One of the most redeeming qualities of the social media landscape revolves around the unique ability microblogging (eg. Twitter, Facebook status updates, Blog comments) offers in the creation of "Thought Viruses." Everyone knows you can't really "create" a "thought virus" however there are people in the social Web who gracefully dance the waltz of maven and connector into what I call "Thought DJ's." These individuals are the uber-talented social media curators who skillfully bring the proper mix of humor, wit, intelligence and interesting "tinyurls" and create an environment of heavily anticipated tweets. Much like an influential music DJ who "breaks" and "discovers" new music today's "Thought DJ" delivers news, information, insights and even concepts to us with a freshness that is reminiscent of the day we used to buy 45's at the local record store. Their ability to be on the cutting edge of information combined with their innovative point of view make their daily tweets a must read.
As a former record label executive I have an enormous music appetite and when I travel I've been known to find and go listen to the most unique rare DJ in a particular city. My preferences for DJ's tend to skew around the rare and extremely knowledgeable music curators whose musical set takes me on journey (see Rich Medina, DJ Spinna, Gilles Peterson, King Britt, MAW, Sake1, Qool DJ Marv, DJ Jazzy Jeff). Many of the Twitter users I admire and follow are similar to the DJ's I love and admire. They bring something that makes my life better, challenge what I have read that day and cause me to anticipate more from them. I depend on them to find the good stuff and wait with baited breath on what they will tweet next.
Contrary to what most people think, the most powerful twitter users in the space aren't those with the greatest number of followers but those who are consistently retweeted. The "thought DJ" generally takes the time to carefully funnel good information to their network. They have thought about what they tweet and how it will be received by their flock. These are the types of people that you want to follow because they bring value to your twitter profile. In our consulting practice we are constantly asked about Twitter from those not yet using. Their main complaint is that they do not see the value of following other people. To that I generally encourage them to find "thought DJ's" who will make their experience far more interesting.
So I bring to you 11 interesting "Thought DJ's" who make my life a little better just by following. You will notice that many do not have a million followers yet I deem them equally as influential and important as today's popular twitter names.
- Ahmir Thompson (@questlove)-Drummer for Grammy Award winning band The Roots. The Roots are the in-house band for Jimmy Fallon Show. His tweets are intelligent, smart, and his name dropping is purposeful and not annoying.
- The Jenntafur (@2Serenity)-A trained lawyer from D.C. who is a very thoughtful "Re-tweeter" and a wealth of information on a wide variety of subjects.
- Sarma Melngailis (@sarma)-Founder of Pure Food and Wine & OneLuckyDuck.com. Former Wall Street finance whiz turned culinary and raw food Goddess. She is very smart and witty, very few dull moments.
- Fred Wilson (@fredwilson)-VC & Principal of Union Square Ventures. Blogs about the social media space with passion with a dash of music. Want to know the pulse of the latest social technologies then follow Fred.
- Stuart McDonald (@stumcdnld)-Stuart McDonald keeps it real and usually has me in stitches with his humor. He calls himself an "enlightened white boy" and the world is a better place because of it.
- Harry Allen (@harryallen)-Harry is the "media assassin" for those of you who are hip hop historians and know Public Enemy. Harry Allen covers race, politics and hip hop and is a fantastic "retweeter"of good information.
- Derrick "D-Nice" Jones (@DJdnice)-Another pivotal member of hip hop history who has embraced digital and social media. Today DJ D-Nice is a one of the sought after celebrity and corporate event DJ's. He also has an amazing photography skill that he shares through Twitpics.
- Larry Chiang (@larrychiang)-Larry is the author of the blog, "What They Didn't Teach You At Stanford Business School" and blogs for BusinessWeek with the same focus. I first met him at a conference where he aggressively approached me and said "@Me right now dude!" I have been enjoying his tweets ever since and have really enjoyed his humor + business commentary.
- Dana Lewis (@danamlewis)-Dana is currently a senior at Univ. of Alabama but don't let the babyface fool you, she is the creator of one of the most engaging conversations on health care and social media #HCSM.
- Corvida Raven (@corvida)- Founder of Shegeeks.net and she calls herself the "Oprah of the Web" When I'm looking for what is next on the Web and/or iphone she's my first stop. In her early twenties I call her "the future."
- Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77)-An active twitter user who has pioneered my new favorite Friday activity #vivaviernes which is the latino "Follow Friday."
James Andrews is a managing partner at Everywhere specializing in the creation of social media strategies, online communications, and Web content production. Everywhere is a strategic communication agency that focuses in helping brands and individuals navigate the social media and online space to build better connections with their audiences. Its clients include Delta, Jane Fonda, Jermaine Dupri, Sanaa Lathan, and Georgia Public Broadcasting. Before launching everywhere, Andrews was VP, Ketchum Digital and worked on social media brand strategy work for Monster.com, FedEx, GeekSquad, Wendy's, and Newell Rubbermaid. Andrews has been working in the area of interactive/new media and non-traditional marketing for 15 years holding senior titles at Columbia Records, Ecko Unlimited, and Isobar/Carat. His experience with brands such as Current TV, Sprite, Vibe Magazine, and Proctor & Gamble places him in a unique category of executives that understand the convergence of both new media, content and digital lifestyle. James blogs at FastCompany.com as an Expert Blogger. He also maintains a blog at www.thekeyinfluencer.com where he covers the "business of pop culture" via news and interviews that span technology, new media, music business and youth/urban culture. Andrews is also a regular contributor to CNN, as an expert in social media. Additionally, James serves as a consultant on social media to a few celebrities and icons including Hill Harper (CSI), DJ Jazzy Jeff, Sanaa Lathan, Macy Gray, and Jane Fonda. James Andrews attended UCLA, grew up in Silicon Valley, and lives in Atlanta with his wife and two children. He is an active speaker globally and is frequently quoted on the subjects of digital media, entertainment and innovative branding/marketing approaches.