25 of My Favorite Digital Teachers

In my last post, I ranted about how most marketers I know have stopped reading.  I passionately believe that the moment you stop reading, you stop learning.

Nate left a great comment, pointing out that “I don’t need to read (the) reasons why The Gap Logo debacle was genius or sheer stupidity.” I have to admit, he’s right. It’s entirely possible to read 6 “buzz” blogs in a row on the Old Spice social media case study without gaining knowledge.  It may be fun, but it’s not going to help you become a better professional.

So when Nate asked for my some of my favorite teachers, I thought I’d share the list with you, too:

1. B2B: Ardath Albee’s wisdom and experience are reflected in each of her posts for Marketing Interactions. She truly understands the future of B2B marketing. A high priority subscription for me. Twitter: @ardath421

2. Visual Content: I am “words person” and am deeply aware of my need to improve my mastery of visual content. Information is Beautiful never fails to inspire me. Twitter: @infobeautiful

3. Writing: Ann Handley is the forthcoming author of Content Rules, along with the wonderful CC Chapman. She’s also the Chief Content Officer for the invaluable resource MarketingProfs.  But I want you to subscribe to her magical personal blog, Annarchy. Simply put, it’s my favorite.  She’s an astonishing writer. Twitter: @marketingprofs

4. Content Marketing: Joe Pulizzi knows most everything you need to know about how to develop and market ideas.  Check out his Junta42 top Content Marketing blogs list – there’s another set of teachers for you to admire.  I never miss a daily post from Joe’s Content Marketing Institute. Twitter: @juntajoe and @junta42

5.&6. Social Media Visualizations: Mark Smiciklas brings ideas to life in beautiful visualizations. If you are like me, you’ll find yourself searching his blog for images before your next presentation. Twitter: @intersection1. You probably already know about David Armano’s extraordinary ability to crystallize complexity visually.  If not, run to look at his gorgeous Flickr collection. Twitter: @armano

7. Measurement: Olivier Blanchard is the real deal. He’s passionate about a subject that many are still hoping will go away.  It won’t.  Twitter: @TheBrandBuilder

8. Social Media: Jay Baer is simply the best SM thought leader out there. The gold standard. Even better, he’s funny and does not take life too seriously.  (disclaimer: our agency regularly collaborates with Jay. There’s a reason for that.) Twitter: @jaybaer

9. Web Analytics: I wrote a whole post for “PR 2.0” leader Arik Hanson about the need for marketers to embrace analytics. The King of analytics is Avinash Kaushik. He’s a superior teacher who wants you to succeed. He’s also sincere and kind. Twitter: @avinash

10. Non Profits: Beth Kanter is a cutting edge communicator and focused on serving the folks who need and deserve a bigger voice. Every blog she writes feels unselfish and focused on others. Twitter: @kanter

11. Headlines: If I had to name the one person who has made me chuckle the most on Twitter, it would have to be Ike Pigott. But it’s his unmatched ability to write a powerful lead or headline that I admire the most about him. Twitter: @ikepigott

12. Being Human: Chris Brogan is wonderful and deservedly has many lists devoted to him. But the best gift Chris ever gave to me was an introduction to Julien Smith, his frequent co-author. Julien’s posts make me stop and think about what matters to me as a person, then a professional. I treasure his input. Twitter: @julien

13. Public Relations: There are so many wonderful PR folks out there, each fighting the good fight to help our profession evolve. But Gini Dietrich is my favorite warrior. She’s smart and honest – the person you want by your side in the trenches. Twitter: @ginidietrich

14. Communities: Increasingly, marketers are either formal or informal community managers for our clients. Rich Millington’s Fever Bee blog skillfully prepares you for that role. Twitter: @richmillington

15. Legal: Kevin O’Keefe is a lawyer and the CEO of LexBlog, the well regarded legal blog engine. What I appreciate about Kevin is his ability to blend an innovative marketing perspective with a deep understanding of how law firms operate. Twitter: @kevinokeefe

16. Professional Services: I’ve spent my entire career serving clients in this space, but I still learn something every time I read Ford Harding and Mimi Spangler’s blog. Their thoughtful, story-focused approach helps me improve my rainmaking and networking skills. (Client)

17. Visual Creativity: How do you get those great ideas out of your head and into visual form? Dave Gray is widely considered one of the masters of visual thinking. Twitter: @davegray

18. Journalism: The profession’s requirements are changing at lightning speed and the resulting chaos touches almost every aspect of marketing. Use Nieman Reports’ factual, thoughtful POV  to keep up. Twitter: @niemanreports

19. Honesty: If you’ve been around a little while, sooner or later you’ll hear about Penelope Trunk’s superb Brazen Careerist blog. It’s bracing, honest and impossible to stop reading once you start. Subscribe immediately. Twitter: @penelopetrunk

20. Thought Leadership: Many folks talk about thought leadership, but very few have much experience in understanding what it is…and what it isn’t. Dana VanDen Heuvel does.  We need more Danas around. Twitter: @danavan

21. Web Strategy: Jeremiah Owyang’s confident, intuitive take on where the web is headed has already made him a must-read for many. But he doesn’t seem to get caught up in the hype – he just delivers the goods. Twitter: @jowyang

22. Technology: Read Write Web’s Marshall Kilpatrick brings a practical and linear take on the latest trends. He often has the news first, but still somehow manages the most thoughtful review. I like his personal blog, too. Twitter: @marshallk

23. PR Academia: Here’s a real teacher to add to your reading. It goes without saying that Bill Sledzik is whip smart. I’ve always admired him, but recently got to meet some of his students through my role as Chair of Digital for Worldcom’s Americas Board. It was instantly clear that he was present and involved in supporting their development. It almost made me want to go back to school. Twitter: @billsledzik

24. HumilityMark Schaefer has built an extraordinary community for his Marketing 2.0 blog “grow.” His readers are an active and passionate bunch, probably because they are learning from a master. Mark is a marketing leader who always, always puts others before himself. Twitter: @markwschaefer

25. Deep Client and Agency POV:  Go ahead and ask me if I’m saving the best teacher for last, because the fact is, I may be. I think of Valeria Maltoni’s blog The Conversation Agent as a critical marketing compass that helps set my professional direction. She’s an extraordinary role model. Subscribe right now. Twitter: @conversationage

I could have gone on and on with this list. There are so many wonderful teachers out there. Who are your favorites?

To reach Elizabeth:

Phone: 212.840.0017
Email: elizabeth@blisspr.com
Twitter: @elizabethsosnow
LinkedIn: Elizabeth Sosnow

34 Comments on 25 of My Favorite Digital Teachers

  1. Jay Baer

    What an exceptionally thoughtful, impeccably curated collection. I appreciate the kind – but undeserving – words about my work. Only complaint I have is that if you keep telling people about Julien, Mark, Ike, Ann and some others, we’ll lose our “secret” weapons!

    • Thanks, Jay. Maybe our secret weapons will help us find other secret weapons…or something like that?

  2. Thank you for your kind comments and I’m humbled to be your Mr. Humility. I guess I will trash tomorrow’s scheduled post, “It’s all about me — You are merely a lifeless planet around my sun.”

    Seriously this is a GREAT LIST and just a fantastic concept. I will probably steal the idea and claim it as my own. That’s how we roll. Then next year I will be number one for “People who steal my ideas but I still somehow like them.”

    Thou rocketh Elizabeth!

    • This may be the best blog comment I’ve ever gotten.

  3. “humbled by your mr. humility,” lol. i like the concept, thank you for including me. I do the only thing I’m really able to do, so I’m glad you like it. :)

    • I don’t want to sound like a fan-girl (though I guess it was clear from the post that I am one), but you do that “thing” exceptionally well.

  4. Ike

    Mark, the better title would be “My Favorite Plagiarists.”

    • See how you proved my point with that? I need a bottle of “Ike’s pithy humor” for clutch moments. Let me know when it’s on sale.

  5. I love the way you approached this! If I were you give you a category, it would be Creative & Sharp. (Wait: Is that one category or two…? How about Creatively Sharp? Or Sharply Creative?)

    THANKS so much.

    • It’s such a treat to see your name here, Ann. Thanks for your kind words…I think there may be another blog post in identifying all the wonderful “creative and smart” folks I follow. I’d put people like @arikhanson, @scotthepburn and @amymengel on that list.

  6. Ike, Well said. And if it goes viral, it would be “My Favorite Plague-urists.”

  7. Ike

    Ann — Elizabeth is more than just “Creative and Sharp.”

    She has a VERY keen eye for distilling what she’s read, and summing it up in a takeaway. She’s not one of those people who just re-tweets the headline of the post she’s sharing. She finds something that resonates with her, that also sells the value of the article.

    Kind of like how she’s done here — no naked recommendations, they are all explained in detail.

    Mark —

    Could we shorten your “Plague-urists” to the “Pox Vox?”

    • Ike and Mark, this is my plea to arrange a time for all us to get together. As I read your comments and smile, I marvel at the fact that I’ve never actually laid eyes on either one of you. The power of social media.

      I’m grateful for your friendships.

  8. What a great list, Elizabeth. Some of my favorites (of your favorites) certainly include Jay Baer and Gini Dietrich. I’ll be checking out those new to me for sure.

    • Thanks, Marijean. As a Worldcom partner, it’s been fun to use SM as a chance to get to know you better than I would via meetings twice a year. Hooray!

  9. What a terrific, thoughtful and inspiring list. I’m absolutely thrilled to be included. Thank you.

    And back atcha! I never doubt that I’m going to find something valuable in everything you share, write and recommend.

    • Ardath, your name was literally the first name I thought when I started compiling this list. Thanks so much for your inspiration. Your recent post on different types of marketing & sales funnels blew me away – I am still thinking about it, days later.

  10. Marshall Kirkpatrick

    aaah, you are too kind.

    • So appreciate that you left a comment, Marshall. Please consider my plea for more personal blog posts when you have a chance. Your tone and insights are great – for those that want a link, here it is: http://marshallk.com/

  11. Hi Elizabeth…very honored to be mentioned here, especially with the experts that you follow. This list would be great for any marketer or publisher (or person for that matter) to follow. You are a teacher yourself.


    • That’s the best compliment that you could give me, Joe. Many thanks. When I was younger, I actually gave serious thought to becoming a teacher. But I loved words too much…

      That said, now that I’ve had 3 boys, I think I was smart to follow my instincts 😉

  12. Beth kanter

    Heartfelt thanks for your post. Terrific guide for discovering people to follow

    • Very much appreciate you stopping by, Beth. I think it’s a shame that there are still people who don’t understand that some of your work (and your non-profit colleagues) is literally leading the way in digital engagement.

  13. First, this made me choke on water when I read it: “It’s all about me — You are merely a lifeless planet around my sun.” HAHAHAHAAAAAH! Mark! I love you!

    Secondly, I’ve taken to reading my Reader while riding my bike now that I’m stuck indoors for six months. I read this while I was also trying to keep my HR at 180 bpm (not easy). But I wanted to stop, track you down, and kiss you. Such a wonderful compliment – thank you!!

    Lastly, I agree with Joe. You, yourself, are a teacher and this is a phenomenal list of brilliant and inspiring people. I wouldn’t disagree with a single one.

    • I’m so glad you commented, Gini. Though I feel slightly inadequate when I read the description of your superior multi-tasking…sounds like I have another lesson to learn from you!

  14. Fantastic list! I’ve added to my reading list. As you said in the beginning, it’s easy to get burned out after a while when reading some of the irrelevant stuff out there, and I get a bit tired of the “celebrities.” It’s nice to have a resource of great content. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Jennifer. There is certainly a place for those celebrity posts, but I agree we all need a little more “protein” in our blogging diets. Do you have favorites to add to the list?

  15. Fabulous list. I follow about half the folks on the list. I love your succinct and accurate summaries. And you’ve introduced me to some folks I don’t know. For that I thank you.

    • It’s my pleasure, Jim. I am also a fan of summaries that allow you to get “underneath” recommendations. With so many people and pieces of data flowing towards us, we all need better ways to filter the stream.

  16. As I tweeted earlier, I think this may be the best-curated blog list I’ve ever read. Humbled to be a part of it. And if I may raise a suggestion, this would be a really good group to have out to NYC for a party/brainstorm/conference sponsored by Bliss!

    • Are you describing a conference or my own professional paradise? :)

  17. Good idea Jay. The “25 teachers conference.” When should I get my airline ticket Elizabeth?

  18. Great list, Elizabeth! Hope I can be on it one day along with these exceptionally talented pros

    PR at Sunrise (worob.com)

  19. This is a terrific list and some of my favorite bloggers. I’d also like to nominate Fearless Competitor to this list http://www.fearlesscompetitor.net – a blog on B2B marketing and Demand Generation.

    Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor
    Find New Customers “Lead Generation Made Simple”

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