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.

Learn Social Media and Digital Marketing - Exploring Social MediaToday, 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.

You can learn more by watching the informational video on the ESM website. You can even take a mini tour with one of our free lessons and get a feel for the site if you like.

That’s what I’m doing to bridge the gap. What will you do today to do the same?

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.shashi.name/ Shashib

    Great idea. I have the same experience when I talk to small business on behalf of Network Solutions that there is a great need for bridging the gap. Good luck on ESM. Will be following along your success.
    Shashi

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you my friend. Glad to know the NetSol folks are aware ESM is there for your customers as well.

  • http://socialbutterflyguy.com/ DJ Waldow

    Excited to be a part of this, Jason! Time to shrink the gap.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Werd, bro. Thanks for building this with me. The fun's just beginning.

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  • http://twitter.com/kfom KevinFerrasciOMalley

    Jason: Congratulations on your launch ! This is really great news. There is a tremendous need among Small Business owners to get meaningful social media help. In a world filled with too many social media faux-experts, you and your team have a well-earned reputation as trusted experts. Look forward to watching you help lots of folks and learn a thing or two myself along the way. All the Best, kevin

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Can't thank you enough, Kevin. Appreciate the kind words.

  • http://www.slingshotseo.com D. Steuer

    The idea of diminishing the gap between experts and those who are oblivious is very exciting.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Yeah, I don't think we'll be bored much! Heh. Thanks!

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Can't thank you enough, Kevin. Appreciate the kind words.

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Yeah, I don't think we'll be bored much! Heh. Thanks!

  • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

    I know you've been working your tail off on this and I'm so glad you've launched it. Happy to help if I can, and congrats on putting together something that fills a real, concrete need without the hype.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you, dear. Already quoting you a bit in the content. Will

      continue to do so, for sure.

  • http://twitter.com/SierraSez Christine Sierra

    Congratulations Jason and team! Community members are fortunate to have qualified, well-informed resources at their fingertips, literally. And let's hope we rid the world of Motorola flip phones :)

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks, Christine! We're excited!

  • http://flavors.me/40deuce 40deuce

    This sounds like a fantastic idea Jason. Congrats on the launch!

    Cheers,
    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos (http://sysomos.com)

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks, Sheldon. We'd be happy to help those Sysomos clients whi have questions!

      • http://flavors.me/40deuce 40deuce

        That's great. Let's chat at some point and see if we can figure something out. I'd love to help you guys too in any way I can.

        • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

          On my call list! Will chat soon!

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Thanks, Christine! We're excited!

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Thanks, Sheldon. We'd be happy to help those Sysomos clients whi have questions!

  • http://www.TheFranchiseKingBlog.com The Franchise King

    Best of luck, Jason!

    JL

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks, my man.

  • http://davefleet.com davefleet

    Exciting stuff. Good luck with it!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks, Dave! Appreciate you swinging by.

  • http://www.jesseluna.com jesseluna

    This is an important growth area. I'm a business advisor for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Ventura, CA. We get a lot of brick and mortar business clients who know there is potential in leveraging the social Web, but don't know how to start.

    Startups and small businesses are the fuel of the economy. Helping them grow sales, increase their brand awareness, and increase site visitors is essential to their growth. A good social media strategy can do that an the resources you are putting together will help them with that.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Well, Jesse … we want to do the hand-holding for you, so send 'em our way! Thanks for the comment.

  • http://twitter.com/YukariP Yukari Peerless

    Great idea! It's extra interesting to me as I have just signed up for Bloomfire…I'd be interested in learning more about this and possibly sharing some insights in the future.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      It's a great tool and we're excited to be partnering with them. They've been awesome in helping us get this off the ground.

  • http://twitter.com/jangles Neville Hobson

    Great initiative, Jason, good luck!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks, Neville. We already have a couple of Aussie's in the community. Your fellow Brits need to balance the power there. Heh.

  • http://tukulogics.com/blog/ Saidul Islam

    Good job. Looks good! $25/month would be little too pricey to hook someone with recurring charges. Maybe you can do something like $9/month for yearly subscribers and $19/month for the monthly subscribers. Just my 2 cents.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for the feeback, Saidul. We're cheaper than most online, recurring cost educational services, so I'm comfortable with where we are. But I'll certainly make note of the suggestion. Thank you!

  • http://justin.tel/ Justin Hayward

    Jason, really smart move. Exactly why we're doing what we are at Telnic for SMBs frustrated with the cost and complexity of even the most basic websites. Hope it works out for you.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks a ton, Justin!

  • Jules

    Brilliant! Looking forward to being actively involved in this program.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Sweet! Looking forward to you signing up and being there!

  • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

    Thanks a ton, Justin!

  • http://faleafine.com NEENZ

    Congratulations Jason! Hopefully this is the collaborative effort for “us in the echo chamber” to be consistent in sharing, teaching, and evangelizing the use and power of social media, tools, and marketing. Part of the confusion of those outside of the echo chamber are the different messages they're hearing. While I understand that to each her own when publishing content from personal accounts, it's still important for the social media practioners as a whole, as an industry to adhere to some set of discipline.

    Please let me know if I can be of any help.

    Aloha!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Just tell your friends that need help we're here. And know that we're always

      going to focus on practical advice that cuts through the bullshit and gets

      people using the tools in ways that help them and their business.

      Thank you, Neenz! Appreciate your comment and support.

  • http://twitter.com/KellyeCrane Kellye Crane

    So glad to have had a chance to watch you build this, and I can tell those interested that it's *packed* with info from the get-go (way more than most subscription-based programs, which often rely on subscribers to provide much of the value themselves). You're the master, and I'm sure ESM will be a huge success!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Means a lot, Kellye. Since you've been a beta tester and involved … I'm

      really honored you'd say that. Thank you.

  • http://www.friendadderelite.com/blog/ Friend Adder FAQs

    Social media bridges the geographical, business and race gap between people. With social media everyone becomes even in every perspective. It is an avenue for honest comments and critical opinion. With social media, everything come in circle and we tend to build bridges than burning them.

  • http://blog.wcgworld.com Greg Matthews

    I had a chance to spend some time with the site last week (enough to watch the videos and get myself clear on the concepts) and I have to say, it looks like a winner to me. It's kind of like having some really smart social media consultants on retainer for your small business. Except instead of $X0,000 per month, it's $25 per month. And doesn't make you feel stupid for asking questions.
    Thanks for sharing, Jason. I'll be intrigued, too, to understand how the platform scales with 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000 users!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for the kind words, Greg. We aim to please … and to have 100K

      users! (Guess I'll just buy dinner for everyone if that happens. *fingers

      crossed*)

  • http://www.puredriven.com Patrick Garmoe

    I've been playing with the beta of this site for months, off and on, and have to say it's exactly what I've wanted to refer many clients to – a cheap way to learn everything you're going to need to know for at least the first couple years of your business operating in the social space. It's excellent, and I highly recommend it.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you, Patrick. It's great to hear from the early users and beta testers

      and know that we've produced something good. Love having you involved and am

      thrilled you're there!

  • http://blog.clearcastdigitalmedia.com/ mchamberlin

    Congratulations, Jason. Right idea, right time, right guy.

    Mazel tov!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Very kind, Matthew! Thank you.

  • http://freetraffictip.com Tinu

    This is exactly what is needed and exactly who it should come from. Well done.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you, Tinu! We aim to please.

  • http://mobilevisibility.com Richard Posey

    I live in the DFW area (although I realize that some of the people you were talking to, probably weren't from here), and I agree with what you're saying. Social media is a fairly abstract concept to someone who isn't already engaged in it. It's also very hard to directly measure its benefits, so it's a bit of a touch sell. (I meant to say “tough,” but maybe “touch” fits as well)

    I DO have a suggestion … make the heroes of the stories you tell about social media gray-haired, so to speak. And maybe get some gray-haired storytellers, as well. Your team is quite young relative to this tough-to-sell part of the market.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Fair point, Mr. Posey. I'll work on that. (I'm at least salt-n-pepper. Heh.)

  • http://dannybrown.me Danny Brown

    Hi Jason (and team),

    Congrats on the impending launch, and here's to it being a success.

    Quick “tip” – you might want to put a Terms of Service and a FAQ on the main site. Folks like to know how easy it is to cancel membership, and what the liability is, etc, for any cancellation.

    Cheers! :)

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Hey Danny. Appreciate the “tip” but our terms are right by the pay entry

      point, so people don't have to go looking for them. On the screen where you

      are asked for your payment information is says this, really big:

      You're just one click away form completing your registration with

      Exploring Social Media!

      *The monthly subscription is $25.00 *

      Your credit card will be billed $25.00 today for access for one month. Your

      next billing date is February 28th.

      There are no long term contracts. You may cancel at any time.”

      Hope that helps!

  • http://www.hippiespelunker.com lisamariemary

    Congratulations on your launch! Exploring Social Media is a fabulous, information-packed resource that I believe can really help a lot of people!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you Lisa! Folks like you encouraging me all these years are to blame!

      Heh. See you there, I hope!

  • http://nikkistephan.com Nikki Stephan

    I imagine this will be a much appreciated resource for many people who have no clue what social media is and how it can help them. Best of luck to you and the rest of the team!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks, Nikki! We're fired up. Appreciate the comment and support!

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  • http://www.all-themeparks.com Jenny Esponda

    this is great stuff Jason.. it really is!!! Congrats man… its very helpful for many people out here.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you, Jenny!

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  • SJ Petteruti

    In the vein of how to creat a Twitter account, we did something similar, a very basic How To Use LinkedIn. Feel free to incorporate this eBook into your cache of useful information…http://www.kechange.com/linked…/

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      May do that! Thanks for the resource!

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