Lee Odden

Social Media Influences

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Social Media

social media influencesAnyone actively involved (in a productive way) with social media as a marketing, influencer marketing, PR or customer service communications channel started somewhere. Since it’s a social activity, that means a high degree of influence from others already mastering the channel. It’s no mystery that one way to quickly gain knowledge about and adapt to something new is to find, listen to and engage those that are already there – or at least further along than you are.

It’s not always a linear thing though. There are plenty of directions to go in the social media space and learning from others via participation and collaboration is where the real productivity in acquiring knowledge comes from. Different people focus their attentions, efforts and expertise in different areas and therefore, offer a different set of influences. A herd mentality towards social media expertise does not inspire innovation.

You can call it whatever you want, social media, social web, social this and social that, but in the end it’s not just about cliches like “conversation”, “transparency” and “participation”, but “marketing”. Not marketing in the traditional sense of course, but businesses communicating with customers in a way that ultimately produces many outcomes, one of which is revenue for the business.

I started blogging for TopRank Online Marketing 5 years ago and in the process of advancing my personal knowledge of social media as a marketing and PR discipline, my early influencers came from a variety of backgrounds and expertise as well as from personal experience and testing. These are people who shared ideas at large or to me specifically that had an impact on how I’ve pursued blogging, social media PR, measurement and RSS:

Some of these early influencers (for me) are people I have come to know better from interactions online and off. Others were innovative for their time but maybe not so much so now and I really have no connection with them. There’s a whole set of people that have been an influence over the past 2 years or so like @chrisbrogan and many others not listed here. I’ll likely do another post about that.

The funny thing about the whole social media trend is that there are many, many people who have jumped into the social media space and thrown up consulting practices like lemonade stands, parroting what many of the pioneers have been saying (like concepts from Cluetrain Manifesto).  The trend is similar to when SEO started to gain momentum and web design/development before that. How many times have you heard someone say, “My brother in law has a computer and can do (insert Design/SEO/Social here)”.

There are opportunists for sure, but there are also some very smart, creative people making amazing headway innovating on their own and mashing up and building upon what others have done. That is the social media way. Making something that already exists, better.

Collaborating with other like-minded enthusiasts to create, inspire and improve.  There are a few concepts TopRank has promoted pretty enthusiastically in this regard (Push Pull PR, Digital Asset Optimization, Social Media Roadmap) that others have built upon and promoted.  We’ve done the same thing with others’ ideas such as social media optimization and online reputation management. The benefit of multiple people contributing to such concepts is to further awareness and knowledge for those that will benefit. Increased awareness means more influence as well.

Who were your early social media influencers?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Lee,

    This sure is a nice angle on the topic of influence – thanks for advancing it!

    When we began in the online reputation monitoring space, there weren’t many individuals who were really focused or specializing in it. I remember emailing Andy Beal (at the time he was with Fortune Interactive) and then conversing with him over the phone, and he had great insights to share. It’s really nice to see that Andy has really moved on to become a name in reputation management, and I really appreciated the access he afforded a technology enthusiast like myself.

    When we started out, the elevator pitch needed 20 floors to get done right. Andy’s blogging (and TopRanks as well) on the topic have played an integral part in raising awareness, and I think, it has resulted in a lot less folks having to learn the hard way about reputation crisis. I’ve said it before, and will say it again – we owe much thanks to influencers like Andy and yourself, and I think that when you’re really passionate about the work you do, its purpose is reflected when others around you are benefitting.


  2. Lee – obviously a great list – wow Rok is one many people who read your blog might not know, but he’s the one that really turned me on to RSS, something I continue to shock and amaze small business audiences with to this day – at least that’s what I think I’m doing.

    I met Debbie Weil in Chicago around 5 years ago at a marketing conference and we were the only two in the room talking about blogs.

    • Hey John, I am always leery of doing lists of people posts for fear that I might inadvertently leave someone off. When it comes to learning about blogging for business, I think it’s fair to say I followed you like a puppy to Business Blog Consulting and to AllBusiness.com. Thank you for the insight on Rok and Debbie – a few “old timers” along with yourself in the blogging and RSS world.

  3. Great list. I’m sure I’ll gain a better understanding of social media by following these people.

  4. I would have to list this blog and your posts as one of my early influences. You provide so many great tips and resources. Thanks!

  5. Great post! One of my early influences is Gina Graves. Her marketing advice has really helped me grow my business.

  6. Great list, a helpful insight into the people i should follow to understand social media.

  7. Well, I’ve always enjoyed reading Rand’s take on our industry. Your writings were also important in my learning about content marketing, blogging, crowd sourcing and digital assets. Thanks for the post Lee and it was great to see you at SES NY.

  8. Avatar Robert A. Kearse says


    You go back way before I got started with Web2.0

    My earliest influences date from 2007:

    Howie Schwartz & Jack Humphrey’s “Bend The Web”

    Michelle MacPhearson’s “Social Media Daily”

    Jack Humphrey’s “Authority Black Book”
    (3rd edition — 2009; each edition more powerful than the preceding)

    Sucess is assured when you soak up this valuable knowledge and ACT ON IT.


  9. A great list… specially for those searching for good people on twitter… One of the real issues of social media is sorting the wheat from the chaff in “your space”

  10. Avatar BGmarketing says

    Lee great post. A very mindful approach, well written. thanks for your time.