LinkedIn follows Facebook's lead in killing video embeds

Et tu, Brutus?

Last fall Facebook locked out video sharing; video content from other sources (YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, Vidyard, etc) stopped playing within Facebook.  Instead, viewers get thumbnail images and off-Facebook website links.  The intent is obvious; push viewers to upload video to Facebook instead.

LinkedIn used to be the classy business-grade hotel to Facebook's dorm room, but LinkedIn seems to have succumbed to the same 'you can check out any time you like, but your content can never leave' temptation.  LinkedIn no longer plays embedded videos. YouTube, Wistia, Vimeo et al get the same static-thumbnail treatment they receive on Facebook; not video, but a hyperlinked picture. The 'Video' button on the LinkedIn post dialog is just a file-upload.

I expected Facebook to choose the monopolistic route, but I'm surprised that LinkedIn has done the same.

Think about this simply and logically for a second.  Say you're a human being with (a) actual friends, (b) Facebook 'friends', and (c) a job, and you have (d) a bit of video footage that you think might interest the people in those groups. 6-8 years ago, you'd have uploaded the video (once) to YouTube, and pasted the YouTube link on each platform.  People would watch where they were.

This was a great position for Google (owning YouTube) - YouTube == video for many people.  That's somewhat beside the point, though.  The real point is that there were open-ish standards for sharing video - YouTube was just one of the platforms, but you could choose others. Business marketers gravitated to Wistia & Vidyard; filmmakers to Vimeo, and so on.  They could distribute, manage and control their content, from one place - a single (d), if you will.

Now Facebook and LinkedIn have made a unilateral decision for their users - "no, you HAVE to put your files on our platform, you can't share from anywhere else." 

To share that video (d), you upload a separate copy to each platform.

No big deal? I disagree.

Say you've hopped through all the hoops - uploaded to Wistia (so you can email to customers), uploaded to YouTube (hoping for a bit of market share), uploaded to Facebook (because Mark doesn't have enough content) and LinkedIn (business contacts.)  

Then you notice a massive, awful typo in the headline. Horrors!

Now you get to re-do all of that - delete each old video, upload the new video to each platform, again. Yeah, that's a scalable, simple way to run things. 


This Balkanization also applies to the data coming back from that video.  There's no single dashboard for "who's watching, how much, when" and so on - each of these platforms has a separate copy, with separate stats and reporting.  For businesses investing in video content, this is really a massive step backwards.

A close friend of mine runs a terrific conference business,  He created some video content to fill in his customers & prospects on an upcoming event. He won't really know how that content is working for his business across channels - he'll get a different view and different measures from each platform.  He's back to Excel as a dashboard.

I don't see how this benefits the users of these platforms.  Honestly, I'd love to hear the rationale from either Facebook or LinkedIn.  My bet is that the first salvo would be some corporate-speak about "improved user experience."  Massive pile of B.S., that; we were all happy enough with the embedded-video experience to drive video traffic through the roof in the last few years. 

If they were actually candid, they would say "it's about advertising control."  We, the platforms, don't want embedded YouTube videos with ads.

I understand that, but retreating to the old proprietary-formats corner is a dumb solution to the problem. 

We had a working detente - your content could play on my platform, and vice versa.  Why didn't the platforms hammer out a revision to those content-sharing standards instead of chucking them? YouTube -knew- when a video was playing on Facebook.  They could have switched ads off, or arranged revenue sharing, or something else.  

Instead, we're back to asking users to copy massive video files multiple times. More duplicate bits on more servers; more duplicate IDs and incompatible data about video.

Some of the users will figure it out - oh, OK, just multiple file copies, got it.  Many will throw up their hands at the unnecessary complexity, and just spend more time on one platform. And that's really the end-game goal.  The 82-year-old who wants to share vacation footage will - Mark hopes - just stick with Facebook only, because it's simpler.  Businesses will stick with LinkedIn (maybe). 

Wistia, Vimeo, Vidyard --- well, I know & like a bunch of the people at those companies, and I think they're in for some pain.  It's harder to see the place for a video hosting company in this landscape.

The contradiction between stated goals and behavior is stark.  Facebook used to be about enabling people to share - now they're nominally about bringing the world closer together. LinkedIn's stated mission is to connect the world's professionals.  I fail to see how locking out the most emotional and informative form of content - video - does that in either case.