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Social influencers see stardom potential on LinkedIn, Pinterest

Platforms still have challenges for influencers

(CNN) - While on a sabbatical from work, Goldie Chan started taking videos of herself walking and talking about different topics, from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to ridesharing and marketing. She posted them on LinkedIn.

The hundreds of daily videos she shot on her smartphone in selfie mode helped her rack up over 4 million views and about 50,000 followers on the social network for professionals since 2017.

"I'm not creating these [videos] for fun, for no reason; there's always learning [involved]," said Chan, who has since launched her own social media strategy agency called Warm Robots. "When I was starting out, my friends and work associates all said I should be on Instagram or YouTube. But LinkedIn happened to be a perfect fit. ... It's fun to create on something brand new."

Chan is part of an emerging group of creators, known as social media influencers, on LinkedIn, who are taking advantage of the platform's recent push into original and live video.

Last week at VidCon, the annual conference for online video creators, Chan gave a presentation titled "LinkedIn: Your Secret Weapon For Building Your Brand Using Video."

Now in its tenth year, the event brings together social media stars, their fans, brands and major platforms like YouTube and Facebook. Companies such as LinkedIn and Pinterest pitched themselves this year as places where video creators can thrive, too.

It's more typical for social media stars to emerge on YouTube, where they can earn money directly from ads running on their videos, or on Instagram, a platform known for sponsored content deals. But on LinkedIn and Pinterest, aspiring influencers can better stand out and differentiate themselves because there is less competition.

In 2017, LinkedIn launched the ability to record or upload a video to its platform. Earlier this year, it launched live streaming, called LinkedIn Live, to a limited group of users.

"Creators are really important to us," said Peter Roybal, LinkedIn's head of video production management. "It is a place where you can stand out. Video is newer [on LinkedIn] to people's feeds. It's still in the very early days of people discovering live video in their feeds, so it really pops out."

Pinterest, which lets you bookmark images from around the web, has also set its sights on original video in recent years. Although Pinterest allowed users to share videos from outside places such as YouTube and Vimeo for many years, it didn't introduce its own video player until 2016. Last week, the company announced new tools, including a video tab on business and creator profiles to help users better find their original videos, and an updated video uploader that makes it easier to post directly to the platform.

"On Pinterest, you're engaging with creator's ideas and expert recommendations and suggestions," said Enid Hwang, Pinterest's culture and community manager. "Many of those ideas are best presented through video."

Sarah Khandjian, who runs a lifestyle and DIY blog and Pinterest account called Sarah Hearts, started making videos in November 2018 for Pinterest to help grow her following.

"It's still early on the platform for video," she said. "There are not that many video creators on Pinterest, so it's more than likely your video will be suggested because it's such a smaller playing field."

Khandjian said another big advantage for creators on Pinterest is that their content, including video, can stay relevant and bring in views for years.

"Content lives a lot longer on Pinterest than on other social media sites," she said. "Holiday content that I created two to three years ago for the 4th of July, all of a sudden got lots of traffic again this year [as people search for ideas]."

Jillian Ryan, principal analyst at research firm eMarketer, said although Pinterest and LinkedIn are not the major names in online video, they still have large audiences. (LinkedIn has an overall user base of 645 million members, while Pinterest has more than 250 million monthly users).

"The big players like Instagram and Facebook are already capitalizing on videos and have been doing it for years," she said. "Perhaps it's saturation or audience fatigue, but possibly LinkedIn [and Pinterest] can take those user behaviors that are second nature on other platforms and figure out how they work in a different environment."

But the platforms still have challenges for influencers to work around. LinkedIn Live uses third-party technology, so it's not as seamless as live streaming on other platforms. Both companies also don't currently offer direct ways for creators to make money from their videos.

Ryan Skinner, a principal analyst at research firm Forrester, noted that unlike on platforms like YouTube where pretty much any type of content can resonate, only certain topics fit for LinkedIn and Pinterest. On LinkedIn, that means job-related videos, and Pinterest topics around lifestyle, beauty, travel, fashion and home décor work best.

"For certain kinds of verticals where it makes sense, then there is an opportunity," he said. "Some of the people who have decided to make a living for themselves by being an influencer may say, 'Instagram and YouTube are too noisy, while Pinterest could give me a leg up.'"


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