'Tis the season to be thankful. 'Tis also the season for me to think about all of the ways that this blog -- and my education of social business -- has changed throughout 2009. I couldn't do that, of course, without thinking about all of the people who inspired me, educated me, or even kicked my butt when necessary.
Here's the thing about influencer lists... I don't think that blanket influencer lists are accurate. So much varies with the idea of "influence." While some big names might have mass impact on consumer companies I might care more about B2B, and so forth. I would prefer it if people making lists wouldn't make a grand influencer statement for a given market, but instead list who has most educated or inspired them. That's what I am trying to do here.
I will say first that I consciously decided not to include any of my ZDNet/CBSInteractive colleagues on the list itself, but I can't go without thanking Christopher Dawson, Michael Krigsman and Jason Perlow for all that they have taught me this year. Some of the names below you might've seen around this blog, either as part of the social media predictions piece or as guest bloggers or even sources for other projects. Regardless of whether you've seen them before, I hope that taking a look now brings you some value.
Nenshad Bardoliwalla | @nenshad Nenshad is a former co-worker from my days spent at Hyperion Solutions, now part of the Oracle family. He was one of our most capable and successful strategists on the topic of business performance management, and is now one of the foremost thought leaders on enterprise 2.0. Nenshad is also the author of "Driven to Perform". What I admire: He has a way of approaching and conveying the topic in an understandable way, and has the hands-on experience to back it up.
Mark Coker | @markcoker Mark is the founder of Smashwords, an e-book publishing and distribution platform for authors and readers. Mark has been a successful serial entrepreneur -- he runs Dovetail Public Relations and also founded and sold BestCalls.com to Shareholder.com -- and always seems to be a step ahead of the trends. Smashwords is yet another development by Mark that has filled a much needed gap in the industry. What I admire: Mark's tenacity and willingness to try new things and take on new challenges. Watching him grow Smashwords has helped me garner a better understanding of the elusive entrepreneurial spirit. Michael Dahn | @sfoak Mike took his vision of global community and turned into something that is becoming a permanent staple in the network security industry. He's the founder of BSides, a Barcamp-format security conference series that launched at Black Hat / Defcon this year. What started out as a small idea turned into a series of events that have brought together countless security professionals in an informal setting, sharing information and learning. BSides events are now being planned all over the United States. What I admire: Mike is relentless and passionate about BSides and this energy is infectious. He will change the conference landscape of the industry.
Dani Muccio | @dani3boyz She started on Twitter as a hockey mom with a great passion for social media. She combined that fandom and her resources and founded what is now known as the "NHL Tweetup", a connected group of events for hockey lovers throughout the U.S. and Canada. This might seem like a small feat, but Dani's efforts have helped the NHL create a much more approachable feel to what the larger sports kingdom might refer to as a "secondary" sport. What I admire: How Dani never forgets the community and understands that they are just as critical as she is to the success of NHL Tweetup.
Bert DuMars | @BWDumars Bert is the vice president of e-business and interactive marketing for Newell Rubbermaid. I've spoken with Bert several times throughout the last year regarding his company's embracing of social media, and how it has used it in different ways to support each of its many brands. What I admire: Bert is one of the first people with whom I spoke that understood that social media is not a one-size-fits-all approach, even within the same company. Take a look at the many brands of Newell Rubbermaid to understand how its working for them in most successful ways.
Tom Eston | @agent0x0 Tom is, among many other things, the founder of SocialMediaSecurity.com, a site dedicated to reporting all of the most critical security news around social media-related threats and privacy issues. He has taken it upon himself to do this based on his seasoned pedigree in the security industry as well as his vast understanding of social media. I started out talking to Tom to get "sanity checks" on security articles and he's since turned out to be an incredible source of information, as well as a co-author on the hacking of social media of 2009 post. What I admire: As technical as they come, Tom has a way of still explaining social media and security issues so that the general masses can understand them.
Rich Harris | @47project Rich is fiery passionate about a lot of things -- music, drumming, family, friends, and social media. What's most interesting about Rich is the way that he balances all of the above things, yet never ceases on his pursuits to learn more about social media as a whole. Where Rich excels above many others is his understanding of how social media impacts both B2C and B2B efforts for a company, and wears both hats in his role at Seagate. What I admire: In addition to his great balance, his desire to learn and teach others how social media and B2B can play well together, but how it might not look like social media as we see it now.
Doug Haslam | @dough Hands down, I think that Doug is a public relations professional who has been ahead of his game for a while. From the beginning Doug has tried to coach and educate the PR industry as to how it needs to shift to make way for social media, and how companies can make better use of their PR programs in a digital age. What I admire: Doug isn't just a thought leader, he's an executioner. He doesn't just talk about these ideas, he implements them for himself and for the companies with which he works.
Maeve Naughton | @maevenaughton In full disclosure, Maeve is a current coworker of mine, but I couldn't bear to leave her off of this list because of how much she has helped me understand this year. A customer loyalty professional through and through, she writes an amazing blog about customer references and loyalty issues and is also an active member of the community. What I admire: Whether the discussion is about digital programs or basic traditional marketing, Maeve always understands and even anticipate's a customer's needs, and understands that regardless of how marketing may progress, good customer loyalty is the foundation of any program.
Aaron Strout | @aaronstrout Those who regularly read this blog know that I co-host a podcast with Aaron, but that's not the reason he is on this list. He's on this list because he is absolutely fearless in his pursuit of understanding social media, and he is truly a great meaningful connector. There's rarely a company making waves that Aaron doesn't know about or has already spoken to, and his ability to really engage with the community around him is inspirational. What I admire: His willingness to share everything that he has learned, and his ability to do so with humility.