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LinkedIn Record

Every day, LinkedIn members share their insights on the topics that matter in their professional world by publishing written, long-form posts on the LinkedIn platform, encouraging high-quality engagement and commentary. Given that, how might we empower professionals to easily share and access news and knowledge – anytime, anywhere – through the richness of video?

LinkedIn Record is a venture-mode iOS app enabling creation of professionally oriented, native video content on LinkedIn through topic-driven video conversations. Influencers and editorially selected thought leaders can easily record and publish videos from anywhere, reach the right audiences, and build influence.



the details

 

Timeframe
2015-16

Platforms
iOS

Role
Design lead

 

In the beginning, I was the sole designer on this project, leading design concepting, partnering with product management and engineering, and influencing product strategy. In early 2015, I moved into a design management role and transitioned this project to Mauroof Ahmed for design polish and implementation.

 


Opportunity
 

 

90%

of 18- to 29-year-olds watch online video
 

76%

of millenials share photos/video on social
 

$12.82B

US digital ad
market by 2018
 

 

In recent years, we've seen a proliferation of products like Hyperlapse, Periscope, YouNow, Snapchat, Vine, Instagram Stories, and Facebook Video – including some with a strong professional lens, like Gloopt. Video is the future of how people are consuming content, and the future of how people are sharing their knowledge, ideas, and world with one another. Finally, it's a big business opportunity.

At the time of our research for this project:

  • US consumers were spending 29.5 hours per month consuming video.
  • Facebook was seeing 100 million hours of video watch time per day and as many as 8 billion video views per day, with 50% of US daily active users watching 1+ video.
  • Likewise, Snapchat was receiving 2 billion video views per day, with 20 video views per daily active user.

The market for video content is massive, and historically, LinkedIn has trailed in this area. However, no other product is as uniquely positioned as LinkedIn to deliver high-quality, professionally relevant knowledge and commentary tied to professional identity.

Today, video on LinkedIn comes from three primary sources:

  1. Editors: LinkedIn editors produce a number of formats of video, including daily headlines, Influencer interviews, and 30-second trend pieces.
  2. 3rd-parties: Members and publishers distribute 3rd-party content throughout the LinkedIn ecosystem. YouTube is the most-shared and most-clicked-on domain in the LinkedIn feed.
  3. SlideShare: Partners like CNN Money, BBC News, CNBC, and the Stanford Graduate School of Business are experimenting with uploading video on SlideShare.

In 2015, the content team at LinkedIn decided it was about time LinkedIn invested in user-generated video content, but we didn't just want to enable recording capability. We needed something uniquely suited to LinkedIn – a product that would leverage our strength–professional identity–and the engaged community that comes with that, and a platform that could leverage our Influencers and other thought leaders who love reaching and engaging with our members.

So, what if we could use video to:

  • Let product designers demo their favorite details on the Apple Watch?
  • Let VCs, entrepreneurs, and drivers weigh in on the impact of regulatory changes on the sharing economy?
  • Give members a behind-the-scenes look at the Paris Auto Show from Carlos Ghosn and others in the automotive industry?
  • Let Influencers and members share 30-second tours of their workspaces?
 


Concept

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Through a new mobile app, Influencers and thought leaders will be enabled to:

  1. Record 30-second videos responding to editorially curated topical prompts about industry news, big ideas, etc.
  2. Create new topics and publish videos in response
  3. Invite others to offer their own responses to topics they've recorded a video about

Videos are backed by professional identity, centered around professional topics, united by focused round-table discussion, and can stand independently in addition to being part of a thread.

WHY FOCUS ON INFLUENCERS?

  • Desire: LinkedIn Influencers and thought leaders have expressed desire for tools that make it quick and easy to share their views and engage their audiences beyond text and photo updates. 
  • Exclusivity: Early access to new features is a driver of satisfaction among Influencers on the LinkedIn platform.
  • Leverage: Influencers tend to have a broad follower base, which will drive broad distribution and member engagement.
  • Speed: Limiting functionality to trusted, editorially vetted users allows us to launch before the infrastructure for spam filtering for user-generated video is fully built out.
     

What's the value FOR CREATORS?

Influencers and thought leaders are provided an exclusive, quick, and easy way to start professional conversations about relevant topics or respond directly to prompts created by editors and suggested by members. Record and publish videos from anywhere, reach the right audiences, and build influence.
 

FOR CONSUMERS?

LinkedIn members are given an exclusive opportunity to hear from thought leaders, see through their eyes, and engage directly. Editors curate the best responses to each prompt into an auto-playing playlist, so viewers can watch fast-paced video panel discussions among thought leaders around a given topic.
 

BUT Why a standalone app?

A standalone app allows us to move fast and give our initial target audience–LinkedIn Influencers and industry thought leaders–a lightweight, focused, and exclusive experience.
 

What about distribution?

Videos will be shared in the LinkedIn feed, displayed in the "recent activity" section on publishers' profiles, and curated into video playlists for topical consumption.
 

How will we measure success?

It's about quality of engagement, not just view counts. We need to build video analytics to measure the right things–top videos, average time watched, and percentage watched–and capture metrics that tell us which videos people are watching and getting value out of.

 

 

SIMPLE

“A thought leader sharing an interesting tidbit in 60 seconds would be great. Need not be a polished production.”
— Linda Descano, EVP of Havas PR US
 

 

ENGAGING

“Video lets me engage at scale. My best platform is video because it allows me to be my vocal, expressive self.”
— Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia
 

 

TOPIC-DRIVEN

“A question-answer video form is appealing and a brilliant idea for LinkedIn. I would do it every time.”
— Jon Steinberg, CEO of MailOnline


Solution
 

After much exploration, research, and iteration, we landed a simple IA with three core tabs–a Home experience for discovering existing topics, a My Videos tab for creators to view their published videos and track engagement, and a Create flow for sparking conversation through new prompts.

After I rotated off of this project, the functionality and layout remained largely unchanged. Below is a comparison of the designs I handed off vs. the product that was launched:

 


Key features

 

RECORD

In the record flow, a subtle outline coaches users on where to position the camera, tap-and-hold functionality provides stability during recording, and a three-second countdown helps users prepare for the final take.

PUBLISH

Once recorded, videos can be previewed and published to LinkedIn along with additional text commentary. Influencers can monitor engagement–views, likes, and comments–through the My Videos tab of the Record app.

 

INVITE

Creators can invite other Influencers and thought leaders to weigh in and share their unique perspectives.

WATCH

LinkedIn members engage with video content through autoplay in the feed and on curated watch pages.

 

WATCH ON DESKTOP

Video consumption also scales to LinkedIn.com, where editorially curated playlists are showcased on a rich, overlay on the LinkedIn feed. Members can interact through social actions–like, comment, and share–to distribute content with their networks and create viral loops. Autoplay encourages an immersive experience and increased engagement.

 

 

Launch

After launch, the app received a lot of positive press coverage, including features on TechCrunch and VentureBeat. Through behavioral data, Customer Operations feedback, surveys, and member calls, we've learned a few things:


Generally, members are interested in watching short-form videos from Influencers.

  • Over 2.5 million views on 250 videos within the first few weeks.
  • From early data, most-watched Influencers included:
    • J.T. O'Donnell (356,657 plays on 26 videos, avg. 13.7K plays/video)
    • Jeff Weiner (335,652 plays on 3 videos, avg. 112K plays/video)
    • Leila Janah (126,674 plays on 2 videos, avg. 64.8K plays/video)


Video offers promising use cases.

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  • Sanyin Siang recorded 23 videos with 23K views at the DOD's 86th JCOC. Members were able to observe quick interviews and virtually attend the conference.
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  • J.T. O'Donnell received over 356K views on 26 daily advice videos speaking directly to her followers about topics that matter to them, like in-person coaching.

Influencers asking questions does not motivate other Influencers to record video.

  • As it turns out, this is a trickier social dynamic than expected; Influencers are generally more interested in broadcasting to a wide audience than interacting with each other. However, downstream engagement is a huge motivating factor.
 


Next steps

To move fast and create a lightweight, focused publishing experience, LinkedIn Record was launched as a standalone iOS app exclusively for Influencers and editorially selected thought leaders. Now that the concept has proven successful, the team is in the process of integrating video recording functionality into the flagship consumer app on iOS and Android, enabling the entire LinkedIn member base to record and share video.

We're also working on bringing additional functionality to members, including the ability to save videos for later, more control over auto-play, further education around unfollowing or removing video content from the LinkedIn feed, and an improved silent watch experience with captions.

 


Takeaways
 

 

1. SIMPLIFY.

Great design communicates obvious function and requires little explanation. With Record, we brought a brand new concept with complex functionality to highly engaged, extremely busy executives and industry thought leaders. We went through a ton of iteration to create a simple, intuitive experience that demanded as little energy as possible and and required little to no education around usability.

 

2. VENTURE = FUN!

Record was an extremely interesting project to work on, given its exploratory nature. We were able to build and iterate faster, and work outside of LinkedIn's typical design guidelines and UX parameters. It was incredibly fulfilling to work on–and achieve success with–a brand new product with a lofty mission and a huge amount of flexibility.