Social Media Marketing: Implications for an E-Learning Startup

Overview of Consumer Online Behavior

Real-time reports by Internet Live Stats (2015) show that every day there are over 3.1 billion Internet users worldwide generating over 1.4 billion gigabytes of traffic consisting of over 125 billion emails, 5.1 billion viewings of YouTube™ videos, 2.5 billion Google™ searches, 475 million Tweets, 113 million Instagram photos, 101 million Tumblr posts, 90 million Skype calls, and 2.2 million blog posts. In addition, about 1.4 billion, 1.1 billion, 313 million, and 75 million users are active on Facebook, Google+™, Twitter, and Pinterest respectively all of whom could optionally consume content available on 960 million other websites. Most users further appear to prefer to connect with smartphones considering about 3 million of them are sold in a day compared to daily sales of about 550 thousand and 405 thousand tablets and computers respectively.

The above statistics suggest that the majority of users expect to be social, have a strong affinity for video content, and expect to be able to interact through multiple channels whenever and wherever they want. Considering the volume of content generated and consumed, it is further likely that users are highly discriminating and have devised their own strategies for quickly attending to only the information that is of interest to them and ignoring the rest. Users go online for many reasons and the extent to which teaching/learning is the goal of any given online session cannot be determined from the above statistics; however, the latest American Time Use Survey published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, 2014) reported that 8% of the U. S. population over 14 years of age engaged in education-related activities in 2013 and of those who did reported that they spent nearly 6 hours per day doing so.

Taking into account the 18% anticipated growth in sales of packaged and web-based e-learning content as previously mentioned and considering the rapid pace at which technology advances along with the ever-increasing pressures by teachers, employers, peers, and society in general for users to become more than just digitally literate but innovative suggests there is an unfilled need for on demand learning/training content that can be readily integrated into users’ always connected mobile lifestyles. These statistics and observations strongly indicate that for to successfully compete in the self-paced e-learning market, the company must do much more than simply establish an online presence. Instead it must focus on building relationships with prospective customers that allow for two-way interaction as described by Tiago and Verissimo (2014) and to do so requires an understanding of how social media has made it increasingly more difficult to compete using only traditional marketing strategies.