How LinkedIn’s L&D Team Achieved 3x Learner Engagement with the “Linkedin Learning Challenge”

January 10, 2019

Linkedin Learning challenge

Increasing learner engagement is one of the biggest challenges for L&D pros, and LinkedIn is no exception. This year, however, our L&D team had a unique opportunity when they were tasked with hosting our LinkedIn InDay.

InDay: Every month at LinkedIn we have an “InDay,” which is a day dedicated to self-improvement of some kind. Employees are encouraged to dedicate their day to give back to their community, improve their wellness, learn something new, or just do something fun with their team.

The October InDay theme this year was learning and our L&D department decided to create the LinkedIn Learning Challenge — a week-long competition of learning in which each division at LinkedIn competed against each other to see which team spent the most time learning.

The results were remarkable:

  • 8x course completions

  • 5x average weekly hours viewed

  • On InDay itself, learning in one day beat most prior weekly records

Here are the three successful strategies the L&D team used to boost learner engagement that you can use to drive learner engagement at your organization.

Lesson #1 on Learner Engagement: Follow the Leaders

Imagine you’re browsing on Amazon for a new book to read. Of course, you could search by 5-star reviews, but even then you would be confronted by hundreds of books that all have great reviews. But, imagine that your CEO or an influencer you respect says, “This book was a game changer for me.” Chances are you’d take that recommendation more seriously.

The same is true for learning content. As it turns out, the secret to successful recommendations is who creates them.

To increase learner engagement for InDay, the L&D team had executives from every department recommend their three favorite LinkedIn Learning courses and custom content.

As a result, 9 out of the top 10 courses that were viewed during the learning challenge were those recommended by the executive team.

Lesson #2 on Learner Engagement: Set Achievable Goals

Every January gym memberships spike drastically from New Years Resolutions, however, over 80% of those who will join in January will quit in less than 6 months. A big reason for this drop off is overly ambitious goals, which when they’re inevitably missed, will cause most people to give up.

When the L&D team here at LinkedIn needed to set benchmarks for how they would evaluate each learner during the event, they decided to set the completion goal at 15 minutes—easily achievable. The team knew that setting an achievable  goal would boost participation, but they also knew that once someone starts learning, they usually want to keep learning or what we call, “build a learning habit.”

As a result, the average viewership time per learner was 57 minutes. That’s nearly 4x more than the learning goal.

Once learners could sample the content and see how high quality it was, they would continue to browse based on their interests and engagement went well beyond the 15 minutes they initially set out to complete.

Lesson #3 on Learner Engagement: Make a Week out of It

When a well-known taco shop chain wanted to boost sales, they invented a tradition that Americans celebrate even to this day: Taco Tuesday. Of course, this chain would like people to eat tacos every day, so why would they encourage people to eat tacos only one day per week?

As Jonah Berger, a professor at Wharton, explains in his course on viral marketing, when people associate an action with a time of day, week, or year, they’re much more likely to remember the action you want them to take.

Perhaps the most obvious, yet overlooked, aspect of the Linkedin Learning Challenge is that it’s a single dedicated week of competition. Creating a dedicated week for everyone in the company to all learn at the same time increased engagement by over 3x.

A big reason to create a week dedicated to learning is that you can also make a competition out of it. Pitting different departments against each other creates a fun rivalry that appeals to the competitive nature of nearly every person on your team.

At LinkedIn, we saw a ton of friendly jousting from different departments in email threads, chat groups, and even between executives. For example, because the Legal & Public Policy team won the LinkedIn Learning Challenge cup this year, we’re sure that next year the other departments will step up their learning even more, to take the cup away from them (and yes we actually bought a champion’s cup for them).

The coveted LinkedIn Learning Challenge Cup

Whether it’s a learning event or a learning week, setting some type of time associated with learning can help boost engagement and incentivize learners to take action.

Biggest Lesson Learned: Think like a Marketer

As many  L&D teams are discovering, the trick to a successful L&D program goes far beyond tech or executive buy-in, those are simply prerequisites at this point.

To have a truly successful learning and development event you need to think like a marketer.  As an ex-marketer himself, no one understands this more so than our own director of L&D at LinkedIn, Marc Prager. Marc knows that attracting new customers, or in this case, new learners, is the first step in building loyal repeat customers.  When asked how he defined the success of the program he said:

“​We defined a new learner as someone who watched at least 15 mins during the learning week (our definition of engagement) AND had watched <1 min of LIL content in the preceding 6 months. We were able to use the challenge to drive non-learners to sample the platform and yes, the numbers support this. Of all the viewers during learning week, 23% were new learners and 25% of all hours watched were by new learners.”

Even though the LinkedIn Learning Challenge took a considerable amount of effort, by giving many employees their first taste of LinkedIn Learning, Marc and his team have set themselves up to succeed over the long-term. As any good marketer knows, thinking like a marketer means you need to measure far beyond your first campaign to prove your true impact.

Interested in More Learner Engagement Tactics?

Then browse through our new Learner Engagement Playbook, which features pro tips from other organizations, worksheets, templates, and much more.