Pooja Chhabria on LinkedIn’s ambitious plans to empower the creator ecosystem

The past few years have seen the creator economy flourish in India, where the demand for ‘infotainment’ continues to be at an all-time high. During these times of growth, LinkedIn has taken a front-row seat to the emergence and growth of several diverse creator communities, with a 10-week incubator program – called the Creator Accelerator Program (CAP). The first cohort of Indian creators graduated the Creator Accelerator Program on August 11, 2022.

As the first edition of CAP concludes in India, LinkedIn is now home to more informed creators who thrive on creating engaging and meaningful content around burning topics like financial literacy, digital transformation, startup proliferation, and climate change to name a few.

CAP is one of LinkedIn’s efforts towards making creators successful on the platform by equipping them with the tools and experiences they need to build, reach, and engage with their audiences. Going forward, the platform will continue to invest in creators who can bring new and diverse perspectives and ideas to the LinkedIn community, and who have a range of professional experiences, focus and expertise.

In conversation with Adgully, Pooja Chhabria, APAC Head of Creator Management at LinkedIn, shares deeper insights into how the 10-week incubator program has polished the creation skills of 200 diverse creators to help them unlock greater opportunities on the platform.

Why did you choose India as the second market after the US to launch this global creator accelerator program?

We have 92 million members in India, which is one of our fastest growing markets in terms of member engagement. It is a very important market for us when it comes to our vision of creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. It’s a very important strategic market for us and we are seeing just the creator conversation naturally growing on LinkedIn in India. That’s why we thought after the US, India is the right market to bring this program, there was a lot of excitement about it. Through those 10 weeks, we were able to provide the right coaching, right recognition and resources to these creators, so that overall on LinkedIn we can bring in diverse content for our members. We always keep member value at the centre of any creator that we work with, so we want to make sure when members come on LinkedIn, they come to the platform to advance their careers, to learn something new, to pick up a new skill, to gain a new perspective. So, we made sure that the kind of content that is coming out of that program helps others connect to opportunities and build skills. Some of the examples that came out were creators talking about how others can improve their public speaking skills. There was somebody talking about ethical AI, somebody talking about gender equality at the workplace and others talking about gender trends and businesses, e-commerce, etc. Just the variety and diversity came out as one of the big wins of the program.

With the completion of this 10-week program, what’s next for these participants? How will you support them beyond the program?

One of the key takeaways that the creators had with this program is consistency. One may have a unique idea and a creative way to execute it, but consistency is important. They shared with us that this program gave them that skill – of how they can remain consistent through their journey. Once they continue to create on the platform, we will share with them the best practices, examples and continue to share those learnings with them and also new products that are coming up.

Recently, we launched two new features – one is a clickable link on images and videos, where if any of the creators want to market their course, or is launching a book, or starting a business, they can put that as part of their content, and also make their content more visually appealing through templates. They will get all these information and knowledge, and will also be invited to future webinars and educational sessions. For the overall creator eco-system, we have around 1.7 million members who have switched on the creator mode. It is not only about educating these 200, but how do we expand that knowledge on what creation on LinkedIn looks like to all those members who have said that they are interested in creating on the platform.

How do you intend to take it forward and spread it across the entire base that you have?

I would summarise them under three verticals, where we are actually putting our investment and energy on. One is product – how do we make sure that for everybody who aspires to be a creator, there are diverse formats available. People want to experiment with audio events, live events. We want to make sure that there is diversity of formats available, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.

The second vertical is our team – the community management team. We have our ‘LinkedIn for Creators’ page on LinkedIn and you will regularly see my team, the global team, sharing best practices and examples of creators that others can learn from. Our team will continue putting in that effort in the market.

The third vertical is the Creator Accelerator Program, which is one of our biggest milestones in this journey.

Could you share some of the key takeaways from this program? How do you plan to strengthen the program going forward?

One big takeaway was the sheer diversity that was there in the cohort of 200 – diversity in terms of gender and location as a significant portion was from the non-metro cities. We are trying to make sure that we have that melting pot of creators from various parts, and also diversity of ideas. We want to make sure that people from various backgrounds have an opportunity to flex their creativity and get a platform for that.

In terms of what we provided to them can be put under three buckets – coaching, recognition and resources. We had four mentors in the program – Radhika Gupta, CEO of Edelwiess AMC; popular Palestinian-Israeli creator Nuseir Yassin; Ankur Warikoo, also a very established creator on LinkedIn; Pooja Dingra, an entrepreneur and a creator. Those sessions were appreciated by all of them, because they got to meet the people who have almost aced the game in building an engaged community. They also enjoyed the sessions from LinkedIn experts.

What does the road ahead look like for the creator economy and where do you place LinkedIn’s role in this entire mix?

For LinkedIn, I would say that in the next five years, we would continue to invest in product, analytics, making it easier for them. Second will be education and coaching, because besides established creators with large community, there are also a lot of aspiring creators who have very unique ideas and knowledge. So, the focus is how do we support them and take them on that journey and give them the confidence that they have that expertise and the community will get value from that.

The third pillar would be this special initiatives and programs, like the Creator Accelerator Program, where we want to bring in diverse voices, where when you come on LinkedIn, you can get knowledge about a variety of topics, whether it starts from public speaking to artificial intelligence to marketing trends to cyber security to leadership skills. We want to make sure that all the knowledge of the world is in the minds and hearts of the people – how do we get it out there through creators and creations so that others in the community can actually benefit from that.

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