Roughly a month after LinkedIn began testing a way for people to post native videos to its social network, the Microsoft-owned company is officially rolling out the option worldwide.
Native video does a few things for LinkedIn as it looks to fend off Facebook and others trying to crowd the business-centric social network’s corner. First, it enables people to round out their profiles; instead of listing their occupations like on a resumé, people can document what they actually do for a living, like a physical therapist demonstrating rehab exercises or a designer showcasing a new product. Second, it gives people a reason to spend more time on LinkedIn, perusing tours of other people’s workplaces or tuning in to motivational talks and conference panels. It’s also a potential moneymaker once LinkedIn extends it beyond business people to businesses themselves, which is more a question of when, not if.
LinkedIn isn’t yet opening up native video uploading to company pages or restarting its video ad business, which the company shut down three years ago. But LinkedIn Senior Product Manager Peter Roybal didn’t rule out either possibility and described both as a “natural evolution” of what the company is currently rolling out to individuals.
LinkedIn’s native video product isn’t much different from every other social network’s video product. As with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube, people can record videos using LinkedIn’s mobile apps or upload an already recorded video. Like videos on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr, videos on LinkedIn play automatically and with the sound off by default. And as with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr, LinkedIn counts a view once a video has played for three seconds. Videos can be up to 10 minutes long, but LinkedIn recommends they range between 30 seconds and five minutes.
LinkedIn opted for the three-second view count because that time span provides a solid enough signal of people’s level of interest for LinkedIn’s feed algorithm to consider when deciding how to distribute that video across other people’s feeds, said Roybal. “We’ve found that three seconds is a meaningful threshold for understanding someone’s interest in the video,” he said.
People do appear to be interested in videos on LinkedIn. According to Roybal, when people see a video on LinkedIn, they are 20 times more likely to share it with their connections than any other type of LinkedIn post, Roybal said.
The biggest difference between LinkedIn’s video product and other social networks’ video products mirrors the biggest difference between LinkedIn and other social networks: it caters to business people. In addition to measuring how many people viewed, commented on, liked and shared a video — all standard metrics — LinkedIn breaks down a video’s viewership based on viewers’ companies, job titles and locations. That way, a marketing exec posting a video of a talk they gave on artificial intelligence can see how many viewers work at tech companies like IBM and Microsoft and how many are software engineers or CMOs.
For anyone creeped out about LinkedIn blasting out the videos they’re viewing, it’s not. The viewership breakdowns are anonymized and aggregated, so people can’t see which individual users watched their videos. And since LinkedIn reports company names and job titles separately, just because someone who works at Apple and someone with a CEO title viewed a video does not mean that Tim Cook tuned in. To make sure viewers’ identities stay hidden, LinkedIn has thresholds in place of how many people from a given company or with a given job title must have viewed a video before the company name or job title is listed. The company declined to say precisely what those thresholds are.