It’s no great leap to declare that, over the last 12 months, events have changed. While there may come a time when we can once more show up, shake hands, and snag a free notebook, for now, the reality for events is virtual.
Successes from the likes of Web Summit and Covid darling Zoom have set a new precedent for the value of online events, inciting other brands to establish their place in this space.
Alongside a gaggle of new entrants, well-established players such as LinkedIn are developing new features and supports to get businesses hosting on their platform.
Over the last two years, LinkedIn has made the move towards on-platform broadcasting with the launch of three key features.
1. 2019 — LinkedIn Live — a video feature that allows brands and individuals to connect with their audience in real-time. Popular uses of this tool are Q&A sessions and company updates.
2. 2020 — LinkedIn Events — the capability for LinkedIn users to create, schedule, and host structured events with one or more speakers. From once-off webinars to entire virtual festivals, this function allows businesses to get creative with events.
3. 2020 — LinkedIn Stories — an everyday sharing feature, similar to Instagram Stories, that allows users to provide their LinkedIn network with ephemeral updates and insights into their day-to-day work.
One of a million
Continuing on its broadcasting journey, in Q1 and Q2 of 2021 the Microsoft-owned social network is launching a number of additional tools to help users get more from their virtual events, including Event Ads, Event Analytics, and Integrated Registration Forms.
Whether you’re a multinational, SME, or a lone LinkedIn influencer, when it comes to hosting an online event, what’s important to remember is that no matter the timing, the topic, or the speaker, yours will be one of many vying for your target audience’s attention.
LinkedIn’s upcoming launches look to support event organisers on their quests to get noticed, get attendees, and over the longer term, get new business.
LinkedIn’s introduction of Stories Ads and promise to unveil Event Ads—ad templates dedicated to drive event attendance—will provide users with the creative freedom to target potential event attendees with content best suited to their events.
Previously, hosts relied on a standardised LinkedIn ad to promote their events as opposed to having a dedicated on-platform tool.
The introduction of A/B testing on LinkedIn ads will allow hosts to better understand what content resonates with their audiences and leads to them attending an event.
Advanced Event Analytics will give hosts a deeper insight into who their audience members are, allowing for more precise targeting.
Any decent host knows that the end of an event is only the start of the customer relationship or stakeholder engagement journey.
In Q2, LinkedIn is set to introduce Registration Form Integration, which will allow brands to integrate their LinkedIn Event attendee list with their company’s CRM system.
This assimilation of platforms will support businesses in tracking and following up with event guests, helping to efficiently convert them from attendee to customer.
While it might well be some time until we’re schmoozing over posh canapés à la 2019, events, albeit virtual ones, still prevail. Brands and professionals that shy away from opportunities to engage their audiences on-screen during pandemic restrictions simply risk their competitors getting to them first.
In diversifying its offering, LinkedIn is making it more accessible for businesses to connect to their audiences and with networks far broader than face-to-face events have ever offered. With an opportunity like that waiting just beyond your browser, we say to businesses: why wait?
About the author
Sinéad works with clients to creatively plan and implement their brand and campaign communications. With a vast and varied background in content planning and development, she is an expert storyteller, bringing brands to life both online and off.