LinkedIn is launching interactive, Clubhouse-style audio events this month in beta; a video version will come this spring

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linkedin, now with over 800 million people listing their professional profiles to build their careers, making them spend more time on the platform taking their next steps. The company is launching a new events platform where it will list, host and market interactive, virtual live events. It’s first starting out with an audio-only product that will launch in beta this month, followed by a video version that will launch in the spring, initially targeting creators who use LinkedIn as organizers and hosts. do as.

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With virtual events gaining a lot of traction in the life of the pandemic over the past few years, there are now plans for a full-virtual offering for LinkedIn’s new events product, and to open up the format to be shaped by those running events. Is. Self.

“Our philosophy is to keep the organizers in control,” said product manager Jake Pose in an interview. “We want to make it easy to host virtual round tables, fireside chats and more. Some people want the event to be more formal or less formal. Some want to communicate with their audience, to open up on the floor. We’re giving professionals interactivity and support.”

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If the audio events feature launching this month sounds familiar, it is: It’s the Clubhouse rival that we first reported LinkedIn was working on back in March 2021. LinkedIn has been experimenting over the past year with other features it might add to this event service, such as a paid, ticketed option that began testing in September last year — though for now, Pause has confirmed that Interactive events are being launched as a free service, with no ticketing plans at this point.

(LinkedIn probably shouldn’t have waited too long to start ticketing… I asked, and a Clubhouse spokesperson confirmed to me, that the startup is “part of” [its] Creators-first mantra”, Clubhouse is “exploring a number of options to allow creators to further monetize their work including ticketed events,” but no time frame is specified. He also confirmed That video isn’t on the roadmap for now: “The company is focused on social audio experiences, and is continuing to explore how new audio-focused features can enhance that experience for the community,” she said.)

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Here’s a mock-up of what the audio event would look like:

When it launches later this month, the new events platform will include tools to run interactive content end-to-end with no need to use any other third-party software: Host events directly from LinkedIn be able to record and play, and have tools for online attendees and hosts to talk to each other in live conversations and moderated discussions; and for attendees to communicate with each other during and after events. LinkedIn will also, naturally, list events and help get the word out about them on its platform.

As for who will host these events, the platform will initially target individuals who are already using LinkedIn to connect with a wider audience – their own stable of creators, similar to what you can get on other social platforms like TikTok. except that they are building materials. in career development, professional disciplines, and other LinkedIn-focused areas of expertise.

LinkedIn has been working on growing a wider and more active creator community over the past several months. To that end, it also launched a $25 million fund and incubator last autumn, and Pause says there are now 1.5 million creators using LinkedIn Live, the broadcast product. Creating and hosting events is a natural fit to expand on that strategy.

Pose said that over time LinkedIn also expects businesses and larger organizations to create events on LinkedIn. With larger organizations, however, often comes larger budgets, more infrastructure aimed at higher production values, and potentially ticketing and other services. He said the idea would be that those who need or want to be able to integrate third-party apps and software into the production mix. (In fact, he even confirmed that for now the entire stack is built on LinkedIn itself — rather than leaning on any video or other software from Microsoft, which owns LinkedIn.)

Here’s a mock-up of how the video feature might appear in Feed:

LinkedIn’s interest in doing more at events somehow dates back to an event hub, first launched in 2019 before the days of the pandemic and with a focus on in-person get-togethers went. A few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, LinkedIn formalized some of the ways it was being used in more virtual event scenarios with the launch of online polls and broadcast-style video events aimed at virtual engagement.

They are doing well for the company. Pose notes that annual virtual event creation has increased by 150% over the past year, and has seen a 231% increase in LinkedIn Live virtual event attendees over the same period. Topics covered include AI innovation, Opening Highlights, Financial Planning, live home installation, Membership, Cyber ​​security, And Award Ceremony, (These also point to how LinkedIn could be more than just individual creators driving these events over the long term.)

LinkedIn is also using its size and financial strength to invest in and acquire other interesting companies operating in the event space. Last June, LinkedIn revealed that it was investing in virtual events, hoppin – which was $7.75 billion value in its most recent funding round in August 2021. Last August, also acquired A startup called Jumprope, which lets creators create and share how-to and other advice videos. (Actually that’s how Pause came to join the company and lead the product covering events and videos.)

Not only is this all the next logical step for LinkedIn in its content strategy, but it certainly seems like a sign of the times, considering how, two years into the pandemic, many of us are still working from home. have been, and Covid-19 remains a threat to many.

Still, you can’t help but wonder how and if LinkedIn will be affected by the fatigue that sets so many of us around virtual videoconferencing and frankly virtual everything, and if LinkedIn can accommodate. If it turns out that there is another virtual events option, one too many.

Pose’s answer to this is to defend virtual events as necessary for greater democratization, but that some event makers may also choose to take a hybrid approach.

Virtual and hybrid may be the “future,” Pose said, but interactive events are being set up to mean something completely different.

“For as long as I can remember, I have gone to conversations and meetups. How professionals communicate and learn things are the mainstays,” he said. “But they need money, time to travel, a room to visit. And it takes courage to speak up and the space to run a program. We believe that going virtual from person to person is truly democratizing and opening up access to many more. ,

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