LinkedIn Live Video: More Engagement Than Video on Demand

“People are just really hungry to talk to each other in real-time in a professional environment,” says Linkedin’s video product manager Peter Roybal

Less than six months after giving select users the ability to post live videos, LinkedIn is seeing engagement for the format skyrocket.

“When we compare regular videos and live videos from the same broadcasters, so a head-to-head comparison, we see that live is getting seven times more reactions and 24 times more comments,” LinkedIn’s principal product manager on the video team Peter Roybal told TheWrap.

The results echo a similar findings among other platforms that have experimented with live video.

On Facebook, for example, live videos are estimated to attract seven times the number of comments than video-on-demand. However, LinkedIn’s decision to launch live wasn’t solely based on what observing others in the industry but on feedback from its users.

Roybal says live video was the No. 1 request by its users since LinkedIn launched video 18-months ago. He credits the increased engagement seen with live video to in-the-moment interactions between the broadcaster and the viewer, something that isn’t possible with video-on-demand.

“I think people are just really hungry to talk to each other in real-time in a professional environment,” said Roybal, noting that  live video of events while answering questions from viewers has proven particularly popular. “It’s just a very natural thing that when you’re in a room with someone: You’re more and more lively with them.”

Roybal talked to TheWrap about the challenges and learnings tied to live video:

Launching live is a big endeavor. How did LinkedIn ensure the process was smooth?

Azure Media Services, which is part of Microsoft’s Cloud offering, is really what allowed us to go to market at such a fast and mature level. The years of experience they’ve built up in dreaming these events for very big audiences gives us tons of capability right out of the box. One thing you’ll find if you watch a bunch of live streams, is that people comment often about the quality being really high on LinkedIn. I think that’s a reflection of the technical excellence that they’ve brought to the table.

What has been the biggest challenge along the way?

Live is a tricky medium; everything has to happen exactly in the moment, just perfectly. So from the broadcaster’s perspective is where that shows up the most.

If you ever tried to stream yourself, you know that all the conditions have to be perfect. You have to have a really good network, the lighting and the sound has to be perfect, everything has to come together and stay stable during the stream. So the biggest challenge, I think, is for the broadcasters to get through that learning curve.

Now, the good news is that there’s a whole industry of people out there who are awesome at this and this industry has really matured in the last few years. So these third-party developers that we’ve partnered with — like Socialive or Wirecast, Wowza, and Switcher Studio — each have an area of expertise that works particularly well with specific kinds of streams and features. That type of developer ecosystem has made the entire product much easier out-of-the-box for the broadcasters.

How do you ensure inappropriate content, such as pornogrophy or extremely violent acts, are not broadcasted? 

We have a dedicated team. We take the topic very, very seriously and put a lot of thought into it. Basically, we have a mix of technical measures and humans in place to identify any content that violates the user agreements and our community policies. We have people available 24/7 to take appropriate action and anything that violates those policies is removed from LinkedIn.

Also, with LinkedIn Live, people are in this beta phase applying to be broadcasters. We’re being very thoughtful about who broadcasts and making sure that their goals align with what we’ve seen users on the platform really gravitate toward. As a result, we’ve had a very good fit between the broadcasters and the viewers.

What are three biggest learnings you’ve come away with since LinkedIn launched live video in February?

One: People learn a lot faster from each other when they’re in this real-time environment. A conversation can really move from superficial to something much deeper because you have the opportunity to ask the follow-up questions. In fact, some of these streams can be quite long. People can shoot up to four hours, so they really have the opportunity to go more in-depth.

Second: This is a format we’ve had around since television days, but it’s a format that continues to evolve. It kind of goes back to that two-way conversation that I was talking about. It’s a subtle thing, but if you think about videos even just a couple of years ago, they were talking at you and the fact that a live video has really gotten into this two-way conversation has been very interesting. And we’re seeing people continue to push on that. One thing we’ve seen is a lot of our beta testers have gone on each other’s streams to stream with each other. The cool thing about LinkedIn is that it very much exists in the real business world. It’s not just like a virtual state. So often our broadcasters are running into each other at different conferences and that can result in a really cool two-way, real world interaction.

The third is just the diversity of work. The theme that we’ve seen from the beginning of LinkedIn video is how digital content has allowed a much broader range of people to express themselves more than some of the prior mediums did. For example, we have a plumber in Texas who has been part of the beta, and it’s really fun to see how people who have visual work are able to use video in real interesting places, taking us beyond the studio and the office environments and out to the backroom floor or behind the scenes at the events you just otherwise wouldn’t have experienced.

What’s next for LinkedIn in the world of video?

We’ll be at VidCon, the video creators convention, which will be one of the first events we’ve had with this crowd, looking to them and listening to what they want to see next. We’re looking really closely into the community and I think people have a lot of cool ideas in mind on how they can use LinkedIn. It’s the kind of place where you’re not just posting content to express yourself, though that’s part of it. But it’s the kind of place you also post content to advance your career, and it’s really cool to hear feedback from the community about their ideas on how they might not just create LinkedIn video, but really use LinkedIn video to advance their professional development.

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