There are a few things in life I am supposed to know, and social media speaking is one of them.

When people ask me who my favorite social media speakers are, I have opinions. Strong ones. And, believe it or not, those opinions do not always come with a monogrammed bathrobe with my initials and a perfumed card reading CALLME4AGOODTIME.

Here’s my take on my favorite 2011 social media speakers. These are the superstars I love to, listen to, and learn from.

Claire’s social media speakers hit list (note: in this context, the term “hit list” is used in a good way):

Beth Kanter

She’s got the longest running blog on the web about social media and non-profits for a reason (and it’s not to write about free steak). In person, she’s lively, smart, and engaging. She brings the crowd to her sessions and makes them happy they came. If you’re lucky enough to be on stage with her, you look good along the way. She also, often, makes audience members tweet. And, come on, if I can’t have a bias for making people tweet than what is my job good for?

Scott Stratten

Scott Stratten, author of UnMarketing, is like the cool “un”-jock at your high school. The smart, cool, un-jock guy. (If you were into the cool, dumb jocks than this really isn’t the right blog for you.) Maybe he was your high school newspaper’s star sports reporter. He hung with the quarterbacks, sat right on the field at every game, but knew it was way cooler to write witty stuff about the state of football in American high schools than to actually get his head slammed. Perhaps you think I’m taking this tangent too far.

Bottom line: He’s the funny guy you want to talk to. Bringing him to your conference is one way to make him talk to you.


Holly Ross

You hire her because she’s a brilliant powerhouse who runs NTEN and knows social media. You come away wondering who swapped the real Holly Ross for the hysterical comedian that had your audience in fits of hysterics. Holly Ross is freakin’ FUNNY. And not in a way that takes away from her valuable content.

To watch her speak is to want to become her.


Chris Brogan

There are some people who are superstars of social media. Chris is one of those people. He’s on this list because you would have to be raging idiot to not put Chris Brogan on a list of your favorite social media speakers.

End of discussion.

Jessica Gottlieb

Jessica manages that delicate balance of being very real with being high profile. If you want perspective from an uber successful career woman who knows her way around a diaper, you have your gal. Although conference circuits often have her speaking to women audiences, her constant presence on every major news network implies that her reach is just a tad broader.

She’s fierce, outspoken, and not just for girls.


Petri Darby

It’s a common problem: you enter a panel thinking the South by Southwest program swapped his first name for his last name, you leave the panel wanting to name your next son Petri.

Petri Darby is the guy with the weird name who shows up on non-profit panels everywhere. Speaking from the perspective of the Make a Wish Foundation, where he works, his materials is case-study rich and very hands-on. Practitioners will learn from his successful, smart teachings.


Deanna Zandt

Deanna is a social media genius who has worked with everyone east of the Mississippi, it seems. She has a book I highlighted every line of, and her hair is hot. (Go ahead, google image her.)

She’s also one of the few (er) social media speakers who also self identify as an activist. When and if you so desire, she can go and get political on you.

Although she may be writing herstory, but she won’t make you spell womyn.


Clay Shirky

He’s a master.

Get him at your event and tell your grandchildren about it.


Peter Shankman

Peter is one of those powerhouse speakers who has accomplished so much with his career that the very fact that he doesn’t make audiences feel like they have wasted their lives watching reality TV is a feat in and of itself. Seriously, he’s brilliant, and his lessons rub off. Also, he has a heart. Way back in the day I advertised on HARO, it sucked for me, and he apologized. Nice, huh?



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