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Where should I advertise online? | LearnCube Blog

Below you'll find Alex Asher, CEO of LearnCube, and Herbert Gerzer, digital marketing expert, discussing: Where should I advertise online? 

Should you be advertising on Facebook, YouTube, Tiktok, or Instagram? In this episode, we discuss these platforms, plus more, so you can decide where to start advertising your online teaching business!

Where should you advertise your tutoring business online?

Alex: Hi, and welcome to another episode of the Get More Students podcast. I'm your co-host Alex Asher, CEO of LearnCube.

Herbert: And my name is Herbert Gerzer, founder of Nice to be here again, Alex.

Alex: It totally is, and we're, interestingly enough, on another familiar topic today, Herbert. The topic today is where should a tutoring or language business advertise online. One of the reasons we're talking about this, Herbert, is you can really well attest, is because it was one of the most popular questions actually we were asked this year when we were doing our Q&A sessions.

Just to give some background for those that don't know us. I run LearnCube, and we specialize in an online virtual classroom and online school software. We help a lot of different online language companies and tutoring businesses, which is why that’s an area that really excites me in terms of how we help our customers get more students. And Herbert, tell us again about your experience in digital advertising.

Herbert: Sure, well, I run an advertising agency and we help language schools and education businesses get more leads and enrol more students in their courses through paid advertising. One of the questions that language school owners and online school marketers tend to ask is where should I be, where should I put my advertising dollars. Should it be on Facebook, YouTube, Google, TikTok? So yeah, excited to dive into it.

Alex: That's it, and interestingly enough, before we try and answer the question of where should I advertise online, I did want to point people as well to our other episodes on the Get More Students podcast, but one of those is on how to pick your niche. I think that it always remains the most important question because it dictates where you should advertise online. 

For the thought experiment today, what Herb and I felt was relevant, let's actually look at the different platforms. Maybe some of those you're probably actually aware of. If not maybe it just kind of reminds you that there's an opportunity in this platform. We'll not pretend to be experts on these platforms. It was interesting when we were preparing for this. It was quite clear that to know each of these platforms in depth would be quite a task. Herbert, tell us the platforms that you specialize in, and actually how you felt, there's a really big difference between specializing and having a rough idea of a different platform.

Herbert: It's because each platform has its merits, depending again on your niche market. Our agency specializes in Facebook and Instagram campaigns, just because of the creative freedom that you have on those platforms, and that's a great way of spreading the word and getting your message out about your school, your tutoring business, to the world.

Alex: Yeah, it makes total sense and I think we'll definitely spend quite a lot of time on Facebook and Instagram. You did pick the biggest platform, close to the biggest platform, in a big margin, because Google and Facebook are certainly the outliers in terms of the number of billions of users that they have on a daily and monthly basis. We were just even looking at some of the stats. How many people use Google. Google Search is the one that we were focusing on, it's the one that a lot of people know. Google has 2.6 billion users of chrome the browser alone, and so the number of people that would use Google as a search engine would be bigger than that, so it definitely makes it the biggest platform in terms of the overall number of searches and users.

It's also quite different isn't it, Herbert, in terms of the stage of somebody's buying cycle. Do you want to just mention that?

Herbert: Absolutely, Google is such an effective platform to advertise on because you really are targeting the top two, maybe three, per cent of the market that is in buying mode. They want to purchase. They're actively looking for a solution and typing it into Google. And that's why it's so effective, but that's why it's so competitive, and also it can be very expensive depending on your niche.

Alex: What we're going to try and do today is maybe go through some use cases as well as to when Google Ads make sense. I think you've already alluded to it in terms of, if you're doing a Google Ad, you can afford to be talking at a different level, compared to any of the other social media platforms actually. Because of the different stages in the buying cycle. If you reflect on your own recent searches in Google, you'll find that they're actually very targeted. They will very much hint at an action like movie reviews or buying tennis balls in London. 

I think you can imagine as well in the tutoring space. Maybe something like math tutoring. I’m wanting to buy math tutoring if I’m putting that in Google. Whereas if I’m putting it in another social media platform or if I’m using a hashtag, it's typically a softer search. Also, there's a lot more discovery in the other platforms, so Google really does have quite a remarkable point in the person's buying cycle, isn't it?

Herbert: Yeah, I absolutely agree. and I don't think really any of these platforms should be used as a standalone. I think they all have their place in an overall online marketing strategy. We actually do some Google Ads with our clients, but usually, we do retarget through Google. Really, by being on Google, Facebook, and Instagram, you have basically reached 90% of the internet. That's it right? Those are the two biggest platforms and that's why, especially with retargeting, getting people wherever they go online can be very effective.

Alex: I think that was a really good differentiation Herbert. Do you want to take us through the difference between ads on Google, and then what that means compared to a retargeting campaign? An ads campaign versus an ads retargeting campaign, because they're slightly different as well right?

Herbert: Right, retargeting, you are keeping in front of people who have already engaged with you. Whether that's through your website, through maybe your social media profiles, or clicked on an ad before, and you're really pushing them to take action to enrol in the course, to sign up for a free trial, to whatever that is. 

With your other kind of colder campaigns, on Google, it's a bit different. People are coming to Google to find a solution, and you've really got to nail your ad copy on Google. That's so important because you only have a limited number of characters. You can't write a story or a narrative, or a huge testimonial like you can on Facebook and Instagram. You gotta keep it succinct, and precise, and direct, so people know exactly who you are, what you offer, and what the next step is. 

It's also technically very different, Google compared to the other platforms. It is a fantastic way of marketing online. People spend hundreds and thousands a month on or millions a month on Google Ads. As part of your whole marketing mix, it is of course one of the platforms to consider.

Alex: One of the other things you said that I thought was quite clever was just how you mention this idea of directness. Do you want to pull that out a little bit more, because I think if you think about how much more direct you can be on Google compared to another platform? It's really useful to differentiate the level of awareness somebody has on Google or the awareness of what they want to purchase on Google compared to another platform.

Herbert: Yeah, again you really only have a short space of time for your message to resonate, and if someone is typing in English courses in London, then you better make sure that your ad copy is exactly that. We offer English courses in London, at this price, or take a free trial lesson, central location, the number one rated school in London. They give me the exact information I need to make a decision on the next step to make.

Whereas, say, on things like Facebook and Instagram, and other platforms, you have a bit of liberty in terms of what you write. You can tell stories, you can ease into things because you're trying to develop interest, awaken desire much more slowly because people aren't actively searching for a solution on Facebook and Instagram. They're scrolling through friends’ posts and families videos and want to see funny things like memes and cat videos as well. You've really got to also attract their attention, but it shouldn't be too direct. This depends on the stage of the buying cycle they are in, but for awareness, you've got to pique their interest, and get them to consume your content.

Alex: I think that's a good segue to your really deep knowledge of Facebook and Instagram. Maybe we start with what are users like. Like on Google typically I’m there because I want a problem solved, and that's very different from Facebook. I’m not on there to find solutions to problems I don't know I have. When I get an ad, you're interrupting me from what I’m there for. Do you want to just describe why are people on Facebook? Where's their head at?

Herbert: Right. I think that's changed over the last, I might say five, six, seven years. Facebook used to be a very social platform, connecting with friends and seeing what people are up to. It still is that, but it's changed slightly. It's gone in a few different directions. For example, Facebook groups are huge and I know that a lot of people of all ages, all niches, and industries, use Facebook groups to build communities. A fantastic way of doing that. 

And also to gather news, to be distracted. It’s a great platform, same as Instagram, to be distracted, to just switch off. That's why you need a different strategy when it comes to advertising on there because you've got to interrupt people when they're in that mood, so to say. 

Alex: Yeah, but I think you've kind of alluded to it already. Interrupt in a way that is entertaining and interesting, That's what I’m there for. From my understanding, Herbert, maybe you can either dispel it or even add on to it, but it seems like Facebook is there to solve my problem of boredom, and so I’m a lot more open to distractions if they're interesting. If they're boring, that's really interrupting my enjoyment of the platform, and Facebook will really punish the advertiser. When I say punish I mean by not showing ads when somebody is not interested. So the ads need to grab attention, hold attention, grab curiosity, show some form of entertainment because that's my mentality when looking at Facebook. Is that how you describe it?

Herbert: Spot on, I can tell you from experience, when a lot of language schools or education businesses first get into or experiment with Facebook and Instagram ads, they don't know the information that we've talked about over the last month about what to have in a high converting ad. So they use possibly a stock image from the internet, they write a couple of words, something like ‘enrol in an English course’, and it's very uninspiring. It doesn't awaken my desire, my interest, it's not insightful, or valuable, and so people just scroll past it without a flicker because they know it's an ad. 

The method that we use with our clients is to make it seem as authentic as possible, like a friend's post, and so people stop scrolling with their thumb. We grab their attention with the creatives, of course, a testimonial video, or maybe a funny video, or a student photo, and then with the headline, and of course, the ad copy that draws them into our world and gets them to click.

Alex: That makes a lot of sense there, Herbert. What I was wondering is then the difference. Where's my head when I’m on Instagram then?

Herbert: Instagram is very very visual, for photos, videos. People want to be entertained. It's the same thing, but on another level on Instagram, just because it's such a visual platform. Obviously, people love to consume video, especially with the birth of platforms like TikTok, which is purely video. Making that effort and the investment into getting high-quality video assets for your school or tutoring business. 

Alex: If you're on Instagram, we were looking at this and certainly Instagram does have a slightly higher weighting with female users compared to male users, even now. So if your posts are not highly visually interesting, you're not going to perform well on Instagram. That immediately tells you, hey these are the things I’m going to need to be able to be successful on these platforms. 

I’m wondering there as well, maybe we could provide some examples from your experience, on both of these platforms Herbert. How do we peak in engagement or peak interest in Facebook? Then also, if you're using the same ad, how that can also work for Instagram? Or if there's a difference in how you would approach those two things?

Herbert: I mean, you can use the same ad on both platforms. Instagram has a couple of other features like Instagram stories, which are very popular, so that's a format in and of itself. A lot of clients use Instagram stories to really capture people's attention, just because, one, they take up the whole screen. You get a real bang for your buck. 

Whereas on Facebook, usually, it's a square image or a square video. Again, narrative, storytelling has been very effective. Long-form copy, which sounds counterintuitive, because who has time to read long copy, but if it's basically from the student's mouth and it uses the language that your prospective customer would use, and it catches them where their head is at already. It's extremely effective to use the long-form copy. Obviously, breaking the cycle or interrupting through headlines that maybe ask a question, or are controversial, or intriguing, or debunking a myth, something like that. All of these tips and strategies are great for high converting ads on Facebook and Instagram.

Alex: So it sounds like curiosity and discovery are two really important themes to think of when you're advertising on these different products. Let's also go through some of the other platforms that are out there. Not that we are going to be an expert on these, but simply to provide a bit more completeness to this conversation, and also to maybe put the onus on. In the end, we're also going to come back to where should I advertise, and it's going to be how well do you know your users, and how well can you use these communication and social media tools to be able to access your ideal customers. 

I want to highlight that while we're kind of having these conversations about these other platforms. Let's talk about some of the other ones, Twitter was on there, Herbert. Where are people's heads at when they're on Twitter?

Herbert: Right, full transparency. I don't or we don't have a lot of experience using Twitter as a paid platform for language schools and education businesses. I haven't come across a language school yet that has been able to leverage Twitter effectively, or measurably, so I guess that can tell you something in terms of that target market, the more B2C target market. But Twitter has its place. It's where people exchange opinions, dialogue, it's more about news and things like that. So the type of user that is on Twitter is very different from the type of user on Instagram, for example, and so if your product or service fits into that area and your target audience uses Twitter to express opinions and to exchange information, then it could be very effective. We were talking about an example of that before, and the only one that comes to mind is targeting higher education teachers and professors.

Alex:  We were having a look at the high-level stats on each of these platforms before this, and it'll be very hard to make a decision just based on stats because it's in a way irrelevant. Say TikTok has 700 million users and Facebook has 2.8 billion users, that doesn't say that one of these is wrong and one of these is right. You're not going to be able to serve 700 million so it's irrelevant. It's all going to be about how you use the tool and likewise, Twitter, it's probably about one-tenth of the size of users that, say, Facebook has. But that doesn't mean it's a bad platform. 

I think the key thing here, and I’m not an expert, but I think what can really give you an idea of where should I advertise. If you're on Twitter already, well that probably gives you an advantage, because maybe you really understand it, your competitors don't understand it, so they're not advertising on it, or they're not using it appropriately. That could be a real advantage. Every single platform has an absolute sweet spot for language skills and it's not for us to say one is going to be better than the other. If you're possibly like Herbert and me, we're probably just more exposed as users of Google, Facebook rather than TikTok or Snapchat, and so I can't speak from experience. But if you can, then you've got a really interesting market because there's a lot of people that won't be able to follow where you go on those platforms.

Herbert: Definitely, that's a good point. The buzz in the online marketing world centres around TikTok at the moment. It's explosive growth in terms of users in the last year or two, and everyone's asking, should I be on TikTok, should I be spending advertising dollars on TikTok? 

It really depends on your niche audience, and also, if you're going to have the resources to use it properly. There's nothing worse than putting a very corporate video on TikTok because you're gonna waste advertising dollars. Tiktok is fun, it's very trend-driven, you've got to know what the latest TikTok trend is and leverage that in a very short time frame before it's out of trend. so you've got to be in that world and you've got to play by its rules, so to say, to be effective.

Alex: I think one other way of looking at this is really put yourself into the user's shoes and figure out what would they have seen just before they see my ad. And if they've just seen just a fantastic funny ass video, just before they watch your dreary, five-second clip of your reception of your language school or your tutoring organization, you're going to be kidding yourself if you're expecting some kind of result. It'll be the fastest way to flush money down the tube. By the way, these platforms are incredibly efficient at taking your money. So they'll find a way of using it. 

Herbert: But that's not to say TikTok isn't a good platform for you. It really depends. I know that a lot of e-commerce, like product-based businesses, do very well especially with TikTok’s younger demographic. Whether or not it is effective to advertise, paid advertising for language schools and tutoring businesses, I'm still open to that. I’m watching and monitoring the situation.

Alex: I think it could be great if you're, let's say you're a math tutor, and you can come up with visual fun ways of doing math. I think that would be totally appropriate, right? Let's say that you created these remarkable ways of doing experiments or something like that, that are actually really fun and interesting, and we're using things that kids these days are interested in. It would be totally the right place, and you would smash it because nobody else would be able to follow you. 

You're not going to use that exact same ad on the next one that we will about, which actually is not too dissimilar, in a way, YouTube right? So this is for as long as you want. You can watch it on youtube. Let's have a think about where are people's heads at with YouTube.

HerbertYouTube kind of acts like a search engine as well, right? People go there to be entertained and get distracted and maybe waste time, but people also type into YouTube whatever grammar mistakes in English, or German basics phrases, idioms in Spanish. People want something they're actively searching for. I would say that they're probably more in the consideration stage of the sales funnel, and YouTube can be a great way of capturing that audience.

Alex: It sort of works on a similar basis to a lot of the other platforms. Being entertaining is always going to be to your advantage if you're on youtube for sure because it's so visual. You've got to make sure that you make the most of the visual aspects of youtube as well. Although I have heard of people who just do podcasts, and that people just open on youtube and just leave the audio running and do whatever they're doing. So it can work in a number of different ways. 

I can already think of at least three ways, or categories of ways, that I would use YouTube. One is being entertainment, and I know a lot of my friends as well, would use it just as a free way of just getting some fun visual entertainment. From people-watching video trailers or movie trailers, or shows or game shows, or something controversial in the news. Then there's another category which is wanting to learn. I actually think a lot of people use YouTube to learn.

Herbert: Absolutely, it's very educational.

Alex: Absolutely. Learn how to cook for example. I go there far too often to try and figure this out. It's preferable because I like having visual cues, but a lot of people do it for instructional videos. If I’m wanting to watch a lecture, youtube's a fantastic place for me to listen in and learn something. You have to think about what has this user-watched just before they watch my video, and so if your title and your video are on things that are just so at odds with where that person's frame of mind is at, it's going to be a waste. 

Other platforms include Snapchat, again not one that I’m intimately involved with. It's in the title, right? A big part of the Snapchat draw is the fact that it's fairly instantaneous, it's a lot more about being in real-time, it's about not leaving a digital trail, and being present and what's there now. So, totally there's an opportunity for it, and the people that make it will really have a massive advantage because people will find it very hard to copy. You have to play by the rules of Snapchat. You're a part of the Snapchat product then, and if a user expects content that is relevant to right now, and you're delivering the same content that you're doing on Youtube. It's either an evergreen bit of content, which means there's nothing about it being interesting or urgent, then it may not be the right context for using Snapchat. I think that's one way to look at it. 

We could talk about Pinterest, a very visual social media channel. But again, what are people doing? They're typically curating and gathering ideas and thoughts, so it could be totally relevant to language. You can imagine vocab as a wonderful place for using Pinterest if people are so inclined to do that. 

A lot of these social media platforms have just hundreds of millions of users, and you don't need hundreds. You just might need hundreds. That could be totally another platform for you, but you're going to have to figure out the rules of the game, and know a way of being able to address that target market. The last one I think we should talk about is LinkedIn because again, we do have probably a little bit more experience with this platform. Tell me about your experience so far on this, Herbert? 

Herbert: Yes, I can talk on both the organic side of LinkedIn and also the paid side.

Alex: Let's focus on paid advertising. Where should I advertise online?

Herbert: Right, obviously LinkedIn is for working professionals, business professionals. Great audience if you're in the B2B space or you're targeting business owners, business professionals, for business English courses or English for sales or accountants or etc. It can absolutely be effective. It is a very different beast. You can't use what you used on Instagram or YouTube or TikTok on LinkedIn. It's got to be made for LinkedIn. You have to adhere to Linkedin’s rules for advertising of course. 

I find, or at least from my experience, LinkedIn is definitely stricter, or more strict when it comes to what you can advertise in terms of video, photos, and ad copy, and it is quite expensive, which makes sense right? You would think that you were targeting a market that is willing to spend more for a solution, so LinkedIn obviously can charge more for advertising on its platform.

Alex: I think one thing I’ve learned the hard way, and I think it's relevant, is that with Linkedin, the temptation is just to advertise. I think that's what you might do on Google, but you wouldn’t do it on Linkedin, and I think it doesn't work very well, trying to do a very direct ad, because, I’m looking for solutions when they're looking through a LinkedIn feed. If you're like, hey here's another solution, here's my solution, and here's everything about me, it's interrupting the reason that somebody's there. So the feed is really important to understand, and in Linkedin, a lot of what Linkedin’s come to be is hey how can you help me with my professional growth and life. So if you fit in with that, you're going to be successful with those ads?

They're going to be probably more informative ads, and educational. They're not going to just buy my stuff. Likewise, I’ve seen some really interesting blowbacks recently. People really pull you up on it if you try and put something super controversial, particularly political, or even the opposite, clearly personal. You even see people saying, hey this is not Facebook. It doesn't belong on LinkedIn. It makes sense because you're interfering with somebody's experience when you interrupt them, and particularly if you interrupt them in a really significant way. There's going to be some real lash-out.

So I hope that we've tried to answer where should I advertise online, not because we've been perfect and experts on every single platform, but I hope that we've given enough of an idea on where to look and how to think about where some opportunities might lie.

How about you Herbert, did you have any last words of wisdom?

Herbert: Really, this podcast was to inform listeners about the possibilities, and maybe get them to think about, their target audience and where they are spending time online, how they're consuming content, and that will point you in the right direction on which platform would be suitable for you.

Thanks for tuning in to today's episode where we talked about the different platforms that language schools and tutoring companies can advertise online. Hope you got some insights into what platforms would be great for you to get more students.

Alex: Each week we aim to give insights, inspiration, and motivation and I hope you really got that from today's episode. We release a new episode once a week. Make sure you hit the subscribe button to this podcast. We look forward to seeing you next time.

Herbert: Catch you next week!


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