Ladies Learning Code was built on social media. Starting with a Tweet in 2011, founder Heather Payne built a better way to learn to code when she announced her first #LadiesLearningCode workshop. Over four years later, the not-for-profit organization operates in 26 cities across Canada by running 600 programs that teach over 24,000 women and youth beginner-friendly technical skills.

The organization now has country-wide Chapters, including thriving youth programs called Girls Learning Code and Kids Learning Code. Together, these help shape digital literacy education for adults and youth.

  • 155%
    year over year (YOY) growth on social media

  • Learn-Icon

    YOY growth in total Ladies Learning Code learners

  • 250%
    YOY audience growth (social and mailing list)

What they did: How to get people on board and interested

“Our biggest goal is to teach 200,000 women to code by 2020; so we asked ourselves, how do we get more people on board and interested?,” Melissa Sariffodeen, the Co-Executive Director at Ladies Learning Code says. “For us, the answer has always been social media. We rely on social to carry our message to wherever it needs to be. Our organization started out as a Tweet and today it still gives us the biggest bang for our buck—and with limited resources and ad spend, that’s key.”

Ladies Learning Code uses social media to engage their community and attract like-minded audiences—while staying top-of-mind and active online. They find the most success in bundling content such as video, images, thought leadership, and success stories to support various campaigns like code:mobile and National Learn to Code Day.

For us, the answer has always been social media. We rely on social to carry our message to wherever it needs to be.

Melissa Sariffodeen
Co-Executive DirectorLadies Learning Code

How they did it: Using campaigns to attract and engage

National Learn to Code Day is an organization-wide initiative, while code:mobile is a Kids Learning Code initiative. Both aim to boost brand awareness and get more women and youth interested in learning to code.

The code:mobile campaign

Sariffodeen recently went on a road trip and thought that it would be a great way to travel and teach kids to code. She tweeted about it to see if people were interested and the idea quickly got traction. Because Ladies Learning Code is still a small organization, they decided this could be a great opportunity to provide in-person programming lessons in places they normally wouldn’t have access to.


“We wanted to give new communities a taste of coding and leave them with resources to either start new Chapters themselves or continue learning,” she says. “Think of code:mobile as a travelling computer lab on wheels that will make a cross-Canada journey in 2016 to teach over 10,000 kids to code.”

To market the campaign, they launched a code:mobile Instagram and Twitter account with a fun promotional video. Working with an agency, they are building a map tracker (similar to Santa’s sleigh tracker) so that kids can follow the locations of the code-mobile. The team uses Hootsuite to easily and securely add new team members, such as the agency team, to help with their social media efforts.

The National Learn to Code Day campaign

National Learn to Code Day on the other hand is hosted by Ladies Learning Code in partnership with Facebook. This event took place over six hours where 1400 learners pay what they can in over 20 cities nationwide to be taught data insights with Python. After sharing a few emails, Tweets, and Facebook ads, the event sold out.

Having used Hootsuite for nearly two years now, Ladies Learning Code has one team member that oversees all socially engaged Chapters in multiple cities. “Hootsuite keeps us organized,” says Sariffodeen. “Small organizations like ours are so busy that we forget to post, but Hootsuite lets us schedule messages ahead of time to stay active and engaged.”

Small organizations like ours are so busy that we forget to post, but Hootsuite lets us schedule messages ahead of time to stay active and engaged.

Melissa Sariffodeen
Co-Executive DirectorLadies Learning Code

All Ladies Learning Code team members were encouraged to share regional event content using the hashtag #llcCodeDay. Sariffodeen used Hootsuite streams to monitor those conversations and get a better picture of campaign performance. Using keyword streams to monitor hashtags, she saw which posts got the most retweets, comments, and likes. This helped determine what content resonated the most with their audience. This content was further promoted with ad spend by geo-targeting communities in Hootsuite that hadn’t heard of the organization.

The Results: Increased brand exposure

155% year over year (YOY) growth on social media
Growing from 14,700 total followers in 2014 to 37,500 today

37% YOY total learners increase
Growing from 17,500 learners in 2014 to over 24,000 today

250% YOY growth in total audience (social and mailing list)
Growing from 15,300 in 2014 to 53,500 today

National Learn to Code Day was an absolute sellout. According to a survey, 88% of the women who attended the event would attend another and recommend it to others. Likewise, 92% of the learners had never been to a Ladies Learning Code workshop. This is because when Sariffodeen saw content that performed well, she focused ad spending on communities where they didn’t have a big presence. She is able to grow the organization’s brand awareness and bring them closer to their goal because social media lets her reach and make connections with new audiences.

The code:mobile campaign is Ladies Learning Code’s newest and biggest initiative focused around kids. “We want to inspire and educate Canadian girls and boys to become passionate builders, not just consumers,” she says. Within the first 10 days of the campaign launch, code:mobile was already 42% funded. “The only way we promoted this campaign is through social media,” Sariffodeen tells us.

In closing, Sariffodeen passes on advice for other organizations looking to drive awareness:

To make sure you’re heard, move quickly: Launch fast, fail fast, and innovate faster. That’s the power of social. People want to share and support you, but only if you ask in the right way.

Melissa Sariffodeen
Co-Executive DirectorLadies Learning Code
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