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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

After years of hoarding engagement, new startups — along with some tech giants — are finally making it easier for users to add external links to their profiles and content.

Why it matters: Linking out to personal web pages or online storefronts has traditionally been difficult to do on some social media platforms, since most firms want to keep users engaged on their own platforms as much as possible.

Driving the news: Clubhouse's new "Pinned Links" product has quickly become one of the live audio company's fastest-growing features, a spokesperson tells Axios.

  • In less than a month, the company says that there have been 5.5 million clicks to Pinned Links from Clubhouse rooms, up from 1.6 million clicks in the first week.
  • Nearly 1-in-5 public "clubs," or groups that host conversations in Clubhouse "rooms," have used pinned links to date, the spokesperson adds. Users have used Pinned Links to do everything from sell books to drive tune-in campaigns.

Be smart: Because Facebook and Instagram are so highly focused on sales and marketing, they have long experimented with products that push users and creators to transact directly on its platform.

  • Because Clubhouse is for now focused on building a community, it has less to lose in sending people off its platform to conduct transactions.
  • The company says it's proud of the click-through rates it's seen amongst links shared in rooms thus far and wants to continue investing in the product.
  • Yes, but: Clubhouse, which skyrocketed during the pandemic but has since seen growth slow, has bigger problems than sending users off platform.

Between the lines: Link-sharing has been especially contentious between competitive platforms.

  • Twitter and Instagram last month finally ended a long-running policy that forced users to click onto Instagram links shared on Twitter in order to see pictures that were shared. Twitter initially banned showing photo previews on its app from Instagram in an attempt to push users to share more of their own photos to the app directly.

The big picture: The growth of the creator economy has created a whole new industry around link-in-bio and link-to-purchase features, per The Information.

  • Bitly launched a "Link Launchpad" earlier this month, a landing page that allows users to share multiple links from their social media profiles.
  • Linktree, a "link in bio" service, created an integration with Shopify earlier this month that lets creators set up Shopify storefronts on the landing pages that users encounter from links in those creators' bios.

Go deeper

Nov 24, 2021 - Technology

Instagram head to testify before Congress

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Adam Mosseri, head of Meta-owned Instagram, has agreed to testify before Congress in early December about Instagram's impact on young people, he said in a video posted to Twitter Wednesday.

Why it matters: Meta, formerly Facebook, is continuing to acknowledge mounting concern from the public and lawmakers over social media apps' effect on children and teens.

Storms pummel flood-hit Pacific Northwest as border river overflows

An image of the water-logged Sumas Prairie area taken last Friday. Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Twitter.

The latest ferocious storm system to hit the Pacific Northwest triggered fresh evacuation orders and at least one mudslide in flood-ravaged British Columbia, Canada, late Sunday.

Threat level: Flood sirens sounded in Washington state as the Nooksack River overflowed. Henry Braun, mayor of Abbotsford, B.C., told reporters the water flow was headed toward the Canadian border city later Sunday. "There's nothing to stop it," he said.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.