You’ve probably heard of Katy Perry, that not-so-popular singer who has more than 82 million followers on Twitter. I bet you even follow her. I don’t blame you. I mean, she has more followers than Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore have people — combined. The girl must be good.
But here’s the thing: one’s social media influence isn’t measured by the number of followers alone (case in point: a guy named Barack Obama is a far fourth in terms of followers).
While some of us find it convenient to just jump on the popularity bandwagon without giving much thought to who we follow, there are those who’d rather follow people who can influence how they think and how they can connect with others.
These are the people who aren’t just after concert ticket and/or album sales or plain and simple bragging rights. These people aren’t household names because their songs are played on the radio every hour or because they’re on the cover of the latest issues of Vogue and GQ (although you might have seen a few of them on Forbes and Entrepreneur) or because they’re dating that new Victoria’s Secret Angel. Some of them are ordinary businessmen, housewives, travelers, bloggers, marketers, PR strategists, writers, while some are, incredibly, all of the above. No, they don’t get seven-figure paychecks for appearing in 30-second Superbowl ads. If they ever become millionaires, it’s because they capitalized on substance rather than superficiality, and function over form.
Here are the top most influential people on social media and their tickets to getting to that lofty perch.
John Paul Aguiar
Aguiar is a blogger and Social Media Marketer/Consultant helping people grow their blogs into a business that makes them money. He has been blogging and using social media, mainly Twitter, for years and has built up a powerful and helpful resource at his blog, The Money Dummy.
Started: selling on eBay, to numerous MLM, and Network Marketing programs (after he was told he needed a kidney transplant)
Claim to Fame: The Money Dummy blog (had more than 110,000 followers in less than two years)
Best known for: simple to follow, straightforward, no-BS approach to blogging, and with a sense of humor for good measure
Ted is a leading Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist, and Acting CMO of Brand Innovators. He has become known for his active use of Twitter where he has in excess of 700,000 followers throughout his network, all with deep engagement and interaction.
Started: working with best selling author, entrepreneur, and agent of change Seth Godin at Yoyodyne, served as a Social Marketing and Engagement Advisor to Big Fuel Communications,
Claim to Fame: ReturnonRelationship #RonR (simply put, the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship. ROI is simple $’s and cents. ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations, and sharing. ROR (hashtag #RonR) enhances ROI.)
Best known for: Being the most followed CMO on Twitter (according to Social Media Marketing Magazine), one of the most interesting CMOs on Twitter according to Say Media, #13 on Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, and #2 on the Leadtail list of Top 25 People Most Mentioned by digital marketers.
An entrepreneur that founded several software-as-a-service companies, Patel provides an abundant amount of information via his own blogs as well as valuable curated content.
Started: by launching his first online venture, a job board named Advice Monkey, while in high school. After the marketing companies Patel hired for the project failed to gain the company any traction, he decided to learn how to drive traffic to his site, thus launching his career in online marketing.
Claim to Fame: cofounder of the analytics companies KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg, and Quick Sprout.
Best known for: being an angel investor, analytics expert, and his work in digital marketing
Gary is the CEO of Vayner Media. He is an experienced video blogger, desired social media public speaker, co-owner, and direction of operations at a wine retail store.
Started: by transforming his father’s Springfield, Union County, New Jersey liquor store into a retail wine store named Wine Library, and in 2006 started the video blog Wine Library TV, a daily internet webcast on the subject of wine. Through a combination of e-commerce, email marketing, and aggressive pricing, Vaynerchuk grew the business from $3 million to $50 million a year by 2005.
Claim to Fame: In 2009, Gary, along with his brother AJ Vaynerchuk, founded VaynerMedia, a social media-focused digital agency. The company focuses on providing social media and strategy services to Fortune 500 companies such as General Electric, Anheuser-Busch, Mondelez, and PepsiCo.In 2015, VaynerMedia was named one of AdAge‘s A-List agencies.
Best known for: his #AskGaryVee Show, a YouTube series that typically consists of a series of fans asking Vaynerchuk questions via social media platforms. The questions usually are related to business, marketing, branding, and social media.
Blog: Pam Marketing Nut
The CEO of Marketing Nutz and Social Zoom Factor, Moore is a great source for social media content. She is also a Social Media Speaker, Consultant, and Trainer,
Started: as an ordinary woman in a corporate career
Claim to Fame: CEO and Founder of Marketing Nutz, a full service digital marketing, social media, and experiential branding agency serving entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 organizations
Best known for: Being Top 5 Women Influencers in Social Media Forbes.com, Top 10 Influencers in Social Media Forbes.com, Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, a Bestselling author of two books including the Social Media Relationship Age, co-authored with Mari Smith and Entrepreneur Book, Game Changers focused on entrepreneurial best practices and success tips, a featured blogger on top sites such as Social Media Today, Business 2 Community and has been called upon by publications such as USA Today and Forbes for contribution to articles related to social media and business.
Related: Cream of the Social Crop: A List of Social Media Influencers to follow on Twitter
This woman is a well-known internet personality and PR consultant in the social media industry. Not to mention the creator of the Country Music Chat and #CMchat hashtag.
Called a “Social Media Pioneer” by Forbes, she is an On-Air/Online Multi-Media Personality/Host, Social Media, Broadcasting, Country and Music Blogger/Journalist as well as a Nationally recognized Speaker.
Started: with her column “SocialMediology 101″ on AllAccess, the web’s largest radio and music industry community, offers tips, advice, and general Media ideas.
Claim to Fame: She owns Digital Marketing Strategy boutique firm Finger Candy Media, LLC and is the Founder of Country Music Chat on Twitter (#CMchat) and Twangout on Google Plus.
Best known for: Having a personal online network of over a million followers, she is consistently ranked as one of the Most Influential People and Most Powerful Women on Twitter. Recognized by Huffington Post as a TwitterPowerhouse and by Tech News Guide Bit Rebels as one of Twitter’s Top 75 Most “Badass” Women, she is also considered one of the 20 Most Powerful People in Social Media by Income Diary.
Ann Tran is a respected social media consultant who is a constant contributor to Huffington Post and Entrepreneur. She is a highly requested speaker at social media and technology events.
Started: as a luxury travel writer
Claim to Fame: co-creator of Influencer Chat, a weekly online conversation about the meaning of true social media influence and how to build a business and online brand effectively; brands, including Architectural Digest and Marriott, have hired her to assist them in understanding the power of digital media and online influence, and use its power to build their business.
Best known for: Her charitable project, The Twelve Days of Giving, which caught the attention of the acclaimed online media source The Huffington Post, who gave her the honor of being named one of the 16 People on Twitter Who Inspire the World.
Hailed as the premier Facebook marketing expert and one of the most influential and knowledgeable new media thought leaders in the world. She’s also the author of The New Relationship Marketing.
Started: as a writer and content creator and provider for major blogs, events, webinars, and corporations.
Claim to Fame: In 2015, Facebook partnered with Mari to facilitate and teach at Facebook’s Boost your Business series of live half-day training events across the United States.
Best known for: creating in-depth Facebook social media marketing content – in written, video, and visual formats – for major companies such as SocialMediaExaminer.com, Adobe, Business.com, and Animoto.
Guest Blog: 5 Social Media Trends for Businesses in 2016
A popular Silicon Valley marketing executive, he was one of the Apple employees originally responsible for marketing the Macintosh in 1984. An industry veteran, Kawasaki’s Twitter feed is a source of inspiration that features a diverse range of topics. With nearly 1.5 million followers, it’s clear that he is doing something right.
Started: as an “evangelist” at Apple
Claim to Fame: he was a co-founder of Garage Technology Ventures, a venture capital firm that has made investments in Pandora Radio, Tripwire, The Motley Fool and D.light Design. In 2007, he founded Truemors, a free-flow rumor mill, that sold to NowPublic. He is also a founder at Alltop, an online magazine rack.
Best known for: popularizing the word evangelist in marketing the Macintosh and the concepts of evangelism marketing and technology evangelism.
The former editor at Copyblogger, Morrow now runs a highly successful website, Boost Blog Traffic. A mix of his own blog content and curated content from other sources occupy Morrow’s Twitter feed and covers all the digital marketing and social-media bases.
Started: with hardly anything, having spinal muscular atrophy which limited his movements to his facial muscles only; dabbled in real estate brokerage
Claim to Fame: founder/creator/CEO of Boost Blog Traffic, creator of a guest blogging course, and licensed his Partnering Profits course to Lateral Action.
Best known for: having voice-activated shotguns embedded in his wheelchair, which he uses to “write” via voice-recognition technology; seriously, for being a success despite his physical limitations.