Creating your online course is only half of the battle. Once you’re ready to sell you need a way to promote. We all know the drill: grow a list and use strategic email marketing. But email marketing isn’t the only way to market your online course.
Social media is for more than just selfies and viral video sharing—you can actually use it as a powerful marketing tool to sell your online course.
Different social media sites are going to work better for different businesses and different goals, but at the end of the day, there is a social media site perfectly suited for every business. It’s up to you to find which will be the most effective.
Facebook is the classic and has been around longer than the others on this list. But, it’s one of the most finicky, too.
Facebook runs on a “Pay to Play” model, and if you want your posts to be seen by a wide audience, Facebook will make you boost your posts or run ads.
More frustrating, though, is the fact that Facebook’s algorithm is always changing. The moment you think you’ve gotten it figured out is the moment they throw you a curveball. For example, now Facebook gives more clout to sites that load quickly and will penalize pages that share the same links over and over again. And those are just two factors to consider.
If you’re using Facebook to promote your biz, I recommend keeping up with this page that will keep you up to date on Facebook’s algorithm changes.
Growing your audience with Facebook
Growing your audience is always going to be more difficult than promoting a business to your current audience, but the struggle is magnified tenfold on Facebook.
The only way people can find your Facebook page is if they click your link directly from somewhere else, or you show up in their newsfeed.
If you have a following on any other platform, give your Facebook page a shout-out if you’re trying to grow there. You can change the link in your Instagram bio to your Facebook page, or let your Twitter audience know that you’ll be sharing exclusive content there. Anything to draw people in.
To show up in people’s newsfeeds, you’ll either need your current audience to share your posts or put money into boosting a post.
Getting people to share your posts
Getting people to share with giveaways
Getting people to take action for no reward can be difficult, but, depending on your business, a giveaway might be a great option for getting people to share.
For example, if you’re a business coach post a picture of yourself and caption it with, “GIVEAWAY TIME! I’ve heard from so many of you that you’d love to hire a business coach, but it’s just not in the budget. Well, I want to give one of your 30 days of FREE business coaching. All you have to do is like my page, comment and let me know what kind of business your run, and share this post to your timeline. Good luck!”
With any luck, the people who are sharing your page will be friends with other people who are interested in hiring a business coach, so they’ll like your page and enter the giveaway and voila, your audience has grown.
Getting people to share with fantastic content
When I was focused on growing my Facebook page, I’d share viral videos and funny gifs that I thought other people would want to share. It was great for boosting my numbers, but I quickly realized I wasn’t drawing in the kind of people I actually wanted to attract.
Instead, I started sharing super specific content that people outside of my target audience wouldn’t be all that interested in.
At the time, I was a college blogger, so this meant I was sharing Buzzfeed-y posts about the “Top 50 Dorm Room Trends of 2013” or “The Complete Guide to Passing Midterms.” They were posts that I knew nearly everyone in my audience would be interested in, and that I knew their friends would be interested in, too.
If you’re in the design niche, you might find yourself sharing content that looks something like, “10 Emerging Design Trends You’ll See Everywhere in 2018” or “25 Things that Annoy All Designers.”
It doesn’t have to even be your own content, you just want it to be content that your audience will be interested in so you can gain their trust and become a resource.
Boosting your posts
Boosting your posts comes with its own set of pros and cons. There are plenty of people who believe it’s all a scam and Facebook is artificially inflating your numbers (even though they’re not actually showing people your content), and then others swear by boosting posts.
If you’re a Facebook believer (personally, I’ve had success) then you might be interested in boosting your posts.
Boosting posts is great because you’re able to hand pick your demographics to make sure you’re reaching your perfect audience.
If you’ve never researched your audience, this might be a bit tricky. Personally, I always like to tell people that they are probably a part of their own target audience, so they just need to target people like them.
For me, that means targeting women in their early twenties who live in the midwest and are interested in fashion, travel, and food.
Someone else might look introspectively and decide they should be targeting men in their late thirties who are interested in camping, cars, and personal finance.
Once you’ve defined your audience you can set a budget and choose a timeframe and start boosting! Check out this post for more information on specific boosting strategy.
Now, we go into the audience growing portion of boosting posts. At the end of your campaign, go into your analytics and see every person who liked your post. When you’re looking at the list, you’ll see you have the option to invite anyone who doesn’t already “like” your page to do so. Inviting them will simply send them a notification that says, “So and so invited you to like their page.” Some will ignore it, but others will go through and like it.
Growing your audience with Twitter
A common method that a lot of people fall into while trying to grow their following super quickly is following as many people as possible, unfollowing those who don’t follow back, and repeating the process over and over again.
I don’t recommend this method because it looks spammy, it’s inefficient, and it can result in an unengaged audience.
The best way to grow your audience is by following people who will be interested in your tweets and continue to post quality tweets throughout the day (we’ll talk about automating this later!)
Ultimately, you want to be creating a community of like-minded individuals who you can learn from and who can learn from you. It’s a longer game but it is well worth it in the long run.
Another way to promote your Twitter and gain followers is by adding click-to-tweets on your website or newsletters. Click-to-Tweets make social sharing on your site simple by doing what the name implies: allowing your audience to click and be taken to a pre written tweet ready to send on twitter.
There is even a website called Click to Tweet where you can enter your desired tweet and a code will be generated for you to stick in the HTML of your site.
Another way you can promote your Twitter profile is by adding follow links and icons within your blog posts and author bios on sites you’re posting to.
Getting people to retweet
Like Facebook, you can become findable by sharing high-quality content that people are likely to retweet to their audience. Packing value into tweets on Twitter is hard. I’m long winded, so getting my ideas into 140 characters can be painful, but in the end, it’s doable.
Given the limited space you have to express yourself always convert your links into bit.ly format to shorten them.
Another benefit of bit.ly is that they provide analytics that are powerful for figuring out what is and isn’t working on your Twitter page.How to grow your Twitter and market your online course. You can also save space is by limiting your hashtags. Yes, hashtags increase visibility, but it’s at the cost of being able to properly express yourself.
One hashtag is fine, two is pushing it. Three, and you won’t have room for actual content.
Given the forced brevity, it’s far easier to tease what your link is about rather than trying to use the limited space to describe exactly what your audience will get from clicking your link.
The biggest problem with marketing on Twitter is how quickly it moves, and the tweets in your timeline all seem to blend together.
It’s easy to get caught in the noise and have your tweets skimmed over. To prevent this I recommend adding media to some of your tweets to help you stand out. Another great time to use media is if what you have to say won’t fit in the 140 characters.
Adding text to your image gives you the freedom to write to your heart’s content without worrying about character constraints.
The ideal size for a Twitter image is at least 440 x 220 pixels, and if you go larger be sure to keep the 2-to-1 scale. If you use different dimensions your image will be cut off and the impact of your image will be reduced.
How often to Tweet
Even if you are writing the best tweets with the most hilarious gifs, it’s likely that a good number of your followers will be missing most of your tweets because Twitter moves so quickly.
Tweeting at least every two hours (or more!) will keep your profile active and compensate for the fact that most people don’t catch up on every single tweet that they missed since they last logged on.
Make note that posting every 2 hours on any other social media site would be considered spammy, but because Twitter moves as quickly as it does you should be safe. Here at Teachable, we tweet at least once an hour during the day!
Promoting your course on Twitter
When it comes to finding your target audience and promoting your online course to them, the advanced search is your secret weapon.
You can use it to pinpoint users who would love what you’re teaching by typing in your course topic and selecting the question option. There are a ton of other fields that you can fill out, too, but in my experience, they aren’t necessary.
The advanced search will bring up a ton of tweets that meet your criteria and usually about ⅓ of them will be relevant users who might be interested in buying your course.
I recommend following those users and answering their question while mentioning that you teach a course on that topic.
Sending out general tweets is another way to promote your course and it allows you to cast a wider net, but as we mentioned before Twitter moves super quickly so a large percentage of your followers may miss it.
To combat that, you can use a ‘pinned tweet’ on your profile. This will be the first tweet that anyone sees when they check you out on Twitter.
Instagram is my social media of choice, but can be hit or miss depending on your niche. If you run a visual business where you’re producing a lot of beautiful imagery, Instagram might be for you.
Growing your audience with Instagram
Growing your Instagram audience by engaging
Out of all the social media sites, Instagram seems to be the most viral. You’ll see people getting thousands of likes and hundreds of comments on a single picture. Given the social nature of the platform, you’ll find the most success if you’re social, too.
What this means is you need to engage with your followers and your target audience. Hashtags categorize your content and make it searchable. If someone is interested in fashion, they can look up #fashionblogger and see content from anyone who uses that hashtag whether they follow them or not.
Going through hashtags relevant to your niche and leaving genuine and authentic comments will count for a lot. Don’t leave a heart eye emoji or just say, “Great pic!” because people will assume you’re a bot. Actually engage if you want people to go look at your profile and engage back.
Growing your Instagram audience with hashtags
Instagram is great because it’s the one platform where most people actually actively scroll through their favorite hashtags on a regular basis, giving you great opportunity for exposure.
Post regularly and use targeted hashtags to cast a wide net and reach a large audience. A little hashtag trick we use here at Teachable is formatting them with five dots above and posting them as a comment to keep them from looking spammy on the feed.
Hashtag research can be an involved and time consuming process, so we did the leg work for you! Here is a spreadsheet of industry specific hashtags for you to use.
Growing your audience with beautiful imagery
Like I said, Instagram is a visual platform and the number one way you’re going to grow your account is by posting beautiful pictures. A sneaky trick you can use is finding free stock images to populate your account if you’re unable to shoot custom imagery yourself.
Some people (*raises hand*) go as far as theming their Instagram accounts to create a beautifully curated profile to act as a first impression when people click through. This is a great way to highlight your brand and begin creating brand recognition.
Check out this example of a neutral Instagram Theme by Mary Seng:
Quora is like Yahoo Answers’ cooler older sister. It’s better looking, better monitored, and the questions are less cringey. Other than that, it’s nearly identical to the question and answers website we were all so familiar with in the mid-2000’s, and it’s massively powerful in establishing your as an authority and growing your audience.
Growing your audience with Quora
Quora is great because you can search for questions regarding any niche imaginable, and then begin imparting your wisdom.
The most important thing to consider with Quora is that every answer you post might be someone’s first impression of you, so craft each one with love and care. Link to sources, add imagery, and be super thorough.
Time saving trick: Copy and paste all of your answers into a Google Doc. People ask the same questions over and over again, in slightly different ways. More often than not, the same answers will apply.
Avoid just copying and pasting your answer into Quora—instead Frankenstein a few of your old answers together. It gets the job done and is just as thorough, but it’s going to save you a lot of time.
Growing your audience with a Quora Blog
The main reason to blog on Quora is because it eliminates the legwork of finding an engaged audience for your own blog. Your audience is already on Quora, and through a simple search, they will be able to find your blog if you’re writing about things that interest them.
If you already have a blog copy and paste the first few paragraphs of your newest posts over to your Quora blog and adding a “read more” link directing people to the full blog post at the bottom. Now you’re going to be funneling traffic to your website so you can hopefully then funnel them to your paid products.
You can also earn a lot of favor with Google this way, as they already look favorably on Quora and rank it high in their algorithm.
Interested in learning more about growing your influence using Quora? We have an entire blog post walking you through how to get started!
Pinterest is my favorite platform for driving traffic. It was my number one source of traffic for years before Google took over, but even now it refers a large percentage of my monthly traffic.
Growing your audience with Pinterest
Pinterest is great because as long as you’re pinning content, your account will begin to grow. There are no sneaky hacks or strategies you have to slave over for hours, you just have to be active.
Of course, there are some things that will help speed the process along, and here are a few tips:
Your pin description
Pinterest has a Smart Feed meaning that people will see the best pins first rather than seeing their feed in chronological order. This also means that it’s important for Pinterest to think your pins are great.
That means they should link to a reputable site (a.k.a., yours) and have a detailed description that includes:
- Keywords that your audience is searching for
- Several sentences to stand out, entice, and be found more easily in the search
- A call to action, such “click through to read the full post!”
- You can increase your SEO in your board descriptions by using the words your audience is searching for.
Create anywhere from 5–15 on-brand boards (don’t use cutesy names—be straightforward for SEO purposes) and pin at least twenty high-quality pins to each.
My best advice is to follow a handful of leaders in your niche so that your home feed will be populated with high-quality pins. As tempting as it might be to follow your favorite Aunt Hilda, you don’t need her natural allergy remedies clogging your feed.
When you’re initially populating your boards make sure that you’re pinning a healthy mix of your own content and content from other sources. You’ll want to make sure every single pin that makes it onto your boards is beautiful and leads to high-quality content. Anything less and people may unfollow your account and you’ll be penalized by the Smart Feed (unless you have a course on natural remedies!).
People have all sorts of ratios they swear by as far as how many other peoples’ pins you should pin for every pin of yours, but I wouldn’t waste time over thinking that so long as you're not only posting your own content or not only posting other people's content.
Grow quickly with group boards
If you're looking for massive growth quickly, this is the option for you. Open up your popular boards as group boards and they'll populate themselves with a ton of great content and you won't have to think about them.
To open them up as group boards, first invite friends in your niche who you know will only pin quality content and then you can edit the board description with group rules and how to apply. Include your email and instruct people to make the subject line "Pinterest Group Board Request."
From there? Watch your boards populate themselves with great content. I do a sweep maybe once a month to make sure everyone is following the rules, I’ve put in place for my group boards and I'll remove anyone who isn't. But otherwise, they run themselves and grow exponentially quicker than my other boards.
Pinning your content
Now, you can have a massive following on Pinterest, but it means nothing if you’re not directing that following to you and your business. What this means is you need to be intentional about pinning a healthy mix of your own content to your boards.
Different influencers will swear by different ratios to follow, but so long as you’re getting all of your content onto Pinterest and pinning whenever you post something new, you should be golden.
When you’re creating your pins, one thing to be conscious of is how visually appealing they are. You want clear, bright images with bold and easily readable text. Here’s what our pins look like here at Teachable:
Don't forget to check out our free hashtag spreadsheet if you're looking to grow your following on Instagram!
Which social media sites do you find work best for you and your online business? Any questions? Let me know in the comments and I'll get back to you!