The live video experiences your audiences are looking for

Almost a third of LinkedIn members are watching more live video content due to the profound impact of COVID-19 – here are the topics and formats they want to see

June 18, 2020

The live video experiences your audiences are looking for

Live video has dominated the experience of the last month or so for most professionals – and most marketers. As people have navigated the pivot to remote working, the on-screen connection to a colleague, friend or family member has become a constant part of work and life. But live video hasn’t just been a replacement for face-to-face meetings and personal connections during the crisis. It’s also come of age as a content format.

As face-to-face events of all types have disappeared from sales and marketing schedules, marketers have turned to video to help fill the gaps – and audiences have responded with a significant increase in the amount of time they spend watching live-streamed content.

Despite lockdown limitations on where and how people stream, there’s been a wide variety of live video subject matter out there. And as marketers become more sophisticated about how they film at home, the range of subject matter is likely to keep increasing. This makes it all the more valuable to understand what audiences are looking for from live video during this time – and how interests and appetites have changed during the crisis.

We’ve been conducting research with LinkedIn members over recent weeks, asking how their consumption of live video content is changing – and which types of live video content they would like to see more of on our platform. We then segmented their responses by generation, seniority, industry and location for a view of the live video experiences most likely to resonate with different audiences. Our data confirms a big rise in live video content consumption – and a number of common themes that should inform your approach. However, the study also shows definite characteristics of specific audience groups. It proves that live video shouldn’t just be a standard homogenous experience, that’s solely defined by the fact that it’s live. There are several different ways that you can use the format – and several different ways that audiences want you to use it right now.

Audience engagement with live video has reached another level

Our first key finding is the speed at which live video has grown. Worldwide, 31% of LinkedIn members say they’re watching more live video content than they were before the pandemic – and a further 38% say they’re viewing the same amount. Growth is most spectacular in Brazil, where 43% of our members are watching more live video. Within Europe, it’s Germany that leads the way, with 39% watching more content live.

Decision-makers are more likely to make time for live video events

There’s a clear correlation between seniority and increased consumption of live video, making this a particularly valuable format for engaging the most influential decision-makers. Over a third (35%) of members in Director-level roles and above say they’re now watching more live video content, compared to 32% of Managers and 29% of Individual Contributors.

Perhaps surprisingly, younger audiences (Millennials and Gen Z) are the least likely to tune into a live video stream. This might well reflect generational viewing habits. Shared viewing moments resonate less if your experiences are shaped by on-demand access to TV content via Netflix and smart TVs. Younger audiences are more inclined to wait to watch live streams later, on-demand, and at a time to suit them. Older (and often more senior) viewers are more receptive to live video alerts and notifications – and value the interaction and sense of intimacy that comes with a live video broadcast.

Live learning is the biggest white space opportunity

Regional content preferences for live video:

EMEA

  • Most popular: Tutorials to learn new skills (51%)
  • Least popular: Lifestyle Topics (24%)

Asia Pacific

  • Most popular: Tutorials to learn new skills (54%)
  • Least popular: News-style reporting or market updates (31%)

North America

  • Most popular: Tutorials to learn new skills (48%)
  • Least popular: Lifestyle topics (26%)

Brazil

  • Most popular: Interviews or panel discussions on industry-relevant topics (64%)
  • Least popular: Lifestyle topics (24%)

When we asked members about the types of live video content that they’d like to see more of on LinkedIn, one clear white space opportunity stood out. Live tutorials focused on helping audiences learn new skills were requested by 50% of our respondents overall, and were the most sought-after form of live content in all markets apart from Brazil.

This appetite for live learning opportunities reflects a broader trend, with learners spending 3x more time on LinkedIn Learning during the first week of April compared to the first week of January. The pivots that businesses and professionals have made are driving interest in skills like productivity, resilience and remote working. However, they’ve also focused attention on the broader value of continuous learning. If you can identify expertise that your business can share, then building a live learning event around it has definite appeal. The opportunity to ask questions and hear from other learners gives live tutorials a particular value of their own.

Thought leadership lands strongly with senior audiences

Live Video Content Preferences by Seniority

Senior decision-makers at Director level and above are more likely to make time for thought leadership content than for any other form of live video. And they’re open-minded about what this thought leadership looks like. Respected experts sharing a unique point of view directly, for example through a live keynote, edge out virtual panel discussions and interviews. However, there’s clearly room for all of these formats in a live video content strategy.

Live thought leadership isn’t just a tactic for engaging senior audiences, though. In Brazil, for example, interviews and panels are by far the most popular live format for all audiences. There are sound reasons for this. In difficult times, a shared viewing experience has value. It brings a sense of community to the act of engaging with ideas. It’s also an opportunity to ask questions and communicate directly with respected experts and opinion leaders.

Lifestyle content and news reporting have industry-specific appeal

As a whole, audiences on LinkedIn have less appetite for live lifestyle content and live news reporting. However, these formats still have value for marketers targeting specific sectors. Members working in media and communications are more attuned to live video in the style of a media update – and twice as likely to express an interest in watching it. Lifestyle content resonates more strongly with professionals in both healthcare and media and communications. It’s a timely reminder that live video, like other forms of content, needs to take account of an audience’s particular priorities.

Industry Trends

The key question to ask your live video strategy

Of all the advice that I’ve encountered on live video content, my favourite is a comment from Jay Baer of Convince & Convert. The first of his eleven tips for virtual event success is to consider whether what you’re trying to accomplish genuinely needs an event. As the amount of live video content expands, it’s vital to be clear and intentional about how a live experience can add unique value for your particular audience. Doing so is the key to getting the most from the format, while respecting the time commitment that a live stream often involves.

The encouraging thing is that our data shows there are many different ways for this value-add to happen. Audiences have discovered live video in a big way over the last two months. They’re starting to form clear ideas about what they want and why they want it. Listening to them is a great starting point for your strategy.

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