The 2015 Online 18
In 2014, I compiled a list of the promotional products industry online influencers. I used my knowledge of industry people to identify possible influencers and ranked them by their Klout score to help reduce my "bias." Unfortunately, I missed a few people. This year's list includes Klout score as a minor factor, but I (along with input from 2014 influencers) used other criteria to select and order the list.
This list is not perfect and there are many reasons that people are included (or excluded) and ranked where they are. I sought input from a few influencers to reduce my bias while at the same time, including what I personally find valuable. See the bottom of this post to see the key criteria I used to generate and organize the list.
The following 18 people are contributing to a meaningful online community and influencing thought leadership in and outside the industry. Each of them is worth following on Twitter and engaging on other social-media sites. Klout scores are in parentheses.
Here is your 2015 Online 18:
1. Danny Rosin - @dannyrosin (64)
2. Paul Bellantone - @Bellantone (61)
3. Kirby Hasseman - @kirbyhasseman (68)
4. Catherine & Mark Graham - @heymarkgraham (47)
5. Jon Norris - @jnnorris (53)
6. Jeff Solomon - @FreePromoTips (58)
7. Bobby Lehew - @bobbylehew (45)
8. Michele Bell - @ASI_Mbell (41)
9. Dana Zezzo - @danazezzo (66)
10. Danette Gossett - @MarketngTidbits (48)
11. Bill Petrie - @billpetrie (63)
12. Charity Gibson - @licensetoswag (36)
13. Bruce Perryman - @EUINC (54)
14. Steve Woodburn - @SteveWoodburn (51)
15. Denise Taschereau - @dtaschereau (43)
16. Jason Lucash - @jasonlucash (46)
17. Megan Erber - @MeganErber (61)
18. Sonya & Brian Beam - @sonyabeam (45)
My apologies to people that I inadvertently left off or where my judgment was not perfect. Even with the imperfections, these people are the #Online18 of 2015 and worth engaging with online and offline.
More on why they are ranked the way they are:
1. Danny Rosin
Danny is a leading contributor in and out of the industry with very interesting and engaging content that appeals to everyone. A very tough mix to pull off and he does it amazingly well while also having one of the highest Klout scores. Danny is also a founder and key influencer for www.promokitchen.com conversations as well as www.bandtogether.org. Danny manages to volunteer a significant amount of his time while co-running a successful business and is quickly becoming known for his zebra print shoes.
2. Paul Bellantone
As CEO of our industry trade association, Paul uses his online influence to share interesting articles and association information and had the highest increase in Klout score over 2014. Paul is very engaged on a personal level with industry participants both online and offline, picking up the phone and often referencing online content in the discussion. CEO's and executives of larger industry firms can learn a lot from Paul's use of social media.
3. Kirby Hasseman
A newcomer to the list with the highest Klout score of anyone on the list, Kirby leverages all social media channels to promote his business(es) without overtly selling as he provides great content leaving you wanting more. He appears to be following the Seth Godin model and while he has a way to go to reach Seth status, he is someone I enjoy following and interacting with.
4. Catherine & Mark Graham
Catherine & Mark dominate the industry socially through direct and indirect contribution. Running the successful industry social site www.commonsku.com as well as a founder and constant contributor to www.promokitchen.com. Catherine & Mark contribute significantly to the conversation and together are influencing meaningful change in the industry. If they put as much time into their personal accounts as they do to contributing through non-personal accounts, they would rank even higher.
5. Jon Norris
I made a mistake last year and completely overlooked Jon who was/is a critical leader in industry I.T., a personal friend, and also has a high Klout score. Jon is comparative unknown and has a very different contribution style from most on this list. Jon has been building significant influence within the industry tech community as well as remaining very engaged on social media channels. Jon is someone to watch even if you don't love technology topics and is the highest ranked supplier on this year's list. And don't bother emailing him, he reads Twitter far more consistently.
6. Jeff Solomon
Last year I excluded Jeff because I was looking for people, not brands. This year I recognized that if the brand and the person are interchangeable, they could be included. Jeff is FreePromoTips and vice versa. Jeff is actively creating conversation via social channels and recently started Successfit on Facebook to inspire physical fitness in the industry.
7. Bobby Lehew
One of the few people to abandon Facebook and yet still manage to influence the industry conversation. Bobby remains active in the industry conversations and posts very interesting content for industry and non industry readers alike.
8. Michele Bell
A great person who doesn't like to be in the spotlight and also someone I happen to adore. Michele can call up just about any leader in the industry and get a return call largely because she can be trusted with nearly anything. For the purpose of this list, Michele manages to be real on social media and snarky just as she is in private. Nothing stops Michele from being Michele and that is just one of many reasons she is worth knowing.
9. Dana Zezzo
Dana remains a top contributor to the industry online conversation continuing to use his "get social" and "pointed finger" to support his brand. Dana, with the second-highest Klout score this year, continues to find new ways to be interesting online including his "field testing" posts. He remains a key influencer and uses social media well to benefit him and his company. Dana is one of the few suppliers on this list and provides great ideas on how suppliers can use social more effectively.
10. Danette Gossett
I don't know Danette personally but I love her content. An impressive list of followers and content very focused on marketing, Danette posts and reposts interesting content on a regular basis.
11. Bill Petrie
A newcomer to the list, Bill is making active contributions to industry conversations. Bill keeps it real on social media and engages frequently. His high Klout score and engaging content make him someone you should get to know.
12. Charity Gibson
The highest ranked person on our list with the lowest Klout score. How does this happen? Well, Charity is behind the majority of Promokitchen posts and while normally I would not include this in the person's ability to influence conversation, Charity seems to dedicate more of herself to the benefit of others through Promokitchen while also engaging quite well on her own accounts.
13. Bruce Perryman
Another person I overlooked last year, Bruce is highly engaged online with a high Klout score. Bruce is an active retweeter of good content on Twitter proving the value of cultivating a smart list of people to follow. Bruce is also an enigma on this list as both a PPAI Board member and only embroiderer on the list. A nice guy with great insights, Bruce uses his influence to the benefit of others.
14. Steve Woodburn
Steve is one of the best originators of content in our industry. His blogs are useful and insightful while being easy to read. Consistent and quietly engaging, Steve continues to be someone I enjoy reading and has recently joined an industry supplier. Steve is someone all suppliers can learn from with his original and engaging content.
15. Denise Taschereau
Another person I don't know personally but with excellent content, Denise is dominating the environmental promotional products discussion online. Focusing on her passions, she delivers relevant content both for this industry and outside the industry in a niche that is going to become even more important.
16. Jason Lucash
Funny, interesting, engaging and the only one on this list to have survived shark tank (to my knowledge). Jason is keeping it real and engaging online with over 20,000 followers and has introduced me to the sock game which is something I never knew about. Jason does a great job as a supplier keeping his content interesting.
17. Megan Erber
Rumor has it that if I left Megan off the list again this year, I might not be able to walk for a few months. Known for her ability to dominate most anyone she grapples with, Megan keeps it real online and says what is on her mind. With an impressive Klout score and online engagement, Megan is building her brand online and offline and her high Klout score is a reflection of her constant engagement.
18. Sonya & Brian Beam
The "Beams," as they are known to many, are a great team and a great way to complete the list. Amazing at branding online and offline, the Beams are exceptional at marketing and engaging with their clients via social media. They also happen to be very nice people who are very successful.
An important footnote. Several people on this list are heavily involved in www.promokitchen.org. As a new chef to Promokitchen myself, this might appear to be a bias but it is not. Instead, it is a reflection of how Promokitchen focuses on industry influencers and uses them to create/share great content.
Key criteria I used to compile this list, in order of importance:
1. Suggestions and input from 2014 Online18 influencers.
2. Focused on the promotional products industry.
3. Ability to extend the conversation beyond online including offline contributions and success.
4. Excellent content not primarily focused on selling or self-promotion.
5. Original and interesting content.
6. Consistent sharing timing (no big gaps).
7. Engagement with followers/connections.
8. Broad social media presence.
9. An individual, not a brand (exceptions made for individuals who are the brand).
10. Only one individual from any company or affiliated organization unless they are a "team."
11. Klout score.