What do you do when you attend a conference? Besides soak up the brilliant conversations and panel discussions, you network, network, network! When our team traveled out to Austin, TX, for the South by Southwest Interactive Conference (where 15,000 of the world’s top internet geniuses gather) we knew we would run into dozens of smart people leading their fields in social media. We weren’t disappointed.
After interviewing more than 70 of these trailblazers, we’ve highlighted 10 whom you should follow in your social networks. These are the web super stars who offer wit, wisdom and pertinent information all for free via their status updates.
1. Guy Kawasaki is the co-founder of Alltop.com, author of Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions and former chief evangelist at Apple. It was in the early ’90s when Guy made it cool to be obsessed with our computers and tools.
Follow Guy on Facebook and Twitter @GuyKawasaki to read about his new book [his tenth!] which explains the importance of personal relationships with your customers. Plus Guy offers tips on growing a respectable web influence, something that comes natural to guys like Guy.
2. Laura Fitton is the founder and CEO of OneForty.com, a “social business software hub” that connects businesses to social media tools. As the author of Twitter For Dummies, Laura is a tweeting pro. However, she wasn’t an early supporter. She talked to us about how she originally thought Twitter was “stupid,” but soon realized it was instead a chance “to surround myself with successful and interesting people and it was incredibly motivating.”
Follow Laura on Facebook and Twitter @pistachio to see what she’s saying about the Massachusetts High Tech Women to Watch Breakfast [she's on that list!], her support for the non profit Charity: Water, and how your brand can benefit from her OneForty toolkits.
3. Craig Newmark founded Craigslist.org, which revolutionized the classified and want-ads business. Newmark talked to us about his goals for CraigConnects.org, a site connecting the world for common good. “I’ll go boldly where no nerd has gone before,” Craig said in his interview.
Follow Craig on Twitter @craignewmark to see what he’s saying about World Water Day [organized by Justin Bieber's favorite Charity: Water], fundraisers for the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan and other international causes.
4/5. Tim and Jesse Draper are one of the most adorable father-daughter duos on the web. Tim Draper is the founder and a managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a venture capitalist firm helping entrepreneurs who are seeking to shape the world. Dad passed down the business gene to his daughter. Jesse is the co-producer and host of the “The Valley Girl Show”, a web-based talk program where host Jesse has a blast interviewing CEO’s, business executives, pioneers, and heads of Fortune 500 companies.
6. Charlie Annenberg, the Vice President of The Annenberg Foundation, has a very special friend – Lucky, a retired search and rescue dog. Lucky’s former unit is going to Japan. Charlie created the Facebook page “Dog Bless You” to reach out for people’s love and time to help victims of the earthquake and tsunami. On March 13th, at SXSW, Charlie pledged to donate $100,000 to the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (which sends search and rescue dogs to Japan) if the Dog Bless You Facebook fan page generated 100,000 “Likes.” It didn’t take long to hit the mark and today Dog Bless You has more than 173,000 likes.
Follow Charlie, Lucky and “Dog Bless You” on Facebook to see the difference they’re making in Japan.
7. Twanna Hines is a Manhattan-based relationship expert and founder of FunkyBrownChick.com. We talked to Twanna about using personal stories to influence brands. “Whether you’re a small entrepreneur or a large company – the Twitter feed, your Facebook – you’re telling your personal story every day,” she said. “Interacting with your customers is your customer service.” Watch our interview with Twanna. Follow Twanna on Facebook and Twitter @funkybrownchick to see what she’s saying about her new Bravo TV web series called FourPlay, her favorite places to eat, drink and play in New York City and her upcoming weekly talk show.
8. B. Bonin Bough is the Director of Digital and Social Media at PepsiCo and is in charge of identifying new global opportunities to promote the PepsiCo brand. Since this was Bonin’s 8th year at the SXSW convention, and our first, we talked to him about what kept him coming back and what he loves most about the crowd each year.
9. Aliza Sherman is the founder of Cybergrrl Inc., the first woman-owned, full-service Internet company, and Webgrrls International, the first global Internet networking organization for women. Aliza was self-identified as the “social media rah rah girl” at the convention and talked with us about the transformation of the internet since 1987, women’s involvement online, and more—all while wearing a pink boa and tiara.
10. Dan Berger is the founder of Socialtables.com, a social networking utility (and seat management tool) for any event with assigned tables that gives guests the opportunity to connect before and after the events. Dan talked to us about and showed us this site and demonstrated how event planners and guests can utilize the tool to make sure there are no missed opportunities—and how it’s bringing the virtual world into reality.
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