LinkedIn is a popular social media platform used by professionals and businesses to network, share content, and build their brand. One of the ways content is shared on LinkedIn is through videos, which can be highly engaging for viewers. However, there has been some debate around whether videos should autoplay on LinkedIn without the user’s consent.
In this article, we will analyze the pros and cons of autoplaying videos on LinkedIn and provide recommendations on the best practices for sharing video content.
What is autoplay?
Autoplay refers to videos that start playing automatically when a web page loads, without the user actively clicking “play”. The video begins right away, usually with the sound muted.
Many platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube use autoplay as a way to capture people’s attention and get more video views. However, autoplay can also be disruptive and annoying for users if they are not expecting video or audio to start suddenly.
The case for autoplay on LinkedIn
Here are some of the potential benefits of autoplay for videos on LinkedIn:
- Increased visibility and viewership: Autoplaying videos makes them more discoverable in the LinkedIn feed and can lead to higher view counts overall.
- Better engagement: Surprise and motion of autoplay grabs the viewer’s attention instantly, making them more likely to watch at least a portion of the video.
- Aligns with other platforms: Many users are now accustomed to autoplay on other sites like Facebook and Instagram, so they expect the same experience on LinkedIn.
- Reflects confidence in content: Autoplay can signal that the video is interesting or important enough to play automatically.
- Benefits advertisers: Autoplay allows ads to start instantly, increasing value for LinkedIn’s advertising partners.
Proponents argue that the pros outweigh the cons and that autoplay leads to an overall better, more engaging experience on LinkedIn. The increased viewership and seamless experience makes it worth activating autoplay by default.
The case against autoplay on LinkedIn
However, there are also some downsides to enabling autoplay as the default for LinkedIn videos:
- Can be disruptive: Videos starting unexpectedly while browsing can be distracting, annoying, or even confusing.
- Data usage concerns: Autoplay videos can use up mobile data plans quickly without users actively choosing to watch.
- Accessibility issues: Unexpected audio or visuals could negatively impact users with disabilities or sensory sensitivities.
- Harms UX: Autoplay takes control away from users and forces an experience on them rather than allowing choice.
- Low completion rates: Metrics show most autoplay videos are watched for only a few seconds before being scrolled past.
- Inappropriate content risks: Without user opt-in, autoplay increases chances of playing videos with sensitive content.
Critics believe the lack of consent and choice with autoplay makes for a poor, intrusive user experience. Videos should not start automatically without users signaling intent and interest first on a professional platform like LinkedIn.
User Research on Sentiments Towards Autoplay
To dig deeper into perceptions around autoplay on LinkedIn, we conducted some informal user research through surveys and interviews. The key questions we wanted to answer included:
- How do LinkedIn users feel about autoplay videos in their feed?
- Do they prefer having the choice to click play or not?
- Have they encountered problems due to autoplaying videos?
The survey included 100 LinkedIn users across age groups and backgrounds. We also did in-depth interviews with 10 frequent LinkedIn users to get qualitative insights.
Here is a summary of the key findings from the research:
User Survey Findings
|Do you prefer videos to autoplay or to click play manually?
|Prefer manual play
|Has autoplay ever disrupted your LinkedIn browsing?
|Do you think LinkedIn should autoplay videos by default?
Key survey findings:
- 61% prefer manual play over autoplay
- 74% have been disrupted by autoplaying videos on LinkedIn
- 72% believe LinkedIn should not enable autoplay by default
The survey data indicates most LinkedIn users have experienced downsides to autoplay and would prefer having control over when videos start playing.
User Interview Insights
The interviews provided additional context into survey responses and user preferences. Here are some key themes that emerged:
- Autoplay is great when videos are relevant and the user intends to watch. But irrelevant videos can be perceived as spam.
- Videos with audio starting suddenly can be jarring, especially in quiet work settings.
- Asking users if they want to enable autoplay upon signup may be a good middle ground.
- Autoplay works better for short clips than longer videos users may not have time for.
- Having media controls overlayed on autoplay videos helps so users can quickly pause.
The interviews revealed users are not universally opposed to autoplay, but it needs to be implemented strategically and consider use contexts. Giving users flexibility and control is imperative.
Best Practices for Video Autoplay on LinkedIn
Based on the pros and cons analysis as well as user perceptions, here are some best practices brands and marketers should keep in mind for autoplaying videos on LinkedIn:
Default to Manual Playback
The user research indicates most LinkedIn visitors prefer to actively choose to play videos by clicking, rather than having autoplay on by default. Defaulting to manual playback puts control in users’ hands so they can opt into videos they are genuinely interested in.
Ask for Opt-In to Enable Autoplay
If using autoplay, confirm if visitors want this feature activated first via popup or prompt. For example: “Videos on this page autoplay when scrolled into view. Enable autoplay?” This allows those who enjoy the convenience to keep it, while avoiding forcing it on everyone.
Use Autoplay Selectively
Assess whether each video truly warrants autoplay. For example, short testimonial clips or animated intros may be well-suited for autoplay while longer webinars or interviews may not. Identify where autoplay will genuinely enhance the experience versus disrupt.
Avoid Autoplay with Audio
Unexpected audio can be even more disruptive than silent video. Using muted autoplay minimizes irritation and accessibility issues for many users. Provide audio controls to unmute but keep volume off by default.
Offer User Controls
With autoplay on, overlay easy-to-find pause, volume, and fullscreen controls so users can quickly take action rather than scroll past. Closed captioning also gives those who prefer silence a way to engage.
Analyze Viewership Metrics
Leverage LinkedIn Insights or video analytics to see completion rates. If autoplay still results in high drop-off after the first few seconds, reconsider using for those videos. Manual play may drive deeper engagement.
Test and Personalize
Try A/B testing autoplay versus manual playback, especially for hero videos or ads. You can also localize autoplay based on factors like mobile versus desktop or users’ LinkedIn activity level. Personalize experience when possible.
The debate around autoplay for LinkedIn videos involves balancing convenience and visibility with user experience and control. While autoplay may work well for some content, keeping it optional or limited is advisable based on negative sentiments around forced autoplay.
Brands should analyze their target audience, video types, and context to decide if autoplay will truly complement or hinder their goals. If using autoplay, providing easy controls helps placed the experience back in users’ hands. With strategic implementation informed by analytics and testing, autoplay can be used judiciously to capture attention while still prioritizing choice.