At a trade show in Ft. Worth last week, I probably talked to 150 people, one-on-one, about digital marketing. These folks were small business owners, managers at medium sized businesses and there were even a handful of marketing executives at some large companies mixed in there, too. The conference was a retailer’s trade show put on by a wholesaler in a specific industry. It was not an Internet marketing conference.
Some of the people I talked to were using social media marketing for their businesses. Others would say, “I have a website and even do some e-commerce.” And about one-third of the people I talked to said (you may want to sit down), “I don’t have a website.”
One gentlemen, who had a $1MM annual business and a large, brick-and-mortar operation, told me his three 20-something daughters keep telling him to get into social media and start using Facebook and Twitter. He picked up his 2005-model Motorola flip phone (it may have had a cord hanging from it) and said, “I don’t even know how to respond to their text messages.”
The gap between the echo chamber us social media and technology enthusiasts live in and real business owners and people I would consider “mainstream” is vast. Technologies and platforms we operate in our sleep are incredibly intimidating to many. Sure, we can spout out the broadband penetration and X-percent of all adults are on a social network stats all we want. But for the vast majority … let me say that again … THE VAST MAJORITY of people in this world, the Internet is little more than email, a couple websites and a whole lot of frustration.
Today, I’m officially launching my effort to bridge the gap: Exploring Social Media.
ESM is an question-answer and learning community site intended to serve the needs of the mainstream person or business that wants (we would even argue needs) to know digital marketing, online communications and social media better, but is frustrated in finding answers to their questions. Our content ranges from entry-level lessons like How To Set Up Your Twitter Account to advanced use lessons like Developing Social Media Strategies. We have about 50 lessons there now and will add more weekly. The web is ever-changing, so we won’t run out of ideas and we’ll keep up with the market to help our customers do the same.
My good friends Tamar Weinberg, DJ Waldow and Nick Huhn are on board with me to help provide answers, guidance and great content for those joining the community. Combined, we bring to the table a vast array of experience in social media marketing, digital marketing and online communications strategy and implementation, but also a fair amount of just practical and tactical know-how.
We have partnered with Bloomfire, a knowledge-sharing platform built for exactly the type of user and need we hope to address. Josh Little and his team (special props to community manager Nemo Chu who is a freakin’ rock star in his own right) have been critical to bringing this community offering to light and giving us the ability to help guide people through the digital marketing waters. I’ll be sharing more about their platform as we go along, because their tool is as awesome as they are.
Keep in mind while our content is intended for everyone outside the echo chamber, we aim to develop them into smart digital marketing thinkers. There will be a fair amount of content and interaction there which may appeal to you, too. Our Beta testers include some advanced social media and digital marketing thinkers, journalists, small business owners and entrepreneurs. Each has agreed we have something worth investing in here.
Our introductory price to join the community and have as near-real-time question-answer access to myself, Tamar, DJ and Nick as we can humanly provide is $25 per month. We charge by the month and you can cancel anytime. We are happy to work with professional development efforts at your company to negotiate group pricing as well.
We want to be the online resource for people who have questions about digital marketing, but don’t have the time or understanding to go find them on their own. We are part aggregator (though all the lesson content is original), advisor, teacher, consultant and friend. And sometimes, that’s exactly what people need to get their footing in this big world we find so fun and fluid.
While I will certainly refer to and share stories from Exploring Social Media here in the future, I promise to only tangentially illustrate its value through stories that help you and not just sell, sell, sell. In exchange for that pledge, I’d like to ask you for one favor today:
Think of the co-workers, family or friends who need help with technology, understanding social media or could use digital marketing help. Now send them a note with a link to either this blog post or to ExploringSocialMedia.com. Tell them someone you trust (assuming you trust me) has a place they can rely on for answers and help in the digital marketing world.
And if you might need that sometimes, too, I’d be honored to have you at Exploring Social Media, too.
That’s what I’m doing to bridge the gap. What will you do today to do the same?