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Who’s in your Social Media Hall of Fame?


Last week, Major League Baseball chose its new class for the 2013 Hall of Fame. Well, actually, they chose not to elect anyone to the Hall this year, but that’s a whole different story (how Jack Morris is not in the Hall of Fame is a mystery to me).


That got me thinking: Who would be in my Social Media Hall of Fame?

Yes, the industry is still relatively new, but what if you could elect a founding class today. Who would be in your Hall of Fame? Below is my stab.

For my Hall of Fame, I sought to include people who paved the way for the industry we see in front of ourselves today. I picked people who’ve made a substantial difference for social media on a whole. I chose people who have definitively shaped our industry–for the better. I chose people who started platforms and organizations. I chose people who started media outlets that sustain and thrive to this day. And I chose some people who have done outstanding work–people who some of us continue to learn from to this day. And then some people I just chose…well because. It’s my damn Hall of Fame–you come up with your own! 🙂

Ladies and gentleman, I give you my 2013 Social Media Hall of Fame:

Bryan Person–Founder, Social Media Breakfast


I don’t know about you, but Social Media Breakfast was one of my first exposures to social media. I was one of the 20 people or so who were at the very first SMB here in Minneapolis. A number of them have become good friends since then. SMBs were a phemonenon across the U.S. They were everywhere. And they got a lot of people involved with social early on. And they continue to educate people about social to this day. None of that happens without the yeoman’s work of Bryan Person, who I don’t believe has made all that much (if any) money from SMB over the years.

Chris Heuer and Kristie Wells, Co-founders, Social Media Club


Much like SMB, Social Media Club (SMC) also played a large role in organizing social media types early on by giving us all a place to congregate and learn from each other. We didn’t have a big SMC here in Minneapolis, but I know they were big in other spots. Chris (and Kristie Wells) kick-started SMC in 2006 (first chapter was in San Francisco) and keeps it going to this day. It’s even turned into an international organization with chapters as far as Nigeria, New Zealand and South Korea. Talk about advancing the industry…

Mike Stelzner, Founder/editor-Social Media Examiner


Although Social Media Examiner really didn’t start gaining traction until a couple years ago, it’s one of the better social media sites/online magazines around (in my view). Dubbed “the world’s largest social media magazine”, SME provides tons of great content, including really solid “how to” content. In all, the site has amassed a whopping 190,000 subscribers and 5.5 million annual readers. And although sometimes the content might be a little basic for many who work in the field full-time now, it’s a treasure trove of content you can share with clients.

Shel Holtz, podcaster/blogger/consultant


Little known fact: Shel Holtz is the reason I got became more interested in social media. It was 2006 and I was working for an accounting/consulting firm. I took a seminar Shel was hosting here in Minneapolis. For two days, I was spellbound. And I never looked back. Shel has been talking about social media longer than just about anyone I know. He’s also one of the better–and longest-running–podcasters around. His “For Immediate Release” podcast has been “on the air” for more than 10 years now (he produces it with UK-based blogger, Neville Hobson). Shel’s a frequent speaker, especially on the Ragan circuit. And over the years, thousands of people have either seen him speak about social or heard him on a Webinar. I’m sure he’s impacted others across the country–just like he did me eight years ago.

Amber Naslund, blogger/entrepeneur

Amber Naslund

Amber’s my wild card. She doesn’t really meet some of the criteria I set out above. Didn’t create a platform. Didn’t create a media outlet. Didn’t really “advance the industry” in the way folks like Bryan, Kristie/Chris and Rick/Dave did (below). In fact, she’s really been using social for her own good (VP at Radian6, now an entrepeneur). But you know what? I’m still putting her on the list. Why? In an industry dominated by men (relatively speaking), Amber has stood tall. She was one of the strongest voices at Radian6 as it emerged a few years ago. She was a stalwart at national social media conferences in the early years. And, she’s quite simply one of the best writers around. Maybe that doesn’t put her in a Social Media Hall of Fame, but again, this is my list dammit and I’m putting Amber in.


Rick Calvert/Dave Cynkin, founders-BlogWorld

Rick C

OK, so maybe Rick and Dave has a special place in my heart because of the role I’ve played with BlogWorld (now New Media Expo) over the years. But, BlogWorld has always been the yin to SXSW’s yang for me (and many others) over the years. Sure, SXSW gets all the accolades and is more popular than BlogWorld, but when I hit Vegas each Spring, BlogWorld always feels like home. It is always a who’s who of the social and blogging world. Sure, one of their goals of BlogWorld is to make money. But, take it from me, in working with these two guys, they’re about much more than the money. Their hearts are in the right spot–and it shows in the BlogWorld production each year. Their event has really brought our industry along the last few years.

Andy Sernovitz, founder, Word of Mouth Marketing Association

Andy S

Sure, Andy’s a New York Times best-selling author. Sure, he’s taught at Northwestern University in Chicago. Sure he’s started at least 12 different companies. But that’s not why Andy’s on this list. Andy’s on this list for his work in starting the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. And, his work to instill ethics into the social media world (still, a concept that’s completely lost on many people in our industry). Take a peek at the WOMMA membership list sometime–it’s a veritable who’s who of the biggest and best companies in the country. And anecdotally, from a few friends who work for these big companies and are members, they tell me it is the best membership group they’re a part of year in, and year out.


Charlene Li, founding partner, Altimeter Group

Charlene Li

Charlene’s success kind of goes against many of the tenets of this list. She’s made a big name for herself making money from our industry–first at Forrester years ago, and now as the founding partner of the Altimeter Group. But, she’s also been one of the foremost thinkers in our industry–right from the get-go.  She might not have a hot blog like some of her contemporaries, but she wrote one of the defining books of our generation on social media in Groundswell. She might not be on Twitter all the time, leading the charge, but she does have an undergrad AND an MBA from Harvard (which doesn’t necessarily mean she should be on this list, but it certainly speaks to how darn smart she is).


Scott Monty, Head of Social Media-Ford

Scott Monty

Scott didn’t found any unique organizations, tools or companies, but he was one of the first to definitively lead social for a large Fortune 500 company in a very public way. Many of us learned a lot from Scott early on–and we continue to learn from him. Another reason I think he’s in–Scott’s one of the nicer folks you’ll find in the social media world. Side story: A couple years ago a mainstream media outlet wrote a somewhat scathing story featuring Scott. It didn’t paint the best picture of Scott. Many people came to his defense on Twitter, and in the comments on that story. One of those people was me. I remember a day or so after that story broke, I got a DM from Scott thanking me for the comment. Now, I don’t know Scott all that well–we’ve met a couple times, but that really impressed me. With everything he has going on, and with all the people that came to his defense that day, he took a moment to send me a DM. But my sense is that’s the kind of guy Scott is. Which is partly why he’s on this list–in a world of “gurus”, “ninjas” and “jedis“, Scott’s professionalism most certainly stands out.

Mark Zuckerberg


Do I even need to explain?


Pete Cashmore, Founder, Mashable

Pete Cashmore

Truth be told, I’m not a big Mashable fan. Haven’t been for a while in fact. I think they jumped the shark a couple years ago. But, early on, Mashable was THE de facto source of news and information about the world of social media (and for many, it still is). That was all Pete Cashmore. Nowadays, Mashable has evolved into something a bit different. Still has tremendous clout though. But Mashable was the first to really dominate the social media news business.


Biz Stone/Evan Williams, co-founders, Twitter


Much like Facebook, the social media landscape would not be where it is today without Twitter. That’s due to the good efforts of Mr. Biz Stone and Evan Williams. Twitter is one of the tools that truly transformed and launched social media to the place it is today. Sure, you could say other platforms played a role–but Twitter and Facebook really brought it to that next level. They created the landscapes–we just all play in them. Also, little known fact: Evan Williams is widely credited with coining the term “blogger” (and also co-founded Blogger).


Chris Brogan, blogger/business owner/speaker


Chances are, if you got into social media relatively early (2006-2008), Chris Brogan was one of the first people you heard of. That’s because the guy was everywhere. Not so much anymore, it seems. People caught up (a lot of them). But early on, Chris Brogan was THE “it” guy when it came to social media. Now, I’m not saying this means Chris is the smartest guy when it comes to our industry (he might be, who knows?). But, he was certainly one of those guys who paved the way for the rest of us. His evangelizing early on got people’s attention (people OUTSIDE the social media bubble). He created a stage–then used that stage to tell the world about social. His blog has been at the top or near the top of the Ad Age list. He was really THE guy that the layman knew when it came to social media. Love him or hate him, but for that, we all owe Chris Brogan our respect.

So that’s my Hall of Fame. Who’s in yours?

Photo credits to Steve Garfield, TheKenYeung, Becky Johns, Richard Moross, framesmedia, methodshop, JD Lasica, watsonsinelgin, Geoff Livingston, BaseballBacks and toprankonlinemarketing via FlickR Creative Commons.



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