Getting the message out there

It’s been a month since Learninate launched, and now more than ever I am grateful for the IDEO Futures Podcast tagline, ‘Don’t get ready. Get started.’ It’s much easier to plan too much than it is to take action. I can easily imagine myself procrastinating for a month instead of just jumping in, and I’m glad I did.

It also means that improvisation and responding to situations, circumstances, and preferences are constant practices. One month is a good, brief period to take stock of and align my expectations to reality. My primary goal for the next month is marketing. Not having any training nor measurable experience in the field, this is rather intimidating.

Email marketing

Everyone seems to agree that an email subscription list is critical to marketing, so I obviously have one. Click here to subscribe. One way to visualize its progress is with MailChimp’s email campaign graph.

It shows subscriptions to the mailing list. It’s expected that this data would look dramatic, as the numbers are quite small, and mostly reflect results of my personal invitations. I’m curious to see if the number of users can be doubled in the second month. It would need to be a viral phenomenon, so how can I inspire existing users and followers to share and recruit?

Another useful statistic is ‘opens’ and ‘clicks’ of those emails. My results are 60% and 33%, respectively. That’s considerably higher than average and if it continues, I’ll be ecstatic. It’s convenient due to automation, which will become necessary when the number of subscriptions grows.

Of course, the engagement and urgency of ‘live’ marketing is also appealing. What types of live online events would be best?

Google Hangout

The first is a video hangout, truly live. If I can recruit a few users to participate, it would be a great chance for me to communicate my message and address their questions in a public forum. Also, the hangout can be broadcasted live and remain on a YouTube channel to further draw attention and potential interest.

Twitter chat

Second is the vaunted Twitter chat. Effective stewardship and facilitation are the keys to a fruitful chat, and again, clarity of message. More importantly, the chat should provide some intrinsic value. It doesn’t make any sense to have a ‘come check out Learninate’ Twitter chat, so how can I design and facilitate a conversation that adds value for anyone paying attention, not just potential new users? What hashtag should I use? Should it be a fast or slow chat?

The message

In both cases, my goal should be to formulate questions that help participants to inquire into the philosophy and learning paradigm shift which is the foundation of Learninate. So what is the message? That will be expounded in the manifesto, which I blogged about in last week’s post, Does Learninate need a manifesto?, but I need to be able to concisely answer questions about its intended purpose and role in the e-learning universe. Ironically, I’ve taught a unit of inquiry into this very challenge for three years, yet here I am, struggling to articulate a clear message for a project that is already underway and about which I have the deepest passion and commitment.

If you’d like to help, please post your challenging and wicked questions about Learninate as comments to this post or on social media. I’ll respond, and hopefully in the process, gain deeper insight and clarity about how to best communicate to others about the social network for learning.



  1. Mark

    What you describe sounds a lot like many other social media sites, including Google Groups and Facebook.. What differentiates this one?

    1. Bart Miller Post author

      This site has functionality to organize content into courses and lessons, with much potential to customize and design content than existing
      social networks. Future developments will include badges and opportunities to monetize content.

  2. Mark

    Hello, Bart! I’ve been poking around the site on my phone (most users will be on mobile,) and I’m not sure what Learninate uniquely offers. Why would teachers come here?

    Also: Is there any chance at all that you might reconsider the name? The subconscious connections are to words with icky or negative connotations that end in “ate.” There are many other suffixes that contain more positive or powerful messages.

    I also spotted a typo in your welcome message: “Wonderful to see your here!”

    1. Bart Miller Post author

      Thanks very much for your input, Mark! It’s very helpful and I appreciate it. Learninate offers anyone the opportunity to share their knowledge, passion, and skills with the world. It seemed logical to begin by inviting teachers, especially as they represent the bulk of my online networks, but we want to welcome hobbyists, craftspeople, DIY experts, etc, as well.