by Farraz Khan | 18 Feb 2019

This week saw two game-changing developments in the live-video space:

First, Amazon quietly launched Amazon Live, a channel that will feature live content from in-house talent as well as individual brands. (Think QVC for online shopping.) The emergence of live commerce in North America was one of our predictions for 2019, and Amazon Live is an inkling of what’s to come.

Second, LinkedIn rolled out LinkedIn Live, which will allow individuals and organizations to broadcast live video on the professional-networking platform. As a LinkedIn Live partner, Socialive maximizes brand awareness, while also helping create impactful demand-generation video content.

Together, these moves from two of tech’s dominant players underscore that live video is fertile ground for growth – particularly when it comes to brand-building and commerce.

In this primer, we explore what LinkedIn Live means for organizations and how to avail yourself of the novel opportunities it presents.

What is LinkedIn Live?

After LinkedIn launched video in mid-2017, video quickly became the fastest-growing format on the platform, notching the highest rates of user engagement.

So it comes as no surprise that LinkedIn is venturing into live video — a format that outperforms regular video by a factor of 10.

Currently piloting — and available only to a small group of users — LinkedIn Live will eventually allow select people and organizations to livestream video to LinkedIn’s global audience of more than 610 million.

As a LinkedIn Live partner, Socialive will enable users to create polished livestreams for the platform — with multicam options, branded titles and graphics, and dynamic split-screen layouts.

Why LinkedIn Live Is Different

To be sure, live video has been a part of the social-media ecosystem for nigh on a decade.

YouTube Live launched in 2011, Periscope (acquired by Twitter) in 2015, and Facebook Live in early 2016. (That’s not to mention live-ish video apps like Snapchat and Instagram.)

Among social platforms, however, LinkedIn is distinct as a professional, career-based community. It engages a different audience — and engages it differently:

> An audience of peers: While social platforms like Facebook and Twitter have evolved over their lifespans, they remain spaces where people participate largely in their personal capacities. Consequently, on these platforms, brands communicate to a predominantly consumer audience.

As a professional community, LinkedIn engages people and organizations around career growth and business development. On LinkedIn, your brand’s audience, then, is as often peer entrepreneurs and organizations, investors, and current and potential employees, as consumers.

> Community-building ethos:  In many ways, social channels are still a Wild West for marketers. Because they are broad-based consumer platforms, there are no settled rules for what to message. As a result, brands use these channels liberally, for all manner of messaging, from upper-funnel affinity- and awareness-building to direct sales.

LinkedIn has a more defined ethos that shapes what constitutes good and appropriate messaging on the platform. As a space where people and organizations find professional opportunities, collaboration, and support, LinkedIn is more a space for nurturing a professional community — via stories, insights, and conversation — than one for overt promotion.

> Elevated tone:  There is a difference between how you speak to friends and how you speak to colleagues. Whereas organizations can communicate more informally, even playfully on consumer-centric social channels, the conversations on LinkedIn occur at a more elevated, professional register.

By incorporating what has hitherto been a social, consumer-spirited feature into a professional context, LinkedIn Live is an altogether novel medium — unlocking a new audience — and, for all brands, a wellspring of opportunity.

How LinkedIn Live Can Benefit All Brands

The revolution in online live and live-like authentic video is also an aesthetic one.

YouTube vlogs, Facebook livestreams, and Snaps have evolved our expectations for how online video should look, especially live video. Typically, this content has a stripped-down look, with minimal bells and whistles, and featuring only one or a few subjects in-frame, speaking directly into camera.

There are several reasons for the emergence and codification of this new video aesthetic. It communicates a directness and authenticity on the part of the speaker. It’s suitable for viewing on smaller screens. But, above all, it’s inexpensive.

For brands, what that means is that creating online video — and, now, live content for LinkedIn Live — is accessible. You don’t need the six- and seven-figure ad budgets of yesteryear to produce watchable content. (In point of fact, slickly produced videos can seem out of place on social and digital platforms.)

Whereas a live-like video style allows a brand to capitalize on ease of production as well as an aesthetic that connotes authenticity, real-time broadcasts for LinkedIn Live offer further advantages:

> Foster engagement & community:  Live broadcasts on LinkedIn Live enable a brand to engage its audience in real-time. Viewers can ask questions and provide feedback during a broadcast, allowing them to shape the conversation. By creating opportunities for viewers to become stakeholders, a brand can build affinity and interest, while gaining valuable insights about its audience.

> Humanize your organization:  The live aesthetic and the real-time access of live content communicate transparency and authenticity. Today, audiences are savvier and more skeptical of self-serving, manicured messaging. Live allows for more unvarnished, human storytelling, especially when you spotlight the people —from leaders to employees — who comprise your organization.

> Establish thought leadership:  Live video is well-suited for Q&A sessions, roundtable discussions, and keynote speeches that explore ideas, innovations, or industry developments about which your organization may have particular and valuable insights. Conducting a conversation in real time — and opening it up to a professional community on LinkedIn — can both build goodwill for your brand and cultivate its reputation as an authority.

> Attract collaborators & professional connections:   Ultimately, an effective live strategy — which nurtures a LinkedIn constituency, shows the human side of your brand, and delivers expertise — can expand your LinkedIn audience and generate opportunities for business development, partnerships, and recruitment of top talent.

How To Approach LinkedIn Live Content

As explored above, LinkedIn Live is a distinct platform, with a niche audience, defined ethos, and professional decorum. It follows, then, that the content your brand creates and curates for LinkedIn Live should match that environment.

Practically, that means a content strategy that incorporates certain best practices:

> Give, don’t take:  LinkedIn is adamantly not a venue to trumpet deals, push promotions, or make emphatic appeals for sales. Given the distinct nature of the LinkedIn community, this sort of messaging comes off as tone-deaf and can actually cut against your brand — painting you as an ill-mannered gate-crasher.

Rather, LinkedIn is about building and nurturing professional community — by connecting with like-minded professionals and peer organizations, contributing insights and ideas, and turning the individual journey into a shared experience. Generosity is the key to compelling LinkedIn Live video.

Produce content that benefits entrepreneurs, investors, business leaders, experts, and workers — such as interviews with company insiders, expert commentary, even entertaining episodes about what goes on behind the scenes at your company.

Think of LinkedIn as a highly effective upper-funnel channel, an opportunity to generate goodwill and affinity for your brand among a community of peers and professionals. Doing this well can lead to business opportunities and help attract great employees.

> Encourage conversation:  Relatedly, craft live content with an eye toward interaction and engagement. Other channels — with perhaps a more homogeneous, consumer audience — may be better suited to a one-to-many broadcasting model.

The LinkedIn ethos, however, favors conversations — where multiple parties can participate in a discussion, share unique insights and feedback, and thereby elevate understanding for the benefit of the larger LinkedIn community.

LinkedIn Live enables real-time exchanges between the creators and consumers of live-video content. Prompt your audience to use the comment feature to submit questions and share experiences, and follow through on opportunities to carry a conversation forward post-livestream.

> Polish your content:  A key challenge for organizations is to balance the authentic aesthetic of live video with the imperative to preserve brand equity.

Raw livestreams — the sort broadcasted by individual users on social platforms — are not well-suited to brands, nor are they in-tune with the more buttoned-up, professional context of the LinkedIn community.

By enhancing the production value of your content, you can give it a professional veneer, while maintaining the spirit of authenticity and transparency that gives live video its impact.

Instead of smartphones or webcams, for instance, you can use pro-grade cameras. Taking inspiration from live-TV broadcasts, you can deploy multiple cameras or switch between live feeds and pre-edited video. You can also add branded title cards and on-screen graphics.

As part of its LinkedIn Live rollout, LinkedIn has partnered with Socialive for this very purpose: to enable brands to easily produce elevated, professional live broadcasts.

> Repurpose & tailor:  As intimated above, a fundamental precept of communication is that context shapes what you say and how you say it. The ideal of crafting bespoke messages for each channel, however, clashes with the need to create content efficiently.

Instead of producing single-use video for LinkedIn Live, consider how you can reshape, reframe, and repackage existing content to match the audience, ethos, and tone of the LinkedIn community and the inherent advantages of the live video format.

For instance, take a blog post exploring a news development and repurpose it into a live discussion between two brand reps about the same news item. Invite your audience into the conversation by soliciting their thoughts and have your brand reps respond to viewer insights. Then take the recording of that discussion, edit the best moment, and create new sponsored content to promote the next event.

Considering the distinct nature of the LinkedIn community  —  its unique audience, ethos, and tone  —  the launch of LinkedIn Live is not an instance of just another social platform adding live.

Instead, it introduces a novel opportunity for brands to forge professional relationships that can amplify and accelerate growth  —  and to do so more reliably, given the persuasive power of live video.