This is a story about kickstarting LinkedIn audio spaces in Rosieland.
I'm sharing what I'm doing and how I'm thinking about it too. Of course, it can be applied to any "audio community activity". In fact, the fundamental decision making principles could be applied to any community strategy.
Hello, I'm Rosie Sherry and I love audio spaces
Everyone has their preference of how to consume and create content. Outside of writing, audio spaces happen to be my favourite for a variety of reasons.
- they're super easy to set up
- it's a great way for people to contribute their ideas in a rough form (instead of procrastinating for weeks on an article that may never be shipped)
- they don't have to be recorded, which means we can relax a bit and not think about production details 😅
- people in the audience can join in (though tread with caution!)
- having no more than 5 bullet points of ideas and questions is usually enough for a one-hour session
- I don't have to worry about my hair 😄
But really, the best thing about audio spaces is the ability to give members a voice. This is more valuable than we realise.
But why use audio events?
Why not build it within the community, use Zoom with no video, or do a Livestream?
Mostly because of the time it takes to set up and gain traction. This doesn't mean we don't do other types of events. An audio event becomes part of the overall community offering. For example, in a Rosieland context, we're doing audio events in addition to other smaller and more private events.
The power of using LinkedIn Audio Events is quite simply down to the ease of setting up a space and the ability to tap into the professional network of LinkedIn. Being efficient and seeking ways to find new reach for the community and members is always at the top of my list of priorities. Growth is really the hardest thing about any community.
There are a few other tools out there for audio spaces that you can consider:
- Discord (you need a Discord community, which disqualifies it for me)
- Twitter Spaces (eh, for obvious Elon reasons, I'm not investing any extra time there at the moment)
- Clubhouse (the original, but no one seems to use it now)
- Jam (open source and it creates more work to set up)
However, LinkedIn feels to be the best place right now for professional and career oriented communities.
Aren't audio spaces social media and not really community building?
That's a hard disagreement from me. 😊
Any tool that helps us communicate, connect, support and create growth for community members is a tool we could consider embracing.
Remember, it's what you do with the tool that counts. More on that next...
Audio spaces can give people the opportunities they need
Audio spaces are ideal for people who have challenges and goals around things like:
- wanting to establish credibility / thought leadership
- practice public speaking
- finding their voice
- finding their next job, gig or opportunity
- sharing their lived experiences
- personal or business growth to raise awareness of their existence, their work, their company
Whatever the reason, as community leaders, it is our role to help raise voices and awareness. People everywhere struggle to be seen. To be heard. To share their experiences. To find opportunities. Communities can help in a super supportive and safe way. There are gatekeepers everywhere, we can help break those patterns.
Community growth is hard. But so is personal member growth. Where everyone is struggling to stand out. Where diversity is a real issue. Where many people lack the confidence or opportunity. However, this does not mean they are not capable, often it comes down to people believing in them.
Communities make these people stronger. We see them and their value. We gather. We support. We cheer on. And we console each other when we get knocked down.
And without waffling on too much, audio spaces is just a way of giving people the opportunity and growth they need. This is not the only way, of course, but it is the one I'm writing about today.
When a community grows, it is only right to find ways to get that growth to benefit the community as a whole.
Audio spaces as part of a paid community
This is where it can get interesting as we seek to create sustainable communities. Audio events can fit very smoothly into paid community models.
A paid community is not only what happens within it. It's not about keeping people contained in your walls. It's often more about what you can do to help them towards their goals.
Typical to my rosie ways, I procrastinated on audio spaces for weeks. I then made the decision to "just do it". I set a date and a topic and invited a few people within my paid Rosieland community. Within an hour, and many thanks to Slack as a collaboration tool, we had it ready live.
The speed of launch is fun and perhaps impressive to some, but really this is what the magic of community can bring. Quick experimentation, Minimum Viable Community style.
Thanks to Milly and Ece for being our first speakers. ❤️
The key part here is that I am invested in my people. And it's not that I'll only invite paid members to speak. It's more that I start with them. I know and trust them. I can DM them and take action quickly. It gets the ball rolling. This is the traction we need to get our community flywheels spinning.
Most importantly, I want them to succeed, in the lightest and easiest way possible. That is my goal. I want them to find new friends, customers, jobs and opportunities. I want them to look back at their career and life and remember that Rosieland had a part to play in that.
For members to succeed we have to do things outside of 'paid community wall', the initial planning just happens to occur internally. This is how Slack, or any collaboration tool, can play a strong part in transforming communities.
It's not just about talking and sharing. It's about taking action today.
What is specifically good about LinkedIn Audio Events?
I'm well-versed with audio spaces, I've pretty much tried them all.
To be honest, LinkedIn Audio Spaces aren't anything special. There's nothing amazing that stands outs. But maybe great experiences just work well. In this instance I mean working well within the boundaries and expectations of what LinkedIn is. (I've long suffered with their UX, but there's a time and place for that!)
I'm not looking to write a best practice on audio spaces here, however here are a few ideas to take away should you happen to choose to organise one.
✨ Pre and post-networking: This is actually pretty interesting. It's possible to see who has RSVP'd and attended an event. With a bit of creativity, a bit of pre or post-networking could be encouraged.
If you don't like the term 'networking', mix it up with something else. Perhaps call it an opportunity to connect or a challenge.
Another angle to consider is to understand who is attending your events. A quick browser could reveal some interesting insights.
✨ Easy access analytics: don't we all love shiny metrics, especially when they are easy to access?
Make use of the inbuilt analytics to track your progress and growth over time. Hopefully, you can use it as an extra point of validation to show 'your boss' the value of your work.
✨ Network effect: you can tap into the natural network effect of LinkedIn and as it is currently a new product, you are more likely to gain extra visibility.
We had 75 RSVP'd to our last event but actually had 198 people pass through. I don't even know how the first 75 found it, I'm sure some of it was the LinkedIn algorithm and notifications.
✨ User profiles are taken a bit more seriously: this won't stop the wrong type of people trying to get up on stage, however, I feel it does feel a bit safer as a result.
In addition to this, the analytics gives you insight into the type of people who are joining. This could be especially useful if you have hopes to do sponsored events, marketeers always love to have this kind of information.
✨ Tie it into other LinkedIn opportunities: Last, but not least, consider investing in your own LinkedIn profile, company page and newsletter. At a very basic level, it makes sense to use LinkedIn features to promote LinkedIn events. These platforms love it when you use their products.
Always be experimenting
Whilst this is partly about LinkedIn audio spaces, it's also about embracing the need to experiment.
Social media platforms can be overwhelming and have a tendency to suck people away from us. As a result, it can be easy to dismiss these things, or on the flip side to over-rely on them.
The key, as with most things, is to find that perfect balance. Look for the value and the benefits and always make sure your overall community comes out winning.