Archive for June, 2011

Enterprise Social Media and Personal Branding

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Personal branding is a hot topic for entrepreneurs and solo consultants, but does it matter to large enterprises? Oh yeah.

Consultants and small business owners get the concept of personal branding, because in one-person or very small companies, one person is the “corporate” brand. Having optimized profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as well as personal profile / reputation management sites like Google Profile, Plaxo, LookupPage, VisualCV, PeoplePond and BusinessCard2 is crucial to optimizing one’s business online presence.

Social media is an individual thing, even in big corporationsBut isn’t it different in large enterprises where there’s already a strong corporate brand associated with high quality, great value, outstanding service, prestige or some other positive attribute? Not at all. That brand image matters little in social media. If anything, personal branding for key public- and customer-facing individuals is even more important in big businesses than in small firms or one-person shops.

First, if you want to talk to the “CEO” of your local bakery or neighborhood bar, you can likely just walk in and often find him or her on the premises. You can’t do that with executives at GE, IBM, Ford, etc.

Second, “social” media is by definition a person-to-person (or person to many persons) activity. You can have a conversation with a person, or participate in a conversation in a group of people, but you can’t talk to a “company,” which is merely a soulless, bodiless legal entity.

Third, while you can certainly buy many types of products from companies (e.g. books from Amazon, coffee from Starbucks, electronics from Best Buy), there are many products and services that purchased from individuals, even though there may be large company behind them. If you refinance your home, you work with a mortgage banker—an individual—even though that person may work for a large bank. Insurance is typically provided by large companies, but sold by individual agents. Ditto for other financial services, legal services, cars, motorcycles, heavy machinery, exotic travel, some types of luxury goods… You purchase something supplied by a company, possibly a very large company, but you buy from an individual person.

In that sense, the individual’s personal brand becomes, to you, the corporate brand. Your experience with that individual, good or bad, influences, often strongly, your perception of the corporate brand.

So, big companies have an interest in making those individual interactions as positive as possible. It’s essential to hire good people, of course, but it goes beyond that. Often, a bad experience isn’t the result of a having a bad agent, broker, salesperson, customer service rep or consultant, but rather from a mismatch between the individual buyer and seller. The transaction is more likely to be positive if the connection is appropriate based on geography, area of expertise, hobbies or other factors, possibly even age (e.g. a couple nearing retirement may prefer not to work with a twenty-something financial planner).

How is this achieved? Through personal branding. It’s easy to investigate companies and product attributes online, without ever giving up your contact information. Why shouldn’t you to be able to “shop” for the individual you’ll eventually buy from or work with as well? You should, of course. And smart companies, big or small, who recognize that in a social media world, their people are their differentiation, will find ways to capitalize on personal branding.  Read more about this in Why Personal Branding Matters to Big Companies, my guest post on the Workface blog.

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6 Reasons Social Media Sucks, But You Need to Use It Anyway

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Amid all of the hype, conferences, and rapid adoption of social media marketing by organizations from sole proprietors to the Fortune 100, there remains an undercurrent of skepticism. This surfaces in posts like Social Media Skepticism, 5 reasons why social media skeptics maybe right and Business social networking: where’s the ROI?. It’s why posts like 20 Ways to Generate ROI from a Corporate Blog have to be written to help people who are “doing everything right” but still not seeing business results from social media make adjustments to their efforts. It’s why a search for “social media sucks” on Google yields almost 12 million results (so much for my SEO on this post, oh well).

Social Media Sucks, but it Vital for Business Anyway

Image credit: Spin Sucks

It’s true that social media remains in many ways a sort of wild west. Many of the participants are shady, self-proclaimed experts are sometimes snake oil salesmen, and paths are still being created. Yet there are also an increasing number of social media success stories and the picture of what social media success looks like is becoming clearer. And there’s no turning back; social media has changed buyer expectations and behavior. Despite the dangers and potential pitfalls of social media, businesses will continue to expand and refine their social networking efforts.

Here are six reasons why social media skeptics have a point, and six reasons businesses must and will continue to embrace social media marketing anyway.

6 Reasons Social Media Sucks

1. It’s full of self-promoters. No question. Certain aspects of social media (such as the ease of building a large following on Twitter—if you’re not picky about things like quality or relevance) are like helium for those with already overinflated egos. Facebook can be a wonderful platform for sharing information, but also a playground for narcissists. These people aren’t shy about telling you how wonderful they are (it’s amazing how many Twitter handles and profiles, for example, include terms like “guru,” “expert” or even “god”), or treating social media as a direct sales channel rather than a mechanism for sharing valuable insights and information. The great thing about social media, however, is: you don’t have to follow, friend, “like” or in any way encourage such folks if you don’t want to.

2. It’s more of a place to interact with peers than to engage prospects. Again, no argument, most of the activity across social networks is of the birds-of-a-feather variety. Marketers follow other marketers, PR pros hang with other PR pros, engineers interact with other engineers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (see below) and it’s the biggest part of what makes social media activity enjoyable. Problem is, few CEOs or general managers are excited about the notion of paying employees to essentially spend their time engaged in online water cooler chats with cohorts at other firms. Ultimately, both sides need to come to an understanding, with management conceding that not all of that peer interaction is a waste of time and employees focusing primarily on achieving business goals through social media activity during work hours.

3. It’s an easy way to waste a lot of time. It can be. The more active a person is in social media, the more time it naturally takes up (e.g. because there are more blog comments to respond to, more Twitter followers to check out, etc.). Then again, almost any activity, improperly management, can be a time sink. The key is to prioritize between networks and spend the time on each wisely.

4. It means giving up one’s privacy. Not an unreasonable concern. Facebook in particular is notorious for privacy issues. Google settled a lawsuit last fall relating to its Google Buzz service. I’ve always found Foursquare a bit creepy; turns out there’s actually an app named Creepy that aggregates “GPS coordinates for any user (of geolocation services like Foursquare, Twitter and Flickr), pointing out their most frequented hangouts on a map…Essentially, it’s a stalker’s dream app.” The solution? Be careful and thoughtful about what you post online. Always assume the entire world can see anything you do on line. If you wouldn’t do it in front of your mom, your pastor and your boss, don’t do it online. That award you just won for your last brilliant email marketing campaign? An excellent thing to add to your online profiles or post a status update about. Last night’s extracurricular activities? Probably better shared over a beer with your buddies than with the world on Facebook or Twitter.

5. It’s just another avenue for spam. Sadly, yes. Twitter was riddled with tweet spam early in its ramp up phase, though the service has added tools and made other significant strides since then to combat spam and p*rn on its network.  Google “Facebook spam” and you’ll get 246 million results. LinkedIn has had problems with LinkedIn group spammers, though the business social network has responded by creating new group management tools to fight spam. Yes, like email, social media sites and social networks can be sources of spam. Having learned from email, however, most networks (as a matter of survival) have taken spam-fighting into consideration from the start and make their tools more sophisticated as spammers have developed new techniques.

6. It’s hard to measure the ROI. Maybe or maybe not, the social media ROI debate continues. But in general, measuring the ROI of social media with any precision is problematic because social media far more often influences a sale than leads directly to one. Still, as Jennifer Kane noted at the recent OMS Minneapolis event, correlations between social media activities and sales can be measured—and correlations are good data.

6 Reasons Social Media is Essential Anyway

1. Social media has become a vital element of SEO. Links from authoritative websites are still of course an important signal of authority to the search engines, but social media links now play an increasing and essential role in these calculations as well. So much so that Rand Fishkin now places page-level and domain-level social signals among its top three search engine ranking factors. Michael Gray has written about which social signals the search engines use and Lee Odden has put together an outstanding presentation on how to use social media for SEO. With more than 80% of consumer purchases and 90% of b2b buying cycles now starting with search, this may be reason enough to embrace social media.

2. Your buyers are there, and they expect you to be there as well. According to recent research, one-fourth of all online time is spent with social media. Nearly 60% of American spend time on a social network at least once per month. YouTube reaches 36% of all business decision makers (more than 10 times the figure for Forbes.com). And 93% of business buyers believe all companies should have a social media presence.

3. Social media produces high-quality leads. Based on research from MarketingSherpa, my own experience and that of clients I work with, while social media activities don’t usually produce a high quantity of leads, they do result in quality leads–the kind that convert, and buy, at a higher rate. It makes sense; while social media is more about branding and PR than lead generation, those who follow your brand in social media are much more likely to look favorably on your company and its offerings, understand the value, and to have engaged with your company previously than leads generated through most other sources.

4. It’s a critical and cost-effective tool for gathering market and competitive intelligence. Gone are the days of conducting expensive surveys and focus groups to find out what your prospects are thinking. It’s no longer necessary (or at least not as necessary as it once was) to spend thousands of dollars on analyst research reports to find out what your competitors are up to. The buyers in your market are telling you all of this now, through social media. They are talking about their challenges and looking for answers on LinkedIn, in blog posts and comments, on Twitter, Facebook, and dozens of industry-specific social media forums. It just takes listening.

5. It’s an excellent way to find business partners. Remember all of those peers mentioned in point #2 near the top of this post? Turns out all of that cohort networking isn’t such a waste of time. Increasingly, business gets done by networks. Both individual consultants and companies generate opportunities where they provide only a partial solution to a customer’s needs themselves; they need to bring in one or partners who have complementary skills in order to win the deal. Those partners are very likely to come from their social media network, where a level of trust and familiarity has already been built up. It’s a bit like the much-maligned “old boy networks” of years gone by, but much more open and effective.

6. Social media is the new PR. Journalists increasingly rely less on wire services and more on social media (more than 75% say they use social media to research stories) and online newsrooms for story ideas, sources and research. Effective PR has always been about building relationships with reporters and editors, and social media is now how these relationships get built. A PR program that relies exclusively on traditional phone, online wire service and mail tactics is no longer effective.

So, every negative thing you’ve heard, read, or even said yourself about social media is probably true. But that doesn’t matter. The benefits are too compelling. The key is to listen, plan, and monitor activities to maximize the value of business social networking while avoiding the trolls and pitfalls as much as possible.

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Eloqua, TopRank, Demandbase and More – OMS Minneapolis Wrapup

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Last week’s Online Marketing Summit in Minneapolis drew an intense crowd of local agency and corporate attendees focused on learning the latest strategies for SEO and search, conversion rate optimization (CRO), QR codes, PPC, social video marketing, integrated analytics, social media measurement and more. It was three days of drinking from a firehose of expertise from an impressive lineup of speakers, but did the conference deliver the goods? Here’s a recap of a few of the key sessions and conversations from the summit.

Steve Woods, EloquaSteve Woods, Eloqua

Steve is one of the most brilliant marketing strategists I know, and co-author of a new book, Revenue Engine. Among Steve’s observations and insights from the summit:

  • • The buying process is now 1) online, 2) all about the buyer, and 3) complex (multiple stakeholders).
  • • The sales “discovery” call, where a sales rep spent an hour learning about a prospect’s issues and pains, is extinct. 78% of executives report that they are spending less time with sales reps than ever before. Research, through social media, has to fill in much of this gap.
  • • Social media killed newspapers; anyone can now publish to the world. The most important users of social media are Google and Bing, who are attempting to create “social filters” to identify the most relevant content.
  • • QR codes marry social media with traditional direct marketing.
  • • With marketing moving online, everything is measurable now. The days of not knowing which 50% of your marketing dollars you’re wasting are over.
  • • “Sales and marketing” has to be one budget, with dollars flowing back and forth based on measurable value. But few companies have sufficiently sophisticated analytics in place today to do this properly.
  • • The trick in using social media monitoring tools is not to automate “fast, shi**y answers” as Steve put it, but rather to find the right person to respond. Even in fairly large organizations, the actual number of social media mentions that really require any kind of detailed response tends to be fairly small.
  • • The best social media managers will work themselves out of their jobs by making their organizations social media proficient. Social media will ultimately be another tool, like email, but it will take some time to reach that stage.
  • • Online buyers discover information in three ways, which require three different approaches to capitalize on: active search (use SEM), passive search (use content marketing and SEO), and influence (social media).
  • • A common issue for B2B vendors: how do you sell “boring stuff” online? Don’t be boring! Find a tie between your “boring” product and something interesting and capitalize on it. For example, gaskets are boring. But they may be used in race cars, and race cars are not boring.
  • • Tap your internal subject matter experts and help them create personal brands. Answer questions and establish expertise. Don’t explicitly sell products, rather solve problems. The revenue team is no longer just sales and marketing.
  • • Facebook is better for B2B than many businesses realize (the one point of Steve’s on which I remain skeptical).
  • • Don’t try to talk to everyone; this drives people away. Buyers are open to sales conversations when 1) they are the right buyer and 2) their “digital body language” indicates they are actively engaged in looking for a solution right now. Use data–intuition often leads down the wrong path.
  • • Buy his new book!

Lee Odden, TopRank Online Marketing

Lee presented a session on search and social media. Highlights:

  • • SEO is dead, social media is sexy? No, SEO is still not dead yet. As technology and buying processes change, SEO evolves. The top priority in SEO this year should be search and social integration, as the search engines seek to incorporate more social signals into search results.
  • • 92% of b2b buying cycles start with search. It’s not enough just to produce great content, it has to be made “findable.”
  • • Every two days, we now (collectively) create as much information as was created from the dawn of time through 2003 (according to Eric Schmidt)–5 exabytes of data.
  • • Make your customer service content searchable, and extend the customer relationship to build loyalty and recommendations. Google does a good job of this with the help information for their various tools.
  • • To scale content creation, use of a mix of original content and content curation–select the good stuff and add value to it.
  • • To optimize time spend on social networking, allocate about 15 minutes per day per network, with perhaps a bit more time spent on the 2-3 most important sites.
  • • Use Knowem.com to claim your (and your company’s) profile across social networks; you don’t have to be active on all of them (only the ones where your customers and prospects are).
  • • Use keyword research to coordinate content creation, SEO and social media efforts.
  • • SEMrush is a valuable tool for analyzing your competition in SEO and SEM, search traffic, and keywords that work today.
  • • Use knowledge gleaned from analytics to scale up what works and kill what doesn’t.

Angie SchottmullerAngie Schottmuller

Angie did a phenomenal job of communicating a highly visual topic largely without the use of visuals, thanks to technical glitches with the hotel’s equipment.

  • • When evaluating 2D barcode readers (mobile apps), look for support for multiple barcode types as well as autoscan capability. BeeTag is her favorite.
  • • There are numerous free 2D barcode generators available online. Some also serve as management platforms, which is helpful. Delivr is a good option, particularly for local retail businesses, due to its mapping functionality.
  • • Minimize the data stored in the barcode by using a shortened URL.
  • • Brainstorm ways to add value to the user when using QR codes. Don’t just send them to your mobile site home page. Try to deliver exclusive content.
  • • When it comes to QR codes, size matters. Bigger images are better (easier to scan with a wider range of phones). 1″ x 1″ is considered a reasonable minimum, but go a bit larger than that if possible. Also, always include a URL just in case someone’s phone can’t read your barcode.
  • • Tell users what will happen when they scan! It’s okay to “tease” a little, but don’t try to be too mysterious; that will reduce scan rates. Make it a strong call to action.
  • • Link to a smartphone-friendly destination (e.g. NOT just to a standard web page or to a high-definition video). Ideally, apps should take advantage of smartphone features.
  • • B2C use of QR codes is about selling, B2B use is about branding: provide the visitor with some kind of value (e.g. tracking a shipment) or send to a (low resolution) video, for example.

Jennifer KaneJennifer Kane, Kane Consulting

Jennifer braved a displaced neck disc (ouch!) and tag-teamed with Kary Delaria to deliver an excellent presentation on tools for measuring online media effectiveness. I have to say, I expected Jennifer to be smart (which she certainly is) but wasn’t expecting her to be funny, especially given the neck issue. But her presentation was the best of the day at combing humor with valuable information.

  • • Start with what you think social media success looks like. Measurements must have meaning, or else they are just data.
  • • To define the “return” on your social media efforts, ask people to do specific things (e.g. visit a link, download a report)–then measure how many people do it.
  • • The “big three” KPIs for social media success are 1) increase brand awareness, 2) drive sales, and 3) build brand loyalty.
  • • Basic metrics include reach (who reads your content and where), sentiment and conversion. When looking at sentiment in social media monitoring tools, always double check the results. To use Jennifer’s example, if someone writes that your product “kicks ass,” that is likely a positive, though many social media monitoring tools will tag this as a negative sentiment because “getting your ass kicked is generally a bad thing.”
  • • It takes 10,000 brand mentions at a minimum to get statistically relevant sentiment tracking from a social media monitoring tool.
  • • Social media ROI can’t be measured directly. But you can measure “tons of stuff” and find correlations. And correlations are good data.
  • • The best social monitoring tools are “Excel and your own eyes.” Don’t overlook the value of native searches on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Technorati.
  • • Tools like Klout and PeerIndex are good for measuring your “cool factor” but not really business results or the quality of your content or interactions. They can be gamed. However, when paired with other data, results from these tools can be interesting.
  • • Tools such as TwentyFeet, Trackur and Unilyzer don’t provide competitor data but are useful for showing all of your data in one place on a single dashboard.
  • • HootSuite rocks.
  • • Even the best paid tools only find, on average, about 65% of your global brand mentions.

Greg Ott of DemandbaseGreg Ott, Demandbase

Greg presented on conversion rate optimization. Much of his presentation reflected, indirectly, the capabilities of the Demandbase tool. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it’s a pretty cool product, though it is in my view grossly overpriced at $2,500 per month. I think there could be a huge marketing opportunity for the product in the $500-1,000 per month price range.

  • • All marketing is now online marketing. Online sources provide 50% of all B2B leads now (sounds low to me) and that figure is projected to rise to 70% within two years.
  • • Most b2b websites are still static and one-dimensional. Companies spend 9X as much on attracting visitors to their websites as they do on converting those visitors once they arrive.
  • • Most websites are “leaky buckets.” They lose half of all visitors at each additional click.
  • • Key is to determine who the visitor is as quickly as possible, then serve up relevant content and offers.
  • • Think about visitors in terms of company size and industry, then optimize forms and offers for each.
  • • To optimize conversions, keep forms as short as possible and test everything: content, offers, specific calls to action, etc.

Kim Albee of Genoo - Marketing Automation SoftwareKim Albee, Genoo

Kim Albee is the fascinating, high energy leader of Genoo, a marketing automation system for small to midsize companies. Though both Genoo and Eloqua provide marketing automation software, they fit at opposite ends of the market in terms of company size, so they rarely compete. Genoo is more similar to something like ePROneur; both offer hosting, robust CMS capabilities and forms builders. Genoo is stronger in marketing email automation and suitable for smaller companies with reasonably sophisticated internal marketing capabilities. ePROneur on the other hand includes an integrated CRM application is ideal for sales-focused companies who outsource more of their marketing functions.

A few notes from our between-sessions conversation as well as the end-of-day panel session in which Kim participated (along with Greg Ott, Maria Lettman – Director of Social Media at Cargill, and others).

  • • Employees need to understand the “rules of the game” for business social media participation; everything from etiquette and strategy to simple things like not including “#in” when posting something in LinkedIn.
  • • Lots of agencies offer social media marketing services, but companies are having a hard time right now finding agencies with the bandwidth to do the work.
  • • Data is important–but it won’t help you to be creative or “think outside the box.”
  • • In social media, be a voice not an echo. Add value when you pass along information from others.
  • • LinkedIn profiles should reflect personality; they should like they are written by individuals, not by the marketing department (though they should all contain some important keywords for consistency).
  • • Infuse personality into social media efforts; don’t be afraid to “pi** people off.” Hmm, be careful with that one.
  • • Balance value added vs. selling: help buyers solve problems or think about how to solve them. Share relevant content, even (or particularly) content that isn’t your own. Be interesting!

Got anything to add?

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How to Build the Ultimate Online Newsroom

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

by TomPick and guest blogger Maria Verven

Almost every PR pro over a certain age remembers press kits–actual physical folders stuffed with a company’s recent press releases, management bios,  a corporate fact sheet, a few case studies, and maybe an article reprint or two.

They were expensive to print and ship and awkward to lug around—for both PR people who produced them and the journalists who ended up with them. They were bulky, killed lots of trees, and of course weren’t searchable.

Online newsrooms sure beat press kitsAnd there was the constant balancing act: include too much information, and nothing will get read (it will seem overwhelming). Too little , and the writer won’t understand how cool and unique your company really is. Yeah, no one today mourns the press kit, but they were the best technology available at the time.

As the web took off and corporate sites proliferated,press kits (or at least elements of them) were moved online. Searchability improved, trees were saved and shipping costs plummeted. Online newsrooms are a dramatic improvement, but even today many are sub-optimized; it’s not at all uncommon to see websites where the “news room” or “media page” is little more than a list of press release links, with perhaps a PDF of some media coverage and some sketchy management bios.

The best online newsrooms go well beyond that and really take advantage of the web medium. Combining rich content with careful organization and search capabilities,  they enable PR pros to provide the media, analysts and bloggers with a vast amount of information without seeming overwhelming.

The ultimate online newsroom should house everything media are looking for in one convenient, easy to navigate spot. It ideally should include:

  • • The primary media contact’s name and contact information (including social network profile links). This is preferably one single individual, but can be multiple names (e.g. based on division, product line, purpose etc.) if absolutely necessary.
  • • Links to news releases (current year and archive of past years). If your company produces a lot of news releases, also provide the ability to view by topic (e.g. product line, financial releases, personnel announcements, etc.).
  • • Links to media coverage and bylined articles.
  • • A company backgrounder or fact sheet (see below for detail).
  • • FAQs (real ones, that real media people would care about).
  • • Management team bios and photos (downloadable JPGs in high-res and low-res versions for print and web). Bios should specify each executive’s area of expertise and best topics for quotes or interviews.
  • • Story ideas (again, thoughtful ones).
  • • Upcoming events / sponsorships / speaking engagements (with speaker bios included).
  • • Links to white papers, PowerPoints, videos, ebooks, infographics, and other company-generated content and thought-leadership assets.
  • • Links to analyst (industry and/or financial) research and coverage.
  • • A link to the company blog(s).
  • • RSS feeds for press releases and blog posts.
  • • Downloadable JPG images in hi-res and low-res formats. These include the company logo and other important images such as the company headquarters building, product photos, software screenshots, photos of executives at industry events, etc.
  • • Links to all of the company’s social media profiles (LinkedIn company page, Facebook, YouTube channel, Twitter etc.).
  • • A search-friendly URL structure with “news” included, e.g. news.company.com/section/pagename or company.com/news/section/pagename (where “section” is the content type: news releases, bios, images etc.). See the 2011 Online Newsroom Survey (PDF) from TekGroup for more guidance here.

News releases should always be in HTML format for searchability. If PDF or printer-friendly versions are offered, these should be stored in a separate subdirectory that is excluded from search in order to avoid duplicate content issues. Releases should be presented in reverse date order and links should include the headline, date and one-line summary (preferably Twitter-friendly 115 characters or less). Again, current releases should be displayed on the newsroom main page with a link to archives, and the media contact name should be easy to find on every release. Also consider creating social media releases (which can include videos, images, links and other items) using a tool like PitchEngine.

One thing that’s often overlooked: updating the media contact name on older releases if that name changes. You don’t want to direct media to contact former employees or your old PR firm (!).

The media coverage page should highlight the two-three most recent articles, with an archive section for the rest (assuming the company gets that much coverage).

The company backgrounder needs to be factual, objective (non salesy) and written in the third person. It’s best to provide both a short version (often just the news release boilerplate) and a longer version that includes more company history, competitive differentiation, and how the company’s products and/or services help customers solve problems (backed up with facts).

Management bios should include information on how long that person has been with the company, key responsibilities, any outside leadership roles held, and social media profile links.

To develop story ideas, start by looking at looking at editorial calendars from “A tier” publications in the industry and look for recurring themes. Make it clear which executives are the best sources for each topic.

Upcoming events and speaking engagements should include the date, name of the conference or event, a description of the company’s participation in the event, and links to the conference website and the speaker’s bio (if applicable).

All content should (of course) be search optimized, with the ability to limit the search to just information within the newsroom section of the site.

It almost goes without saying, but important news should be shared via the company’s Twitter feed, Facebook page and other important social media outlets. All newsroom content should be easily sharable using social media buttons for the most popular sites and networks (tools like AddThis, ShareThis and Meebo make it easy to add these buttons to any site or page). Use and link to social content sharing sites for your media assets as well, including YouTube and Vimeo for company videos, SlideShare for presentations, Podcast Alley and iTunes for audio, Flickr for photos, plus Scribd and Docstoc for PDF files.

The days of the press kit are far behind us, and there’s no need to simply replicate that old format online. The ultimate online newsroom can simultaneously provide far more information and yet give each reporter exactly what he or she is looking for.Maria Verven

Maria Verven is a PR and content marketing executive with KC Associates, a Minneapolis-based b2b technology PR and marketing agency. She’s well-versed in the “new rules” of doing PR, with expertise in social media, SEO (search engine optimization), content marketing, social media and blogging.

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The 2011 #Nifty50 Top Twitter Men Reprise

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Note: This post, a joint effort between Cheryl Burgess and me, originally appeared on the Blue Focus Marketing Blog last month.

Today, Tom Pick (@TomPick), Online Marketing Executive at KC Associates, who blogs at his award winning B2B Webbiquity, and I (@ckburgessBlue Focus Marketing @BlueFocus360) present 50 remarkable men on our 2011 #Nifty50 Top Twitter Men list. These men are indeed using Twitter to rewire and reorient the Web. But, by no means, is this list complete.

Tom contacted me a few weeks ago with this idea and we’ve been working collaboratively on this project ever since. So, as promised in Tom Pick’s blog, “2011 #Nifty50 Top Twitter Women”, in honor of mothers, our 2011 #Nifty50 Top Twitter Men now honors fathers. Just in time for Father’s Day, as we’re pretty certain that every man on this list is a dad, has a dad, knows someone who’s a dad, or some combination thereof.

It takes a community to build a community

So much of building a community requires understanding people and engaging with them. Experts tell us the number one networking tip is to help others and they’ll return the favor — large or small. Adding explicit or implicit promises to a relationship up front can kill it before it starts. Perhaps our focus should be to gain credibility and trust — then work to build an enduring, meaningful relationship.

Now you may wonder, “How do we build a community?” According to Tom Grant, Ph.D, Senior Analyst at Forrester (@TomGrantForr) “You don’t build a community. You expand it.” He said, “Few communities appear ex nihilo at the behest of a technology vendor.”

Should there be an ROI on relationships?

Mother Teresa, a great innovator on relationships said, “Love does not measure; it just gives”. Twitter, not unlike Mother Teresa’s virtues of love, is a delicate ecosystem of real people. Some experts may want to rethink their advice and look deeper into the real meaning of relationships.

Social Networking: Like Falling In Love

Adam L. Penenberg’s (@Penenberg) Fast Company article: “Social Networking Affects Brains Like Falling in Love” examines research by neuroeconomist Paul Zak that suggests social networking triggers the release of the generosity-trust chemical in our brains: Oxytocin (known as the cuddle chemical). This should be a wake-up call for companies’ content on pursuing outbound marketing initiatives.

Revolutionizing Communication

“Twitter isn’t just changing how we communicate — it is changing how we innovate…It’s revolutionary because it brings 21st Century DNA roaring raucously to life”, stated Umair Haque (@umairh) Director of the Havas Media Lab and author of The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business. What’s most interesting is that Umair made this statement in June, 2009 when Twitter had recorded approximately 2.5 million tweets per day. Today, Twitter posts 50 million tweets per day.

Umair went on to say in his post “The business of business is to create value — and that’s why Twitter’s not playing the tired, old game of value extraction. It is trying, instead, to create a more authentic kind of value — and to do that, you need ideals. Twitter pursues its ideals — democracy, peace, equity — with the quiet intensity of a true revolutionary.” Since 2009, we have seen revolutionary wars and unspeakable natural disasters. Umair is not only an innovative thinker but a man with astounding vision.

Ecosystems Rewiring: Real Relationships and Feelings

Twitter has become one of the most participatory public mediums in history and continues to grow exponentially as ecosystems of real people rewire with real relationships and feelings.

Now, along with Tom Pick (@TomPick) and myself, we would like to introduce the recipients of the 2011 #Nifty50 Top Twitter Men Award.

Sean GardnerSean Gardner@2morrowknight

Humanitarian and co-creator of the #TwitterPowerhouses Series, and #TwitterCharityFacts. Blogger for Huffington Post and @op_editorial, Marketer, Do-Gooder, Master Surfer! Sean was also a #MMChat guest, sponsored by @TheSocialCMO

Adam VincenziniAdam Vincenzini@adamvincenzini

Senior consultant at London-based agency, @ParatusComms. Blogging at COMMScorner.com, TheNextWeb.com and PRDaily.biz. Originally from Oz.

 

Dan HigginsDan Higgins@AdScientist

A digital and advertising strategist, Dan is passionate about new technologies and creativity. Currently, he is a Medical Officer in the @USArmy in Kandadar. His “first love” is advertising and when he returns home, he will be looking for a job on Madison Ave. Couldn’t name all of our favorite #Nifty50 creative guys, but we think Dan represents all of them for us. Dan had sent me a long list of his recommendations for #Nifty50. He thinks we’ve picked one name from his list, but what he doesn’t realize is that we’ve picked Dan to represent all the Mad Men. Dan, Madison Ave is waiting for you when you get home! |Dan’s LinkedIn Profile | Dan’s Tweets – On May 12, 2011 Dan tweeted this: @CarlRWarner @ckburgess I am officially an Army Medical Captain! |Dan is not always able to tweet b/c of responsibilities or out on missions…but here are a couple more of my favorite tweets from Dan sent on 5/21@AdScientist: ‘What is beautiful about social media are the relationships that can be built/started, conversations shared.’|Another special tweet he sent 5/21 @ckburgess I can’t wait to get home from Afghanistan to buy his book, #WeFirst, and not just follow his twitter and blog. @SimonMainwaring NEW POST by Cathy Waters @cathywaters May 19th Blog – Dan is the Man: Advice on Finding Marketing Jobs in the Digital Age

Marty WeintraubMarty Weintraub@aimclear

Marty Weintraub is president of aimClear, an Internet-focused Advertising Agency. His company provides traditional & social pay-per-click (PPC) management, natural search optimization (SEO), social media/feed marketing (SMO) and online reputation management (ORM) services to national clients. An avid search marketing blogger, he’s written extensively for SearchEngineWatch, SearchEngineLand, SEORoundTable and others. His popular “home” publication is aimClear Blog. Marty’s an international speaker at Search Engine Strategies (SES), Search Marketing Expo, SEMpdx and PubCon conferences. A musician by trade, Marty is well known for recording dolphins, wolves, loons, water environments and setting them to global acoustic music.

Alex RomanovichAlex Romanovich@alexromanovich

Founder of Social2B, social media marketing integrators and consultancies, with emphasis on Enterprise and B2B Social Media, SEO and SMM, and defining metrics and measurement systems, aligning traditional metrics with social media metrics. CMO at EuroSpaClub International. Advisory Board Member at The CMO Club. Contributor to the Social Media Marketing Magazine – B2B Column. Consults major corporations on social media strategies, reputation management strategies, risk management strategies, and social media growth and scalability in manufacturing, healthcare, IT service, technology, publishing, and CPG industry segments. Consulted on social media and reputation management strategy with Dow, Hearst, IBM, Time/Life, & Barnes&Noble. Founder of Social2B Labs – a new and emerging social media accelerator for companies and innovators targeting Enterprise and B2B solutions.

Andreas RamosAndreas Ramos@Andreas_Ramos

Andreas Ramos is the Director of Strategy for Acxiom Corporation and lives in Palo Alto, CA. He is an industry expert in the areas of SEO, interactive and digital technologies and author of Search Engine Marketing and several more books. He co-founded two Silicon Valley search engine marketing agencies and is a frequent speaker at search marketing conferences. Andreas’ blog includes a great list of favorite words and meanings from multiple languages. One example, the word: Aware. This is a Japanese noun, pronounced ah-WAH-reh, which means a sudden, brief awareness of the brevity and fragility of existence, such as a glimpse of a herd of deer running softly through a forest or noticing the sheen of moisture in a woman’s eyes. His blog also includes a beautifully written personal account of the night the Berlin Wall fell.

Andres Silva A.Andres Silva A.@andressilvaa

Marketing Professor at Universidad Andrés Bello and DuocUc. SMM, Consultant and Speaker. CEO at SMMChile and CM at Ingelab ltda. Andres is a social media expert. Ranked No. 1 Marketing Professors in the world by @SMMmagazine. Andres is always recommending his favorite tweeps and blogs, but now we’re recommending that you read Andres’s blogs at marketinghighcompetition.blogspot.com and blogmarketingchile.com and follow him. Andres’ insights and knowledge inspires not only his students, but everyone that follows him.

Arik HansonArik Hanson@arikhanson

Arik is the principal at PR firm ACH Communications, a digital PR consultant, blogger, co-founder of HAPPO, and (along with #Nifty50 award recipient Missy Berggren) co-founder of the Minnesota Blogger Conference – #mnblogconf

Aaron LeeAaron Lee@AskAaronLee

Aaron Lee or more known as Ask Aaron Lee (@askaaronlee) on twitter is your average Joe but with an extra-large social media addiction. Competitive by Nature, Positive Minded, Marketing Student & part time social media manager.

Billy MitchellBilly Mitchell@Billymitchell1

Billy Mitchell is a partner and senior creative director at MLT Creative, an Atlanta-based B2B marketing agency. As a B2B marketing specialist, Billy is a recognized expert in B2B inbound marketing, and is very active on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. He is also the curator of the top two B2B marketing lists on Twitter, and his lists are number one on both Listorious and Mashable. He contributes regularly to the B2B Ideas@Work blog for MLT Creative.

Michael BrennerMichael Brenner@BrennerMichael

Michael Brenner is a Sr. Director of Global Marketing for SAP. He is the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor for the SAP OnDemand blog and also a co-founder of social news site Business2Community.com. Michael has been working in marketing and sales for over 17 years in various roles where he uses customer insights to drive sales, ROI and customer loyalty through effective sales and marketing strategies. Michael believes that companies need to become more social, and that marketers need to stop focusing on just their activities and put the customer first. Follow Michael on Twitter @BrennerMichael and Facebook.

Christopher BurgessChristopher Burgess@burgessct

Christopher Burgess – Senior Security Advisor at Cisco; co-author of Secrets Stolen, Fortunes Lost; writes on Online Safety, Hunger and Human Trafficking on his personal blog, Burgessct.com, while also professionally blogging in both Huffington Post and Cisco Security Blog addressing social network/media security & privacy issues touching our personal and professional lives. Christopher is an often sought speaker, who addresses the unsavory side of social media not touched by many.

Chuck MartinChuck Martin@chuckmartin1

Chuck is Director of the Center for Media Research, MediaPost Communications, a NY Times Business best-selling author, CEO of Mobile Future Institute and mobile advocate. He’s brand manager of the Mobile Insider Summit and a frequent speaker nationally on mobile and mobile marketing. His newest book is The Third Screen (Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone Mobile).

Danny BrownDanny Brown@DannyBrown

Co-founder and partner at Bonsai Interactive Marketing. Speaker at TEDx and is regularly quoted in publications and news media, including Marketing Magazine, Canadian Marketing Association, Philadelphia Inquirer, Fast Company and City News Toronto. Award-winning marketing and social media blogger. Founder of 12for12k.org.

David AakerDavid Aaker@DavidAaker

David Aaker is Vice-Chairman of Prophet, Professor Emeritus, UC Berkeley, the creator of the Aaker Model™ and a recognized authority on brands. David has published 15 books and his latest is Brand Relevance. On David’s blog you will find more information on Brand Relevance as well as all his other books he has published. In addition, David’s blog provides the reader with a steady-stream of thought-provoking marketing content.

Jason DeRushaJason DeRusha@DeRushaJ

A reporter and anchor for CBS affiliate WCCO TV in Minneapolis (the top-rated newscast in the Twin Cities); Jason hosts the station’s popular “Good Question” segment. He’s also active in social media and was named as one of the Twin Cities Top Titans in Social Media in 2009.

Eric FletcherEric Fletcher@ericfletcher

Eric is the CMO at McGlinchey Stafford, a business law firm with nine offices in the U.S. He is a Communication and Marketing veteran, with a career that spans radio and television broadcasting, agency partnership, film & video production, and professional services consulting. His personal blog focuses on strategic marketing, communication and values in today’s market. In addition, Eric writes a column for SMM Magazine, and contributes as part of the “Crew” at The Social CMO Blog.

Blair Semenoff Blair Semenoff @Flipbooks

If you ‘ask’ @AskAaronLee about Blair he would probably say that Blair is one of the 50 Most ReTweeted Twitter Users of All Time. But Blair isn’t just a cool guy that everyone loves to RT, he’s a “Twitter Psychologist” & “Viral Marketing Scientist”. He is currently creating a global social media agency & is searching for funding.

Frank Strong Frank Strong @Frank_Strong

Frank is a PR & marketing guy full-time, infantry officer part-time, Pats fan all the time, political news junkie anytime. Visit Frank’s blog, The Sword and the Script, a blog that studies the application of marketing, PR and social media.

 Glen Gilmore, Esq. Glen Gilmore, Esq. @GlenGilmore

Glen is a power user on Twitter with over 100,000 followers. He is an attorney, social media best practices strategist and adjunct professor at Rutgers University. Principal of Gilmore Business Network, a NJ-based social media consulting firm, and also a practicing attorney. He is the senior social media marketing advisor to Memphis-based Howell Marketing (@HowellMarketing) and to Harrisburg-based Deeter Gallaher Group (@AnneDGallaher) public relations and marketing firms with clients ranging from Fortune 500 to small businesses and non-profits. Glen served as mayor in Hamilton, NJ, during the 2001 anthrax attacks when the regional postal facility located in the community received and distributed anthrax-tainted letters. Gilmore was featured in TIME magazine for having established an emergency treatment clinic to care for more than 1,000 postal workers who had been exposed to the potentially-deadly anthrax substance.

Holger SchulzeHolger Schulze@HolgerSchulze

Based in Washington, DC, Holger is director of marketing for information security vendor SafeNet. He is the founder and manager of two highly successful and active groups on LinkedIn, the 20,000-member B2B Technology Marketing Community and the 78,000-member Information Security Community.

Jeff AshcroftJeff Ashcroft@JeffAshcroft

Supply chain expert and social networking pro Jeff Ashcroft is a key thought leader in many fields including retail, supply chain & disruptive technologies. Jeff is the true social media visionary who created The Social CMO, a blog that brings 35 senior marketing minds together and is now one of the Ad Age Power 150 Marketing sites. Jeff also founded & hosts #MMchat one of the most popular tweetchats every Monday at 8 pm EST. That is why @theSocialCMO is aka @JeffAshcroft.

 Jeff Bullas Jeff Bullas @jeffbullas

Jeff Bullas is a Chief Digital Evangelist with a passion to make a dent in the digital universe. Jeff makes social media and digital marketing simple without the gobbledygook. Visit Jeff’s blog, www.jeffbullas.com for fresh social media insights.

Joseph ZuccaroJoseph Zuccaro@joezuc

Joe is a B2B Marketing consigliore and president of marketing automation services provider Allinio. Joe is the brainchild of B2B Twitterer of the Year Awards, @b2btoty debuted over two years ago. In keeping with Twitter’s crowd-sourcing spirit, the @B2BTOTY awards are based on votes from thousands of Twitter users and on each B2B creator’s Twitter strategy. Enjoy reading Joe’s blog.

Ken BanksKen Banks@KenBanks

Publisher, Ken Banks, is a seasoned online and offline publisher and is the Twitter power source for his blog @SocialNetDaily. Ken’s blog and tweets are social media news you can use. Ken understands the growing intersection of social media and business. He is listed as the 16 Brilliant Business Minds on Twitter in the Huffington Post. He is an inspiration to his followers.

Kent Huffman Kent Huffman @KentHuffman

Kent is the CMO at BearCom Wireless as well as the Founder and Co-Publisher of Social Media Marketing Magazine (@SMMmagazine) and a published author. He serves in advisory roles for the CMO Council and @TheSocialCMO. He is the publisher of The Top Professors on Twitter, The Top Authors on Twitter and The Top CMO’s on Twitter. Kent spearheaded the creation of BearCom’s company blog, BearCom Bulletin at Blog.BearCom.com. The blog will be formally hosted by BearCom’s virtual Chief Technology Officer, Meg A. Hertz, the mild-mannered tech geek who, when needed, morphs into superhero Wireless Woman. Kent is releasing the fifth issue of @SMMmagazine, and recently talked to SplashCast host Renay San Miguel about the magazine.

Kevin RandallKevin Randall@KevinBrandall

On Twitter, Kevin (@KevinBrandall) brands himself simply: “All-Brand guy at Fast Company.” That’s an understatement. When Kevin broke news on politicians using neuromarketing, The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Huffington Post and GOOD Magazine followed. When not writing for Fast Company, Kevin develops strategies at Moveo to turn client businesses into fast brands. Google invited Kevin to lecture their marketing executives—after they ‘Googled’ the term “B2B Branding“. Check out Kevin’s recent Fast Company project, Face the Nation: How Sensory Logic Sees Secrets In Candidates’ Mugs. And speaking of presidential faces, Kevin is quoted in a Forbes story on Trump’s brand value. Having worked previously at Interbrand to build brand value for name-brand companies, Kevin is also an accomplished ‘Naming guy’. So picking Kevin here was just good, nifty branding. BTW: Kevin is a fellow member of the #LeBronians team “drafted” by Robert Rose (@Robert_Rose) in FollowFriday & Who’s The Lebron In Your Strategy –Maybe It’s You.

Lee OddenLee Odden@leeodden

Lee is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing. He is one of 25 online marketing experts featured in “Online Marketing Heroes” published by Wiley and has been frequently cited for his search & social media marketing expertise by The Economist and Fortune Magazine. He’s an active thought leader in the search marketing industry. Lee has contributed to top industry publications such as Mashable, iMedia Connection and Yahoo Search Marketing Blog. A sought after search marketing, social media & PR industry speaker, Lee has keynoted Online Marketing Summit, Social Media Junction and Search Exchange on the intersection of Search, Social Media and Content Marketing.

Epirot Ludvik NekajEpirot Ludvik Nekaj@LPlus

Epi is a pioneer in the crowdsourcing ad model, and Founder & CEO of Ludvik + Partners @LAdvertising in NYC. Under Epi’s leadership, his agency has landed several clients in B2B and B2C to personal branding services for high caliber CEO’s like John Basil Georges and QR Code ad campaigns like Tissot Watches. Today, Ludvik + Partners is one of New York’s hottest boutique ad agencies built 100% on the crowdsourcing model. FYI: Never forget the first time I met Epi. It was at the Twitter Shorty Awards (NYC) in 2010. In the midst of a maddening crowd, Epi appeared with his quick smile and offered me my first Twittertini to congratulate me, it was a moment I’ll never forget. Prior to that night we were Twitter pals, but since then we’ve become good friends. In case you would like to attend a couple cool events on June 7th, during Internet Week NYC (June 6th – 13th, 2011), here are two discount codes for you: “Using LBS to Boost Your Biz + WE FIRST Book by Simon Mainwaring” 15% Discount Code: #LBSBoost and Crowdsourcing AD Biz + WE FIRST Book by Simon Mainwaring 15% Discount Code: #CrowdAdBiz .

Mack CollierMack Collier@MackCollier

Mack Collier is a strategist, trainer and speaker who specializes in helping companies better connect with its customers via social media. His motto: “Don’t focus on the tools, focus on the connections that the tools help facilitate.” Mack founded and moderates #Blogchat, the largest Twitter Chat on the Internet. His goal is to help clients create those connections with their customers, and nurture them into relationships that help grow their bottom line. Mack is a frequent contributor to the website Marketing Profs and his writings have been referenced in several mainstream publications and websites, including MSNBC.com, Ad Age, CNET, and The Boston Globe. Mack has presented at some of the top social media conferences including SXSW and Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer.

Mark RaganMark Ragan@MarkRaganCEO

Publisher of PR Daily and PR Daily Europe, the only daily news portals designed specifically for corporate communicators. Mark’s domain, Ragan.com also addresses Healthcare Marketing and Communications News and conducts a distinguished series of conferences to the communication and social media world. Mark personally drives his many conferences on communications and social media.

Mark SchaeferMark Schaefer@markwschaefer

Mark is a talented marketing consultant and adjunct professor for Rutgers University in New Jersey and has seven patents. Mark blogs at businessesgrow.com and is the author of The Tao of Twitter. He is also a recognized Twitter Top 10 Marketing Professor.

Mark BurgessMark Burgess@mnburgess

Mark is an experienced digital marketer, social brand strategist, speaker, blogger and educator. He is co-founder of Blue Focus Marketing, a social branding consultancy that helps brands realize the benefits of social media marketing. Utilizing an innovative model, delivers customized on-site social media workshops. He is also the co-author of Ad Agencies Winning New Business 360, which has sold in 25 + countries worldwide; based on a proprietary strategic blueprint with emphasis on social media. Mark has been quoted in the WSJ and The New York Times. Mark’s career spans marketing, advertising, and professional services consulting. Mark led the PwC Global Web team. At McCann, headed the flagship L’Oreal and Sears accounts. Mark is a Twitter Top 40 Marketing Professor. Mark teaches Executive MBA and MBA marketing and advertising courses. He has won two EFFIEs for marketing excellence and DMA ECHO Awards.

Mike VolpeMike Volpe@mvolpe

Mike is the CMO at HubSpot in Boston, a marketing software company. According to Brian Halligan (@bhalligan), “Mike has built a scalable, inbound lead generation machine for HubSpot,” Brian stated that Mike, “played a critical role in growing our customer base from a dozen beta customers to over 4,500 in four years. Last month alone we got 38,000 new, inbound leads to feed to our sales team. That’s inbound marketing in action.” Volpe is also credited with using inbound marketing to create a top marketing software industry brand that has won more than 30 industry awards, been featured in over 20 business and marketing books, and boasts one of the largest online communities of any SaaS company. Mike hosts an award winning weekly live marketing video podcast HubSpot TV. He was featured in a Harvard Business School case study “HubSpot: Marketing and Web 2.0“. He enjoys talking about marketing, appears frequently as a marketing speaker and blogs at blog.hubspot.com. Mike enjoys golf and playing recreational ice hockey and is a fan of the Patriots and Red Sox. Check out @TomPick’s blog at Webbiquity on what he learned from Mike’s HubSpot Webinar.

Patrick StrotherPatrick Strother@PatrickStrother

Strother Communications Group since 1992. Teaches PR at the University of Minnesota. Digital Marketing, Higher Ed, Sports, Art, Public Affairs and loves playing the Guitar. He’s a Twitter Top Marketing Professor.

Philip HotchkissPhilip Hotchkiss@PhilipHotchkiss

Philip is a very passionate writer. 3x startup guy, advisor, board member. Past adventures CPO @Klout, CEO at Talkingpoint, president @MarketWatch, founder/chairman/CEO at BigCharts Philip’s. Not sure how many children Philip has nor all of their accomplishments, but I do know he’s very proud of his 8 year old son playing classical piano. On May 22nd, Philip tweeted his talented, classical pianist son’s YouTube debut on his GatorKeys channel playing Kabalevsky Etude in A minor No. 27 Op. 3. It’s moments like these that makes communities feel like family.

Philip LettsPhilip Letts@philipletts

Philip’s passion in life is crowdsourcing. He is an entrepreneur and head of blur Group, a creative services exchange where businesses and brands source marketing and creative campaigns from a crowd of experienced professionals. Although his Twitter profile proclaims he is “crap at surfing” that may because a) there’s no surf in the UK or b) he is too busy making waves in an industry vying for dominance over Madison Avenue.

Gary SchirrGary Schirr@ProfessorGary

Gary Schirr is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Radford University in Virginia. His research passions are innovation and co-creation. Prior to joining academia, Gary worked for a Wall Street firm in Chicago and Singapore and as CMO for a succession of online startup firms. Now a third-career marketing professor, his interests also include service innovation, social media marketing, cross-cultural marketing and, entrepreneurship. Gary has the distinction of being ranked #3 in the world among Twitter Top Marketing Professors. Gary blogs at Service Co-Creation. He recently received a grant to develop a hybrid SMM course for RU, crediting his twitter and blog community which cooperated to crowdsource his grant application.

Scott GallowayScott Galloway@profgalloway

Scott Galloway is Professor of Brand Strategy @ NYU, Founder of L2 Think Tank, Red Envelope, Prophet Brand Strategy and Firebrand Partners. Scott’s L2 think tank helps brands navigate the changing marketing landscape through events, research and advisory services.

Robert RoseRobert Rose@Robert_Rose

Rob is the Founder and Chief Troublemaker at Big Blue Moose. Rob excels at innovating creative and technical content marketing strategies for his clients. He’s the Strategist in Residence and brand advisor for the Content Marketing Institute, a featured writer and guest blogger for the online magazine iMedia Connection. He is a frequent keynote speaker, guest blogger and brand advisor, and co-author of the book “Enterprise 2.0: How Technology, E-Commerce and Web 2.0 Are Transforming Business Virtually”. Rob is a research fellow with Coburn Ventures, a community of experts discussing and innovating current trends in Technology and investing. He also served on the Board of Directors of the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) Software Division, and was a founding member of the Executive Council on Software-as-a-Service. In our opinion, Rob’s most “notable” achievement and in keeping with Rob’s title, “Chief Troublemaker”, was his creation of #LeBronians team FollowFriday & Who’s The Lebron In Your Strategy? — Maybe It’s You.

Simon MainwaringSimon Mainwaring@simonmainwaring

Simon Mainwaring is founder of We First, a social branding consulting firm that helps companies use social media to build communities, profits and positive impact. His new book We First comes out in June explaining how brands and consumers use social media to build a better world. He is an ex-Nike/Wieden creative, Worldwide Creative Director on Motorola for Ogilvy, Fast Company blogger, international speaker, AdAge Power 150 member, contributes to Huffington Post, GOOD Magazine and Mashable and is a self-proclaimed “idea geek”. He blogs at http://simonmainwaring.com/and is committed to supporting a We First community of brands, non-profits and consumers using social technology to scale positive social change.

Steve AkinsSteve Akins@SteveAkinsSEO

On Twitter , Steve is known as a guy who is super friendly. He’s always quick to engage with you when you show up in Twitter chat. In real life, he is a SEO, developer, entrepreneur, struggling poet, gastronome, explorer from Chicago. Steve will be launching a new website soon. Can’t wait Steve!

Steve McKeeSteve McKee@SteveMcKee

Steve McKee is the president and co-founder of McKee Wallwork Cleveland; a full service integrated marketing firm that Advertising Age recently recognized as one of ten top small agencies in America and that has twice been awarded the American Marketing Association’s EFFIE Award for marketing effectiveness. He’s the author of When Growth Stalls: How it Happens, Why You’re Stuck and What to Do About It; writes a monthly advertising advice column for BusinessWeek.com, and has been published or quoted in the New York Times, USA Today, Advertising Age, Adweek, Investor’s Business Daily and the Los Angeles Times, as well as in dozens of newspapers and magazines throughout the U.S.. Steve has appeared on CNBC, ESPNII, CNNfn, Bloomberg TV and network television affiliates in more than two dozen cities across America and is a popular corporate speaker. Steve also blogs at Stalled, Stuck or Stale: The Blog for Brands That Don’t Have It All Together.

Steve FarnsworthSteve Farnsworth@Steveology

Steve is a senior corp comm practitioner and has worked with Apple, Mitsubishi, Philips, and THX. He consults with TV producers, documentary film makers, and authors on building audiences for their projects by using social media. Steve is currently the Chief Digital Strategist at Jolt Social Media. Steve also delivers on-site training and workshops designed to help his clients and their employees effectively integrate new school marketing with their traditional mix to increase brand loyalty and shorten the sale’s cycles. He is a director with the Silicon Valley Brand Forum, and regularly blogs and speaks on organizational adopting of social communications. As @Steveology on Twitter, he is nationally ranked in the top 5 for public relations, inbound marketing, and branding.

Steve WoodruffSteve Woodruff@swoodruff

Steve refers to himself as the Connection Agent. He creates Opportunity Networks – communities of people committed to supporting one another, learning from one another, and opening up doors of opportunity for personal and professional advancement through trusted referrals. Two business networks — Impactiviti and the Connection Agency — have been launched. Steve is also the co-founder (with #Nifty50 Woman @LisaPetrilli) of #LeadershipChat, a growing community on Twitter born out of #SOBConf.

Ted RubinTed Rubin@TedRubin

Many people in the social media world know Ted Rubin for his enthusiastic, energetic and undeniably personal connection to people. On May 1st Ted announced leaving OpenSky and accepting the position of Chief Social Marketing Officer at Collective Bias, a company he has worked closely with for two years since meeting the Founder, John Andrews, through the blogging community and whose Advisory Board he joined a few months ago. Ted is on the Advisory Board of CollectiveBias, OpenSky, and SheSpeaks, is a Social Marketing and Engagement Advisor to Big Fuel Communications, and a Social Marketing Strategist and Brand Evangelist for Zuberance, a company that identifies, mobilizes, and tracks Brand Advocates. Ted is the most followed CMO on Twitter and has one of the deepest networks of any marketer in the social arena. ROR is the basis of his philosophy…It’s All About Relationships!

Olivier BlanchardOlivier Blanchard@thebrandbuilder

Olivier helps companies develop, build, integrate, manage and measure Social Media Programs. He also helps companies manage their reputations online and offline, and establish leadership in their markets. His Twitter profile tells us: “Pray that I never become your competitor’s secret weapon.” Check out his blog. Also, highly recommend his book, The Social Media ROI.

Tony KarrerTony Karrer@tonykarrer

Tony Karrer is considered one of the top technologists in the e-Learning space. He is an experienced CTO and his work in social media, e-Learning and Performance Support has won awards and has led him into engagements at many Fortune 500 firms. Tony is a frequent speaker at industry and academic events. Tony blogs at Social CTO.

Trey PenningtonTrey Pennington@treypennington

Trey is all about delivering your brand story. Trey’s motto: “DON’T just tweet! Transform your marketing with STORIES. Story gets attention. Story gets SHARED”. Trey is a marketing pro, speaker, author, and dreamer. If you’re not connected to Trey either on Facebook, Twitter or haven’t met Trey IRL, then you’re missing a lot. Check out his blog to learn more about this amazing guy. You won’t be disappointed.

Umair HaqueUmair Haque@umairh

Umair is Director of the Havas Media Lab and author of The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business. He also founded Bubblegeneration, an agenda-setting advisory boutique that shaped strategies across media and consumer industries. Umar is not only an innovative thinker but a man with astounding vision.

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