Marketing Your Social Learning

by | Apr 6, 2016

You’ve built your new social learning course, but now what…? Build it and they will come, right?

Unfortunately, most often they won’t. We’ve seen countless examples of well-designed, thoughtful courses being designed and delivered using Curatr, only to fall flat when it comes to uptake. But some seem to catch on like wildfire and gain an almost ‘viral’ quality. What’s the difference?

The secret is in the marketing…

3 Steps to Achieving Social Learning Success

Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point, illustrated a bit of a pop psychology take on why certain trends take off and others don’t. Based on the science behind the book, we questioned more than 700 people to understand the key ‘levers’ that influence adoption of a new learning experience in an organisation. These three factors came out on top:

1. Influence the Influencers

There are people within your organisation that have authority and power without necessarily having the job title that goes with it. These influencers have a voice that is heard by their peers; they have clout.

Time and again in recent years, successful technology companies have started out by handpicking the people they wanted to join their movement. Uber started out cold calling limo drivers in San Francisco to see if they would try their service. Then they gave away free cab rides to influential media people at the WebSummit conference. The rest, as they say, is history.

2. Walk the Talk

It’s always easy to tell how important something is by looking to see if your line manager is doing it. It’s all very well that management comes out and says how important some new initiative is, but unless they are visible in the experience those words are hollow.

A recent internal MOOC that ran riot at IHG saw some of the most senior HR and leadership development personnel in the company join in and contribute. They didn’t have to read and comment on everything; just popping up from time-to-time was enough for others to get the message. Leaders were taking note.

3. Create the Urgency

You can never have enough of a good thing, right? Actually, I think you can.

Online learning is great because it lacks the boundaries of the physical classroom. We can deliver anytime, anywhere. But without the formal constraints of the classroom we can be tempted to create experiences that lack urgency. Creating an artificial sense of scarcity can actually promote your experiences.  

Nearly all of our most successful experiences have been time-bound with defined start and end dates. A sense of exclusivity can be brought when you invite specific individuals, or limit the number of enrolments. Creating real-time events, like an exclusive Webinar or face-to-face session, can get folks bound together in a live event that otherwise they might have skipped. This is part of the logic behind our #48hrMOOC – bind a community together with an unusual timeframe that focuses activity.

And finally, making it clear that even good things come to an end can give people a sense of closure and a target to aim towards: People still like the closure of finishing a course. Make sure you give them something to recognise the achievement. Badges that are evidence-based and portable have the most value here as they can be re-posted to social networks and other profiles, thus leading more people back to your learning experiences.

Key Takeaways

So there we have it: 3 levers to ensuring your social learning course goes viral:

  1. Handpick the first people to join your course and work with them to make sure the experience is a good one
  2. Make sure your stakeholders are actively involved in the course to help credibility
  3. Give your learners a schedule, with compelling reasons to want to join in whilst the experience is ‘live’.

If you’ve designed your course well – and especially if it’s on a topic that people are interested in, or have a strong opinion about, one way or another – you’re already onto a winner.  But with just a small number of additional considerations can really make all the difference on whether your course really resonates with the masses.

About the Author

Dr Ben Betts

Dr Ben Betts

Chief Executive Officer

Ben leads the passionate team at HT2 Labs and is a globally-recognised thought-leader in Learning Technology with more than 15 years industry experience. His doctorate research broke new ground studying the impact of gamification on adult social learning. He has authored and contributed chapters for four books in the last two years, published peer-reviewed academic papers and presented at TEDx. His research today focusses on creating credible metrics for learning activities that are traditionally difficult to measure, like social interaction and sentiment analysis. When he's not in the office he can be found watching, and occasionally participating in, all forms of sport.

Read all posts by Ben

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