Yep, it’s that time of year again. The time where we reflect on the previous 52 weeks and look forward to what’s coming next. The time to take a moment and appreciate the view, whilst also scanning the horizon to see the next peak off in the distance. And it’s also the time where we’re going to see a heap of list posts, with experts from all over the industry noting their thoughts on what to expect, what the biggest changes of the year were and what to expect in 2015.
So before that flood begins, I thought I’d get in early and post my own list, though this is not a collection of predictions or observations. What this is is a list of appreciation, a group of people who’ve influenced me over the past twelve months and whom I think deserve a moment of recognition. This is not intended to be a complete list of social influencers – there are many others who I greatly respect and would also put into that category – but this is a list of people who I’ve come into contact with over the past year who’ve helped me through their advice, support or just through being present and creating great stuff. Each of these people is worth following and connecting with, and I’ll give you a brief rundown of why for each. So here they are, my 11 social media types that you should all be following for 2015:
Brian Fanzo (@isocialfanz)
I’ve seen him described as the alpha-connector, the man in the middle of so many social communities and links. I connected with Brian just over a year ago and immediately aligned with him, not only because of his greater vision of how we can use social, but also because of his enthusiasm for the medium. Brian lives and breathes social media, as evident by his impressive list of Twitter chats, all of which he regularly attends. His follower count has shot up dramatically in the past year, and the main reason is his infectious energy, his passion for change and for how we, together, can build better working relationships through social. Always willing to respond, always happy to connect, Brian is one of the rising stars of the industry – follow him and see why.
Bryan Kramer (@BryanKramer)
One of the most foreward thinking social media types in the biz – but also, one of the best at articulating and explaining his vision in a relatable way. Bryan’s ‘H2H’ presentation, which lead to the creation of his first book, captured the ethos of the social media community, something that many had felt but had been unable to pin down. This approach, focussing on the human element of technological change, is, for me, what social is all about. Yes, there’s data and automation and cognitive tech being developed that will change the very way we live, but at core, the key to success is humanity, how these things connect us to the wider world and make our lives better. That’s the central tenet, the biggest motivator in what we do. Bryan’s approach is commonsense, yet highly intelligent, and he’s able to communicate it as such.
Neil Patel (@NeilPatel)
Honestly, there’s been times where I’ve scheduled so many of Neil Patel’s posts to be shared that I felt like I may as well be a fan account. Like Bryan Kramer, Neil is able to communicate high level concepts – in particular, complex tech processes – in a simple, digestible format. If you’re starting out in SEO, I’d recommend Neil’s posts, as he’s able to present the information logically and applicable way, which is rare among the more technical fields (Rand Fishkin is also great in this respect, and someone I’d also recommend). But the biggest stand out of Neil’s writing is his passion for the topic. He’s excited to share the info he has – it veritably jumps off the page through his expressions and language. He has a great understanding of how to action increasingly tech-heavy concepts, but also, how those challenges relate to his readers’ and the problems they face in their day-to-day experiences.
Kevan Lee (@KevanLee)
Another blogger whose content I have shared so much of. Everyone in the industry knows Kevan Lee, Buffer’s content superstar. What Kevan does better than most is he sees the connections between many approaches and concepts and is able to collect them all together to form comprehensive, deep posts that cover not only your main question about the issue, but the next question you’re about to ask in response, and the next question after that. What’s more, Kevan will also share his personal experiences to back up the data, so it goes further than just academic discussion. He’s also a great writer – undoubtably a key trait for all bloggers, and something that cannot be overlooked. Kevan is a skilled and intelligent communicator – if he were the only blogger you read, you’d still be very highly informed on industry best practices.
Amy Vernon (@AmyVernon)
I came into contact with Amy after she hosted a Twitter chat earlier in the year and I was immediately taken by her no-nonsense approach. What I appreciate most about Amy is her interest in using social media for social good, her attachment to causes and personal passions that she promotes in line with her interest in social media and digital marketing. Make no mistake, Amy has a sharp wit and sees through the jargon – when Amy shares a post, I pay attention, as she’s one of those people who’s always on-point, who sees things for what they are and is able to pick out the most relevant information. A highly experienced journalist, Amy approaches the social world in an investigative and insightful way, and has taught me alot about being who you are, stranding for what you believe is right and using your social presence as your voice on the wider stage.
Ally Greer (@AllyGreer)
Another person I met via Twitter chats, Ally is an experienced and professional operator who, above all, knows her stuff. But Ally is also totally human, with updates that share who she is, as opposed to just what she does. What Ally has shown me is that you can be yourself whilst also being an industry leader, you don’t have to just post about business and your professional interests to be seen as an expert. In many ways, this is the ideal approach to social – to be yourself first and foremost, while using the medium to build your personal brand and establish expertise at the same time. As adept at dropping one-liners as she is at dropping knowledge, follow Ally for intelligent insights into digital marketing, mixed in with humorous observations about the online world.
Brian Solis (@BrianSolis)
Everytime I read one of Brian Solis’ posts I immediately feel both smarter and dumber. Every presentation, every book, every SlideShare of Brian’s I’ve read energises me and widens my perspective on the possibilities of our ever-more connected world, whilst also highlighting how much more there is for us to learn and understand. His insights are virtually without compare – even if you don’t agree with his perspective, you can’t deny that he makes you think. His passion for the digital world and our connected future flows through his nouns and verbs, and he’s so comprehensive that he’s able to take his presentations to that next level, where all writers’ aspire to be – a level that’s undeniable. Most people are well aware of Brian, but if you’re not following him, you really need to be. He’ll alter your thinking on what’s possible in the evolving digital realm.
Mike Allton (@Mike_Allton)
The Social Media Hat is a comprehensive and detailed resource on everything social, and the man who wears that hat (primarily) is Mike Allton. Mike’s another who’s able to present complex technical information in a readable, user-friendly format, communicated in such a way that anyone can follow along and understand what will likely work best for them. I’ve communicated with Mike a few times via social channels and he’s always been welcoming and responsive – not only have I learned a heap from his posts, I’ve also learned from his openness, his approachable nature, highlighting the importance of community and building connections. Mike is one who definitely practices what he preaches and has supported my work by sharing some of my best posts, which is a major compliment, given his status in the industry. Always one of the first resources I check out if I can’t think of how to solve an issue on a social platform.
Dionne Kasian-Lew (@DionneLew)
One of Australia’s leading social media identities, Dionne has built her brand by specialising in advising the C-Suite on social and it’s benefits. There are two things I’ve learned from Dionne – the first is that she’s targeted a specific niche, which is a very effective strategy in the social arena, positioning yourself as the go-to person for that topic, and Dionne took this to the next level with the release of her book ‘The Social Executive’ earlier this year. But the other thing that Dionne has highlighted for me is the value of not only building relationships online, but of making the effort to extend them offline. Dionne recently returned from an overseas trip where she met with many social media types around the world, which was excellent to see and something I’d love to do myself. On top of this, Dionne’s writing is always very intelligent, references excellent sources and outlines the case for social in a professional, fact-based way.
Rachel Miller (@RachelLouMiller)
I came into contact with Rachel through Brian Fanzo and have regularly interacted with her via various twitter chats and comments. Rachel is an expert in social selling and has a great understanding of the various nuances of the process. But where Rachel’s true expertise shines through is her understanding of how to build communities – how to communicate with people on a real, relatable level, and the importance of doing so in building connections. Always active on social, Rachel shares great content and offers great advice on utilising social channels for business. If you’re interested in Twitter chats, Rachel and Brian host #SSHour, where they cover all aspects of social selling – definitely worth your time.
Melonie Dodaro (@MelonieDodaro)
A LinkedIn expert, Melonie is a great source of knowledge for all things social, not just LinkedIn alone. Melonie is a great content curator, one of those who when they share something, you know it’s worth your time, and, combined with her own regular posts, this makes her a must follow. Melonie is also a great supporter of new voices in the field, regularly sharing posts from a wide range of sources to her 60k+ Twitter followers. Follow Melonie for great posts from around the industry and from her own Top Dog Social Media blog, always great stuff.
While there are also other industry thought leaders who are also must-follows – Jay Baer and Gary Vaynerchuck immediately spring to mind – these eleven are the people I’ve most learned from in the past twelve months, and are definitely worth adding to your lists. All of them are experts whose opinions I greatly respect, and whose efforts, every day, I, and many others, appreciate.