How Insider boosts engagement with LinkedIn audio live events
Plus: let's meet at #IJF23 in Perugia
Hello! I'm Francesco Zaffarano, and this is Mapping Journalism on Social Platforms, a biweekly newsletter featuring chats with people pushing journalism's boundaries on social platforms.
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🇮🇹 Let’s meet at #IJF23 in Perugia!
Next week I will be in Perugia, Italy, for the International Journalism Festival. The IJF is one of my favorite events of the year and a great moment to connect with brilliant professionals. If you are coming and want to grab a coffee to chat about journalism and social media, reply to this email! I cannot wait to meet you in person.
And now, let’s dive into this week’s Q&A.
Q&A: Insider beta-tested LinkedIn's audio events for a year – here’s what they learned
LinkedIn finally released a new live audio events feature for company pages. The feature was created following a wave of Clubhouse copycats, like Twitter Spaces, Facebook Audio Rooms, and Reddit Talks – these last two examples have already been shut. The beta test for LinkedIn Audio Events lasted one year, and Insider was one of the news brands involved.
For this issue, I spoke with Pavan Mahal, a London-based audience editor at Insider, where she works on implementing the social media strategy and primarily focuses on LinkedIn. She is one of two editors who worked on audio events for Insider this past year.
FZ: Why did you start working with audio events on LinkedIn?
PM: LinkedIn reached out to us last year, saying they wanted some publishers to test an audio-based feature, giving us this opportunity. We had done LinkedIn live video events before, but those were bigger, special projects rather than day-to-day stuff.
LinkedIn pushed us to try this more, and it increasingly became quite big for us on the platform. We are building more and more of an audience each time, which is encouraging.
FZ: What kind of audio events are you organizing?
PM: We have a good understanding of what will work for our LinkedIn audience, mainly topics across business finance, tech, retail, and workplace culture.
So, for example, we did one when there was all that big discourse around quiet quitting, which was huge on LinkedIn. We just tried to find the unique angle that we had. One of our reporters had filed a great story on why people of color are not necessarily able to quiet quit, and she had this live conversation with a career expert on that.
Other than workplace culture, the whole discourse around AI and Chat GPT has taken off much with our readers. So we did one audio event around “will AI steal my job?” and that's been our best event in terms of attendees yet – over 900 people joined live, and we received a lot of questions during the event.
FZ: And how are you structuring these events?
PM: We've been thinking about it like the work we've done with Twitter Spaces because they are very similar. We usually do one audio event if we notice a story taking off on our site or through LinkedIn.
When we find a good story, we message the reporter who has worked on it, and we pitch the idea for the audio event, which is usually a 30-minute chat with another reporter or an expert. The reporters have often spoken with some experts to write the article, and those experts are happy to come back for a live chat.
Sometimes we've asked people to send questions through the comments ahead of the event, and sometimes we've taken live questions, so we invited listeners to join on stage and ask their questions live.
FZ: Do you have a set frequency for these events?
PM: We're still familiarizing ourselves with the tool and trying to get more frequent with it, but at the same time, you don't want to do it for the sake of doing it. It makes more sense to do an event to capture a moment that's taking off on LinkedIn. So, it's more about being in the moment rather than developing a frequency.
FZ: How many people are involved on the production side?
PM: It's me and Victoria Gracie, an audience editor based in the US. Production is not complicated – once we've set up the event link, we'll just start the audio event at a given time, and the reporters will just take it away. We also keep a Slack chat open if the reporters have any questions during the event.
FZ: Is there any difference between Twitter Spaces and LinkedIn audio events?
PM: They are very similar and easy to set up and manage. LinkedIn audio events, though, have a very cool feature, a sort of pre-live room that you can open to add speakers so that everyone’s there when the event starts. So, you don’t have those awkward minutes when people are trying to tune in, and nothing happens, like on Twitter Spaces.
A downside is that LinkedIn doesn’t allow you to record audio events. So people cannot listen to it after the event.
FZ: So there is no way you can repurpose that content?
PM: We have tried once. We manually recorded the live chat and then used some sound bites to create a carousel on LinkedIn. The LinkedIn News team also featured it in one of their news roundups. For now, we might lean into this more to retain the audience we’ve built up around the events.
We also check the comments below the event after the live because people tend to comment a lot there. We also share the link to the story in the comments, hoping that people will read the article.
FZ: How many average listeners do you have?
PM: I feel it’s too early to say since we've been trying and testing, but our listeners have ranged between 200 at the least and 900.
FZ: Of those who register for the event, how many people tune in?
PM: This is particularly tricky because it’s unclear how notifications work for these audio events. When we publish the event, you first see people entering and registering for it, but there are not many. Then, I think LinkedIn sends a notification to your followers before the event starts because we usually see the number of attendees going up right before the event. And then, while the event is running, I think there are also people finding it because attendees maybe share the event on their accounts. So it’s very tricky to monitor that data.
FZ: How did audio events impact the overall performance of your LinkedIn page?
PM: It's been mainly an engagement booster, especially comments, more than anything else. But I haven’t noticed much change in terms of our page growth.
FZ: How does audio link back to your company strategy?
PM: We are very conscious about bringing fascinating angles to stories in the news. The audio events are capitalizing on that and helping us share fascinating angles with our audience. And that’s on the company level.
On the social media team level, instead, we always try to think about the most dynamic ways to tell those stories and elevate the profiles of the reporters who covered those stories. So, audio events help with that, and it's an excellent way for people to interact with the reporters and the stories we own directly. It can also help us ideate new story ideas on the topics discussed that we can share with the newsroom for further reporting.
FZ: Speaking of engaging directly – how do you manage it when you bring people on stage from the audience? Aren’t you scared that something could go wrong?
PM: We have hesitated to do that but did so a few times. It’s a bit different from Twitter Spaces, where you have random accounts requesting to speak, and you don’t know who they are. Since LinkedIn is so much about people, it feels easier to spot fake accounts.
FZ: What is the main thing you learned since the beginning of this project?
PM: When you're working with a platform and are testing a new feature, it’s good to share feedback with your partners at the platform. I realized this is something they embrace. We've got a great relationship with LinkedIn, and they are always very receptive to our feedback because they want to understand how a publisher would use the features we test.
We had various conversations with them – also because we tested other features like carousels and newsletters – and it means that, in the long run, those products will be better when they will roll out.
FZ: Are you planning to invest more in audio events?
PM: If the product continues to develop to involve more features, like pinning articles in the event or capitalizing on the event recording, I see it as something that we would use a lot more.
FZ: Can you tell me some news publishers doing well with audio on social platforms?
PM: The Telegraph has really owned Twitter Spaces, and it’s so great to see journalists across their newsroom actively involving themselves in social-first coverage like this.
Through news around Ukraine and also news from further back, like Partygate, they really understand this idea of being in the moment and contributing to wider conversations taking off on the platform.
Separately, I’ve loved seeing what Bloomberg does with their Spaces! I’ve also seen instances with their Spaces on some of their accounts where these conversations have led to further reporting around a topic.
Also, the Insider newsroom has enjoyed using Reddit's live audio features in the last year. We've done a monthly movie chat with the moderators of r/movies and one of our entertainment reporters and a bi-monthly chat in r/relationships with another reporter who focuses on love and relationships.
Daniel Levitt kindly curated this list of social-media-related jobs. To see more jobs, subscribe to his newsletter:.
NY Times, Director of Audience, Opinion, in NYC
GQ, Social Media Manager, in NYC
Washington Post, Audience Strategy Editor, Features, in DC
The New Yorker, Social Media Manager, in NYC
Yahoo News, Director of Social Media, Remote
Chron, Audience Producer, in Houston
LocalEdge, Paid Social Media Strategist, in Buffalo
PIX11 Creative, Social media coordinator, in NYC
Politico, Social Media Producer, in Brussels
RFE/RL, Social Media Producer, CT Baltic, in Riga
RFE/RL, Director, Audience & Growth, in Prague
Canal+, Social media manager, in Issy-les-Moulineaux
Die Zeit, Social media intern, in Hamburg
One question for you
Things to read
📌 Why LinkedIn is stepping up its original video and audio content ambitions [Digiday]
📌 A look at the US digital audio market in 2022 [Insider Intelligence]
📌 Why audio struggles to win social media users [Protocol]
📌 How The Telegraph built a podcast using Twitter Spaces [Press Gazette]
That’s all for this issue. If you liked it, please share it on social or forward it to your colleagues and friends.