Case study: Duolingo -- how an ed-tech company became a social media sensation

case studies social media

Language education company Duolingo is a remarkable example of how creative leverage of social media can drive customer engagement and business success. The company went so far as to openly disclose its financial successes and user retention metrics and explicitly credit these accomplishments to its social-first strategy.

So, what are the key strategies and elements behind Duolingo's success on social media in the field of education?

Accessibility, personalisation and user-friendly design

Duolingo's success begins with its accessibility and user-friendly design. The app is available on multiple platforms allowing users to engage with the platform effortlessly. The platform's ability to offer personalised learning experiences caters to learners of all ages, with features like daily goals, streaks, and leader-boards that can be shared on social media.

Engaging, educating, and entertaining on social media

Duolingo has leveraged social media to foster user engagement. The company maintains an active presence across various social media platforms to share updates, contests, and even light-hearted humour to keep the audience engaged. Notably, their approach focuses on engagement rather than direct sales pitches, as they avoid prominently featuring "Try Duolingo" in any of their social media posts.

One example of their social media success is the "Duolingo Owl." This mascot, known for its humorous memes, is used by the company to establish a strong brand identity and connect with its audience.

Content themes

Key content themes that have worked well for Duolingo include:

  • Quizzes: Duolingo often posts interactive quizzes related to language and culture, encouraging users to engage and test their knowledge.
  • User-generated content: Sharing user success stories, language learning journeys, and testimonials is a powerful way to inspire and motivate the community.
  • Memes: Duolingo is known for its humorous memes and playful approach to language learning.
  • Promotions and challenges: Duolingo runs promotions and language-learning challenges to encourage user participation and sharing.
  • Cultural insights: Sharing interesting facts and cultural insights related to the languages that users are learning can be engaging and educational.
  • Behind-the-scenes content: Providing a glimpse into the Duolingo team's work or the app's development can humanise the brand and create a sense of transparency.
  • Language tips and tricks: Sharing language learning tips, tricks and hacks can be valuable for users.

In conjunction with these planned content themes, Duolingo proactively leverages social media and cultural trends.

Community building

Duolingo also fosters a sense of community among its users. The platform has discussion boards and language-specific forums where learners can interact, ask questions, and share their experiences. Duliongo users serve as brand ambassadors, actively sharing their experiences, interacting with the content, and even crafting their unique Duolingo-themed memes. This not only provides social proof of the app's effectiveness but also encourages a sense of belonging within the Duolingo community.


Duolingo's remarkable success on social media in the educational sector is a testament to its commitment to accessible, personalised, and engaging language learning. Its use of gamification, mascot marketing, and the building of a strong online community has solidified its position as a pioneer in the ed-tech industry. As education continues to evolve in the digital age, Duolingo's social media success story serves as an example of how to create a thriving educational customer ecosystem.

About the author

Heba Al Nabulsi is an international social media and communication consultant, and founder of the #LetsTalkSocialWithHebz community.

ISOC course links

This content relates to the following short courses at the International School of Communications, available live online and also face-to-face at our training centres in London and Dubai:

Communication and Marketing Strategy for Web 3.0: NFTs and the Metaverse

Communication Strategy Design and Development

Creativity in Communications and PR

Planning and Managing PR Campaigns

Social Media Management

Social Media Strategy

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