Monday, October 20, 2008

Attention companies: Pick your social media influencers carefully

Over the last year or so, I have seen a big spike in the interest companies have in learning more about social media, and especially blogging. This is a good thing for obvious reasons, but I am a bit worried that many companies are patterning their efforts after the wrong people.

Many companies, when they begin doing some internal research into blogging, try to quickly identify the 'experts'. The people that have built their blogs up to massive traffic and exposure levels, with the thinking being that if it worked for them, it will for any company. The problem is, as many prominent bloggers become 'cewebrities', they shift their usage of SM a bit, and start using these tools as a way to promote themselves. Or as I say, they start 'broadcasting'. They rarely reply to blog comments anymore. They have thousands of followers on Twitter, while only following back a fraction of that amount. While these 'experts' can show you how they built their level of influence, they don't use social media tools in the way that your customers are likely to.

So if you are wanting to follow social media influencers that use these amazing tools as a way to interact with others and as a way to build community, I suggest you begin paying attention to the following people. I've included their blog and Twitter profile link. These are ten people that I am learning from, and they can teach you much as well.

Connie Bensen (Blog - Twitter): Truly community-minded, Connie uses both her blog and Twitter as ways to share and build knowledge for others.

Richard Binhammer (Blog - Twitter): Dell's social media efforts are legendary, and Richard is a big reason why the company has such a good reputation in this area. If you are wanting to see how your employees could connect with their customers via social media (and especially via Twitter), then pay close attention to what Richard is doing.

Jason Falls (Blog - Twitter): Jason has for the last year or more, developed a strong reputation in the social media area, by not only using social media as a way to connect with others, but adding in an offline element and constantly connecting with people in real life at conferences and events.

Beth Harte (Blog - Twitter): Beth might think that she doesn't belong on this list, and that's exactly why she does. Beth has come out of nowhere the past few months to quickly establish herself in the social media space, and has already locked up several speaking gigs at local and national events. For anyone that thinks that 'it's too late for me to start blogging', Beth proves that it's never too late.

Tim Jackson (Blog - Twitter): The BEST example of a small company/brand using social media that I have ever seen. Period. I'll refer to a post I did recently about the amazing results that Tim has achieved for the Masi brand via social media, but if you are a small biz/brand that wonders if blogging and social media can really make a difference, then start following what Tim is doing, because the results he has achieved, with almost no help and no money, are staggering.

CK (Blog - Twitter): My favorite saying about social media is 'don't focus on the tools, focus on the connections that the tools help facilitate'. No one understands this better than CK. CK is tirelessly meeting and connecting with the people she meets online, and was one of the driving forces behind Blogger Social, which is still hands-down the best blogging 'event' that I have attended. CK knows that social media is about sharing.

Jennifer Laycock (Blog - Twitter): What I love about Jennifer (as does everyone else), is that she has such a wonderful knack of taking seemingly foreign and complex ideas (like social media) and breaking them down into simple terms that people that are new to this space can relate to. She really looks at these tools through the eyes of the 'newbie', and her posts at Search Engine Guide are wonderful tutorials on how you can get started off on the right foot with social media.

Amber Naslund (Blog - Twitter): Like Beth Harte, Amber has come out of seemingly nowhere to make her mark on the social media space. Besides quickly growing her blog and SM presence, she has also quickly established herself as a top-notch social media consultant, quickly landing multiple clients, including Radian6.

Connie Reece (Blog - Twitter): Connie is a true social media maven, and one of the earliest people to create a vibrant network for themselves on Twitter. Yet the more her network and level of influence grows, the more Connie shares of herself and her time, which is exactly why you should be paying attention to her.

Mario Sundar (Blog - Twitter): Mario is another example of a person that's working in the corporate world, but effectively using social media to connect with customers. Mario is constantly leveraging the natural ability of SM as a connecting tool, to solicit and act on feedback from LinkedIn's members.

This list is made up of people that are not only emerging leaders and influencers in this space, but they also are happy to share their expertise with you. But keep in mind that while this list is a great starting point, the REAL influencers that you should be seeking out, are your customers. Find and embrace your online customers and evangelists.

And if you manage or are involved with social media efforts at your company, who are your influencers?

Pic via Flickr user backpackphotography


Anonymous said...

Thank you for helping me build my list of Twitterers to follow! I was only following 2 out of the 10, so you've enriched my twitterverse

Anonymous said...

Mack, it's a good list. It makes me feel good when I know, or am familiar with 90% of the people on the list. Thanks for sharing this with others who might be looking for guidance.

Amber said...

Mack, I'm honored to be in such company, and to call you my colleague and friend. There is so, so much to learn, and so many amazing people to learn from.

I'm going to add your list to my post from today; great minds must think alike. :)

Thanks again for thinking enough of me to include me in the list. Can't wait to see you at MarketingProfs!

Beth Harte said...

Mack, thank you! It's a great feeling to be listed along side great some of my favorite bloggers!

I swear, people are going to think that I am paying you all (you, Amber Naslund and Jason Falls)! See what $5 will get ya! ;-)

I'll note, my family is very proud that their wife/daughter/sister who always talks too much and always has something to say about anything is being recognized for um, 'traits,' they often wish there was a mute button for! [yes, indeedy, I also torture my family (and sometimes innocent strangers too) with my marketing & social media rants!] :))

P.S. Mack, you know me too well! See you in 1 day...

Daria Steigman said...

Hi Mack,

Thanks for this list. I was already following a couple of these folks, but not all. We have such an opportunity to learn from each other.

And companies do, indeed, need to choose wisely.


Anonymous said...

I am totally humbled Mack! You have been an excellent role model ever since I met you a year ago in Facebook. It's interesting to me that I met Beth Harte & Amber Naslund in Plurk (just the nature of the medium). My karma in Plurk is all gone though & Twitter has me capped - what does that say?!! :)

I look forward to meeting you in person soon when our paths cross. And yes, we will continue to offer our information to those that join our conversations.
Thanks for the call out Mack, you totally made my week!

Unknown said...

Mack - really thoughtful list - it takes a lot of energy to pour through all the examples and make them real for people still trying to figure why they might use a tool. You certainly could make this list as well!

John Jantsch

Anonymous said...

Mack, Excellent Post, Thank You

As many of us transition from traditional marketing in exchange for Social Media Marketing, it is good to understand those who stand out and away from the crowd. We intend to utilize Social Media to grow our business and increase our customer retention. The benefits so far have been significant. This growing field will require many stewards to keep it from becoming commercialized

Anonymous said...

Thanks loads for this valuable list Mack

Hope all is well


Anonymous said...

Awesome list, some of which I didn't have. Thanks Mack. Good points too.

Jim Kukral

Anonymous said...

Great list Mack and I too have learned so much from the people on your list. The Queen of Fierece, Connie Reece has a special place in my heart. She is not only a social media maven but gives her time, talent and energy to help anyone with a need whether it's a food bank, a cancer patient or a social media newb needing guidance.

Anonymous said...


What a smart list of generous, talented and savvy bloggers. We can all learn from each and every one of them.

As John belong on the list as well. You set a great example.


Gavin Heaton said...

Great post (as usual) Mack. In fact, I was just talking about this post with Katie Chatfield last night ... the way that you bring this information together to the benefit of the community is a great example for all of us. And a great introduction to some of the smartest bloggers on the planet.

Valeria Maltoni said...

Mack, I would be a bit careful with generalizations. Speaking for myself, I follow people back on Twitter who interact and have a two-way conversation. It's a similar strategy I have on LinkedIn, except there I link only to people I have met so I can be more effective at helping with connections. My goal is to provide actionable content for readers and connections for the network, including resources. As for responding to comments and helping others make connections and shine, well, the doing is reward enough ;-)

Mack Collier said...

Drew and Gavin, I think you guys did/do this Age of Conversation thingie, so that shines the spotlight on a lot of smart people, but smart ideas as well. That's the one problem with making a list like this, you can't include everyone that should be here!

Eric if this list helps you meet some new smart people to follow, then I've done my job. You also should consider following the commenters as well.

Anonymous said...

Great list - some of whom I already follow and can vouch for...
There are definitely some other people out there that it's worth listening to, but this is a good starting point to compare and judge the others by!