Snapchat walked, jogged, and ran so that Instagram, Facebook, and now LinkedIn could also run. I can’t comfortably use the original version of that expression because there haven’t really been many improvements/changes to the way stories work (on any channel) since Snapchat brought them into our lives in October 2013.
Changes or not, people like stories. We like being able to post something that is fleeting. The pressure is off, so to speak, when posting stories because there are no likes attached. Story content isn’t as committal as posting to our feeds because it’ll be gone in 24 hours without a trace. In a time where we’re all so fixated on putting out perfect, beautiful, well thought out content, posting to the feed can be intimidating, knowing that it’ll stay on our profiles forever (unless we delete). Stories give people a chance to post imperfect, less curated, behind the scenes type content.
Now, LinkedIn Stories, specifically.
I probably should have seen this coming, but I’ll admit that I did not. LinkedIn rolling out this capability reminded me of a meme I’m fond of:
As Instagram and Facebook copied pretty much everything about stories from Snapchat, the internet had its fun making the joke that Microsoft Excel would soon have them as well. That’s almost what it feels like now that LinkedIn has rolled it out, but not quite.
Over the last two or so years, LinkedIn has been smart, IMO. There are now 675 million monthly users, up 14% from just two years ago in 2018. I’ve got my own ideas about why that growth has occurred, I’ll share a couple.
First, millennials have blown LinkedIn up. An entire platform dedicated to shouting out my own accomplishments? Narcissists couldn’t be happier. And whether we want to admit it or not, we all have at least a little bit of that in us. We are simple creatures. We like to be liked, and social media platforms put literal numbers on that. Facebook and Instagram are most widely accepted as places to talk about/show our personal lives, but not so much the “professional” sides of us. Generations that grew up on Facebook happily create LinkedIn accounts upon entering the workforce; just another app to click and scroll through while we try and avoid real connection (I’ll save that monologue for another article). As Gen Z enters the workforce, LinkedIn will only continue to grow.
Second, “creators” and the algorithm. The LinkedIn algorithm had been relatively stale and stagnant for quite some time. A couple years ago, though, the shift began. Videos were propped up more prominently on the feed and the opportunity for an organic post to go viral had never been more attainable. Enter creators. You take a generation who loves to hear themselves talk and encourage that behavior with views and likes propelled by an algorithm, you’ve got a perfect storm. More and more folks started creating content specifically for LinkedIn and the algorithm broadcasted them far and wide.
Back to the present. Last week I challenged myself to post a LinkedIn story every day (of the work week). In one of my stories, I claimed that it was “my responsibility as a digital marketer to be up/in the know on all of the functionalities of all of the social media platforms.” I’d like to redact using the word “all” both times there. Truth is, that’d be a full-time job (and I had that job two years ago as a Social Community Coordinator, but now have a more wide-ranging role). Regardless, I didn’t want to miss the boat. I’m a huge believer in testing and tinkering and not letting perfection be paralyzing. So, I pressed record and let the stories fly. Here were my findings/tips:
How to record a video story longer than 15 seconds.
If you’re going to record a video that may go longer than 15 seconds (maximum time per LI story slide), stop. Exit LinkedIn. Open Instagram. Head into the story creation screen there, choose hands-free, then record. LinkedIn will chop your video right off at 15 seconds. If you’re speaking for 27 seconds, this can create painfully awkward transitions between slides. Instagram allows recording for up to 60 seconds seamlessly. You can then save down your 15-second increments as individual videos to the camera roll. Simply upload these clips to the LinkedIn story for a less choppy story experience.
What analytics are available for posters?
Analytics aren’t all there yet. Right now LinkedIn lets posters see who viewed their story slides. If I post 45 seconds worth of a LInkedIn story, that will result in three slides. I can swipe up on my slides to see which LinkedIn users have viewed my story. However, this feature is broken. Using my three slide example, sometimes the third slide would report more viewers than slides 1 and 2. If you can wrap your head around it/have experience with Instagram, you’ll know that that should be impossible. Anyone who landed on the third slide would have had to see the first two, or at least click through them, meaning they should also be shown as a viewer on the first two. I’m not sure what LinkedIn counts as a view yet, could be a >3 second thing, who knows. Regardless, a bit wonky.
Are people using stories yet/is it worth my time?
I’ve got right around 4500 connections. At my best (Tuesday, I believe), I amassed around 45 viewers of my story. Right at 1%. Granted, it was the first week of the functionality being rolled out to the masses, but it’s worth posing the question: is it worth my time? My answer is yes, I think so. That 1% number will undoubtedly grow as more and more users become privy to the stories functionality. A Google search/Hootsuite blog just told me that only 7.57% of LinkedIn’s traffic is mobile. As stories is a mobile-only feature, I suppose my 1% number now looks less bleak. Regardless, that’s 45 people who saw my face, heard my voice, and connected with me in a way that we may not have before. I encourage everyone to post a selfie-video to their story, even if you hardly have anything to say. The humanization that this accomplishes really can’t be measured. In my optimistic line of thinking, maybe now these 45 people will be more likely/feel more comfortable to drop a like on my posts, reach out to me via messenger, etc. At the end of the day, unless you’re blatantly unlikeable, I think posting to stories is a good strategy.
Tagging is meh. If I tag someone in my story, I believe they are notified. However, other users cannot click on the tag and head to that profile (like can be done on Instagram). Optimistically, this may be a unique way to capture someone’s attention. If I got notified that I was tagged in someone’s LinkedIn story, I’m checking it out 10/10 times. This is not me encouraging salespeople to make 100 stories/day and tag their 100 prospects. But, even as I type that, I do see potential value in giving it a shot a few times. Closed mouths don’t get fed, shoot your shot.
That wraps it up for me on my first experience giving LinkedIn’s newest feature the old college try. I’m still not entirely sure how/how often I’ll use it, but at least I’m now comfortable/more educated when doing so.
Questions? Comments? Gripes with the “professional network” fading more and more into social media territory? I’m all ears.