If you haven’t heard, LinkedIn is testing a “Stories”-like addition to its mobile app (here’s a TechCrunch piece that fully explains it). It’s actually for college students only (as of now) and is being called “Student Voices.” But the TechCrunch piece says LinkedIn plans to build Stories for more sets of users, so it’s likely you’ll be seeing it at some time in the future.
Basically, Stories/Student Voices has many of the features that Instagram and Facebook have in their “Stories.” Heck, Snapchat has based its entire business model on a Stories-type of format. If you don’t already know, Stories are uploaded photo and/or video collections that can be strung together and viewed by anyone. Think of them as like an auto-playing slideshow but with video, audio, and graphics.
Because Stories has been somewhat buried as a college-only Student Voices feature (for now), many users don’t know about it yet. Of those who already do, most are looking down their noses at it and lamenting what they see as the Instagram-ification of LinkedIn.
Does this new feature deserve that kind of backlash? Or is it a great addition to the platform? Here’s a (very) short video from LinkedIn via TechCrunch that can help you to start forming an opinion:
Before you set your opinion in stone, though, here are three things you should know about LinkedIn Stories.
Features as of Now
As someone who is definitely not traditional college age right now, I don’t have access to it. You can’t either unless you’re registered at a U.S. university. Between the above video and the TechCrunch story, we do have an idea of its features in its Student Voices form:
- Video only. No photos, pre-created graphics, and so on.
- Time-limited/playlist. Each user’s Student Voice video will disappear from a campus-specific Playlist after a week.
- No time limit/Recent Activity. A user’s Student Voice video will always be in a user’s own profile in their Recent Activity section.
- It’s a slow roll. Student Voices is rolling out to college students in the U.S. in its typical rolling launch way.
As you can see, there are some similarities and some differences between LinkedIn and the others. We also don’t know how the Student Voices features will look like when it’s rolled out in the broader Stories format. I can’t wait to see it, though.
It’s in How You Use It
In its broader form, LinkedIn Stories will likely be an excellent vehicle for professional users to tell their… well… stories in a visually enhanced way. Even though we at Social Sales Link don’t yet have access to Stories, we’re already hard at work in creating strategies that would use this new feature in an engaging, yet professional way. For now, just know that in a way similar to LinkedIn Native Video, you can show all kinds of aspects about who you are and what you (and your company) can do for customers in a way that adds value to the viewer.
Some of you may think that LinkedIn’s current Student Voices crowd will use it exactly like they do with Snapchat, Instagram, etc. I’m not so sure that’s true. I’ve met many college students who use LinkedIn in an effective, business-like manner. They also know that human resources pros and recruiters use LinkedIn to hunt for job candidates. Would the typical LinkedIn-using college student risk her or his future by publishing non-professional content into a LinkedIn Story? I doubt it.
LinkedIn (Nowadays) is All About Engagement
When LinkedIn first started, it was a “baseball card-collecting” site where many people rushed to get a ton of connections. It’s evolved into an actual network of professionals who want to conduct business on it – whether it’s to find a job, recruit job applicants, make a sales deal, and so on.
Let’s face it, though: At its core, LinkedIn is a social network. Sure, it’s one that’s used by professionals for (hopefully) business-related activity, but it is social. With that in mind, it makes sense that LinkedIn would start including features that are popular on the more “personal” networks like Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook.
It makes sense that LinkedIn wants to amp up engagement on its own network, and Stories-type of shares get a lot of clicks and engagement. How much so? Buried in the TechCrunch article, Facebook said sharing via Stories will surpass feed sharing across all apps sometime in 2019. With a stat like that, LinkedIn probably feels like it has to be there with its own version of Stories. If they’re used effectively and in a professional way, Stories can help those of us who use LinkedIn for our sales-related activities.
Let me emphasize that it’s way too early to tell if this will be successful, especially when you consider that it’s literally just starting to roll out to college students in the U.S. At the rate LinkedIn does its gradual roll-outs, who knows how long it will take to get to users at large. So don’t look for it anytime soon.
When it does roll out to more sets of users, my immediate take is that professional LinkedIn members who utilize it for sales and social selling will figure out ways to use it in ways that are impressive and engaging. Just don’t expect to see content like the typical Instagram “influencer.”
What about you? Are you excited about it? A bit meh? Or are you lighting your virtual pitchforks and readying to scale LinkedIn’s castle gate because you think it’s getting to be too much like Instagram and Facebook? Let me know in the comments below.