LinkedIn video use is rising among creators, but there’s no monetization product yet

Like most young professionals, Chris Strub joined LinkedIn in 2011 as a way to network with others. But over the years, it wasn’t much of a focus for the journalist-turned-social-media-strategist who gravitated to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Periscope and YouTube.

That’s changed now: LinkedIn is now one of his top priorities as a social network to share videos.

Ever since LinkedIn released video to all users in August 2017 — and then to all company pages in July 2018 — a variety of creators and publishers have slowly been investing more of their time on the platform. LinkedIn’s principal product manager on the video team, Peter Roybal, told Digiday “millions” of people, companies and publishers have created videos on LinkedIn and said it’s the “fastest growing type of content on the platform.” Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk has been preaching the gospel of LinkedIn video, saying the “organic reach is fucking gold right now.

LinkedIn’s Roybal denied boosting video in the algorithm, but LinkedIn users say they’re seeing more and more videos on the platform. Tom Goodwin, head of innovation at Zenith Media and a LinkedIn superstar with more than 686,000 followers, said his mobile app the other day was “just video pretty much: people quite awkwardly recording themselves saying something to the camera.”

Goodwin has made some videos for LinkedIn, such as a pitch to attend his talk at CES. Strub has created educational videos about other marketing platforms. Cathy Hackl, futurist at immersive experience lab You Are Here and ranked as LinkedIn’s No. 4 top voice in technology, has posted video reviews of new gadgets like foldable screens. And publishers like Forbes and The Economist have shared leadership tips and explainer videos, respectively.

“It’s cliche to say that ‘marketers ruin everything,’ but LinkedIn video still seems like a sweet spot, where most of the content shared provides valuable insights and information. The business-based nature of the platform and the ability for your content to reach executives who’d generally be unreachable on a platform like Facebook is huge,” Strub said.

Among media companies, Forbes started sharing LinkedIn videos at the end of 2017 as part of the platform’s beta. It has been publishing videos there consistently since then.

“As our audience began engaging beyond the job search [on LinkedIn], we took that opportunity to highlight our leadership and entrepreneurial content to decision-makers with a direct, visually focused approach. We saw this partnership with LinkedIn as an organic path toward amplifying Forbes content in a new, meaningful way,” said Shauna Gleason, director of social media at Forbes.

The Economist was part of LinkedIn’s video test in 2017 and now claims to be one of the best-performing video publishers on the platform, said Bo Franklin, an assistant community editor.

Publishers started seeing value in LinkedIn’s audience in 2017 in part as an alternative to Facebook’s news feed — though the platform hasn’t been worthwhile for all. Parsely data reveals LinkedIn referral dropped by 13 percent over the last year. While referrals have dropped from an absolute standpoint, they have consistently come in at just under 0.05 percent of total referral traffic, Parsely told Digiday. Desktop traffic was the hardest hit with referrals down by 42 percent, though mobile traffic made up 75 percent of total referrals in 2018, according to Parsely.

Monetization for videos is still lacking on LinkedIn. The platform doesn’t offer pre-roll or mid-roll ads. A LinkedIn spokesperson said the company is looking into it but doesn’t currently have plans to launch those ads. Publishers said they are not deterred — at least not yet. The Economist’s Franklin said his team relies on a sponsorship model to fund the majority of their video content.

Publishers and creators see value in audience insights they get from LinkedIn. Hackl said she recently shared a video about Whirlpool’s AR oven and was able to see that “a lot of folks from Whirlpool” not only viewed the video but also shared it.

“When you see that professionals from Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook are watching your videos, you realize there’s a perfect audience for my content,” Hackl said.

Publishing to LinkedIn is quite unlike the other platforms. Suzie “String” Nguyen, one of the beta users of LinkedIn videos in early 2017, who now has 30,000 followers, described LinkedIn video as a “mishmash of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.”

Unlike YouTube, LinkedIn is not about search traffic. In fact, it’s rather hard to search for videos on the platform. Instead, similar to Facebook, traffic is driven by the feed where the algorithm relies on a user’s connections commenting and liking on posts.

“LinkedIn’s all about engagement like Facebook algorithm, people commenting and liking posts to get a network effect. Awkward videos do well. Don’t do dark or shaky videos, but you need uniqueness in your personality,” Nguyen said.

LinkedIn users are hoping for more features from LinkedIn in 2019. Hackl said she wants an integration with Adobe Rush so she can more easily edit and then share her videos. Strub, who has actively streamed on Meerkat (RIP), Periscope and Facebook, said he hopes LinkedIn adds live video.

“As LinkedIn aims at increasing time on site, livestreaming feels like the natural next step,” Strub said.

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