Teacher Stories: Julian Cole
Meet Julian Cole, New York-based digital strategist and one of our most popular teachers on Skillshare. Julian’s led the Digital & Social Strategy for Coca-Cola, glaceau vitamin water, Rockstar Games, Boost Mobile, Axe, Johnnie Walker, Baileys, Universal Music amongst other global brands. He’s been using Skillshare to share what he’s learned over his successful seven-year career in digital.
In October, Julian taught his three-week course, Become a Great Digital Strategist, to 480 students. His first week’s class lecture on ‘What is Digital Strategy’ has had over 150,000 views since the class.
We sat down with Julian to learn more about his story and find out what made his classes on Skillshare such a success.
So, Julian, what’s your story?
I am an Australian living in New York City, working as a Digital Strategy Director at BBH New York. I have been working in Advertising Agencies in a Digital role for the last 7 years, getting started in Social Media, then eventually moving into Digital Strategy. Both of these disciplines don’t have much information available about them, so I had to teach myself along the way.
As I progressed in my career, I loved sharing what I’d learned through my blog Adspace Pioneers, but over the last two years I noticed that Advertising Blogging really died off. So when I got asked to teach a course on Digital Strategy I saw this as a great opportunity to get back into teaching and sharing the insights I’ve developed over the years.
Tell us a bit about the classes you teach on Skillshare.
My classes on Skillshare are all focused around digital advertising skills. I recently taught Become a Great Digital Strategist, and on December 10th will launch the Guide To Creating a Great Social Media Campaign. It will be looking at how you create great Social Media Campaign, how to create social products your agency can offer a client and how you price these products.
Your recent online Skillshare class was incredibly successful. How’d you do it?
I put a lot of time aside to take a step back and really think about what goes into my role as a Digital Strategist. From there, I came up with a framework using actual examples of my work. I think it was successful because no one had really attempted to define the role of a digital strategist and talk about the day to day.
I think students were happy with the class because I really made a point of responding to everyone who commented and participated in the class. If students go to the effort to complete their assignments, then the least I could do is take 10 minutes to give them some feedback, and folks appreciated that.
What were your favorite elements of the class experience?
My favorite elements of the class experience were definitely the discussions. I learned so much from the students and it was great to see everyone’s approaches to the class assignments. It was amazing how much I learned from the students themselves.
I also really enjoyed the Groups feature, where I could connect with small groups of students via Google Hangout. It was great to have a small group of people ask really specific questions, and I felt like the group got a lot out of it. It was also great to faces to names that I had been interacting with online.
Has teaching this class impacted your professional path in any way?
Before I started teaching the course, I really didn’t have a clear definition of what I did as a Digital Strategist, because a clear definition isn’t really available out there today. I couldn’t even tell my mom what I did. Having time to think about it and reflect has been great. Because of this class, I have been able to better define what I do and let my coworkers know how I can add value to the Agency.
I also love that I’ve created a great set of tutorials for anyone I will need to personally hire and train, and that others can access this for their own career advancement.
What was your marketing strategy for the class?
The discount codes that Skillare enables me to create is where I see the most value. Giving people a discount on the course gives them the feeling they are getting extra value and incentivises sign-ups. Blogs and online publishers also like receiving custom discount codes because they get to give something back to their readers.
The one that I am doing at the moment that seems to be working well is tweet for a discount on the course. It is a win-win situation, I am able to offer a discount to the students and they help to promote the course to their own social network.
The other big success was creating a slideshare presentation around the topic of what I would be teaching. For the Social Media Course I created the Digital Strategy Toolbox with Amber Horsburgh who is also teaching a course on Music Marketing. The presentation has had over 85,000 views on Slideshare, so I have had people sign up for the course from the exposure that created.
As far as other marketing advice goes, the thing you need to do is just experiment with a number of different promotion sources. I have given free passes to teachers from my college, bought advertising in business networking newsletters, Facebook ads, Google Adwords, and promoted it in LinkedIn Groups. You learn something from everything you do.
Teaching a class is the best thing you can do if you want to build your brand or your career. You don’t need to be a top expert in your field—if people walk away from your class with two or three things they didn’t know before, then it was a success.
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