Technology

LinkedIn jumps on ‘Stories’ trend with new feature for students

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Dubbed ‘Student Voices’, the new feature introduced by LinkedIn promises students to boost their academic and professional job prospects by allowing them to share short video clips on the platform, TechCrunch reports.

Stories, meaning live content that automatically disappears after a short time, has become the No.1 social media trend over the last years. Originally invented by Snapchat, this feature of content sharing has since then been picked up by Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Whatsapp and even (briefly) Skype.

LinkedIn has revealed it is experimenting with its own version of the ‘story’ way of sharing content that has proven especially popular among younger social media users. ‘Student Voices’, a new feature allowing to post short-lived videos, is currently rolling out across US campuses.

How do LinkedIn’s Stories work?

For users from US universities that take part in the beta test, the feature is appearing atop of the LinkedIn home screen. A ‘Campus Playlist’ shows short clips posted by peers from their university, and videos will automatically disappear after a week.

The goal? “It’s a great way for students to build out their profile and have this authentic content that shows who they are and what their academic and professional experiences have been”, said a spokesperson from LinkedIn in an interview with TechCrunch. “Having these videos live on their profile can help students grow their network, prepare for life after graduation, and help potential employers learn more about them.”

In designing the new feature, LinkedIn seems to be experimenting with what balance to strike between the professional tone prevalent on the career platform and engaging especially younger audiences with informal and fun features. While the tone of the videos is dictated by its target audience, college recruiters, LinkedIn is also testing new reaction buttons that include ‘Clap’, ‘Insightful’,  ‘Hmm’ and ‘Support’.

When looking at Snapchat, its main draw has been centered on the firm principle that content would be deleted. Not surprisingly, putting a time stamp on content greatly lowers the psychological barriers for users to expose themselves in potentially ridiculous ways. However, students posting to LinkedIn should be warned that contrary to the original Snapchat feature, their videos will not be permanently deleted – but remain be visible in the “Recent activity” section of their own user profile.

What is the prospects of LinkedIn Stories?

Stories is a trend that keeps on booming. While the Snapchat user base is plateauing, the popularity of Stories on other social media platforms is close to sky-rocketing. The number of daily active Instagram story users has jumped to 400 million, while the more recent Facebook stories has already more than 150 million daily users.

Looking at LinkedIn’s rather dry image as a transactional career platform, it is likely to be drawn to the ‘Story’ trend for rejuvenation, boosting engagement especially with its younger users.

Furthermore, it might not be coincidental that LinkedIn eyes to become a little bit more like Instagram or Facebook, just as Facebook becomes a little bit more like LinkedIn: The social media platform has recently introduced new features that allow businesses to directly post jobs on their site. 

However, Skype’s bad experience with ‘Highlights’, a story-esque feature it had to trash earlier this year, might serve as a reminder to LinkedIn that building a good platform comes from listening to user’s needs and having a clear mission, rather than trying to copy successful features from competitors. “Skype should embrace its ‘classic’ status, and not feel the need to play catch-up with teen chat apps like Snapchat, or social media trends like stories“, commented TechCrunch when ‘Highlights’ got forever buried.

While media coverage in leading tech publications has generally been rather sceptic that the new feature will be a success, commentators also admit that LinkedIn Stories has, “at least”, a very specific focus on student recruitment “that has nothing to do with just ripping off Snapchat”.

“Companies will fail if they implement ‘Stories’ to check a box on a social media trend, instead of carefully analyzing how to use them to contribute to strategic business goals”, says social media expert Joe Carrozza. He is the co-founder of bidpin, a social media consulting firm that has specialized in advising companies how to turn stories into actual business value. “Stories are a booming trend and a powerful tool, but competition is also more fierce than ever”.

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company

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