LinkedIn is launching interactive, Clubhouse-style audio events this month in beta; a video version will come this spring – TechCrunch

With more than 800 million people listing their professional profiles to build out their careers, LinkedIn is taking its next steps to get them to spend more time on the platform. The company is rolling out a new platform where it will be listing, hosting and marketing virtual live events. The first product that it will launch is an audio-only product, followed by a video version in the spring, initially targeting creators that use LinkedIn as organizers and hosts.

With virtual events finding a lot of traction in the last couple of years of pandemic life, the plan for now is for LinkedIn's new events product to be an all-virtual offering, and to open up the format to be shaped by those running the events themselves.

Jake Poses, product manager, said in an interview that their philosophy is to put the organizers in control. We want to make it easier to host virtual round tables. The event may be more formal or less formal for some people. Some people might want to communicate with their audience. We are giving professionals support.

The audio event feature that is launching this month sounds similar to the one that we first reported in March of 2021. Poses confirmed that interactive events are being launched as a free service, with no plans for ticketing, despite the fact that LinkedIn has been experimenting with other features that it might add to this events service, such as a paid, ticketed option that it started testing in September last year.

I asked if the startup was part of the creator-first philosophy, and a spokesman for the club said it was. She said that video is not on the plan for now, and that the company is looking at how new audio-focused features can enhance the experience for the community.

The audio event will look like this.

The new events platform will include tools to run interactive content end-to-end, with no need to use any other third-party software, and it will feature tools for online attendees. The events will be listed on the platform and the word will be out about them.

The platform will initially target people who are already using LinkedIn to connect with wider audiences, as you might get on other social platforms like TikTok, except these are building content aimed at career development, professional topics and

In the last few months, LinkedIn has been working on increasing the number of active Creator communities. Poses said that there are now 1.5 million creators using the broadcast product, and that it launched a $25 million fund and incubator last autumn. Creating and hosting events is a good way to extend that strategy.

Poses said that LinkedIn hopes to get businesses and bigger organizations to build events on the platform. Bigger budgets, more infrastructure, and possibly ticketing and other services, are often found with the bigger organizations. The idea is that anyone who needs or wants to will be able to integrate third-party apps and software into the production mix. He confirmed that the whole stack has been built at LinkedIn itself, rather than leaning on any video or other software from Microsoft.

A mock-up of how the video feature might appear in the feed.

Before the days of the Pandemic, the Events hub that was first launched in the year of the Pig was the first thing that LinkedIn wanted to do more in events. The launch of online polls and broadcast-style video events aimed at virtual engagement was one of the ways that LinkedIn formalized some of the ways that it was being used in more virtual events scenarios.

The company has been doing well with those. Over the last year, Poses has seen a 150% increase in virtual event creation and a 231% increase in virtual event attendees. The topics covered include artificial intelligence, opening keynotes, financial planning, live home installations, mentorship, and award ceremonies. These also show how LinkedIn may have more than just individual creators running these events.

In June of last year, it was revealed that LinkedIn was investing in Hopin, a company that was valued at $8.25 billion in its most recent funding round. Jumprope is a startup that let creators make and share how-to and other mentoring videos. Poses joined the company and lead product because of that.

It's the next logical step for LinkedIn in its own content strategy, but it also feels like a sign of the times, given how many of us are still working from home, and Covid-19 remains a threat.

You can't help but wonder if LinkedIn will be impacted by the fatigue that has set in for a lot of us around virtual videoconferencing and frankly virtual everything, and if it will be able to adjust if it turns out that one more virtual events option, is one too many.

Poses believes that virtual events are a must-have for more democratization, but that some event creators might choose to take a hybrid approach.

Poses said that virtual and hybrid may be the future, but interactive events are trying to fix something completely different.

I've been to talks and meetings as long as I can remember. He said these are the mainstays of how professionals communicate. They need money, time to travel, courage to speak, and space to run an event. Our belief is that moving from in person to virtual is democratizing and opening up access to many more people.