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Animoto co-founder Jason Hsiao shares five ways you can leverage Linkedin to grow your business

There’s one thing I think may be more challenging to reverse than climate change, inequality, and international discord combined… and that’s people on their mobile devices during meal time. Imagine a world in which everyone, regardless of age, gender, education, or social background set down his or her device at the dinner table and had […]


There’s one thing I think may be more challenging to reverse than climate change, inequality, and international discord combined… and that’s people on their mobile devices during meal time. Imagine a world in which everyone, regardless of age, gender, education, or social background set down his or her device at the dinner table and had real conversations with friends, colleagues, family members, and loved ones? I think injecting more “presence” and adding more human interaction would offer some immediate good to this world.


As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Hsiao, co-founder and Chief Video Officer of Animoto, an award-winning online video maker that makes it easy for anyone to create professional marketing videos. More than 1 million businesses around the world have used Animoto to create marketing videos for social media and beyond. Animoto’s certified partnerships with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn give it unique insight into the changing social media landscape. Prior to founding Animoto, Jason was a producer for MTV Networks and Comedy Central.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Jason! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I was working as a TV producer in New York City for networks like Comedy Central and MTV. One of my friends from high school and Dartmouth College, Stevie Clifton, had also found himself in NYC helping to produce documentaries for ABC.

We regularly talked about how difficult it was for your average person to create high-quality videos. With how fast everything was changing because of the internet, mobile, social media, cloud computing… it seemed inevitable this all was going to change. And so we soon became obsessed with the idea of figuring out how to use technology to empower someone with literally zero video experience to create meaningful videos without having to learn complicated editing programs. We enlisted Stevie’s brother along with one of our really good friends, Brad Jefferson. Together, the four of us started Animoto. We gave ourselves one year to develop the technology to create easy, drag-and-drop video while still working our day jobs. Just shy of the one-year mark, we successfully rendered our first video and decided to go all in on this business.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

It’s been a wild ride so far since launching in 2007. What I remember best was when we launched our Facebook app in 2008. At the time, gaming and photo apps were extremely popular on the platform. Our app went viral, and we ended up rendering far, far more videos than we had ever before — to the tune of 750,000 new users in 3 days.

Luckily, we had made the decision to use Amazon Web Services for cloud computing after realizing doing so with our own self-made servers wouldn’t be scaleable. Amazon ended up being really impressed with the case study of their new-at-the-time cloud computing services, and we ended up securing a round of investment from Amazon. It was truly an awesome experience, a year after launching, to see so many people using our app, and to realize that our decision to use cloud computing was the right choice. Animoto really became the poster child for cloud computing’s scalability.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Three out of four of the co-founders were married at the time we launched Animoto. None of us had kids. However, our wives very much wanted to make sure we were going to be smart about transitioning into being full-time entrepreneurs. We promised them that we would abandon our startup if we couldn’t get the technology to work in a year’s time. Well, the year had come ended, and we had to show them what our technology was capable of.

We debuted Animoto to them, uploaded photos, chose a song, and hit Produce. The video rendered successfully, and we were excited to show them exactly what we’d accomplished. But after we hit play, we realized that the video was actually playing upside down! Luckily, we were pretty loose with the definition of what it meant for the technology to “work” after a year of development. I think the lesson for me was to find balance between work and home life. We were working 11, 12-hour days at that time, if not more. However, communicating with my wife about expectations and making sure she had input regarding the trajectory of my career change was crucial to ensuring our marriage stayed strong throughout.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

We are in a pretty unique position, because the majority of our business customers use Animoto to create videos for social media marketing. When Facebook decided to become a video-first platform, Animoto quickly saw that trend firsthand. Our customers were having great success with video marketing on Facebook, and so were we.

We obviously use our own technology to create ads for Facebook, but we also use Facebook Live frequently to communicate product updates and do large, educational summits. However, consumer attention is certainly shifting, and we are starting to see more and more success on Instagram as well.

Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Use video to create shareworthy content. LinkedIn has said video gets 20x more shares than other forms of content. Just as brands like The Dodo were able to build a following through shareworthy consumer video content, B2B brands will have that opportunity on LinkedIn.

2. Optimize for your audience. For example, LinkedIn reported that 80% of video on their platform is watched with the sound off, and 57% is viewed on mobile. That means it’s important any content you share is optimized for mobile viewing. You can do this by ensuring there is text in your video so that it adds context for sound-off viewing and entices people to keep watching.

3. Help other people look like an expert when they share your video content. Videos that offer industry insights will develop your reputation as a thought leader. B2B marketers who can create the type of videos that make other professionals look like experts will enjoy shares and brand awareness on LinkedIn. At Animoto, we collaborated with LinkedIn Marketing Solutions to create 6 video templates for LinkedIn. Those templates were engineered to work well on LinkedIn, and several feature the type of expert content I mentioned above.

4. Create videos about trending news to boost shares and brand awareness. If you can create a professional video about a trending piece of business news that’s of interest to your audience, network, or industry, do it! Being the first (or one of the first) to share the story will help expand the reach of your content.

5. Promote events on LinkedIn with video. LinkedIn is an excellent platform for promoting B2B events. That’s why two of the templates we co-created with LinkedIn were event related. One was a reminder to RSVP for a webinar and the other was an event recap. But whether you’re trying to drive people to an online educational event or to create buzz about an event that already happened, know that showing the excitement and benefit of an event (educational or otherwise) is powerful — much more powerful than just writing about it. And you will able to show your event so much better with video.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

There’s one thing I think may be more challenging to reverse than climate change, inequality, and international discord combined… and that’s people on their mobile devices during meal time. Imagine a world in which everyone, regardless of age, gender, education, or social background set down his or her device at the dinner table and had real conversations with friends, colleagues, family members, and loved ones? I think injecting more “presence” and adding more human interaction would offer some immediate good to this world.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

This may be beyond the bounds of this question, but here’s my answer: I’m most interested in having lunch with one of my my great-great-grandchildren as an adult. If there’s one thing I’m more curious about more than anything else, it’s what the world will be like 100 years from now. I’m often amazed at how much has changed in even just the past ten years, so I can only imagine what the next 100 will be like. I want to ask my great-great-grandchild, What is everyday life like? How has technology changed things? Do we now spend all our time in some virtual world? How has food changed? Do people still get colds? Have we cured cancer? What are the jobs that never existing before? How has the balance of power in world politics evolved? Do humans now have bionic limbs and wifi-enabled eyeballs? Did Myspace make a giant comeback? These would be just some of my most pressing questions.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!

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