Today I’m going to be sharing some current trends in learning businesses. First, a clarification: a learning business is a business that uses education as a revenue generator, a marketing or outreach tool, and/or as their driving mission.
So here are some trends that I’ve been seeing in learning businesses… keep in mind I’m not saying these are NEW trends! Maybe you already know all about them! IN which case I’d love for you to share your own experiences with these ideas.
These are definitely nothing new! Facebook groups have been around a while, but I mention this as a trend right now because Facebook has added some cool functionality to groups. If you choose “social learning” as the purpose of the group, you can organize content within a Facebook group by units. This makes it easy for group members to find posts, and you can change the order of posts. If you feature Facebook groups in your learning business, or you want to, consider adding this feature. It really does add a nice element of organization to Facebook groups when all that content can seem pretty chaotic.
Facebook groups are really popular among learning businesses because Facebook is where a lot of people are already spending their time online. And they’re already interacting with other people—you might as well get them interacting with one another in a group that’s around YOUR brand.
Another benefit of Facebook groups is NETWORKING. Facebook is a social network after all! I’ve made some good connections in Facebook groups and that’s why people keep going back. You can have meaningful (albeit asynchronous) conversations with people and get valuable information.
If you’re not really into Facebook groups you might be wondering why would you have one in addition to a page? I like to look at a Facebook page as the official face of a business—you want people to be able to find out what your business is ABOUT by visiting that page—they’ll see the content that you produce, and also other people’s content that you feel is relevant to share.
But Facebook groups are where the actual engagement and connections are happening. That’s where people ask questions and give each other feedback. It’s where people get a little vulnerable too, and that means that you really get to know your audience.
Branded social networks
Speaking of social networks, there is a HUGE trend in developing your own branded social network. So an example of this is Anna Marie Trester’s Career Linguist group, which creates opportunities to bring Linguistics to Work. Another example is Self-Employed Ph.D., run by Jennifer Polk. I love the community building potential of this trend and would be curious if anyone has explored this as an option for their learning business.
Virtual Conferences and Summits
Now, I am sure you have been invited to one of these, and you may have already attended one!
Virtual conferences and summits (or telesummits) have been around a WHILE. The idea is that a dozen or so thought leaders in a given space record talks that are then broadcast to email subscribers. There are summits on business and life coaching, health and wellness, teaching… you name it. One example of a virtual summit that is done really well is the Ditch that Textbook digital summit, coordinated by Matt Miller of Ditch that Textbook. His is actually a FREE online conference for educators, and it’s one of the ways that he grows his reach. Pretty cool!
CMEpalooza is another example of the virtual conference, created by Derek Warnick, a continuing healthcare education professional, and Scott Kober, a medical technical writer. They offer a two day conference, for free, on continuing medical education.
I don’t know much about organizing a virtual summit, but blogger Bailey Richert has a bunch of resources and even a course on launching a virtual summit.
All in one ecourse and marketing platforms
So since I do learning experience design, I have used what seem to be ALL the platforms. For Learning in Bloom courses I use Teachable, and then I use Kajabi for workplaceless and Amplifyable. And for client work I’ve worked with Thinkific, TalentLMS, Canvas, and some other LMSs (not necessarily course authoring platforms). I’ll be honest, Kajabi is NOT perfect, and its pretty pricey. BUT there are a few things that make it super easy to use for email marketing, like adding tags to users, so you can easily identify and segment users. That’s not so easy to do with built in email marketing in a lot of other platforms. And the landing page builder has a LOT more functionality than in some other platforms, without you having to use another service like Leadpages or Clickfunnels.
All this to say that it seems that these course authoring platforms are really doing a LOT to make sure that when you’re in there, you’re in there… and it makes sense, to keep all that data and communication organized in one place. Of course you’re never going to get the FULL functionality of the email marketing service (I don’t think) with one of these services, but depending on what you need, it could work out really well for you. And if you are just starting out, it might be all you ever need, if you’re willing to work within those confines.
OK that’s it for these trends I’m seeing in learning businesses… there will be more updates like this I am sure. In the meantime, tell me what you’re working on!
I’ll post the date, time and topic for next week on the Learning in Bloom Facebook page and by email! See you next week!