I’m back from my keynote speech for the American Marketing Association – West Michigan where I talked about Influence.

In my speech I reinforced my blog assertions that popularity is not influence and influence is not popularity. But then I added a new twist when it comes to measurement:

As marketers, we need to start focusing on measuring intent instead of just measuring online influence.

I believe it’s not just how popular somebody is online or how much influence they have, but whether they are intending to use that influence to effect change.

And that brought me back to an idea I’ve been tossing around for a few months. Usually at the end of a year or beginning of a new one you see a lot of “Top 10” or “Best of” lists. Sure enough, there were lists of who were the greatest online influencers in 2011.

I believe influence is the power to affect someone’s beliefs or to cause an action. To simplify my theory, a person has influenced you when you think in a way you wouldn’t otherwise think, or when you take an action you otherwise would not have taken.

But when you look at these lists of supposed influencers, what you get is mostly online popularity. They are based on number of followers, or number of retweets or “likes” that person received. Once again, my friends, links or retweets are not indicators or influence. Since I couldn’t find any lists that suited my taste, I decided to start my own…

“The Most Remarkable People on Social Media Today”

My own social media hall of fame, so to speak. I did not take into account the number of followers or the number of retweets but selected my list purely based on how much these people changed my beliefs or motivated my actions. I believe we should highlight people who are doing remarkable work in the social universe and not only those who are just social celebrities.

Why this focus on being remarkable? I believe it goes back to intent. Seth Godin’s book, Purple Cow, is about transforming your business by being remarkable but I believe these same principles apply to transforming the social universe by being remarkable as well. To quote Seth,

“Cows, after you’ve seen one, or two, or ten, are boring. A Purple Cow, though…now that would be something. Purple Cow describes something phenomenal, something counterintuitive and exciting and flat out unbelievable.”

Godin urges his readers to put a Purple Cow into everything they do and I think my nominees are definitely Purple Cows. The challenge we face as marketers is that our product or service may become insignificant. According to Angela Maiers, “the challenge we are facing today is the challenge of believing we are insignificant.” I’ve talked about Angela and her influential work, the You Matter Manifesto, before. Her passion is changing the world with two simple words:


The lists you might have seen probably have the same names on them. Now I’m not saying it’s not an honor to be on one of those lists. I’m just saying those lists are created solely based on popularity. My list might have names you’ve never seen before, but they are truly based on being remarkable.

People are joining the social universe for a reason – to be social, to be heard and to be noticed. My criteria might not be as “tough” as those other lists but I think the people on my list have achieved something even more significant than number of followers – they have expressed mattering in order to become influential.

These people are using today’s social media tools to change the world for the better, and proving along the way that one person does matter and one person can be significant. I have met so many incredible people on the web, but only a small fragment of them are getting noticed by these list makers or measurement companies. They are not stars of the social web, but they are people who made changes, people who noticed others and people who will make you feel significant every step of the way.

KAIT BRAND: My first nominee for most remarkable people on social media is Kait Brand and her “My Secrets” video. In October, at the tender age of 15, this Grand Rapids MI tenth grader posted a YouTube video about her experience of finding her mother hanging in the woods. The mother had committed suicide because she suffered from depression. Without any special effects, Kait simply held up handwritten messages to the screen while playing the song “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry. Her plaintive call to action? “If you are thinking of committing suicide, get help.”

By November WZZM TV reported that her video had gone viral and had been picked up by online publications across the globe including the Huffington Post and Radar Online, as well as The Daily Mail and The Sun in the United Kingdom. At that point her video had been watched over 79,000 times; most recently it is up to almost 700,000. People have commented on the video from as far away as India and Finland. Now 16, I’d say Kait Brand is more influential than anyone else on the web today.

ANGELA MAIERS her introduction in 140 characters tells us all: “I believe these 2 words can change the world – #YouMatter – I’m an Educator, Author, Speaker passionate about literacy, learning, and power of social media”.

ELLEN BREMEN is an award-winning educator at Highline Community College in Seattle, WA. She stops at nothing to help students strengthen their communication skills: peanut butter and jelly to illustrate problematic messages, pipe cleaners to teach communication models, and Post-It notes to reduce speaking anxiety. Ellen is always taking care that our kids will stay geniuses. I say “thank you Ellen” for making changes every day in one of the most difficult industries that exist in the world.

ANNI BRICCA is a founder of www.BreastHealthOnline.org, a non-profit organization which promotes healthy recoveries for women through all types of breast surgery. Billing itself as being “Dedicated to bringing women better care through knowledge and support,” BreastHealthOnline has used Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums to help women around the world.

DABNEY PORTE LOVE helping women claim their magnificence. She brings Social to Big brands. Founder of #SMmanners & #SlumberParty & Co-Founder of #SMgirlfriends #FriendsofRicki.

BRITT MICHAELIAN Community builder, radio host, author, entrepreneur & mom who loves to help you succeed in business & life. Co-Founder #smgirlfriends #FriendsofRicki.

JANET CALLAWAY Networker who loves life, social media, personal development, reading, helping others, good friends, red wine & champagne!

LIZ STRAUSS Founder of SOBCon, social business strategist. It’s only fun when it’s brilliant strategy, high return, AND connects customers in a meaningful way.

DANNY BROWN VP, Product Intelligence at Jugnoo, Inc. Award-winning marketer and social media blogger. Author of The Parables of Business.

OLIVIER BLANCHARD Pray that I never become your competitor’s secret weapon. Author of ‘Social Media R.O.I.’

JOSHUA M. ESTRIN WTB! What’s The Buzzz? #Celebrity #gossip or #celebrity #news? Joshua doesn’t DO #gossip and he leaves that to the OTHERS. Keepin’ it real and real fun is Joshua motto.

AARON LEE Small business owner with a huge vision, Average Joe who loves social media more than his coffee (He really loves coffee!!), Social Media Consultant to pay bills.

PETE BRAND Father, husband, entrepreneur. Internet marketer.

MARJORIE CLAYMAN Director of Client Dev. @ Clayman Advertising. (3rd gen!) And Margie is the reason that I will never leave social space.

JODI OKUN Loves helping parents find the financial resources to cover the cost of College. She takes the stress out of the process and empower you with info and support!

PEGGY FITZPATRICK aka Social Sparkle! Rockin’ a positive attitude, Coming at you in 140, Twitterati, Brand Sparker™ w/ re:DESIGN #MyBookClub & Partner @12Most.

AARON KILBY SVP of Marketing & Creative Services at @FE_Agency, Founder and Host of #mediachat and major coffee addict!

SUSAN BORST Director,Industry Initiatives w/ IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau.) Social Media & B2B. Half Icelandic, but love Swedish Fish. Big edu fan.

KELLY KIM Co-founder of Twylah — Twitter Brand Pages for celebrities, brands, personal brands. Tweets on content creation, content marketing.

PATRICIA WILSON President BrandCottage. Marketer, media strategist, social media, advertising. 20 years marketing veteran. Top 75 Twitter BadAss Woman.

JOHN J. NOSTA John is a leader, innovator and futurist in marketing who specializes in healthcare, branding, new media and taking your breath away!

ANDY BALDWIN U.S. Navy Doctor, Fitness Advocate, TV Personality, Ironman Triathlete, Marathon Runner, support charities @OrangeLaces @GotYourBackNet.

GABRIELLE LAINE PETERS Connector, 9/11 Survivor, Social Media Savvy(for hire) Politics, News, F1- Mine’s a Dirty-Vodka-Martini-3-olives! #STS135 #NASA #TwitterPowerhouses #Kred Leader

DINO DOGAN Founder of TRIBERR, Lousy Martial Artist & recovering Engineer. Pretty good songwriter, dog trainer & a biz blogger. And, global force for badassery.

MARK SCHAEFER Chieftain of the social web’s most unique blog, {grow}. Consultant, college professor, author of Return On Influence and Tao of Twitter. Social Media Bouncer.

REBEL BROWN Marketing consultant to B2B businesses, author & speaker. Thriving on the Other Side of Life, helping kids of all ages to know that we are ALL Unstoppable!

LAVINA GAUCHER Welcome to RawforMe! Networking for women. Real estate. Design. Building. Green. Finance. Staging. We’re here to assist and foster growth for women in business.

BARBARA DUKE Twitter Professional Encourager, Coach Author,NANA, LION, GFWC, Blogger, Artist BreastCancer Survivor-RA Patient, #SweetTweets, #TL2U-TweetLove2U.

SAUL FLEISCHMAN Fun, innovative Social Web Apps ideation. Get me out of wireframes with a SKYPE call anytime.

LEO WID Co-founder of @bufferapp, a smarter way to post on Social Media. Leo blog Social Media tips Bufferapp Blog.

SHELLY KRAMER Marketing/brand strategist, idea generator, digital content magician, scribbler, information junkie. Luv MilkDuds+Beer. Member of Oversharers Anonymous.

DEDE WATSON Demystifying Social Media ! Twitter and Social Media Coach. FORBES Social Media Power Influencer. Helping businesses reach their full potential!

ALAN K’NECHT Author of The Last Original Idea. Public Speaker & Founding partner at Digital Always Media and President of K’nechtology.

LOUISE DICARLO Social Media Confidante. Certified Life Coach. Master Storyteller. Crazy 4 family, gadgets, music, Yanks, Isles, Giants. Owns comjinc.com Partner in @socialisle.

LORI MORENO Lori is the Angel of Social Media. Miracles Empower Connect Inspire Trends, Social Media PR Represnets the Best.

STEPHEN DIMMICK Dishing a daily dose of gorgeous w/ Aussie attitude and N.Y style. If you ain’t a nice person makeup won’t help after all True Beauty Only Comes From Experience.

TONIA RIES Media addict. Founder and rabble-rouser, @RealtimeReport; and founder, marketing, event and brand expert at Modern Media. Honorary Belgian.

KERI JAEHNIG CMO: Idea Girl Media. Social Media Manager, Marketer & Trainer; Nonprofiteer; Non-fat lattes, travel & quick wit make me smile.

BRYAN MOORE Social Media Manager @RickiLakeShow Loves: People, Connecting, Sharing, Social Media, Entertainment and meeting YOU! Ideas become realities ;-) #FriendsofRicki

BRUCE SALLAN Dad, writer, radio host, founder of #DadChat

RUHANI RABIN Senior Vice President of Product (Friendster Inc), Web Tech Enthusiast, Social Media Researcher and a Total fun Geek! Right!?

MICHAEL Q TODD Author & speaker. Recovering Kiwi lawyer & fossil fuel user. Juggling addict.

LISA PETRILLI CEO C-Level Strategies, CEO Connection Chief Relnsh’p Officer, Passion: Visionary Leadership! Author The Introvert’s Guide to Success, #LeadershipChat co-Host.

NEAL SCHAFFER Social Media Agency Executive, Author, Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales & Social Media Marketing, Social Media Speaker.

TONY BENNETT Putting a spotlight on the #SoGenius stories in #SocialMedia & recognizing top influencers with our #SociallyGenius awards.

BRANDIE McCALLUM Community Manager Sensei Marketing, Mom & twitter addict…sprinkling the world with sparkle and sass!

PAUL BIEDERMANN Creative Director, Brand Innovator, Designer, Writer, Entrepreneur, Community Builder, Good Friend and Great Fun! Partner @12Most & Co-host #MyBookClub

CHERYL K. BURGESS @BlueFocus Co-Founder, CMO, B2B Social Brand Strategist, AT&T Social Media Blogger, Wharton FOA MVP, Huffington Passionista, 3x Twitter Shorty Award Winner.

SEAN GARDNER Social Media Adviser,Contributor @SocialMediaWeek @Smedio @HuffingtonPost, Co-Creator #TwitterPowerhouses Series,Do-Gooder, #Kred, Surfer!

MELISSA STEWART Purveyor of Possibility, Passionista, MavHERick, Entrepreneur & Coffee Addict. Behind every successful woman is her story. What’s your story?

CHARLES YAP Global brand social media director at IHG. Loves travel, food, tea, photography, hotels. #FriFotos, #TTOT co-host.

Once you start believing that people on the web just want to be noticed, you’ve got a winning combination in your personal life or the business world. Start noticing the people around you and let them know “You Matter.”

I’ll be adding more names to my list in upcoming blogs, but this list is open and everyone can add people to it. My goal is to create the longest list of remarkable people on the web – the people who are more than just influential, they are simply remarkable.

Read more: