For the last decade, social media marketers have tried to set up fundamentals for the new digital ecosystem, and it's been quite a journey. They started to learn what was really happening in health forums, discovering that Twitter was a place where people started to say what they were doing, whereas today users are asked to describe what's happening - and it's sometimes more about war than cupcakes.
Keeping a Curious State of Mind with All the New Developments
The first pilgrims had to dive into social listening methodologies, imagining new ways to put rationales to billions of emotions shared online.
Of course, social media is always going to change; after all, Facebook is only seven years old and the kid keeps on growing. That is probably the beauty of social media - as Thien Nguyen, EMEA digital producer for Sony Computer Entertainment says "the most fantastic social media specialists understand quiet well that social is not about a platform".
But as in any new field, there are women and men who've changed the way we perceive the playground. These women and men are not necessarily the most active users on blogs or microblogging platforms, but they left a massive footprint in organizations which try to implement change. An impact that can lead to a personality, a vision and to a strange chemistry between feeling the right digital pace and rooting processes.
Who are the modern Edward Berneys? The ones we'll read again in centuries? Here's a personal list of people who mater.
The Living Legends
I had a chance to work with John few years ago, as Ogilvy were developing its social media practice. If there's one thing which is just amazing about John, it's how he focused on creating structures, frameworks, workflows, products and services to transform creativity into a social experience which has a deep impact on businesses and consumers / citizens.
John Bell is one of the few, who since the very beginning tried to approach social media in a pervasive way. Creatives should get to know what social listening analysts are doing and organizations should think about their very own social design and not through verticals only.
John has always demonstrated a certain humility, applying to himself the famous "listen first" principle. He has never hidden the fact that social media specialists should not lose KPIs and measurement on behalf of authenticity, while sales addicts should not focus on short-term results only. It takes time to build a social brand.
While everybody tends to focus on "digital tricks", John is always one step ahead. Here's a quote from one of his very first posts in 2005 about the... power of fans (yes, before Facebook even existed!)
"Maybe non-entertainment brands should think about leveraging the voice of their fans".
After John Bell, it's a whole generation of strategists that have flourished all over the world. This notion of transmission is probably why I think he's one of the most important social media legends.
David has become famous for his amazing ability to make complicated concepts and mechanisms easier to get, through visualizations. David Armano developed his visual thinking with the help of his blog "Logic + Emotion", and many marketing and communication professionals have clearly used a lot of his sketches for their own means.
David has been one of the very first to talk about "social business", and the diverse challenges that an organization must face in an open and connected world, in which employees might also be the very first consumers of the brand they work for.
Whether you like him or not, Gary has been able to use and enjoy some of the key social media accelerators, focusing his strategies in a concentric way around himself or the clients he works for.
As he explained to Forbes last year, he has "built the infrastructure around [him] to become a greater content provider." Gary understood better and before anybody else the "capitalism of talent."
The Next Generation
What about the new waves of social media legends? Well, finally they're more feminine, and more international.
Their profiles are slightly different as social media now requires new skills. As PR or content people have a competitive advantage, social media now needs more UX experts, designers and cultural thinkers: people able to talk to developers and creative technologists, while handling PR.
Mobbie Nazir is one of the skyrocketing stars in London. Mobbie boasts a solid reputation through an amazing track record (social and digital projects for KitKat among other worldwide milestones). Key brands in Europe increasingly recommend working with her. There's no place for fuss with the new Chief Strategy Officer at We Are Social, who often go back to basics: the internet was born social. Additionally, she does not hesitate to test the new tools to see if it really adds value to the strategic planning.
It's good to see that these legends live in an open book. Let's check in 10 years from now.
living legends of social media / shutterstock