can leverage the power of video live-streaming, whether via LinkedIn when available, but also Facebook and Twitter:

1.  Take people ‘behind the velvet rope’ of your business

  • Take us behind the scenes of your business or organisation. What makes it tick? Introduce your team, the people who sit in the cubicle and deal with the public or who those who are responsible for making the ‘cogs of the machine’ turn; let’s see the sparkle in their eyes, the enthusiasm in their voice. People do business with people, not logos. Companies that can create a sustainable emotional connection with customers, influencers and allies will have the edge in today’s rough ‘n’ tumble marketplace.

2.  Share your knowledge, ideas and expertise

  • Get your internal specialists, subject matter experts and leaders out from the shadows of the boardroom and in front of a smartphone or iPad! Encourage them to riff on topics relevant to your industry and business: what are some issues or pain-points people have that you can provide advice on? Or go deeper – challenge people with provocative ideas or opinions. Maybe put a panel together to debate a hot topic relevant to your industry.

 3.  Demonstrate product offerings

  • Obviously more suited to retail businesses: video live-streaming provides a terrific opportunity to talk about a product, not in a cheap promotional way but rather by educating viewers on its finer points. Not so much product demonstration but along similar lines: a fashion house could give viewers a sneak preview of its latest shipment of merchandise, a bookstore owner could chat about some new releases just in, or a travel agent could discuss some new holiday packages they’ve just put together.

 4.  Make official announcements or launch campaigns

  • Is your organisation about to launch a new campaign? Live stream it! This is especially relevant for nonprofit organisations that are about to launch a new fundraising program, for example, or maybe a public think-tank or professional association has just announced it is going to campaign on some emerging issue. Has your firm just released some new research findings or published a report on a particular trend or issue? Record a live stream with your nominated spokespeople.

5.  Broadcast live from events you run

  • Do you organise events such as client breakfasts or seminars? Live-stream the speakers as they present, or the panel discussion if you have one. Open up the conversation that’s taking place in the room in real time. If your events are more of an exclusive nature, maybe record some live vox pops early in proceedings or brief snatches throughout the course of the event to ratchet up non-attendees’ FOMO levels.

6.  ‘Ask me anything’/Live Q&As

  • These question-and-answer sessions really could be anything relevant about your business, as long as you’re addressing questions people frequently ask. For the adventurous leader or company founder, you could go down the ‘ask me anything’ route, either generally – a bit scary doing this, but can be very effective in building trust and connection – or simply stick to specific topics or themes. For example, imagine some new legislation has just been enacted that will have a profound impact on your industry – get your leaders and/or relevant subject matter experts out there discussing the issue live, in public, in real time. Encouraging questions from viewers will enhance the levels of engagement.

Why do I like video live-streaming?

I think the fact it’s live – raw, authentic, unvarnished and unedited – makes video streaming a powerful form of human communication. I know the rawness of live streaming will understandably worry some people, especially those in marketing and communications who are used to controlling the message, but I think we need to start overcoming such roadblocks in our content-led communications. It is 2019 after all!

And for those who believe people don’t like watching video that’s not slickly produced, think again! There’s ample proof online to show that unpolished video, whether it’s live or recorded, is massively popular with your everyday punter.

Will video live-streaming take over from some of the other powerful communication methods we’re seeing out there i.e. Facebook advertising, blogging or podcasting, webinars, live events, email or YouTube video? I doubt it. I think live-streaming is an excellent adjunct to those activities in that it adds a powerful real-time human dimension to a company’s marketing and therefore a great way to differentiate your brand from the competition, but only if done with deep conviction and strategic intent.

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