5 Steps to Creating Learner-Centered Content on Social Media
Think about learning. We all experience learning differently. Most of us took part in one or other forms of formal education — took a course, went to university or even attended a workshop. More often than not, we associate learning experiences with these formal settings. However, that’s not always the case; learning occurs throughout one’s life and well beyond the classroom.
In a world where social media is becoming part of our lives, it’s more relevant than ever to explore its potential as a learning and teaching tool. Research shows that social media and mobile devices can support learning and create a positive impact on both educators and learners.
What does this mean for entrepreneurs?
As an entrepreneur, educating your audience is key to establishing your credibility. There’s often the misconception that you need to be famous or have many followers to be an expert or authority in your field. Many entrepreneurs, myself included, grew their audiences on social media based not on popularity but on the single premise that others would want to learn from them. As Sydney Finkelstein states in this HBR article, “the best leaders are great teachers,” reminding us that teaching is very relevant for both business and personal growth.
The ability to share your knowledge with the world is at the touch of a button. So, how to teach on social media? That’s where user experience (UX) and learning experience design (LXD) come in. By creating learner-centered content, not only are you positioning yourself as an expert, but you are also providing authentic value to your audience by meeting their learning needs. Here are five steps to start creating learner-centered content on social media.
1. Know your learners
If you want to educate your audience, you need to understand them. Understanding your learners goes beyond demographics and marketing data. Your learners are more than numbers. When it comes to creating a memorable learning experience, you need to understand your learners' needs deeply: their goals, their pain points, and their behaviors within a learning context.
2. Understand your learners’ motivation
It’s not enough to want to teach or be motivated to teach. Your learners need to also be motivated to learn. The two types of motivation are intrinsic or extrinsic.
When a learner is intrinsically motivated, they are interested in learning because it’s personally rewarding to them. You might talk about a topic that your audience is passionate about or interested in. They’re motivated to learn from you because they enjoy it.
Extrinsic motivation is connected to external factors. Your followers could be interested in learning from you because they believe it might help them achieve goals such as being promoted, earning more money or advancing in their careers.
Even though intrinsic-extrinsic dualism is a simplified way of understanding human motives and several studies have shown us that extrinsic motivation doesn’t work effectively, it can help you understand your audience. Knowing what motivates learners allows you to deliver content relevant to their goals. In his book Drive, Daniel H. Pink argues that motivation is largely intrinsic and composed of three key elements: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Even if your learners are mainly extrinsically motivated, your role as an educator is also to inspire them. It’s easy to appeal to external factors (get-rich-quick schemes) and promise magic formulas, but that’s not a valuable learning experience.
3. Discover your learners’ needs
You need to meet your learners where they are at. Imagine that you want to teach your audience how to play the drums. As a drummer yourself, you know how important it is to start from the beginning, to help your learners understand their role in a band setup. You might want to start teaching them about music appreciation or music theory. However, your learners do not know this. This is an unperceived need.
What your learners do want to know is how to create drum fills and patterns so they can start hitting the drums. This is their perceived need.
It’s important to understand your audience’s perceived, unperceived and miscalculated needs because this will help you create content that not only is useful to them but that also motivates them. When entrepreneurs talk informally about “educating your audience,” they are usually referring to the transition from unperceived to perceived needs.
One of the biggest mistakes anyone can do on social media is teach their audience about something they’re not interested in — no matter how useful we know it is.
4. Find the learning gap
The most obvious learning gap is knowledge, and people often address it by providing information to the audience. However, a learning experience is much more than just stating facts — that’s the easy part.
The mistake is assuming that lack of knowledge is always the issue. If you cannot find the actual learning gaps, you are just transmitting information that might be useful or not.
Imagine you’re teaching a complex topic in English to non-native speakers. If you end up realizing that your learners aren’t struggling with the knowledge of the topic but rather with how it’s being communicated, then you're witnessing a communication learning gap.
Many times, the biggest learning gap is not knowledge, skills or even motivation. Sometimes it can be an environmental or communication gap. Understanding the learning gaps is an important step to deliver learner-centered content to your audience.
5. Create learning objectives
Learning objectives aren’t just for courses and classes. If each piece of content has a simple, well-structured goal, you will create better content aimed at your learners.
For example, let’s say you’re creating a makeup tutorial for a classic smoky-eye effect. Your learning objective is that after your audience watches your video, they will be able to create the same effect. You could even encourage your learners to share their results and learn from each other as the learning objective.
Now, imagine your learners aren’t very experienced with makeup techniques. You could have decided instead that the learning objective for that piece of content was to identify the type of products required to achieve the smoky-eye effect.
There are many ways to be creative with your learning objectives while remaining relevant to your audience’s needs. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
It has never been easier to share your knowledge with the world. To stand out from the crowd and establish yourself as an authority figure in your field, you need to create an impact. It’s not enough anymore to lure your audience through external factors or vague promises. Educational content is one of the many types of impactful content you can create. To create content relevant to your learners, you need to understand your audience deeply. By understanding their needs and motivations, finding the learning gaps and establishing learning objectives, you’re able to create not only memorable content but a purpose-driven learning experience.