A Brief History of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions' Video Evolution
April 8, 2018
Last week, LinkedIn officially unveiled LinkedIn Video Ads. We also enabled video posts on LinkedIn Company Pages.
These moves by LinkedIn underscore the growing importance of video storytelling for B2B marketers. At LinkedIn, we have been experimenting with a variety of online video for almost five years now. In that timeframe, we’ve learned a lot about how to produce videos on the fly with smartphones and how to create videos with high-end production value — and everything in between.
What follows is a cross-section of videos that our team has produced over the years with notes on how we produced them, how they performed, and lessons learned.
9 Content Marketing Thought Leaders Share What’s Not on Their LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn’s Jason Miller has been the driving force in video production for the content teams at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. One of Jason’s first videos was “9 Content Marketing Thought Leaders Share What’s Not on Their LinkedIn Profile.” Using a Nikon DSLR and a boom microphone, Jason videotaped a handful of content marketing influencers at an industry conference back in 2014. These influencers, who included Ann Handley, Jay Baer, and Michael Brenner, shared something about themselves that hadn’t made it to their LinkedIn profile. See if you guess who worked at the Jack-in-the-Box, who’s a certified barbecue judge, and who’s a college football fanatic.
Learnings: Including influencers can boost social shares; this video went “B2B viral” with almost 10,000 views. Also, get a tripod.
Mann vs. Funnel
In this video series, “Mann vs. Funnel,” Jason and I turned the camera inward to focus on a LinkedIn employee, in this case Chris Mann, who was then a Group Product Manager at LinkedIn. He later became CEO of BrightFunnel. In this series, Mann discussed how technology in general had changed the nature of the marketing funnel and how LinkedIn in particular was helping marketers target their audience precisely. Thanks to Chris’ dynamic enthusiasm, this series performed strongly.
Learning: Turning the camera on your employees is a great way to humanize your brand and give viewers and inside look at your company culture. Also 13-minute whiteboard session might be a little long.
The Trading Eights video series, which Jason developed, is a useful blueprint for generating B2B video when attending an industry conference. In advance, we prepared questions, and Jason lined up the influencers: Lauren Goldstein, Tim Washer, Carlos Hidalgo and others. The shoots were quick, and we made use of all of the footage — including an outtakes reel. There was one video that featured the influencers answering the question, “As a marketer, where do you find value on LinkedIn.” In the other videos, there was a mix of business and personal questions to keep the mood light (but useful).
Learning: Be careful about gating video, especially top of the funnel content. And don’t name a series after an obscure jazz reference.
With the always entertaining (former LinkedIn Account Executive) Vivek Venugopal as the host, we interviewed members of the LinkedIn product team, who don’t get enough time in the spotlight despite creating great products, such as LinkedIn Sponsored Content and LinkedIn Sponsored InMail. The interviews were built around holidays. For Valentine’s Day we asked what the product team what marketers should love about LinkedIn. And for President’s Day, we asked the product managers who their favorite U.S. president was and what they’d change in B2B marketing if they were president for a day. This set-up enabled Vivek to ask if Senior Product Manager Jack Moore’s favorite president was Abraham Lincoln, because it sounded the most like LinkedIn.
Lesson: If you’re going to use an on-screen interviewer, make sure you practice focusing on two people; it’s not as easy as you’d hope. Plus, asking seasonal questions in a single shooting session helps fuel video content throughout the year.
B2B Dinner for Five
“B2B Dinner for Five” is one of the most ambitious of LinkedIn Marketing videos so far. Another project spearheaded by Jason Miller, this video featured a conversation over dinner between five marketers in London: Rebecca Allen, Jessica Gioglio, Doug Kessler, John Watton. Producing this video moved the LinkedIn team beyond the do-it-yourself ethos; a professional camera, lighting, and sound crew was necessary to capture the dinner. The result, which captures the entertaining interplay of marketing wit and wisdom, makes this video a must-watch.
Learning: You can make a television show, especially if you hire a profession crew, preferably a small and agile one who can help direct. Plus professional crew probably doesn’t cost as much as you think it does.
Live With Marketers
The origins of the award-winning “Live With Marketers” started with another Jason Miller concept, “The Sophisticated Marketer LIVE,” an hour-long video that borrowed from the late-night talk show format. The format of “Live With Marketers” takes its cue from the morning talk shows. Both of these video formats are shot in a studio and rely on the professional crew of the LinkedIn Media Productions team. The “Live With Marketers” series recently won a Finny award, and the recent “Secret Sauce” episode of the show featuring Cassandra Clark, Steve Kearns, Alex Rynne, and Guarav Nihalani shared the inside scoop on how marketers can get the most out of LinkedIn.
Learning: We’ve only scratched the surface of what we can do with B2B video. Plus, many marketers have become bored with the traditional webinar format; video can provide a new avenue for educating the market in an engaging way.
LinkedIn Presents the Future
In the “LinkedIn Presents the Future” video series, we returned to the same do-it-yourself approach and influencer model that has served us well. In this series, we focused on the future of specific topics (such as content marketing, B2B marketing, and advertising agencies). We again tried to keep the videos human and not all-business. In the LinkedIn Presents the Future of Sales and Marketing Alignment video in this series, for instance, we asked the influencers, of course, about the future of sales and marketing alignment. And we also asked them, because sales and marketing are often rumored to be at odds, what their favorite feud of all time is. Check out the video, because Heidi Cohen’s answer to that question is worth the price of admission.
Learnings: Build video series concepts that are sustainable and more than one-offs. We’re currently editing four more additions to the LinkedIn Presents the Future series, which should appear soon.
LinkedIn has a media production team, and we wanted to work with that squad to move beyond the DIY videos we typically create and produce a video using the skills of our internal experts. After working together on the holiday video project, Vivek and I came up with the concept of “an elevator pitch in an actual elevator.” The highly collaborative end result was “The Elevator Pitch: LinkedIn Sponsored Content” edition. The plan is to turn this into a series.
Learnings: Collaboration can lead to great things: Vivek and I developed the concept; with product marketing, I wrote the pitch portion of the video; Byron Gatt wrote the final script and created the elevator operator character straight out of Cagney movie; the production and editing crew turned out a flawless piece of video; and Chris Elder and Scott Reardon commanded our attention on screen.
Perhaps the biggest thing we’ve learned from our forays into video is that nothing allows us to tell human stories better than video. A case in point is this “28 Questions” video, which features a Guarav Nihalani patiently delivering engaging and illuminating answers as he’s peppered with 28 questions from an off-screen interviewer. That off-screen interviewer, Alex Rynne, (along with Kylee Lessard) figured out an ingenious way to shoot the video in one take. The solution was a combination of equipment (a stabilizer, splitter, and dual lavalier mics) and personnel (someone to walk along to make sure the mic wires didn’t ruin the shot). Note that the equipment costs were under $30. I love this format, and we’re hoping to do more very soon.
Learnings: Preparation leads to brilliant work.
For future blog posts, we’re Interested in what other B2B marketers have been doing with video. Connect with me on LinkedIn if you’re interested in potentially sharing your B2B video production stories on this blog.
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