As you may have heard, LinkedIn just announced the relaunch of their Events platform. Here is a breakdown of the platform for you, including opportunities and concerns.
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Event planners rejoice. LinkedIn is launching Events, again.
Inasmuch as something related to social media can age you, you kind of need to be a social media veteran to know that this is not the first time LinkedIn has launched Events. The first time was in 2008, but they decided to kaput it in 2012 to the dismay, rage, and disbelief of us using it intensely at the time.
The hope is that, with this product, they won’t upset us as they did back then. The scar still hasn’t fully healed. But let’s have a look at what happened.
LinkedIn Events: A Brief History
LinkedIn Events in the early 2010s was the go-to platform to discover business events. Thanks to its incredible reach, it created true peer pressure to attend conferences.
It was an amazing way to check what events our colleagues or competitors were attending. Everyone in the tech community noticed, and other similar services started to pop up – above all Plancast and Lanyrd.
Being able to discover business events was cool. At last, events on a social media platform that weren’t just about uncle Jack’s birthday party or the 50th anniversary celebration of some distant relatives. They were speaking our language: the language of business events.
Ah, those were the days.
All of a sudden, LinkedIn decided to shut it down. I remember following the shutdown with EventMB (yes, I am that old).
Right after that, every other platform in discovery got acquired or shut down.
We were left with nothing – until last week that is.
ENTER THE (NEW) LINKEDIN EVENTS PLATFORM
Almost a year ago, some LinkedIn influencer – you know the type: those whose broetry and long-form posts about overcoming the hurdles of life get 200K likes – posted a discussion on our LinkedIn group telling us how they were happy to be testing the new LinkedIn Events platform.
LinkedIn was beta testing Events again, and no product manager bothered to show up in their largest community for event planners? 400K members?
But you know how these things go, and we, the event planners, decided to suck it up. And when the news broke on TechCrunch (the largest website for event planners, 🤦♂️) we gave it a good look.
Wow. It’s 2008 again. What an incredibly flat platform. What an incredible lack of options.
Does it matter though?
What LinkedIn Events does is give you a Yahoo style directory listing with an external link and a logo upload. That’s it.
Honestly, I don’t care. And neither should you.
What we care about is the potential that LinkedIn has as a discovery platform, which brings me to my next aptly titled paragraph:
The Potential of LinkedIn Events
LinkedIn Events needs to be tested as a platform for the discovery of business events.
Specifically, if LinkedIn gives events enough presence in the news feed and in general in its algorithm, we can expect great things.
The start is definitely not promising. LinkedIn Events is buried in the user’s bottom-left sidebar. But hey, I am hopeful.
I am hopeful that my 15K+ connections will actually get to see my event.
They will get to see if I RSVP to an event.
They will get to see who else in their network is attending.
If LinkedIn gets these three things right, Events will explode – in a positive way.
The enemy is at the gate
LinkedIn has an incredible advantage when it comes to events. Facebook, thanks to its aging audience, is now a full-fledged business platform, but managed to completely miss the train when it comes to Facebook Events.
They had it. It was theirs to conquer.
Yet they chose Joe’s birthday and Frank and Anne’s anniversary over the $1 trillion event industry. They went long tail and got all the event marketers on the planet upset.
Will LinkedIn mess up giganticly as Facebook did? If they think of Events as a platform for the influencer who wants to run their fan gatherings or for the millennial entrepreneur doing life improvement workshops, they will indeed fail.
If they recognize the power of business events and how planners could use this platform strategically, they have a humongous monetization opportunity. They could become the Google of events – a service we are in desperate need of.
A lot of its success will also depend on how they are able to integrate Events into Groups, the black sheep of LinkedIn. Conversely, Facebook is excelling with Groups. They are also making TV ads about Groups. TV ads, for heaven’s sake!
Managing one of the top 20 groups overall on LinkedIn, I can comfortably say that they have tried to kill it so many times. We have been in touch with so many product managers that left the job after being slaughtered by angry users on various groups for managers.
Managers are upset, users are upset. There is a total lack of moderation tools, a total lack of any type of update. The last we heard from LinkedIn was in December 2018. In all fairness, they did share a holiday-themed presentation 😒.
If LinkedIn nails Groups and Events, it could become a powerhouse for attendees and planners alike.
I have hopes, my friends.
LinkedIn is like a favorite team that you stick with despite never making it to the play-offs. Maybe because they played that one amazing match where they surprised you.
Gary Vaynerchuck, once my favorite wine expert, now a social media guru, stopped talking about Snapchat and said that LinkedIn is where the action is. Make what you want of that.
I want to believe it. I want to believe that there is a product manager who is reading this.
I want to believe they understand that event planners couldn’t care less about birthday cakes. We mean f*&^ing business and are ready to use a business platform like LinkedIn.
I’ll keep you posted.