What We Can Learn From the Failure of LinkedIn’s Stories (and Twitter’s Fleets)

After a year of trying to get it to take off, LinkedIn is shutting down it’s Stories feature at the end of this month. Twitter didn’t even fare that well; introducing and killing off it’s Fleets feature in a mere 8 months. What lessons can be learned from these attempts at mimicking the successful Instagram format?

LinkedIn’s addition of Stories never really seemed like the right move. I can’t recall ever having checked out any stories that were shared by any of my connections. It didn’t fit in with what I use LinkedIn for. The same thing goes for Twitter’s Fleets. Let’s take a look at these missteps and pull out some key lessons to apply towards our digital marketing strategy.

Because I was writing this blog article, I did finally check out the stories posted in the #DogsOfLinkedIn circle. Very clever LinkedIn.

The failure of these features is a hard lesson for these platforms to learn. As a result, LinkedIn has already hinted at plans for a new style of short form video content feature on it’s platform, drawing on the knowledge gained from their Stories hiccup. Are there lessons in this for all of us to apply to our own businesses, especially in relation to our digital marketing?

Well, of course there are. We aren’t running major social media platforms, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t come up with some big picture, macro lessons to pull from this series of events. Let’s take a look.

We should always, always, always give your customer the experience they want, in the place that they want, when they want it.

This is one of the oldest, and truest, maxims in the marketing world. It’s digital marketing strategy 101. And as you can see, it continues to be true even when your company gets to be a giant in its sector. When you lose focus on the customer, you risk sinking time and money into a scheme that won’t ever return that investment. It’s not that you can’t try things out or innovate, but you can’t get so wrapped up in your desires that you push forward with something that your audience won’t appreciate nearly as much as you do.

The Stories experience has been established by Snapchat and Instagram. Stories are fun. They are meant to be seen once before moving on to the next one. That doesn’t fit in to a LinkedIn user’s motivation. LinkedIn gave their users something that they didn’t come to LinkedIn for. And it didn’t take off.

Chasing a trend can lead you down the wrong path.

This one picks up where the last one left off. You can’t have your head on a swivel, looking around and around, trying to keep up with the hottest trend out there. You’ve got a digital marketing strategy (or you should). Derailing it, even momentarily, to try and ride the coat tails of social media’s flashy new thing can leave you looking like an outsider trying to fit in. Like the old guy at the club.

Don’t be that guy. Stick to your digital marketing strategy.

The desire to say “we ought to be doing that too” is always going to tug at you. There will be times when a trend can fit in perfectly with your brand. If you are very selective about picking and choosing a trend to follow, you will be able to pull it off. But if you reach to far, as LinkedIn did, you will lose your balance.

It’s okay to draw some inspiration from outside sources. Don’t get caught being a copycat though.

We don’t always have time to innovate and create. Creating things from scratch is hard. It’s a skill. The huge amounts of time and mental energy required to come up with something wholly original makes standing out from the others truly difficult. That’s why there are so many templates and social media prompts out there. And that’s fine. Find one that works within your digital marketing strategy and use it. When you do use a shortcut, always put your unique spin on it.

It sounds like LinkedIn has learned that lesson. They plan to keep working on a short form video format for their platform. One that ties in much better with what their users need and want, including the ability to have the content exist permanently and integrating creative tools into the platform. So Stories, but not Stories. A format that fits the LinkedIn model, not an exact copy of everyone else’s format.

There you have it, three simple lessons to take away from the LinkedIn Stories saga. Are they all rather basic? Maybe. But how many times do we see examples of people forgetting them? Or worse yet, how many times do we forget them? It’s always good to get a nice reminder of these marketing rules. Especially when we can do it as a spectator, rather than the scofflaw.



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