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LinkedIn Jumps On Stories Bandwagon

LinkedIn Trialling Ephermeral Stories Feature

Social Stories have been one of the defining social media product themes over the past few years.

Originally created by Snapchat in 2013.

Instagram cloned in 2016.

Facebook emulated in 2017.

WhatsApp spun off Status in the same year.

YouTube launched its version in late 2018.

So did Google.

Pinterest did it 2019.

Leaving Twitter and LinkedIn as the last two standing, without the feature.

After trialling the feature with students in the US, under the banner of LinkedIn Student Voices in 2018, LinkedIn has announced a broader, more orthodox pilot for the feature.

Currently being tested internally, the new LinkedIn Stories is to be trialled with users in the coming months.

Pete Davies, Consumer Product at LinkedIn

“Last year, we started asking ourselves what Stories might look like in a professional context. Stories first appeared on Snapchat, with other platforms like Instagram and Facebook adopting them soon after. They spread for a good reason: they offer a lightweight, fun way to share an update without it having to be perfect or attached to your profile forever.

We’ve also found there’s an entire generation growing up with Stories as a way of speaking; they’re more comfortable starting conversations with a full-screen ephemeral format than posting updates and prefer sharing content that lives as a moment in time rather than as an item in a feed.”

However, giving the ubiquity of the feature elsewhere, it is hard to imagine the feature not taking hold on LinkedIn, even if it is a bit of a lemon, as per Facebook’s version.

Second Time Lucky For LinkedIn Stories?

The screenshot above is from LinkedIn’s Student Voices trial, which launched in 2018.

While LinkedIn has yet to release any screenshots for the latest Stories iteration, it seems reasonable that it should at least resemble above, since this is basically what Stories looks like everywhere else.

The Student Voices feature appeared on top of the LinkedIn home screen and allowed students to post short videos to their Campus Playlist.

The videos (no photos were allowed) disappeared from the playlist after a week while staying permanently visible on a user’s profile in the Recent Activity section.

Students tapped through their school’s slideshow and watched the Campus Playlists of nearby universities.

According to a LinkedIn spokesperson at the time, via TechCrunch, the motive behind the feature was to get students sharing their academic experiences like internships, career fairs and class projects that they’d want to show off to recruiters as part of their personal brand.

Interestingly, within LinkedIn’s latest announcement, it does not refer to the above, suggesting that perhaps it was not a rip-roaring success.

LinkedIn’s Improving User Engagement

Stories are the latest in a long line of engagement tactics which LinkedIn has rolled out to boost interactivity on platform.

Based upon the noises coming out of LinkedIn, it appears to be working, as sessions are up 25% year on year.

While every quarter seems to be a record breaker, in terms of engagement.

However, LinkedIn rarely shares baseline metrics for either, so how insightful this is anyone’s guess.

Up until Microsoft’s 2016 acquisition, LinkedIn was renowned for having poor engagement, poor average time-on-site and poor repeat visit rates. Hence, its prior limited utility for marketing and communications.

In recent times it has improved significantly, but it was coming from a very low base.

For example, LinkedIn’s median ad click-through rate is only 0.26%, according to Adstage. Either pointing to somewhat unengaged users or maybe just bad advertisers, or both.

For comparison, market leader Facebook offers 1.3%, Twitter 1.59% and Instagram 0.84%.

To be clear, LinkedIn has a bright future, and if it continues to iterate on its core product and value proposition, it is well placed to overtake currently more engaging social platforms.  

Pete Davies, Consumer Product at LinkedIn

“We’ve learned so much already about the unique possibilities of Stories in a professional context. For example, the sequencing of the Stories format is great for sharing key moments from work events, the full-screen narrative style makes it easy to share tips and tricks that help us work smarter.”

Stories join LinkedIn Live, gifs, reactions, trending news and a host of minor features all aimed at creating a more stimulating and stickier environment.

Who knows what other goodies Microsoft has in store for corporates in 2020…

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