Succeed like Duolingo? How education works on TikTok, Insta & Co.

Duolingo is taking TikTok by storm together with its owl mascot, Duo. And it’s not alone. Our story presents six learning platforms that are using social media effectively. What are the strategies behind this, and what can your business learn?

Duolingo is delivering textbook educational content on TikTok.
Image: © Orxan / AdobeStock

TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram: the new spaces for educational content

If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward: in today’s digital age where new, revolutionary developments are constantly emerging in society and the world of tech, people want to – and have to – broaden their knowledge and develop their skills on an ongoing basis, both on a professional and personal level. So it’s no surprise that (continuing) education is currently trending.

Whether languages, economics, science, or technology, education has never been as relevant or in demand. And where’s there’s demand, there’s supply, with countless companies now offering learning platforms and educational content. With that in mind, if they want to stand out from the crowd, they need to implement social media marketing methods that grab the target group’s attention and deliver content in an innovative way.

In the following, we introduce you to six examples and explain what makes educational content like Duolingo’s so successful on social media.

#1 Duolingo on TikTok

Duolingo is a popular free app for learning languages and incorporates gamification elements, such as levels, competitions, leagues, and awards, to make learning fun. Duo, its green owl mascot, also plays an important role by reminding users to complete their scheduled lessons. And it’s pretty insistent: if you’ve not been active on Duolingo for a while, Duo will be sure to let you know – starting off playfully, but getting increasingly sassy and bold the more time passes.

Exemplary educational content comes from Duolingo on TikTok
Image: ©Screenshot duolingo via

That mission is no longer just confined to the app because Duolingo is now also promoting the image of its playfully passive-aggressive mascot on social media. The brand is especially making its mark on TikTok, where Gen Z is going crazy over Duo performing the latest dances and reenacting memes. More than 8 million people now follow the account, meaning that TikTok is helping Duolingo reach a young generation of potential language learners.

Authenticity is definitely a factor contributing to the success of Duolingo’s marketing on TikTok and other social media channels. The brand has taken its app’s reminder feature to the extreme on social media and added a pinch of self-mockery.

#2 Khan Academy on YouTube

If you’re looking for educational content on YouTube, you’re bound to come across Khan Academy. With more than 8 million subscribers, the channel is now one of the most-visited online video schools, and its content is both free and of a high quality. Spanning mathematics, science, history, and more, Khan Academy offers well-structured lessons in digital form.

Exemplary educational content comes from the Khan Academy on YouTube
Image: ©Screenshot Khan Academy via

The channel was founded by Salman Amin Khan, also known as Sal Khan, a high-profile figure in Silicon Valley who was even a guest on Bill Gates’ podcast to talk about his mission with the tech icon.

Khan Academy exemplifies what we already know from content marketing: valuable content is the best form of marketing. The academy’s lessons have helped millions of people progress in life.

#3 #EduTok on TikTok

It’s not just individual accounts that are sharing educational content on TikTok. The company itself is also doing a good job of it, for example with its #EduTok campaign. Since 2019, private users and influencers have been encouraged to post informative content under the hashtag. The campaign quickly went viral, and videos are still being uploaded as part of it, sometimes generating hundreds of thousands or even millions of views.

Exemplary educational content comes from #edutok on TikTok
Image: ©Screenshot #edutok auf

The popularity of educational content demonstrates how much the topic means to society. In fact, young social media users are especially receptive to the idea of not spending their time on social media just for entertainment, but also using it to learn.

Honorable mentions: CrashCourse, Babbel, and TED-Ed

In addition to the accounts and campaigns described above, there are more examples of successful educational content on social media.

First, we have the CrashCourse channel on YouTube, where Hank and John Green produce entertaining and informative videos across a wide range of subjects. From history to chemistry, the two brothers make complex topics accessible and easy to understand for more than 15 million subscribers.

Competing with Duolingo’s approach on TikTok, the language learning app Babbel has turned to Instagram to produce high-performing social media content. The company is really making the most of the platform’s features and engaging its community in innovative ways through powerful storytelling, interactive polls, and eye-catching images.

An offshoot of the famous TED Talks, TED-Ed is a YouTube channel that specializes in offering educational content. Known for its expertise, the account produces videos on a vast array of topics. What makes TED-Ed unique is that the videos are brilliantly animated, which visually reinforces the content and really captivates viewers.

What we can learn from Duolingo on TikTok and other channels

Duolingo’s TikTok presence is without a doubt a prime example of social media marketing done well in a way that really incorporates the characteristics of a product. TED-Ed isn’t far behind with its YouTube channel. Despite taking a more serious approach, it still effectively reaches its target group with its highly appealing animation.

So, what are the takeaways for marketers? The key is to put the strengths of your brand and products at the heart of your social media presence and – as always – unleash your creativity. Extreme and even absurd content in the style of Duolingo’s mascot works amazingly on social media. Just make sure you always stay authentic!