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7 leading social media gurus and thinkers

With the technology and business worlds in a frenzy over “social media,” it should come as no surprise to find a growing industry of social media gurus who specialize in peddling and proselytizing the wonders of social media websites and services, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The message from these gurus varies, but it often comes down to something like this: Social media changes everything. The world will never be the same. You must alter the way you do business, whether you’re a journalist or a judo instructor, and do it fast. Or else.

Well, maybe I’m exaggerating, but not by much. Though their advice varies, these social media experts, consultants, strategists and authors — they have lots of different roles (and monikers) — see social media as essential to staying afloat for just about every industry. Either you’ll jump into the conversation, or you’ll be in trouble soon enough.

In fact, their sometimes breathless fervor has led to something of a backlash.

“Lately it seems I can’t go anywhere without running into a gaggle of social media consultants bloviating about the wonders of social network marketing,” writes Robert Strohmeyer in PC World in an article with the title, “Beware the Social Media Charlatans.”

He derides the credentials of these “experts” (“poseurs” who have “jumped on the social networking bandwagon”) and their advice about connecting with customers and increasing profits through social media: “Scratch the surface on most of these claims and they instantly crumble. Meanwhile, it seems the only people making any money in social media are the consultants themselves.”

Now it’s your turn to decide. Experts? Or poseurs? Though I’ve had some of the same misgivings about social media pros as Strohmeyer, I’ve actually found a number of them — in particular,  Chris Brogan and  David Meerman Scott — provide a lot of useful and thought-provoking advice.

So where do you find these gurus? If you read technology publications or attend industry conferences, it’s hard not to bump into them. But you can also track them down online, where they blog, Twitter and provide advice in web-based presentations and YouTube videos. Here’s a selection.

  1. 1Chris Brogan
    President of New Marketing Labs, a social media agency, Brogan is a frequent speaker about social media.
  2. 2Paul Dunay
    At his blog, Buzz Marketing for Technology, Dunay writes posts such as “Growth through Disruptive Innovation” and “Change Is Never Linear.” He is the author of an upcoming book, “Facebook Marketing for Dummies.”
  3. 3Paul Gillin
    A technology journalist, Gillin is the author of “The New Influencers” and “Secrets of Social Media Marketing.” His recent posts include “Big Companies Warm to Blogs” and “Why People Love Social Networks.”
  4. 4Mitch Joel
    Author of the forthcoming “Six Pixels of Separation” and a blogger, Joel was once dubbed “the rock star of digital marketing.”
  5. 5J.D. Lasica
    Lasica’s website,, covers the ins and outs of the social media world. Lasica now works with a coterie of “social media strategists,” such as Deltina Hay, author of “A Survival Guide to Social Media and Web 2.0 Optimization: Strategies, Tactics, and Tools for Succeeding in the Social Web.”
  6. 6Charlene Li
    Li is the co-author, with Josh Bernoff, of “Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies,” and a frequent speaker about social media.
  7. 7David Meerman Scott
    Scott is the author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR” and “World Wide Rave: Creating Triggers That Get Millions of People to Spread Your Ideas and Share Your Stories.” He will be editing a New Rules of Social Media book series for his publisher, Hoboken-based John Wiley & Sons.


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