About Alana Smith
Alana Smith is a Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn, where she builds products that reinvent the way multimedia formats like live video, native video, and images are created and consumed by LinkedIn members around the world.
Prior to joining LinkedIn, Alana led Video and Connected Devices at Bloomberg and held Product Manager roles on high-profile mobile apps at companies such as American Express and Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, with additional experience in mobile e-commerce and mobile marketing campaigns at NY-based agencies.
Alana built her foundation in technology and product management through the DTLP program at GE Energy and her B.S. degree from Syracuse University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude.
“Video and learning is truly synonymous in a new way. It has the best opportunity to educate.”
– Alana Smith, Senior Product Manager of Video, Images, and Live at Linkedin
Socialive: What is a key takeaway you learned from brands producing video content in 2020?
Alana Smith: 2020 was all about being nimble and flexible given everything that has been going on with the global pandemic.
I think the most important takeaway is the importance of being human and being comfortable in imperfections, since we’re not able to be in studios or gather together in person. Things aren’t going to be the way they were, and that’s okay.
I think the humanistic nature of creating video in that way is very appealing because everyone can relate. There’s going to be a dog barking or a kid running up behind you, and that’s great. Not everything is always shiny and perfect. It’s the time to lean in on this.
SL: What do you consider the top video trend businesses should know about in 2021?
AS: With the global pandemic continuing into 2021, digital video as a whole will continue to be the norm in all formats such as native, short pieces, Stories, and live streaming.
Specifically, I see video and learning as truly synonymous in a new way. Anyone can access YouTube to learn and solve a problem. The new generation of leaders do that to learn. It’s a foreign concept to go to the library and find the answer to your problem in a book. I’m looking on YouTube or elsewhere to find the best person or right person to teach me how to do something. Have that perspective as you go into the New Year, especially while people stay at home. People want to learn, especially now when many are looking to shift their careers.
You really want to ensure the content you create has a takeaway, whether you are selling a product, sharing knowledge, or if it’s a branded video. What can people take away from this that can help them? How can you help people stay informed (not just from a news or current events perspective)? What are best practices or ideas that could solve a problem? Because 2021 will be about solving problems.
SL: What do you consider the top challenge for businesses looking to produce video content in 2021?
AS: Production across the board will be a challenge. I think companies and individuals who have expertise in this area will really drive value for the company and content going into the new year. It’s such a great area for people who want to break into roles in the new age of how video, content and events are being created.
SL: How will C-level executives leverage video on LinkedIn in 2021?
AS: We all know C-level executives are time strapped. Business travel has been impacted during the pandemic, so executives need to find a different way to communicate with their employees, shareholders, and public audiences.
Part of that is internally over video with web and video conferencing. The other piece is public or semi-public videos. You can distribute pre-recorded sessions or clips for a broader audience. Investing in this is important because people want to hear from their C-level executives. The old ways of communications don’t fit.
How can executives effectively communicate through video? By being human. Everything that is happening in the world right now is personal to many people. When our CEO goes on camera, he always has these great photos and drawings from his kids in the background. It’s amazing, human, and real. It is truly a piece of him that he’s sharing with us. You’re not in an overproduced set with perfect greenery and uncomfortable chairs. You’re in your chair in your home with art from your kids behind you. At one point, one of his kids handed him the dog and said, ‘Don’t you want to show everyone the dog?’ Moments like that you want to share and it helps you connect with your employees and larger groups of people.
SL: How will video impact B2B purchase decisions in 2021?
AS: Video has the best opportunity to educate and inform more than any other formats. You can create versions in different languages with closed captions.
People want solutions, and anything you can do to help focus on those solutions in a way that saves people time is key. A lot of ppl who are decision makers don’t have time for meetings to find the right solution. So, help them narrow it down with a video that hooks them in and provides a solution.
SL: What are the types of video resonating with B2B audiences?
AS: Product demos and webinars are great. From my perspective, you want to marry that with research and stats to help take the burden off the decision maker because chances are he or she is trying to pitch this solution internally to their management group. Those large scale stats take time to find. If you can help build that case in addition to what you have to offer, you are giving a well positioned package to a decision maker and making their decision easier.
SL: What advice do you have for B2B marketers who want to generate leads and drive sales through video on LinkedIn?
AS: The most important thing is to consistently post to your page or profile and do so with a variety of formats. Look at it holistically — live, native video, articles, newsletters, etc. The best thing to do is look at all of these formats and see how you can engage with your audience for each one.
Two other pieces of advice: 1) A live stream is a lot of work so make that work for you down the line by cutting it and resharing moments on LinkedIn and elsewhere. That’s a great strategy to take. 2) Take advantage of your relationship with your LinkedIn representative, who will work with you on comprehensive plans to achieve your goals.