When I was a 21 year old missionary walking the streets of Chile, trying my very best to speak to groups of people in a language that was so very foreign to me, I discovered something about myself that I never anticipated nor realized—I have a passion for communication. Furthermore, I love the art of public speaking, so much so that by the time I was age 24, I had my first book published on the subject.

This passion of mine took a back-seat to running my swimming pool company from 2002-2010, but gratefully over the past 3 years I’ve had the opportunity to get back to my roots and speak at many social media/marketing conferences (like Keynoting Social Media Marketing World above), workshops, and company events. Even better, over this time period, I’ve had the tremendous opportunity of listening to some pretty amazing speakers—all with unique styles and strengths—and all with their own story to tell.


The Best Social Media Speakers of 2013

As someone that adores the art of communication so much, I typically find myself analyzing a speaker’s skills, habits, and techniques more than I actually listen to the content itself. I don’t say this to brag, as in some ways it’s a curse, but I literally can’t help myself. And anyone that considers themselves an aspiring or professional speaker likely knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Knowing that I’m going to be in this business for a long time, I’ve decided to start a tradition here at The Sales Lion of annually announcing who, in my opinion, are the best Social Media Speakers in the world. Although some folks may not find value in list or “best of” posts such as this one, I’ve always benefited from them personally as it’s great to learn about new talents, voices, and places of learning—which is exactly what I hope this post will do as it shines light on what I feel are great teachers and communicators in this industry.

That being said, when I say “Social Media,” I’m lumping in most of the marketing phrases and fields we all hear so much about. Whether it’s content marketing, blogging, social, etc.—I’m putting them all under this umbrella, so please understand the semantics here are broad and loosely interpreted. Also, during this process, it has been my goal to find speakers of different styles and subject matter, as you’ll see with each of the speaker descriptions.

Finally, bear in mind that these are my opinions based on my observations. I’ve literally studied all of these speakers, how audiences react to them, and watched each in action. Furthermore, just because someone isn’t on this list doesn’t mean they  aren’t great at what they do nor a phenomenal speaker. The longer I spent researching this post, the more difficult it was for me to have to eliminate speakers that I truly respect and admire from the top 10. In the coming years, it is my hope that I’ll be able to identify more and more “up and comers” as well with this post.

All that being said, let’s get to it.

Tom Webster (Wit and Numbers Collide)

Tom Webster far and away is one of the most unique speakers I’ve ever heard. Although he may be most well-known for his position of Vice President of Strategy at Edison Research, he has this magical way of interweaving deep numbers and statistics with a witty sense of humor and sarcasm that requires one to fully pay attention when he’s giving a presentation. More than once I have found myself listening to Tom and after repeating what he just said in my head a few times (my brain works just a tad bit slower than his) I’ve laughed out loud at his unique sense of humor. A wordsmith with unlimited depth, Tom Webster will make you laugh, think deeply, and look at social media statistics in an entire new light.


Mitch Joel (Digital Visionary)

Mitch Joel SpeakingMitch Joel of Twist Image is one of those people that make the rest of us look really dang lazy. Not only does he manage to write in-depth observations about what he sees in the world of social and digital on his blog every day, but he also has one of the best and longest running podcasts on the web as well.

Although Mitch might disagree with my thoughts here about him being a visionary in the digital realm, there is no question the guy simply has a magical way of distilling on a screen and on stage a view of where all of this social media stuff is going, and what it means for each of us on a personal and professional level.


Mari Smith (Presence and Style)

Mari Smith, SpeakerHave you ever met someone that, whenever they entered the room, they seemed to have a glow about them that was simply too hard to explain yet clearly present? Mari Smith is without question one of those special types of people that has an unexplainable “It Factor” that makes her a joy to be around, listen to, and learn from.

With an unrelenting smile and unforgettable style, Mari in many ways is the essence of what social media is supposed to be. Whether it branding, community building, or Facebook advice—she manages to help individuals and companies strive to be better and work harder whenever she graces a stage or gives one of her popular webinars.


Jay Baer (Depth, Breadth, and Strategy)

Jay Baer SpeakerAuthor of the Now Revolution and the upcoming Youtility, Jay Baer is easily one of the most popular social media speakers in the world today and it’s for good reason—the guy knows what the heck he is talking about and can literally riff away on just about anything that falls under the word “marketing.”

Having the advantage of working in the online space since the advent of the medium, Jay Baer has the unique ability to hear a company’s issues, quickly assess the situation, and cut to the chase when it comes to strategy and getting results.

As a speaker, Baer was the highest ranked presenter of Content Marketing World 2012 and will somehow find a way to deliver this same value to over 100 companies and conferences in his 2013 presentations—all while managing a great blog, podcast, and consulting schedule. I don’t know how he does it, but I do know Jay Baer is a special talent that gives the audience value each and every time he’s on stage.


Pat Flynn (Teaching the World about Making a Living Online)

Pat Flynn SpeakerFounder of Smart Passive Income, what Pat Flynn has been able to achieve with his business and brand online since he lost his “normal” job about 5 years ago is absolutely astounding. Sporting an incredibly popular podcast and legion of fans/readers to his blog, Pat has been hitting the speaking circuit more and more over the last year with great success.

What makes Pat so special is his transparency. Between his monthly income reports and his powerful “How To” articles, the guy is a master of giving it all away, and then reaping the benefits through a mix of affiliate marketing, niche sites, and other income streams.

As a speaker, Pat carries this same “teacher’s mentality” on stage and whenever he speaks, it’s obvious he has one goal in mind—delivering the audience value based on his personal experiences, successes, and lessons learned.


Ann Handley (Witty Truths Combined with Masterful Strategy)

Ann Handley SpeakerWhen it comes to giving advice and strategy on social media and content marketing, few are better than Ann Handley. The co-author of Content Rules and Chief Content Officer of Marketing Profs, Ann is always a very appreciated and respected speaker at any event she attends because of the value-driven information she’s willing and able to consistently deliver.

I know every time I hear her speak, despite the fact that I think, talk, and write about Content Marketing hours upon hours a week, I learn something new and helpful from Ann Handley.


Jason Falls (Frank Talk)

Jason Falls SpeakerOne of the problems we sometimes see with thought leaders in social media is the lack of gutsy opinions and the willingness to take a stand on controversial topics. Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer clearly does not have this problem. In fact, the first time I ever heard him speak it felt like he slapped me in the forehead and then proceeded to give me frank-talk for the next 60 minutes—something that immediately garnered my respect and appreciation.

Never one to mince words, Jason is as real as it gets. He has worked with brands of all shapes and sizes to formulate his opinions and is constantly pushing the envelope in the world of social media—all of which makes Jason one of the most enjoyable speakers in the industry.


Amy Porterfield (Incredible Application and Teaching)

Amy Porterfield SpeakerWhereas Jason Falls might bring the occasional fire and brimstone to a social media conference, Amy Porterfield has the style and voice that seems to take everyone back to their favorite teacher in primary school.

As one of the premier leaders in the realm of Facebook and Pinterest marketing for business, Amy Porterfield has a masterful way of giving her audience members actionable and applicable advice that can truly enhance their company’s social media strategy. Her soothing style and tone engenders audience trust while her deep experience allows her to deliver tremendous value. If you’re ever in one of Amy’s sessions at an event you’re sure to make 3 observations:

1. The room is always full

2. Everyone seems to have a smile on their face

3. Heads are constantly nodding in affirmation

Yep, Amy Porterfield is one of the best social media speakers in the world today.


Scott Stratten (Renegade Story-Teller)

scott stratten speakerScott Stratten of Unmarketing is the type of speaker that is polarizing, unforgettable, and clearly one of a kind. Specializing in helping companies truly understand how to use social media the right way (or the “awesome” way), Scott has a mixture of wild, impromptu comedy and social media stories that make his presentations a truly memorable and thought-provoking experience.


Gini Dietrich (Mixing PR and Social)

Gini Dietrich SpeakerMaybe more than anyone else on this list Gini Dietrich of Spins Sucks seems to be good at everything when it comes to social media. As an observer of her astounding blog, Facebook, and Twitter community, I sit in awe as she seems to get the work done of 3 people with an unmatched zeal and determination that shows itself day in and day out.

As someone who has successfully managed to merge PR and Marketing on a personal level and then with her many clients, Dietrich travels the world speaking to businesses and conferences with a schedule that is mind-boggling and a style that engenders her to all she comes in contact with.


Your Turn

I know there are at least 10 more names that I’d really like to add to this list, but I had to stop at some point, hoping others would chime in and add your thoughts in the comment section. Who are some of the top speakers you’ve seen at events and conferences? What was it about their style and message that resonated with you? What were you able to apply to your business?

Jump in folks, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

79 thoughts on “The 10 Best Social Media Speakers of 2013

  1. Excellent list, Marcus.

    I would have to also add YOU as well. Relaxed, humorous and real — you exemplify how ANYONE, in ANY business can utilize strategic use of social media (especially blogging in your case) to create visibility and credibility for their business. You turn the old “social media won’t work for my company/biz” excuse on it’s head!

    I met you two years ago at BlogWorld LA — you were a fun speaker full of GREAT content and inspiration for all of us in the room. Kudos!

    • You’re too kind Cathy, thank you. :)

      Glad we met at Blog World and hope we’ll meet again :)


  2. I’m withCathy. Though you can never put yourself on a list because it’d make you seem like a jerko or something, you belong on this list in other people’s minds. Mine, for instance.

    You rock the mic.

    • “Rock the mic” Exactly

      Well said, Chris.

    • Love the usage of “jerko” Chris ;-)

      Appreciate you brother and hope to catch up again in 2013,


  3. Rob

    Gary Vaynerchuk. Gotta be number 1? Raw, uncut and real. I think he speaks ahead of his time. He has great vision, ability to see what others can’t.

    Michael Hyatt. Great rapport and knowledge. A mans man.

    Michael Stelzner

    • Love these 3 Rob. All are great. Gary is on another stratosphere, that’s why he didn’t make the list ;-)

      Thanks for stopping by bud,


    • u gotta add @Garyvee – ps. scott is a genius.. #justsayin

  4. You were the best “New to me” speaker I saw last year, Marcus, after your eye-opening talk at Social Slam. Can’t fake what you do. Honored to make this great list–and thank you.

    • I meant every word of it Tom. You make my brain work extra hard when you speak. It’s a very cool style that most folks don’t have.

      Appreciate the kind words bud and look forward to catching up again,


  5. Thanks so much, Marcus. Honored to be here. A few I’d add, not all of whom I’d categorize as “social media speakers”

    You, of course
    Amber Naslund
    Julien Smith
    Mark Schaefer
    Lee Odden
    Joe Pulizzi
    Robert Rose
    Ted Wright
    CC Chapman

    • It’s funny just how much you and I think alike with these speakers Jay, as every one of the ones you’ve listed hear are really, really good. The only one I’m not as familiar with is Ted Wright, and I hope to see him sometime soon.

      Thanks for shedding light on some really talented people bud.


  6. When I think of social media, it reminds me of Google+. When I think of Google+ it reminds me of Google search engine and when I think about search engines it reminds me of Matt Cutts.

    Although he’s an engineer from Google who just talks about web spam, I’d definitely love him to speak this year revealing some great secrets on getting to the top of SEPRs. :-)


    • Yeah, Matt is certainly the face of that industry Ram, and deserves mentioning for being the voice of the anti-spam. :-)

      Thanks for jumping in,


      • Wish I had a like button here… :-)

  7. Tom Martin, Carrie Wilkerson, and Jonathan Fields all come to mind as effective presenters, each with a solid point of view.

    • I haven’t yet heard Carrie in person Steve, and she’s one that I’m really hoping to catch at an event in 2013. Both Fields and Martin are really, really good, and could have easily made the list, and I appreciate you shedding some light on them.


  8. That’s a power packed list… I have to reiterate what so many have said above. You need to be on that list bro.

    I’m eventually going to get a conference and get to see these cats live. But delivering what they do in video I know their all Aces.

    Thanks for sharing,


    • Hanley, let me just say that I fully expect your name to be in many people’s top 10 speakers list in the coming years. I really mean that bud. As long as you keep pushing like you are, and get in the right events, people are really going to start to see your talents.

      Thanks again bud for all your kind words and support,


  9. I have not attended a conference yet, but have seen speakers online.
    Of course I would ad you to the list. Your energy and enthusiasm are contagious.
    I also like:
    Sally Hogshead
    Marie Forleo
    Derek Halpern
    I also agree with all the people on your list.

    I am thinking if creating a similar list for local Realtor’s in our market, No one would ever expect us to recognize and praise our competitors, and how could they resist sharing our post praising them on their sites. Genius!

    • Lana, so glad you mentioned all 3 of these. Sally is an interesting one because she has so much reach and scope with her “fascinate” message. Marie is dynamite and Derek is tremendous as well. I actually had all 3 of these you mentioned in my personal top 20.

      And a great idea about doing something similar in the realtor market Lana.Run with it!!


  10. Great list Marcus. Having recently come back from the New Media Expo, I have some fresh on my mind:
    Jay Baer
    Lee Odden
    Dino Dogan

    Two that I recently wrote about (and learned quite a bit from):
    Pat Flynn
    Scott Monty

    Your list is great because it gives me a few more to seek out!

    • I’m glad you brought up Dino Tom. He was in my top 12 with this list as I was really, really impressed with his style at Blog World last year. The guy is really, really good–super passionate– and knows how to work a room.

      Thanks for stopping by bud,


  11. First of all, Marcus, thank you! I actually did a keynote this morning and when I got off the stage and checked my phone, there were all sorts of alerts congratulating me, but I had no idea why. Then I saw this. Thank you!

    I’m with the other commenters here. Of course you can’t add yourself to your own list, but you deserve to be the top of any list of speakers. The ability you to have to connect with your audience and push them to think differently is like none I’ve ever seen. I’ve also had the pleasure of watching you interact with attendees after you speak and I love that you ask them to tell you one thing they learned from you. I’ve never seen anyone else do that and I totally stole it from you.

    • You’re more than welcome and incredibly deserving Gini, and I think it’s fitting you saw this right after a keynote :-)

      Thanks for the kind words and I hope we’ll get to catch up soon,


    • Great list brother, I’m a fan of all of ‘em.

      Hope life is great up north my man,


  12. You left off Borat! How could you!

    Great list Marcus. I enjoyed the videos. But I am pretty sure those folks in Gini’s video were cursing her. I am trying to find a translator. 8)

    • Yes Howie, they were, but we’ll keep that as our little secret :-)


  13. I’d have to echo your selection of Tom Webster and Jay Baer — both really solid every time I see them. Not that the rest of the list is full of slouches either… and I’d easily put you on that list — watched your Content Marketing World keynote — great stuff brother.

    I’d add Brian Clark too — doesn’t speak often but when he does, always been good no-bullshit kind of stuff.

    • You’re a good dude Tom, really appreciate the kind words.

      And yeah, Clark is certainly a tell it like it is, no fluff speaker, which is something I really appreciate.

      Looking forward to catching you in action as well my friend.


  14. Great list. Thanks for putting it together. I would have to add Joe Pulizzi, CC Chapman and Jim Kukral.


    • Jeremy, some great names. I’ve talked about Joe and CC in other comments, but Jim Kukral is absolutely someone I love listening to. He’s very, very good and was someone I thought of when making this list.

      Thanks so much for dropping by,


  15. Great list, but no list would be truly complete without Jack Jones, America’s Social Media Consultant! He’s truly a sight to behold.

    • Yes, I’ve heard that Jack Jones guy is a super freak on stage ;-)

    • Craig, great hearing from you my friend :-) And again, thanks for that super kind article.

      Like you, I think Dino is a big up and comer, and all he really needs is more opportunities to get in front of more people.

      Kind of like that McBreen guy too ;-)

      Stay well brother,


  16. Awesome list, Marcus. I haven’t been to enough events to see most of these people speak (I think I’ve only been at an event where Mari presented), but I know enough about these people that it doesn’t surprise me a bit that they’d rock the mic.

    And I’ll just pile on to whatever else is saying: Your list isn’t complete without your name on it. I’ve only seen you in videos, but that’s enough to convince me of the Power of The Marcus.

    • “Power of The Marcus” LOL, that gave me a good chuckle Loomer!! :-)

      Hopefully I’ll be seeing YOU speak soon as well!!


  17. Great list – just a couple to add:

    CC Chapman
    Peter Shankman

    • Two great and entertaining talents Troy. Thanks so much for adding them :)


  18. For a guy who sells swimming pools for a living you too are one hell of a speaker yourself Marcus, Compared to Stratten you are just as in the face and entertaining. Did i say educational too as you roamed like a lion at Tweetstock rocking up and down the audience. I have heard all in your list including the strategically seductive In the Round author +GiniDietrich. I might add AmberMac to the list due to her ubiquitousness. Yes she’s everywhere,she’s everywhere. What a great community

    • Rob my friend, how are you sir?? So great to hear from you my man and I hope all is well up north there :-)

      Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by,


  19. Insainly good post Marcus. That’s my morning wiped out watching the video links! I really appreciate the hard work you are putting in, for your community.

    • Really appreciate you saying that Dominic. This post took about 6 or 7 hours, but it was well worth it, as I love shining a light on great talent.

      Thanks again,


  20. Great list Marcus! I am so excited to hear some of these speakers at Social Media Marketing World … including you Marcus. I am just working out how to clone myself because I am sure there will be stream clashes where I will so want to be in two places at once ha ha. Looking forward to getting back to the States and doing some “head nodding” with Amy – I am sure her speaking will be out of the park after experiencing her training and webinars. ha ha. Would love to hear Scott Stratten speak too. He is a marketing legend as far as I am concerned.

    • Hey Donna! That’s exciting you’ll be at Social Media Marketing World. Stelzner never does anything less than first class, and I expect this to be no different. And although there are more than one tracks occuring at once, at least there aren’t too many to have to decide between.

      Look forward to meeting you IRL soon,


  21. One of the very best speakers I saw wasn’t even a “social media speaker”, which is why he was probably better than most.

    Tim Burrows of the Toronto Police shared his story of branding the unbrandable – how do you get people to like the police?

    Awesome talk, awesome presentation:


    • Now that’s as real as it gets my friend!

      Thanks DB :-)


  22. Fantastic list Marcus. Lots of amazing speakers named in the comments as well. A couple of my favorite speakers: Marty Weintraub from Aimclear is one of the most entertainingly unique speakers I have seen. There’s not doubt in anyone’s mind if they have seen Marty speak or not, he’s definitely memorable. Another one is Brian Carter. I love the fact that he’s a comedian and a social strategy speaker. He’s like a B2B Seinfeld.

    PS: I saw you speak at Content Marketing World and thought your session was top notch as well.

    • So glad you were at CMW Jason, really appreciate that sir. And I love the names you’ve brought up here, as I see I’ve got some research to do!

      Continued success and hope to chat w you about Marketo soon, as I’m actually working on a post specifically about them (you) as we speak.



      • You got it! Glad to hear that. I would love to chat Marketo with you. Just let me know what I can help out with. JasonM@Marketo.com

        Looking forward and see you at Social Media Marketing World in April.

  23. Couldn’t agree more with this post, Marcus – thank you for sharing it! We are so glad to see so many of our favorites on this list and love looking at the comments, too – the industry is full of so many talented people who also dedicate themselves to educating others.

    In no particular order, here are a few people I’ve had the honor to hear speak and who inspired me to work smarter & also had an amazing stage presence. They aren’t all social media, per se, there is a little public relations + marketing mixed in, but they did all reference social media at some point during their talk:
    – Chris Brogan
    – Amber Naslund
    – Marty St. George
    – Larry Weber
    – Rick Bakas
    – Heidi Sullivan (I think this is cheating because she works for Cision but I can’t deny her thought leadership skills!)
    – Shiv Singh

    I look forward to keeping up with this post and finding others in the field to follow and watch in hopes of seeing them speak soon.
    Social Media Manager
    Cision NA

    • Hi Lisa! And a big welcome to the site :-)

      Love your suggestions. I was actually speaking with Chris Brogan last night for his podcast–what an exceptional guy–who has had a tremendous about of influence on my digital career.

      And keep doing great things over there at Cision!!

      Marcus :-)

      • Thank you; glad to be here! I will definitely take a look at the podcast – look forward to hearing your on-air insight.

        Thank you for the kind words, too! Hope to run into you at a conference or event soon!

  24. Wow, Marcus. Honored that you not only have me on the list but the kind words gave me the chills. Thank you, sir! And you deserve your own kudos, too. Of all the speakers at Explore in 2012, the one that had the most obvious impact on people was Marcus Sheridan. You got the buzz meter going, brother! Good on ya.

    • I just appreciate people with courage Jason, and you’ve got that man.

      And thanks for the kind words about Explore, I love what you’re doing with that conference.


  25. Outstanding list. I’ve seen most of these folks live and would definitely agree this is a rockstar line up. As others have already said, I’d put you on my 10 top list without a doubt. You killed it at Social Slam and at GoToExplore. You remind me of Rob Bass, you know how to rock the microphone ;-)

    I’d add a couple of folks to this as well
    CC Chapman and Mark Schaefer. Both know how to bring the thunder and have the hearts of teachers. Scott Monty is great as well. He does awesome yo-yo tricks too ;-)

    • Great additions bud…and appreciate the kind words too :-)

      Have a great week my friend,


  26. My question is what are the best conference to go to hear these speakers?

  27. This is a gold mine of a post. Thank you Marcus!

    I’ll be circling back to spend some time on this page.

  28. Allison

    Great list! I have never met Mari Smith, but her friendly personality on webinars makes me feel like I know her.

    Obviously, you can’t nominate yourself, but you would have been my first pick for this list! My boss and I heard you speak at Content Marketing World, and we are both STILL talking about how energetic, inspiring and incredibly practical your presentation was. I hope to hear you again!

    • That’s incredibly kind of you Allison, thank you :-)

      And yes, I hope we’ll catch up again as well!!

      Have a wonderful week,


  29. So very kind of you, Marcus. Thank you! And, while others have said it, my first thought was, “you’re being humble and you should be on this list!”

    For my dollar, I love hearing people like Clay Shirky, David Weinberger, Jay Rosen, Avinash Kaushik, Bryan Eisenberg, Nilofer Merchant and that ilk talk up social media.

    Warm regards, have a great weekend and I can’t wait to hang out with you again very soon!

    • Love these names Mitch, and see you soon bud. Been loving the podcast recently…but that’s nothing new ;-)


  30. Epic post, Marcus — thanks a bazillion for the inclusion. Some fabulous peeps here in your list and the comments, many of my own faves. :)

    • You’re very welcome Mari. I love what you do and how you do it :-)



  31. Great list. Thanks for such information about Social Media Speakers.

  32. Well thanks, Laura Rolands, for the mention! I follow several of the folks listed here already and am adding the rest to my twitter list. Thanks for putting this list together, Marcus.

  33. Obviously, you can’t nominate yourself, but you would have been my first pick for this list! My boss and I heard you speak at Content Marketing World, and we are both STILL talking about how energetic, inspiring and incredibly practical your presentation was. I hope to hear you again!tHANKS

  34. What an impressive list. Thank you, Marcus!

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