How To Network Online Learning

Learn how to network and share your work online in these 5 simple steps.

How To Network Online Learning

John Castellani, John Deere, Progressive

When John Deere launched their social channel in 2016, it was very popular in the farmer community because of the real-time FarmTalk podcast series. John Deere would capture the best moments of the farmer and the important market issues of the day.

It turns out, their in-app community engagement strategy is being wildly successful. They’ve seen engagement rates climb from a low of about 100 active participants to the thousands. When a farm implements a digital channel for engagement, one of the most common questions we get is what exactly can you learn from this methodology?

Spreading Networking Toolkit Tips Through Mobile

John Deere recently launched a “Networking Campaign” to connect them to their dedicated and engaged stakeholders. The campaign is centered around their mobile app “Farm Talk” and “Infield” app. It’s a crowdsourced content and influencer campaign that includes targeted paid ads, sponsored alerts, and in-app experiences. While the app’s content is user-generated and directed towards a community of farmers, their paid engagement ads include branded partnerships that share their channel and platform influencers.

The key to the campaign’s success, according to their campaign manager, is that they’re not just aiming for large scale reach, but instead they’re building engagement that is authentic to their platform. This includes a paid content center that has highlighted influencers like Matt Henry and John Deere’s Founder of FarmTalk, Michael Rainier. “We see this as a way to get farmers to understand their strategy better and get closer to what’s happening in the field at Deere.”

Networking Tips From Ithaca College’s Student Digital Marketing Team

To use a hack for promoting their potential influencers to their network, they first looked to their platform’s content and influencer pages. Then they did a semantic search to figure out which influencers were most active on their platform. The final result, according to their member marketing team, is a list of about 6 or 7 influencers that shared a huge portion of their content but were not actively posting to their personal channels or directly to their audience. This, they said, gave them “a good idea of who they are as an influencer” and it gave them a platform to showcase their main influencers and encourage early engagement.

Clearly, tapping into both influencers and individuals’ personal social networks is important. The trick is not to hit an individual too soon but instead to steadily grow those close to their platform and build a tight circle. One of the best things for an early-stage product like this is to make sure your influencers are already interacting and working with their desired audience. This will ensure your viewers feel like they have an inside track.

When I think about real-time online social marketing (FLOM), if I can boil it down to one part I’d describe it as content versus users. FLOM is all about content, interactivity, and reach in a community.

Networking on an Online Learning Platform

Early testing with FarmTalk is showing promise. There was a month-long test that produced a bunch of in-app influencer interactions. There was also about a dozen text inquiries that were generated from that level of engagement and the platform was still surging on any given day.

“In last month’s month, we learned that people are on our platform to learn and make mistakes. This is relevant, because you’re also going to have all of those moments when you’re learning how to use your new iPhone for the first time,” the communications manager said.

She went on to describe a couple of key insights from that data. One, engagement data showed that people tend to only switch up their engagement levels from their core user base, so there was a good chance the ability to learn from each other would be an ongoing feature. Two, farmer engagement was declining (showing that farm management, not just farmers, use FarmTalk). But surprisingly they also saw a sharp increase in high traffic farmers like Cameron Hannah, Ayn Gordon, and Justin Chapple, among others. The goal for them was to attract those high traffic farmers and to see how they might help to spread the John Deere brand among casual farm-users.

That’s the kind of cross-ideal, social networking “marketing” strategy a platform like FarmTalk can provide. It’s not limited to influencers on FarmTalk. It’s about connecting your feed to your audience to your product and opening an ecosystem of networks and resources around it.

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