Is Skillshare the Next Big Content Marketing Platform?

Whenever a teacher played a video in class, that meant it was time to doze off, do homework for another class, or, depending on your age, start humming songs from Schoolhouse Rock. But now that we’re out of school and aren’t being forced to learn, video has become a crucial medium for helping people acquire new skills and information.

Skillshare, an online learning community, is revolutionizing digital education by offering on-demand access to classes in a video format that is built specifically for education (unlike, say, YouTube). Anyone can take or teach classes, which are comprised of pre-recorded video lessons, creative assignments, and feedback from classmates. Most classes are free, but for $8 a month, users can receive unlimited access to all 1,900+ options.

As Skillshare continues to gain notoriety, brands are starting to blaze a trail for video content marketing—turning their middle-funnel content into short clips that offer viewers smart, practical knowledge.

This spring, MailChimp, an email service provider, launched its first class on Skillshare, Getting Started with Email Marketing, which now has 16,000 students and counting. Taught by Allyson Van Houten, MailChimp’s product marketing lead, the 14-video class guides students through topics such as how often to send an email, what content to include, what not to include, and how to segment a subscriber list.

After the success of the initial class, the company decided to create MailChimp’s Email Marketing Track, a suite of classes that explores the fundamentals of email marketing. Students who follow through the whole curriculum learn how to write engaging emails from content strategist Kate Kiefer Lee, design effective emails from lead email developer Fabio Carneiro, and measure the impact of your emails from chief data scientist John Foreman.

MailChimp’s partnership with Skillshare is a prime example of how B2B marketers can embrace new platforms to build relationships with consumers. Top-of-funnel content that aims to entertain may be sexier than how-to clips, but Skillshare gives brands a platform to provide helpful, memorable information, which has incredible value.

“Whether or not students become MailChimp customers in the long run, we’re focused on making people smarter about how they approach email marketing,” Van Houten said.

Aside from the fact that internal talent teaches the curriculum, what makes MailChimp’s classes so intriguing is that they’re not just instructive. Through assignments like, “Share a marketing email that made you take action,” and “Optimize an unread marketing email in your inbox,” they also encourage students to apply the lessons to real-world applications.

To spread the good word about the platform, MailChimp also teamed up with Skillshare for a $100,000 scholarship fund that will give small-business owners one year of unlimited access to the entire Skillshare catalog. All entrepreneurs are invited to apply via Skillshare’s scholarships page.

MailChimp isn’t alone in embracing education to generate brand awareness. On Skillshare, companies like Squarespace, Percolate, and the creative-friendly e-commerce platform Big Cartel have used their in-house experts as teachers as a way to establish thought leadership and brand awareness. Big Cartel even invited power users on the platform to teach the classes themselves.

Of course, many brands publish informative content on other video platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. Ikea, for instance, posts how-to videos for assembling furniture, and insurance company The Murray Group answers tough insurance questions. But Skillshare’s advantage is that it’s built specifically as an interactive educational community with assignments, discussions, and teacher-student interaction.

To reach new audiences and edge out competitors, content marketers can’t be afraid to try their hands at creating content for new mediums. As MailChimp demonstrated, developing new strategies can be as straightforward as tapping your internal talent to come up with a curriculum that benefits consumers—and then finding the best way to distribute that to its audience.

“Skillshare has been a fantastic partner for us,” Van Houten said. “Both of our teams have the same goals in mind when it comes to providing accessible educational content. Having worked with them, I’d recommend working with partners who approach content development and education the same as your team does.”

Chances are, your consumers are ready to learn about the best solution for their pain points.

Brands will continue to throw money at Facebook and LinkedIn, and churn out clever quips on Twitter, but Skillshare is quickly emerging as a platform full of potential for educational content. School is back in session, and this time, customers have a strong incentive to pay attention.

Image by Shutterstock

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