LinkedIn, the social platform for people to network and look for work that’s getting acquired by Microsoft for $26 billion, is taking the wraps off a new feature that it hopes will get more of its 433 million users moving — literally and figuratively — when it comes to engaging with the site: today, LinkedIn is taking its first foray into video content, created by users and hosted by LinkedIn itself.
LinkedIn will start first with videos created by LinkedIn ‘Influencers’ — an invitation-only group of 500 LinkedIn users who have significant numbers of followers and who regularly post content to the site — who will be making videos that are short, 30-seconds-or-less responses to questions put to them specifically or to the community at large.
We have an example of a video below, but from the examples I’ve seen, these might be best described as Quora-style open-ended questions about leadership challenges and the impact of general trends in the world like artificial intelligence, which go along with LinkedIn’s bigger themes around professional development and trends in the working world. (On that note, why hasn’t LinkedIn made a bid to acquire Quora? Or has it?)
Influencers will be creating their videos using a special app called “Record” that LinkedIn has created for this purpose — which for now will only be accessible by these Influencers, LinkedIn tells me.
The videos will run in-stream on users’ feeds on desktop, and will break out into “immersive” experiences on blackened screens when you click on the videos themselves. LinkedIn’s iOS and Android apps will see the videos pop out into blackened screens when you click on them, too — not unlike Facebook’s video experience. In both cases, you are led, as the viewer, into a carousel of more videos either from that Influencer, or more likely more Influencer responses to the same question.
Here’s an example of how one will look:
The idea behind adding in video is pretty straightforward for LinkedIn. Video has been one of the big growth engines for social media platforms, with companies like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat all building (and sometimes acquiring) a number of video-based features both to boost the amount of time that people spend on their platforms, and also to help drive more video-based advertising. The latter helps the social platforms, in turn, tap into premium ad dollars that would have traditionally gone into television media buys.
In fact, considering how much other social platforms have developed their video offerings, if anything, it’s a surprise that it’s taken LinkedIn so long to get moving, especially since video has already been making its way into the stream in an informal way.
Jasper Sherman-Presser, a product manager at LinkedIn who is overseeing the development of the video feature, says that video is already a somewhat popular medium on the site (I asked; LinkedIn provided no stats on numbers). However, up to now, video on LinkedIn has come in the form of links to videos hosted elsewhere, like YouTube.
For now Sherman-Presser tells me that there will be no ads or any fees at all associated with the creation or broadcast of videos, although given that LinkedIn has a strong premium (paying) subscriber business, and is also working all the time to build out its advertising business, it seems like an obvious progression for both of these to come online at some point.
And the same will go for who will be able to create videos, and where else video appears around the site beyond in-stream as short Q&A posts.
For now, Sherman-Presser says that only Influencers will be able to create video content, but he says that it’s likely to be expanded to more users in the future, just as LinkedIn has done with other new features like its Publishers network: “I think that playbook [of first tapping Influencers and then expanding to others] has been successful for us,” he said. “We see this as part of the tools that people can use to successfully build out their personal brands.”
As for where else it may appear down the line, my feeling is that LinkedIn could easily double down on this as a key component of how they develop content on the site. Video has an obvious home on e-learning on services like Lynda.com (which LinkedIn acquired last year), as well as on profile pages for businesses and specific people, where videos could be uploaded to provide more information about a person or a company, and to keep people coming back to learn more.