Friday Lives 01 — LinkedIn Live and advertising with AJ Wilcox

Anya Razina talked with B2Linked’s AJ Wilcox about live streaming, LinkedIn, and how the network might never completely open the floodgates to live streamers.

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AJ Wilcox’s decisions to venture into the world of live streaming seemed perfectly natural. As a LinkedIn Ad expert and the founder of the B2Linked agency, he already understood two of the most important parts. One, he had plenty of experience in front of a mic, having been a guest on many podcasts. The second was the kicker — he had the knowledge and the access needed to create great content.

That doesn’t mean his first step was great — it wasn’t. It was a learning experience, that’s for sure, but not one he’d recommend. In his own words, “I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone, but we learned a lot about the software and the technology that actually drives live.”

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🤓 Knowing where and how to learn

Learning is a big deal for live streaming, especially on a platform that’s as distinctive and engrossing as LinkedIn. Seen as the professional’s social network and a B2B marketers’ playground, it’s easy to get pigeonholed and forget that a lot of live streaming — most of it, in fact — is happening on other platforms.

We all know that LinkedIn is the latest social network to embrace live streaming. As an owner of an agency that’s admittedly a one-trick pony — it only does LinkedIn Ads — AJ had little choice but to go outside of the network to learn about streaming. And he came back with some valuable lessons.

For one, he learned the value of that first couple of minutes of a stream when people are still gathering and the host is just shooting the breeze waiting for more viewers. It’s wasted time, and it’s something that will turn people off during replays. “It's a bad experience and they'll drop out,” AJ says.

“So, what I've decided to do is, every time when I get in, I just immediately get to the point and start dropping knowledge.”

The lessons didn’t stop there. He also noticed how posting scheduled, episodic content might prove valuable on LinkedIn, too, as it seemed to be working on other platforms. He saw the introduction of the LinkedIn Events feature as a more-than-welcome addition, as it allowed him to attach his future live streams to events for more effective promotion.

The most important lesson might be that streamers should just go ahead and make the mistakes they must — if there’s no way to avoid them by learning from others’ experiences. To that point, even having the first couple of streams with poor viewership numbers — something that’s to be expected for streamers with an otherwise small following — can be a great opportunity to work the kinks out early and be ready for bigger and better streams later on.

🧠 The importance of pacing and the right mindset

People who are new to live streaming — especially those who don’t even watch them — might have a tough time finding the perfect balance between being present and suffocating an audience. It comes down to how much content they put out every month.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking that more is always better. But more content and daily streams don’t necessarily mean more value. As AJ puts it, “If you go live that much, maybe you don't actually have that much value.” He’d recommend against making it hard for the audience to keep up with the live streams because as soon as they can’t follow a couple, they might never come back.

So, with an active audience, a weekly live stream might make sense. Doing it monthly or ad hoc might be even better for those who are just starting, especially if they have a particularly good reason to go live. Streaming just to be in front of people doesn’t work in a more frivolous setting, let alone on a network such as LinkedIn.

And neither does taking all the authenticity out of the stream. One thing AJ noticed from early Facebook live streams was that some people were bringing TV-level production value into live streaming, robbing it completely of that human, immediate element. He saw the streamer-audience connection in smaller, unique podcasts and authentic live streams: “When someone has a unique viewpoint or a unique value to you, and this is the only way that you get to hear them, then you will, and their podcast blows up.” When it looks and feels rehashed or even just overproduced, that factor is gone.

☝️ LinkedIn for experienced streamers

People who stream on other platforms but would like to try their luck on LinkedIn too will have to adapt to a different landscape, that’s for sure. But it’s also important to remember that we’re all, at the end of the day, just human beings who, as AJ points out, enjoy consuming some good entertainment.

In that sense, finding something different, unique, and eye-catching that’s still right for the type of audience one would look for on LinkedIn could be a winning combination. AJ has some unique insight into this thanks to his experience with LinkedIn Ads. “What we learned is that on a network where everyone else is trying to be ultra-stuffy and professional, the people who stand out and are viewed positively are the ones who don't look like the rest,” he says.

“So don't be afraid to not look like the traditional LinkedIn crowd. You will stand out, and standing out is always good.”

Above all else, don’t be afraid to apply for permission to live stream on LinkedIn. AJ has it on good authority that the application process is never actually going to go away, but the vetting process has been hastened since the COVID-19 pandemic. Viable candidates get approval in weeks instead of months now, so those who have made some videos on LinkedIn and have a decent number of connections should apply to live stream. If you want to avoid the technical issues AJ faced at the beginning of his live-streaming career on LinkedIn, use Restream to simplify the process.


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