• Nah, we don’t need more. This list will do for 2011. Can they replace the current roster?

  • Geoff – interesting post, as always. I’ve spent a lot of time on NOT being labeled a “guru”. For several reasons.

    Foremost, I don’t have all the answers – I am learning every day. That hardly qualifies me to be a guru.

    Second – I don’t see what I do as “Social Media” – I am just a customer guy, trying to do right by customers. I happen to also be involved in some marketing stuff, and yes, Scoble works for me. None of that makes me an expert.

    All of that makes me interested. Interested in the space, the people that really make a difference to customers first (companies second) and interested in where I can take this for my company.

    I like to play. I like to try things, and see what fails, then try something else. That doesn’t make me a guru – it makes me someone that experiments. Someone that is allowed to.

    I try to talk more about what we do for others than who we are, or what we can do for you. Walk the walk, screw the talk! :) We try to be helpful – to as many people as we can – be they customers, customers of the competition, non-profits, and most especially our own employees.

    I hope I am never a guru. I hope we never stop being helpful.


    Rob La Gesse
    Chief Disruption Officer and DIrector of Social Strategy.
    Rackspace Hosting

    • Thanks, Rob. We go way back, and I think the best of you. I think the consultant factor is a huge part of it, and I can say that as a consultant. In order to market ourselves we need to share our ideas with the marketplace, and demonstrate leadership.

      However, some folks have done a disservice to the industry by doing this, creating this circle of insiders. Because their business benefits from staying on top, they do so, but they are doing it in ways that are harmful to the market, with stale ideas, and by not advancing the industry through current content and by maintaining a glass ceiling.

      It is absolutely annoying, and has gotten to a point where it’s not worth supporting these people anymore. Seeing the group in action on Quora — intended or not — was really an eye opening moment.

      • I seriously love this post, and agree with Rob that it is all about walking and not talking. I finally took a few minutes to listen to Sheryl Sandberg and was totally inspired. I so did that.

        • I watched Sheryl too…and then forwarded the link to entire book club because it related to our discussion last month.

          I am so burned out at conferences. I don’t want validation from the people I listen to…I want inspiration. I want to know how other people are putting together the puzzle in other industries. I want to hear from the folks that are doing the digging. I want to hear the passion from their lips…not paying lip service to social media.

          • There’s a serious need to say no whenever possible with the current group. Frankly, they have become has-beens. Time to vote with our feet.

          • Has-beens is a great word. I hire only people with a proven track record in corporate. Professors who write books and “profess” to be gurus are Last Generation.

          • I also also want to hear how other people are putting the
            puzzle together in other industries. Believe me Marketing, PR and
            and Technology have their fair share of Puzzlers but unfortunately
            it seems that a lot of other industries are lagging and have a lot
            of catching up to do. Any suggestions on how to find the folks
            doing the digging? (That’s a big questions, I know)

  • Geoff –
    thanks for the fresh faces and not the business as usual types.

    You missed Becky McCray — she really is out standing in her field and represents rural America very well. Not everyone lives in big cities. Actually – 2/3 of us live in rural communities.

    • Hey Deb, I am pretty familiar with Becky and think she’s a great lady. I’ve actually interviewed her before. One of the qualifiers for this list is that the speaker not be a consultant serving clients with social media services, so I am afraid she would not belong here… But she is notable, for sure.

  • Great list of people here Geoff – many of which I look forward to finally meeting in person (Wendy, Michael and Jay especially).

    Once the powers that be know where to find people and who they are, I’m hoping it will cause that much needed shift. Cheers to changing up the roster.

    • Thanks, Andre. Yes, we need to keep highlighting brilliant new voices that have walked the long mile so to speak. And I, too, hope to meet Jay Rosen sometime soon. He just rocks it!

  • I’ll nominate a few you might not know too:

    Nancy Baym, Ph.D.

    Aleks Krotoski, Ph.D.

    Fred Stutzman, Ph.D.

    and of course, I’m putting together the Routledge Handbook of Social Media, though I am not a keynoter in that field. There are plenty of other good candidates for keynotes from academia.

    • Thanks, Jeremy. I am not familiar with any of these folks, but I’ll be sure to check them out. Hope you are doing well.

  • Want to see some mobile health peeps on this list Geoff – they are doing some seriously innovative things. In fact, would like to see more health peeps period. Mandu Nahava, CEO of mDhil, Susannah Fox from Pew, Matt Holt, Health 2.0.

    • Thanks, Liz. I am sure they have a lot to add to a general conversation, just not a segment of interest to me, thus my lack of familiarity with these folks.

  • So lets not talk about it, let’s do it! How much would it cost to get these people at an action orientated conference.

    Day 1 sessions on different subjects, different ways of sharing (not just the table in front, moderator, everyone listening, we clap, then leave). Take notes start formulating how to use this information.

    Day 2 Form up groups of folks to work on things action plans, strategies, operationalize, technologies, resources, costs, cost reductions, increase profits, marketshare increase, customer satisfaction.

    Cost should be reasonable. I may know 3-4 great folks here in Minneapolis that could definitely pull this off. Could we have it here in Minneapolis too….

    • I may, I have been thinking about reviving BlogPotomac again. Just to put a different set of voices out there, and do so publicly in the best way. These things are not that costly and can pay for themselves. Would summer be a good time frame?

      • Summer would be an awesome timeframe! So glad you are talking and thinking about doing this!

        • Sometimes you just have to pull out of the conversation and do a little show and tell. Whatever it is, it can’t be called social.

  • Its a cabal Geoff. These people are making money snowing each other. Networks like Facebook and News outlets like Mashable help it succeed. The goal is don’t rock the boat while we are all making money for ourselves even if we make none for our clients. Can you say SubPrime Bubble for Social?

    • Yup, bubbleage is upon us for sure. It’s secret name is influence. I am not sure it’s as intentional as a kabal, but it’s a behavioral elite.

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    […] […]

  • Wonderful list Geoff. I really appreciate the fact that you underscore the different challenges of being an advocate for new media and different thinking within an organizations. Too many consultants and self-proclaimed gurus think there is simply a magic wand that they must wave to transform a company. You’ll often see them point to one incident or program as failure of an entire strategy on their blogs. Anyone with a half a head of business sense knows that organizational shifts and cultural change is often a herculean task.

    I’m look forward to usuing this list as a “must-see” for speakers in 2011.

    • Yeah, I’ve really stopped pointing out social media failures or brand disagreements on my blog. I feel like they cause more harm than good, and often create a pile on effect or contribute to a larger one. The Starbucks and Gap rebranding efforts are recent examples of this.

      As to speakers, these are a good start, but add your own, too. We need more!

  • I really think it’s great that you are shining the spotlight on new voices and new names – there definitely is not a lot of that going on.

    However, I think that building this post on that particular quora question may be a bit shaky. The question was “Who are the most interesting Social Media speakers?” How are we defining “interesting”? For people who are really new to the Social Media world, “Interesting” could be, “They really inspired me to start a blog” or “they got me interested in joining Twitter.”

    I do think we are in danger of creating a granite ceiling, as I’ve discussed here before. I have been told recently that I was talking about things “that have been covered before.” Well, sure. But no one has done it with my voice and my perspective, nor has anyone incorporated my own personal experiences to highlight certain issues. There seems to be a desire among some to close out new ways of talking about old things.

    That’s kind of sad, if you ask me.

    • Marjorie, thanks for coming by. While I can see that point of view, I feel differently. I’ve been in this business for a long time, and I’m really tired of 2008. Nor am i going to support it anymore, or the people who aren’t going to evolve their thinking. As a consumer and an industry participant that’s my right.

      The good news for people that aren’t tired of 2008 topics is that they can read your blog, or conferences organized by folks like you. While the number will dwindle over time, there will always be folks open to such content. A win win for all. But let’s not represent these people as the best when there is more evolved thinking out there.

      • Hmm. What are folks like me, Geoff?

        I’m really disappointed that you use terminology tied to discarding me when I come here to converse with you and with other people I respect a great deal.

        It smacks of traits you so often (and rightfully) complain about in others.

  • Agree! As a corporate exec, I don’t want to see one more “guru.” Give me people who have “done it” in a corporate environment – the more complex the challenge the better. Sites like CustomerThink, filled with gurus who have never actually done anything, are indeed passe.

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