No longer can companies afford to put social media on the backburner. Today, it’s integral not just to marketing, but also to sales, talent acquisition, product strategy, and just about every other area of business.
It’s not just a few sales or choice candidates companies might miss without social media, either. More than three in four U.S. consumers have purchased a product they’ve seen on social media, and 70 percent of employers turn to social media when hiring for candidate research.
Because of social media’s cross-company value, executives are looking in new places when choosing people to speak on the topic. To help their teams use popular platforms in new ways, company leaders are poring over keynote speaker lists for sales, marketing, leadership, and more.
Top Speakers Go Social
After listening to dozens of speakers across domains, I’ve narrowed my must-see list to 11 people who bring something new to the social-media conversation:
1. John Hall
A glance through John Hall’s speaking site or award-winning book “Top of Mind” is all it takes to see that he understands the heart of social media marketing: helping people become more engaging to others. Speaking about trust and engagement allows him to truly connect with different types of audiences, building connections on what makes us human. Hall recently received EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year award and been recognized at the United Nations. Forbes, where Hall has a weekly column, recently called him “one of the most authentic speakers out there.” John’s unique approach, which includes fun stories of people close to him — ranging from industry leaders to his wife and kids — gives audiences relatable insights they can use.
2. Jay Baer
The most retweeted individual among digital marketers, Jay Baer is a leading business strategist and New York Times best-selling author of five books about leadership, technology, and customer service. Having founded five multi-million dollar companies, Baer advises more than 700 companies, including Fortune 500 firms like Nike and Allstate. Since founding Convince & Convert, a strategic consulting firm, he has built one of the world’s best content marketing blogs as well as a popular marketing podcast. Outside of work, Baer is an avid tequila collector and barbeque judge.
3. Brittany Hodak
Brittany Hodak knows better than anyone the power of social media for building a fanbase. As co-founder of The Superfan Company (previously ZinePak), she has led campaigns for Amazon, Unilever, Walmart, and more of the world’s largest companies. On ABC’s “Shark Tank,” Hodak and her co-founder won offers from four Sharks, who were impressed by creativity and business skills. Hodak’s words have inspired millions of professionals through speaking engagements as well as hundreds of articles for outlets like Forbes, Adweek, and Wall Street Journal.
4. Stephen George
Stephen George took the social media skills he learned as Groupon’s head of operations and used them to found an entirely new type of company: Surkus, which connects consumers to brands and real-world events aligned with their interests. Since co-founding Surkus in 2015, George has attracted more than half a million members and launched more than 5,000 experiences. More impressively, however, he has helped thousands of brands, restaurants, nightclubs, and venues turn their online fan bases into highly engaged crowds. George has been featured in Entrepreneur, and Surkus has caught the attention of outlets ranging from The New York Times to Mashable to The Washington Post.
5. Patrick Ambron
CEO Patrick Ambron co-founded BrandYourself with a simple goal that translates well to the social media world: help people look better online. After growing BrandYourself to more than 80 employees across two offices, Ambron began speaking about online reputation management at a range of venues. In addition to giving guest lectures at Syracuse University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and more; Ambron contributes regularly to Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, and Adweek. Ambron is also a regular instructor at tech bootcamp General Assembly.
6. Ann Handley
MarketingProfs partner Ann Handley has helped hundreds of thousands of subscribers learn the rules of the road for marketing and social media. Her prior company, ClickZ, which she sold in 2000, was one of the first sources of digital marketing information online. In the two decades since, Hadley has written multiple Wall Street Journal best-sellers, including “Everybody Writes” and “Content Rules,” which have been translated into 19 languages. Handley consistently ranks as one of the most influential marketers on social media.
7. Dorie Clark
The author of “Entrepreneurial You,” “Reinventing You,” and “Stand Out,” Dorie Clark has been described by The New York Times as “an expert in self-reinvention and helping others make changes in their lives.” In addition to serving as an adjunct professor of business administration at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, Clark has guest lectured at universities such as Harvard Business School, Harvard’s Kennedy School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, MIT School of Management, and more. A former journalist, Clark also directed “The Work of 1000,” an environmental documentary film, and produced a multiple-Grammy-winning jazz album.
8. Andy Crestodina
With more than 20 years of speaking experience, co-founder and CMO of Orbit Media Studios Andy Crestodina has quite the track record. Specializing in content marketing, SEO, and analytics topics, Crestodina has recently expanded his circuit to include Social Media Marketing World and similar conferences. He was the top-rated presenter at Content Marketing World in 2015, after which he returned as the conference’s 2016 keynote speaker. Based in Chicago, Crestodina co-founded Chicago Cause, a philanthropic program that has donated nearly $500,000 in marketing services to area nonprofits.
9. Mari Smith
Few people, if any, know more about Facebook marketing than Mari Smith. With more than 1.7 million followers across social channels (including 650,000 on Facebook alone), Fast Company called Smith “the Pied Piper of the Online World.” Her award-winning books include “The New Relationship Marketing and Facebook Marketing: An Hour in a Day.” With more than a decade of experience in relationship-building, marketing, and technology, Smith has shared stages with celebrities in business and pop culture, including Sir Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, Paula Abdul, and the Dalai Lama.
10. Jeff Barrett
Jeff Barrett has won a bevy of awards, ranging from Business Insider’s #1 Ad Executive to the Shorty Awards’ Best Blogger; he also notched spots on Cision’s and Forbes’ Top 50 in Social Media lists. And it’s no surprise: Barrett’s known for being entertaining and funny, and his interactive presentations demand that audiences engage. As a writer for publications including Mashable and Inc. and the co-host of the “Marketing & Management” podcast, Barrett focuses on creating content that converts and relationships that grow. He also serves as a consultant for Adobe and has developed his PR and marketing chops over years of work with clients including P&G and other big brands.
11. Bryan Kramer
Much of the online world met Bryan Kramer through a recent TED Talk titled “Imagining Our Future,” but the business world has known Kramer for years. As CEO of media agency PureMatter, Kramer’s company was named one of Silicon Valley’s fastest-growing private companies by Silicon Valley Business Journal. Building on the success of “Human to Human: H2H,” Kramer’s latest book, “Shareology: How Sharing Powers the Human Economy,” explains how technology can never replace the human need to share stories and emotion. Kramer also hosts two podcasts, “The BK Show” and “H2H Chat,” as well as a “#Substance” video series.
12. Cynthia Johnson
Cynthia Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Bell + Ivy, knows a thing or two about social media’s role in personal branding. In addition to being named one of Entrepreneur’s top personal branding experts in 2017, Johnson’s book on the subject, “Platform: The Art and Science of Personal Branding,” is due to be published in early 2018. Before founding Bell + Ivy, Johnson was a partner and director for marketing at RankLab, one of Inc.’s fastest-growing private companies. Her work spans multiple platforms, leading her to be named one of the top 50 marketers on Snapchat by Mashable and one of Tenfold Research’s most influential women in business.
The fact that so many of today’s top social media speakers made names for themselves in areas like nonprofit management, content marketing, and business strategy is a testament to social media’s broad power. Companies can use social platforms to connect with new audiences, soup up sales, and find new employees, and the leaders listed here know how to do it. But be warned: Social media speakers’ schedules fill up fast; they’ve got plenty of friends to choose from.