Content marketing comes in all different shapes and sizes – from articles and blogs to feature films. However, of the 400 or so stories we’ve posted so far only two have been about courses.
This is surprising given the explosion of online education over the past 10 years. Arguably, this has been spearheaded by the likes of Lynda.com, YouTube and Udemy. Now, LinkedIn, which bought Lynda 18 months ago, is making its move on the sector.
Courses for content
Last year, activities in this direction have included the launch of specialist agencies producing courses for companies and stirrings from some of the bigger tech brands.
In May, Google launched its Digital Garage site. It’s designed for people who want to contribute to the web – instead of using it to search for their nearest coffee shop.
The site allows you to sign in and state your aims and interests, whereupon a course will be tailored for you. In all, there are 23 modules resulting in certification if you complete them.
All well and good. However, LinkedIn seems set to take the idea of courses to a whole new level.
Start for free, pay premium later
LinkedIn is now taking 5,000 of Lynda’s courses and rebadging them as LinkedIn Learning. It is currently giving away five days of free access to the whole thing. Lynda.com still exists separately.
This promotion has been tailored to individual needs via an algorithm, which is where LinkedIn’s database is a key strength.
The entire exercise is intended to persuade more people to sign up to premium membership. Unless you are looking for a new job (or want a back-dated record of who’s been checking you out), then free is probably the way to go.
But with so many other courses out there – Coursera, Udemy, even YouTube –will it work? One thing about Lynda.com is the high quality of its content.
In fact it is so good that other LinkedIn privileges could been seen as the add-on, rather than the other way around.
Here’s the snag
There is one problem with all of this. You might describe it as the dirty secret of paid online learning. Here it is: over 90 per cent of students fail to complete the course.
Were they to stick with it there would be a revolution in terms of job skills. Yet, as with buying War and Peace, it feels better to buy the book and read the dust jacket than to digest all 587,287 words.
Will this affect LinkedIn’s signup rate and are LinkedIn premium members different? Even if their only task is to make people feel good about signing up, courses are likely to become an important element of the content marketing mix.