LinkedIn officially rolled out the company’s new Virtual Events feature that will allow enterprises to stay connected to their communities safely and in real time by bringing events online via their Pages.

Organizations in every industry have had to go virtual and cancel all in-person events in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing most to turn to a variety of platforms to supplement what’s been lost. In a blog post, LinkedIn’s Ajay Datta explained that the company was hoping to help companies adjust to the new normal with solutions that leveraged the platform’s wide user base for greater brand awareness, audience cultivation, and content sharing.

Rishi Jobanputra, head of product for Linkedin pages, said Virtual Events allows brands to target a specific audience and design a more personalized experience while making it easier for brands to share and archive their video content so users can easily find it. This not only extends the shelf life of the event but also allows organizations to target industries with content that may have may have been missed.

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“A lot of members and attendees attend events to network, to learn, and to make more informed decisions. In spite of the macro conditions we’re seeing, we started hearing from a lot of customers that there was a major market need. They still want to engage with their audience but they need an avenue to do so,” Jobanputra said.

The product that we built is combining the ability for an organization or page on Linkedin to host or create an event and then be able to broadcast live into that event to engage their audience. The benefits allow the company to interact with their audience in an interactive format and live setting, and then it gives attendees an opportunity to engage with their brands and each other during the event.”

Liz Li, director of product for events for LinkedIn, added that the company is tightly integrating the Pages, LinkedIn Live, and Events sections of the platform to help organizations promote or build up buzz before the event, start conversations, and collect Q&A for the livestream.

Enterprises can continue conversations started during the event by combining that Linkedin Live stream with the event landing page, she said.

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Dozens of businesses and organizations have already used the feature to hold a variety of events.

Jobanputra noted that two major car companies replaced a cancelled in-person car show with a digital event on LinkedIn that allowed them to share photos and videos of the vehicles as well as announcements on new lines.

“We’re seeing a lot of fireside chats and interviews, especially in this moment about how companies and leaders are dealing with the macroeconomic situation. One example is our own editorial team did a Q&A interview with Mark Cuban in terms of what he thought about small business owners, how to survive the situation, etc.,” Li said.

“Companies want to reach their prospects and audiences, and what we hear from them over and over again is that LinkedIn is the best place to do that.”

Both Li and Jobanputra said companies also told them reaching specific audiences was key for them to boost attendance and get their content in front of the right eyes. They can also chop up video from the live events and share it in pieces.

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He said one fashion company was able to take a fashion show and cut the footage up to spotlight certain lines or designs. Datta wrote that admins can also leverage easy-to-use third-party broadcasting partners, including Restream, Wirecast, Streamyard and Socialive. The organization expects to add a few more in the coming months as well.

“We’ve already got all of these professionals that are on here having conversations, and so being able to actually host that event all in one place, where their audience already exists, is a huge benefit,” Li said.

“Likewise, from the attendee standpoint, as you’re building events, a big thing is when an attendee can find out who is hosting an event, who the speakers are, and what other people are attending.”

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