By Catherine Shuttleworth
We’re sitting down with leaders on the business side of the creator economy to get their best advice for creators looking to launch and develop their careers. This week, we spoke with Miri Buckland and Liz Friedland, co-founder and head of community at the design and vision board web platform Landing.
In an interview with Passionfruit, Buckland and Friedland discussed the program’s appeal to creators, the company’s ambassador program, the importance of niche community in the creator economy, and more.
As more and more creators seek self-expression, fun, and community through their work on social media, apps outside of the mainstream are springing up to fill niche verticals and attract small but dedicated userbases. Pinterest’s recently hyped launch of invite-only collage-making app Shuffles demonstrates a growing interest in artistic, community-based apps. Competitors like the up-and-coming design platform Landing, founded three years ago, want creators to know creativity and community are at the heart of its product offering.
Landing, first founded in 2019, is currently a web-based social media platform with creativity at the heart of it. Users can create anything from vision boards to wish lists, comment on other users’ creations, import images, remix another person’s board, and more. Landing says it currently has over 150,000 active users, which is quite impressive for a platform with a mobile app that has not yet launched. The company says its mobile app is intended to launch in 2023.
Landing’s co-founder Buckland told Passionfruit the platform was originally intended to be an interior design tool, but soon changed as its founders discovered people enjoyed the design aspect of creating mood boards on platforms like Google Slides. Noticing this, they created the tool we now know as Landing, and in just a few years the tool became a web platform and online community.
For many, the app is reminiscent of the now-defunct Polyvore, a collaging website for clothes and style that was shut down in 2018 after it was purchased by SSENSE, a fashion retailer. Before its shutdown, the site boasted 20 million active users between the end of 2012 and 2016. In its early years, Polyvore received funding through investor rounds, but also experimented with affiliate marketing and sponsored vision board competitions.
In February 2021, Landing announced its $2.5 million seed round, led by Cowboy Ventures. It also shared some of the investors backing them, such as Dara Treseder (CMO of Peleton) and Ethan Eismann (VP of Design at Slack). It is unclear how the platform will monetize in the future. Landing told Passionfruit in a statement via email it is not currently making money from ads and mentioned no plan to do so in the future.
Friedland told Passionfruit community is a critical part of the social media experience, especially when it comes to retaining an engaged user base on a new, niche platform. Whilst users may initially come to create something using Landing, some stay for the community. Friedland said the Landing team consistently goes back to the focus of growing an engaged user base organically through current users bringing in new ones.
One of the key pieces at the heart of Landing is its Limelight Ambassadors, who Landing describes on its Instagram as “central to [its] vision of operating as a community-led company.” The Limelight Ambassadors, who are volunteers, meet with the Landing team to help improve Landing, work on testing for the mobile app launching in early 2023, engage with the Landing community on socials such as Instagram, and share information about Landing with others to keep the platform growing. The ambassador program was launched in September 2022.
The application to become an ambassador opens up a few times a year. On Notion, the company states ambassadors are expected to be involved regularly in helping grow and expand Landing, but it recognizes availability may ebb and flow. It wants ambassadors to create a welcoming and inclusive community on the platform and engage with the community both on Landing and on other socials too, such as Instagram and Discord.
“It’s sort of impossible to think about the evolution of Landing without overlaying the evolution of the ambassador program,” Friedland said.
Friedland said the program launched with around 35 ambassadors, but currently, it has almost 100 ambassadors.
“I absolutely adore Landing,” Jadyn Dotson, a Limelight ambassador known as Dottie in the Landing Community, told Passionfruit. “I decided to become a Limelight Ambassador to share that with other people. … Unlike a lot of other social media [platforms,] I never feel the pressure to perform on Landing. … It is a safe space made by and for everyone who joins, and they continuously work to keep that space growing for anyone and everyone.”
The creator economy’s interest in strong community showed itself in Summer 2022, when Pinterest launched its collage-making app Shuffles, initially on an invite-only basis. The app garnered a lot of hype for the first 3-4 weeks.
Buckland said it made sense for Pinterest to explore this niche area, and Shuffles’ launch affirmed for her the direction that the next generation of social media was headed in. After, Buckland said Landing doubled down on its belief of creating with and for its niche community.
A belief in community is very present within Landing, with the company launching a Discord server in February 2022 for users and ambassadors to raise anything from bug issues to features they’d like to see in Landing, as well as what they’re enjoying from the platform.
This level of engagement with users is something quite rare from many larger social media giants, which seem to struggle with managing their relationship with creators and massive userbase as platforms update. Think of apps like Instagram—just this year, a post went viral calling for Instagram to “be Instagram again” and to stop trying to duplicate features from other apps.
This sense of community goes beyond the internet. Landing recently hosted an in-person event in New York which some of its users attended. Buckland said many of the attendees reported the event felt very “authentic” of Landing and like a “natural extension” of its online platform and community.
Community is becoming somewhat of a buzzword in the creator economy. Creators and users, especially Gen Zers—a part of a generation that was forced to build a lot of their community and relationships online due to the pandemic—want to feel connected on social media and find things in common with others. It’s clear Landing is honing in on this want.
Are you a business leader in the creator economy? Email [email protected] to share your company’s latest news.