Social media is an incredibly important tool for gaining exposure for your FutureLearn courses. While FutureLearn will help to promote courses on our social media channels, we don’t have the depth of knowledge or level of access to subject areas afforded to our partners. With this in mind, we recommend that you think about how the social media in your organisation and related fields can best support your courses.
Your social portfolio
You or your colleagues may have a greater potential social media reach at your fingertips than you first realise. For each course, consider the range of social media accounts at your disposal to support it:
- Accounts you directly own and control, for example within your organisation.
- Accounts you don’t control but have a good relationship with, like students and partners.
- Influential or relevant accounts you’d like to have a relationship with, like advocates and bloggers.
These might include university corporate accounts, department accounts, the accounts of your academics, accounts specifically set up to talk about your MOOCs, media commentators, influencers from other organisations, charities, brands and more.
Where you can, find ways to establish relationships with them. And don’t rely on social media to do this. We recommend picking up the phone or sending them an email if you want to make one of your updates go further.
What level of support should you aim for? It could be as simple as re-sharing your updates, or posting one particular message. Or it could be as much as doing outreach directly with learners (and potential learners) depending on resource.
A note about hashtags
Hashtags are a core part of promoting courses on social media, and it’s important to make them as consistent, clear and easy to remember as possible. These are normally suggested by FutureLearn once a course title has been finalised, and take the form #FLKeyword. See our methodology for choosing a hashtag.
Partnership is central to FutureLearn, and we have more impact when we work together. For a partner, this can even include helping to publicise (or at least reference) another partner’s course on social media. Obviously this will only be appropriate when there’s a thematic connection.
The graph below (from the launch of FutureLearn in 2013) shows the positive impact that the announcement of brand new courses has on enrolments on existing courses. The more learners that sign up to FutureLearn, on any course (and more than one course), the more everyone will benefit.
This starts with the small things. Make sure your accounts are following FutureLearn on Twitter and Facebook so they are ready to share relevant content. And please do notify FutureLearn of any of your accounts that we should be following—don’t rely on us to find you!
Similarly you should follow other partners—see our Twitter list of official partner accounts—and be ready to re-share some of their updates, where relevant to your learners. The more learners we can keep active on the platform, the more advocates we will create and the better chances you will have to attract learners to your other courses later on.
Types of content to share
Sharing open/highlight steps from your course is a great way to showcase it on social media. Read our guidance on open/highlight steps for more information.
More social content
An essential asset for marketing your course on social media is shareable content that represents the course outside of the FutureLearn platform. Generating this kind of content from scratch may require resources you don’t have, especially at short notice, so don’t wait until the course is about to be opened for enrolment before thinking about it.
Instead, you should work closely with your educators early in the course planning process to get an idea of any potential opportunities for gathering ‘social content’.
As with all content that is intended for use on social media, try and design the content to be attention-grabbing, engaging and memorable. It’s your opportunity to showcase your course.
If video is being filmed for your course, build some time into the shooting schedule to capture additional materials for use in marketing:
- Make the most of any visually stimulating locations, objects or props you might be using – capture images and very short videos (under 15 seconds)
- Guests and contributors – is there extra footage you can shoot (a mini interview perhaps, or some unusual facts about their area of expertise?)
- Be on hand to capture spontaneous moments
For example, Newcastle University took every opportunity to generate social content for their course on Hadrian’s Wall, using access to props during a video reconstruction:
Repurposed and bespoke content
Could something in your course or subject area, to those less familiar with the topic, be considered funny, unusual, or very surprising? It may make great social/viral material and demonstrate the appeal of the subject to a wider audience if presented in a different way.
Perhaps it could be a BuzzFeed article (or ‘listicle’) for instance—anyone can sign up and publish content there (see BuzzFeed’s help for more information).
- 12 Creatures That Prove The Deep Sea Is The Scariest Place On Earth (article)
- How Well Do You Know World War One? (quiz)
Images and graphics:
Using simple tools, intriguing animations or video sequences can be turned into animated GIFs.
These can be re-shared on social media and do particularly well on Tumblr (see the image above in context). Tumblr is a fantastic place to find niche audiences for your courses! You may be surprised how even very ‘dry’ or specialist content can find an audience on social media. Physiotherapy diagrams, anyone?
Assets like infographics work particularly well as standalone pieces of content. These could include diagrams, graphs, charts, or highly detailed illustrations:
Infographic examples on Pinterest: