7 Social Media Mentors & A Suggestion On Listening

Over recent months it has become apparent that there is a lack of mentorship in the world- especially in the Social Media space. Because Social technologies allow any yoyo who understands technology to decree they are an “expert” in the space, the market has been flooded with people who claim to be experts, or my least favorite term- “guru’s”. When in reality all they really have is partial knowledge of the value proposition of Facebook and Twitter and think that is all it takes!

With this knowledge in mind and Valentine’s Day having just passed, I would like to acknowledge the people who have been instrumental in my development, are true mentors, peers and friends and most importantly- really are experts and guru’s. Folks who think about SM with hardened business objectives in mind. We have grown together in a fledgling space and I feel fortunate to have worked with these people and continue to share, rap, learn and grow professionally with them today.

My “Social” Mentors, Peers & Friends

1)      Mark Wallace: Mark has been instrumental in my growth as a professional. He taught me a great deal about sales, business, being crisp and thinking about every action from a dollars and sense point of view. I worked with him at DCI-Shared Insights-Mzinga from 1999 on. Today, his Commonground Community won the Forrester Groundswell Award in 2009.

2)      Jim Storer: Jim was talking “community” back in 2001. His vision then was to create a stable of IT professionals to go direct to market too with new events. DCI was a IT conference event company. Frankly- his vision for the future of the business was dead on back then. Jim and Mark both asked me to leave the sales world, and do what I was doing in my personal life (running an online community for the music industry) for Shared Insights. This move was instrumental in a career shift that has served me well to date. He is one of the founders of the highly successful Community Roundtable where Social Practitioners meet and continue to grow and learn together in an ever evolving space.

3)      Aaron Strout and Heather Strout: This brother/sister combo are not only SXSW veterans, they are very social savvy. Aaron is a go getter that has travelled far in the space by being tireless in speaking engagements to drive both the Mzinga brand and the Powered brand today. Heather was my peer at Mzinga when we were both “Consultants”. Heather to this day is a voice of reason for me and is always there to bounce ideas off from. I have learned that perspective comes in the number of questions you ask- Heather is never short on answers!

4)      Pauline Brannigan: Pauline is one of the few sales professionals that understand how to map the use of Social to the hardened business objectives that result in real ROI. She too has challenged me on many occasions to think about strategies from a different angle. Today she works for a fantastic enterprise social computing solution called INgage. Check em out and hit her up on Twitter to learn more!

5)      Barry Libert: In 2004 Barry Libert said in a meeting “when you give your customers what they want, when they want it, and how they want it- you will win their business over and over again.” He went on to say that technologies in the not too distant future will enable the business to engage the consumer real time and for much longer life cycles. That conversation changed my professional life and made me realize that the future of business was shifting and the consumer would be empowered like never before.

6)      Tom Humbarger: Tom is what I would call a “knowledge sponge”. He soaks up everything applies it to his consulting business- smart! That way of “sucking and applying” has served me well and to this day,  I don’t let a day pass where my Netvibes page doesn’t educate me or open my eyes to new strategies and new ideas. Thank s Tom!

7)      I would also be remiss if I did not mention Chris Brogan and Jeremiah Owyang.  Although they are not my friends, I mention them because no matter how large their brand expands, they still respond to personal requests and DM’s as if they are your neighbor up the street. Exactly the point of Social! Even the smallest voice is heard with the “big guys”. They are practicing exactly what they preach to large organizations far and wide. Listen and react to everyone!

Social Media Suggestion:

Just because you buzz, doesn’t mean you are an expert! Listening is the key to knowing! Many people feel as though the more they talk, the more they are heard, the more of a “guru” they are. When in reality the more you listen, the more you are open to opinion, the more you react based on the feedback of the “we”- the more of a Social Media adopter you are. Brands and experts need to stop putting out fluff to flood the marketplace purely for exposure. Instead they need to write something of value that will penetrate a niche marketplace and help educate. If it is not of value, then don’t bother because you are hurting your brand creating content  solely to be heard.  Stop Tweeting just because a certain #hashtag is trending. If you don’t know about the subject, eat some pie- listen and learn. The people I mentioned above listen and learn as much as they teach- which is why they are successful. Just a suggestion based on their actions. 🙂

Listen, strategize, apply, create and don’t be afraid to be  a mentor is the message of this post!  Thank you to the folks mentioned on this list for being who you are and for what you are doing in business today!

social media mentors, listening, engaging
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10 responses to “7 Social Media Mentors & A Suggestion On Listening

  • Pauline Brannigan

    Derek, Thanks for the mention. I am honoured. I too have learned a great deal from you and the others on this list. Pauline Brannigan

  • Barry Libert


    Thanks for the quote.

    As you know, 2004 was already 3 years into my journey of building communities and defining businesses as the sum total of their community interactions. I am hopeful that this decade will become the decade during which communities are the centerpiece of everything we do.

    Best regards and happy V day,


  • Tom Humbarger

    Derek – thanks for including me as one of your social media mentors. So, you’re saying I suck a lot or just a little? ;>)


  • Aaron Strout

    Derek – your post reminds me of how lucky I was to be able to work with smart, motivated folks like yourself, Jim, Mark, Heather, Barry, Pauline and Tom. It’s rare to find so many social media smarties under one roof.


  • derekshowerman

    Aaron, well Tom wasn’t under our roof- but he sure did sponge up everything and challenge us.

    This is a first, V-Day well wishes from Barry. haha

  • Mark Wallace


    I am humbled to be included at the top of your list and to keep company with such a smart group of social media and community folks.

    I can say without hesitation that you have taught me way more than I have taught you.

    Thank you for including me and happy valentine’s day. Your card is in the mail!


  • heatherjstrout

    I echo the other comments. I am happy to have learned so much from such a great group of folks. Your post really does remind me of all I learned working with you and the others you mention in your post.

    More importantly, I continue to learn from you and the others. Every time I talk with you, I am challenged to explore new avenues of opportunity for me and my clients.

    Thanks for being a great co-worker and friend.

  • Jim Storer

    Post like this remind me how lucky I was to work with people like this during our time at DCI, Shared Insights & Mzinga… truly a talented bunch. The beauty of social media is we’re about to stay in close contact and continue to learn from one another relatively easily. Keep up the good work all!

    Another shout out to Tom Humbarger. I remember first meeting him on a call with Mark Wallace re: the project with did with iRise. It was clear early on that he was going to push us to exceed expectations day in and day out. In a great way, Tom was the best market research rolled up in a demanding (but fair) client. He consistently pushed us to think about what we were building in different ways. He went a long way toward shaping/evolving the way I thought about community. Thanks Tom.

    Jim | @jimstorer

  • Mike P

    I am so sad that I did not make this list 😉 You have a great list here, and I also leard a ton from all of the above individuals. Great work Derek.


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