The Social Media 40 OVER 40 List

A few weeks ago, I decided I’d had it with all the “40 Under 40” lists, and wondered just what was so wrong with being 40+. As if the 40-somethings and 50-somethings somehow deserved an asterisk next to our accomplishments.

So I sent out the call for nominations for my Social Media 40 OVER 40 list. I sent word out via Twitter and Facebook that I wanted nominations of anyone who was doing some awesome stuff in social media, but was born anytime before August 1970. And they came in. We received 60 nominations, and came up with another 20 or so names ourselves. We pared the list down to 60, then 50, and then 40.

This isn’t a list of people whose names you hear over and over. Some of those people are here, like Chris Brogan, who turned 40 in April (welcome to the club, Chris). You may have never heard of others, like Laverne Bentle Blasdel. And many others are people who are mini-celebs in their own communities, like John Dalton, who is building the blogging community in Northwest Indiana.

There may even be some obvious, huge names missing, but that’s because we didn’t know how old people are. And hey, if you don’t respond to tweets asking if you’re old enough to make the list, we’re not chasing you down. Maybe next year. (Also, if your name is on the list, but you’re actually not over 40, you need to take better care of yourself. You look like hell.) We also didn’t include our own names, even though we were both nominated. It just didn’t seem appropriate, but thank you to those who thought that highly of us.

These names are in alphabetical order, rather than order of importance, coolness, or relevance. It’s really hard to decide who’s best, second best, and so on.

So here is the inaugural Social Media 40 OVER 40.

Twitter page for Jay Baer1. Jay Baer
Bloomington, IN by way of Flagstaff, AZ
I first met Jay at Blog Indiana where we stood in line for tacos. The next day, we shot a quick video about how to eat a hamburger at MacNiven’s, an Indianapolis Scottish restaurant. Our whole interaction seems to be based on food, so I’m looking forward to pizza one day. Jay is a social media consultant who works with major corporations and PR firms. He has founded five companies, has worked in digital marketing for 15 years, and just finished up his new book, The Now Revolution, which will be out in February.

2. Chris Baggott
Indianapolis, IN
Chris co-founded ExactTarget, an email marketing SaaS, which allowed businesses to personalize their connection with their consumers. ExactTarget saw the value in 1:1 marketing before 1:1 marketing was en vogue. Chris founded Compendium Blogware as a social content publishing platform that allows businesses to publish blog content that helps them rank high on the search engines, as well as push the content out to organic landing pages and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. He’s also the co-author of Email Marketing by the Numbers, with Ali Sales.

3. Lorraine Ball
Indianapolis, IN
Lorraine is the president of RoundPeg, a PR and marketing agency that specializes in small businesses. She is also the person responsible for unleashing Kyle Lacy on the business world, when he worked for her as an intern. She is a former president of Rainmakers, a business networking organization, a highly sought after public speaker, and is a social media rockstar.

4. Christopher Barger
Detroit, MI
Chris is the social media director for General Motors, and keeps a blog about his thoughts, philosophies and experiences in the social web on Tumblr.

5. Laverne Bentle Blasdel
Lawrenceburg, IN
Not everyone who makes this list has to be a social media powerhouse. They just have to do something notable. So when Laverne was nominated by Carey Driscoll, I thought she deserved to make it. Laverne is 88 years old, lives with her sister in a retirement home, and apparently totally rocks Facebook keeping up with her friends and family.

6. Chris Brogan
Boston, MA
Chris is the undisputed leader in the social media world. He’s a Fortune 500 social media consultant, the owner of New Media Labs, co-author of Trust Agents, author of Social Media 101, co-founder of PodCamp. You knew he was going to make the list, of course, but he just barely made the nomination cutoff by four months.

7. Bob Burchfield
Indianapolis, IN
Through a daily combination of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning, FriendFeed, Foursquare, Twubs, podcasting, Blogger, WordPress, Animoto, and other social media apps, site traffic on the Bob’s main website has increased exponentially, compared to pre-social media days. What’s impressive is that Bob does a lot of his web programming by hand. While others are satisfied to download plugins and apps, Bob builds his own. The net result is that if you do searches for things to do around Indianapolis, it’s Bob’s website that appears first, beating out the “professional” websites whose jobs it is to promote Indianapolis and Indiana tourism. Very impressive.

8. Shawn Carter
@JayZ or @s_c_, his personal account
New York City
I couldn’t resist. Shawn Carter is better known as Jay-Z, a force in musical entertainment. He’s got 3.7 million fans on Facebook and 236,000 followers on Twitter. He may not be a social media pro, like most of the people on the list, but he’s embraced social media, and is using it to its fullest to promote his music and his brand, so he’s the only entertainer to make the list.

9. Jon Costas
@JonCostasTwitter home page for Jon Costas, mayor of Valparaiso Indiana
Valparaiso, IN
He’s the mayor of Valparaiso, Indiana, and he handles his own Twitter account. He doesn’t pass it off to an intern, doesn’t post the occasional tweet about a public appearance. He has actual Twitter conversations with other people. If that isn’t the coolest thing, I don’t know what is.

10. Pat Coyle
Pat is the owner of Sports 2.0, a sports marketing agency in Indianapolis, and the founder of But his biggest claim to fame is the creation of Smaller Indiana, a Ning-based social network for people who live and work in Indiana, whether they’re entrepreneurs, artists, creative professionals, blue collar types, corporate types, or even students. The network has grown to 9,000 members since December 2007, and has been a source of news, information, trends, and has hosted several events where thought leaders and community members can come together to discuss whatever issue is at hand.

11. Steve Dalton
Valparaiso, IN
Steve is a blogger in Northwest Indiana who works for Green Pointe Homes, a Northwest Indiana home builder. He’s also a strong blogging evangelist in his local blogging community, and spends a lot of time trying to get new bloggers to write about what’s happening in the local online community. He also gets to teach university classes from time to time.

12. Kevin Dugan
Cincinnati, OH
Chuck Gose spoke so highly of Kevin in his nomination, it’s just easier to let Chuck say it:

Kevin is social media in Cincinnati. In fact, he runs Cincinnati Social Media. The guy is a master at taking various topics that are on people’s minds and splashing them with his own professional experience. As part of Cincinnati Social Media, he’s the founder of Cincinnati Social Media Breakfast. His blogs, Strategic Public Relations and The Bad Pitch Blog, have been singled out for awards, including a 2007 Award of Commendation from the Public Relations Society of America. Both blogs are ranked by Advertising Age magazine’s Power 150 — a ranking of the top marketing blogs in the world. And he’s been recognized personally as well. Aside from the accolades and professional work, Kevin is one of the good guys. Always willing to teach and help others learn about digital technology and content.

13. Paul Dunay
New York City
Paul Dunay is the global managing director of services and social marketing for Avaya, a global enterprise communications company. He is also the author of three Dummies books: Facebook Marketing for Dummies, Social Media and the Contact Center for Dummies, and Facebook Advertising for Dummies. He was also named to BtoB Magazine’s “Top 25 B2B Marketer of the Year” in 2009.

14. Dana Freeman
Dana is a parenting and travel blogger for, focusing on one very specific niche, northern Vermont. She writes about weekend events, after-school activities, camps, festivals, story times and so many more things for parents with families to do in the Green Mountain State.

15. Tanya Goodin
London, England
Tanya is one of only two people on this list outside the United States (#16, Sharon Hayes, is from Montreal). She is the CEO of, one of the first agencies in the UK to talk about social media almost 3 years ago. Tanya was named one of Revolution Magazine’s Top Tweeters in 2009, was a finalist in the Blackberry Outstanding Women in Technology in 2008, and a London regional finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007.

Twitter home page for Sharon Hayes16. Sharon Hayes
Montreal, Canada
Typically, I don’t pay attention to people with more than 20,000 followers. A lot of times, that can be finagled through some clever auto-follow bots and software trickery. The clue, however, is to look at the number of lists the person is on. Sharon Hayes is a consultant with 76,000 followers, is following 69,000 people, and is on 3,819 lists. In other words, 5% of her followers put her on a list of some sort. (Chris Brogan is has a 9.5% list-to-follower ratio.) So, something tells me she knows what she’s doing, and adds value to her followers. She is a business development expert who has created and developed over a dozen companies providing business to business services. Since the mid 1990’s, she has been focused in the areas of email marketing, community development, branding/domain name services and social media. (Update: Sharon is NOT a life coach or Twitter trainer, as I had originally reported. She corrected me, and I’m correcting it here.)

17. Thomas Ho
Orlando, FL
One of two Ph.Ds on the list (the other is Werner Vogels, #37), Thomas Ho was a Social Media and IT instructor at IUPUI, and now works for Wycliffe Bible Translations. Thomas was the one who got me started in Twitter. For weeks, I couldn’t understand the point of it, until he explained it to me. Now I can’t function without it. He constantly tries new technologies and tools, and shares his knowledge with other social media folks, providing meta-social media knowledge to our entire industry.

18. Bevery Jackson
Los Angeles, CA
marketing dept for Recording Academy
Beverly is part of the marketing department for The Recording Academy. As part of her responsibilities, she has lead The GRAMMY Award show’s social media efforts. To her credit, the telecast and events around it have pre- and post event blog coverage, live twitter streams and earlier this year, a Social Media Rock Star conference.

19. Douglas Karr
Indianapolis, IN
Doug is one of the smartest people in social media today, and should be in the top 5 on this list, easy. He’s the owner of DK New Media, a co-creator of Compendium’s blogging software, co-author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies, and owner of the Marketing Tech Blog, a leading marketing technology, uh, blog.

20. Chris Kieff
New York City
Chris is a long time social media evangelist and socializer, and actually got his job at Ripple6 by announcing that he was looking for a social media job on Twitter. He writes extensively about how businesses can improve their use of social media. He also has a new Twitter contest application, Real Time Contest, in beta. He is also a speaker, social media educator/trainer, and a consultant.

21. Cliff Kinard
Austin, TX
One of the new “intrapreneurs” at IBM, Cliff was digital…when digital wasn’t cool or profitable. Today, Cliff is helping reinvent the IBM System x Server team’s social media and internet marketing approach to engaging customers in the x86, Intel and AMD server hardware market.

22. Charlene Li
Twitter home page for Charlene LiSan Francisco, CA
Charlene has done some amazing stuff in her career. She is the co-author of “Groundswell,” author of “Open Leadership,” and the founder of Altimeter Group, a strategy firm that helps clients use new technologies. She was named one of the 12 most creative minds of 2008 by Fast Company, and one of the most influential women in technology 2009. And now she’s on this list, so she’s got that going for her.

23. Jesse Luna
Santa Paula, CA
Jesse helped roll social media into his former company as Web Marketing Communications Manager. These efforts included the creation of a company-wide blogging infrastructure, training a dozen over-40 co-workers on the art of blogging, and helping architect the design. Jesse was also an adjunct professor at Cal State Channel Islands for over a year, teaching web design and blogging as part of a Management of Information Systems course.

24. Tom Martin
New Orleans
Tom Martin is a marketing and social media whirlwind. In fact, while I was compiling this list, I saw that Tom had left for Brazil on the last day of August to speak about social media. Brazil? Are you kidding me? I can’t even get invited to Brazil, Indiana, and he’s going to a whole other hemisphere. Tom is the president of Zehnder Communications, which helps clients “combine traditional, digital and social media marketing strategies.” He also created Converse Digital, a new social media monitoring service that’s still in the startup phase.

25. Greg Matthews
Austin, TX
Formerly the director of consumer innovation and social media at Humana, Greg is now the Social Media Director at WCG, a global communications firm, handling social media and social networking for some pretty high profile clients. His experience is notable because he was able to get Humana, an insurance company — an industry not known for embracing change, to adopt social media The fact that he is a big hitter at a big ball team is enough to get him on this list; getting an insurance giant to adopt social media is enough to get him a sainthood.

26. Becky McKray
Alva, OK
Becky really knows her stuff when it comes to social media, said Karen Putz (#29). “When she isn’t in the field talking to cows in her rural town (population, a few handful of people, the cows outnumber ‘em) she’s on Twitter, engaging in conversation and linking to people and events from all over. She’s the owner of a liquor store– but she doesn’t touch a drop of the products she sells. She’s a sought-after speaker on the topic of social media, so that ought to tell you something.”

27. Mitch Mitchell
Liverpool, NY
Mitch Mitchell is not Jimi Hendrix’s old drummer (because that guy’s dead). No, our Mitch hails from Liverpool, New York (so he’s no Beatle either), has been blogging since 2005 and talking and writing about social media since 2008.

Twitter home page for Liz Strauss34. Liz Strauss
Chicago, IL
Founder of SOBCon (Successful and Outstanding Bloggers), the national conference that was started because of a single blog post asking people to start a conversation in the comments. section. Liz’s website explains it this way: “In 2008, (SOBCon) became the “Cirque du Soleil” of conferences in a new format that included interactive mastermind teams. Liz selects the content; the content decides the presenters, and after each presentation, the audience immediately applies what they heard by discussions in mastermind teams. The new model is a once a year think-tank of intentional serendipity. SOBCon gives participants a real-time, real-space chance to make a difference to business and the world. ”


35. Penelope Trunk
Darlington, WI
If we were doing this in order of coolness and accomplishments, Penelope would be in the top five. She’s the author of Brazen Careerist, and owner of the social network by the same name. I was actually surprised to hear that Penelope was over 40. Given her niche — career advice for Generation Y — I figured she was just a few years older than her subjects. But my editor at Pearson said, “no, she’s close to your age,” which made me feel like less of a loser. That’s because Penelope, a former professional beach volleyball player, is the founder of three startups, including, a social network for Generation Y. Her career column also appears in 200 newspapers.


36. Jim Turner
Firestone, CO
Jim started One By One Media back in 2004, and is a professional blogger and social media consultant, working with Fortune 500 companies and small startups. He also created, a UStream TV broadcast about social media, and BloggersForHire, a professional blogging agency. Best of all, he totally rocks that Captain America uniform in his Twitter avatar, although maybe not as muscly as the original.


37. Werner Vogels
Seattle, WA
Dr. Werner Vogels is the CTO and VP of, and only one of two Ph.Ds on the list. He writes a blog, All Things Distributed, to discuss general technology, as well as some science, cloud computing, and things going on at Amazon. But what’s really cool is his blog, which bridges the gap between Twitter and his regular blog. A lot of his interests are about music, and one of his recent posts was an “I can’t believe you listen to this shit’ top 10 list of bands he likes.


38. Dave Woodson
@DaveWoodsonTwitter home page for Dave Woodson
Michigan City, IN
Dave is well-known in real estate circles, helping organize Indiana’s RE BarCamps, a social media conference for Realtors, mortgage brokers, and people in the real estate business. A lot of Realtors have embraced social media and blogging, and Dave has helped make that happen, at least for Indiana. Dave started in social media three years ago to build his first mortgage business, and turned that into a consulting and speaking business, and has helped him create a strong personal brand in the real estate and mortgage business both in his region and on the national level.


39. Susan Britton Whitcomb
Fresno, CA
Susan is the co-author of The Twitter Job Search Guide, and SIX other books. She is also a speaker and coach. She uses Twitter extensively to send out job search advice, whether it’s résumé tips, using social networking to find jobs, or advancing your career. Sarah, who nominated Susan, said “you may not have the time or resources to work with a professional career coach, but in following Susan you can still get the guidance needed to give yourself an edge in the job market.”


40. Steve Woodruff
New Jersey
Steve is a pharmaceutical marketer, but is also a creator of Opportunity Networks, a networking group, dedicated to “opening up doors of opportunity for personal and professional advancement.”


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    About Erik Deckers

    Erik Deckers is the President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing and social media marketing agency in Indianapolis, IN. He co-authored three social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media with Jason Falls (2011, Que Biz-Tech), and Branding Yourself with Kyle Lacy (2nd ed., 2012; Que Biz-Tech), and The Owned Media Doctrine (2013, Archway Publishing). Erik has written a weekly newspaper humor column for 10 papers around Indiana since 1995. He was also the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, FL.


    1. You never know for certain what you’re gonna get in anticipation of having already put in your money. I came across this your hard way me.

    2. Great idea for a blog entry. So much focus is on youth.

    3. Chris Kieff says:

      I’ve created a TWeepML list that allows you to follow everyone on this list in a single click. You’ll find that list here:

      There are also buttons you can get to put on your blog and Icons at the same location.

    4. Dorothy Crenshaw says:

      Hilarious, and a great idea. Thanks for the inspiration! Social media may be relatively new, but some of the blogging veterans have learned something along the way. It takes a (multigenerational) village….

    5. Chris Kieff says:

      What an impressive list- I am humbled and honored to be included. Now all we need is a great artist to create a wrinkled sagging age spotted old yellowed logo as a blog badge for us all to proudly wear on our blogs! If I had the talent I’d make it but alas I’m no artist.
      I think this list is important for a few reasons not the least of which is that there are lots of people over 40 in social media who know what they are doing and have the experience in the real world to be able to implement it too. I think there’s a blog in there. Thank you again for including me in such august company.

    6. So happy to be included in your list…tho I could’ve done without my darling daughter’s comment about “way over 40”. Just how far IS “way” anyway? Social Media activities are not age-related; I keep 2 blogs and tweet/FB for multiple entities and can say just about anything in less than 140 characters!

    7. I am 40 and proud of it! Woot!

      Good list. I have to admit I don’t some of them. Looking fwd to connecting w/some new peeps though!

      Pam Moore

    8. Any African-American women on this list or is it that we don’t get noticed? I can’t say I know every african-american woman who blogs but I certainly don’t recognize any names here.

      I’m definitely over 40—over 50—got several blogs and even though I may not qualify for your list, I have plenty to say as a veteran journalist who spent more than 25 years in radio and television news. You ought to check me out sometime.

      • Beverly Jack is an African-American woman. She works for the Recording Academy and does social media for the Grammys.

        We based the list on nominations and people we knew. I can’t say that I knew you two weeks ago, but I know you now, and I’m compiling next year’s candidates already, and you’re going on that list.

    9. Greg Matthews says:

      I got a huge kick out of this list … thanks for compiling it, and I am honored to be in such august company! Hope that a lot more nominations come up in the comments … my mentor at WCG, Bob Pearson (@bobpearson1845), is definitely a rock star, and does manage to qualify (barely, I’m sure) via the age requirements … ;-)

    10. Scott Sawaya says:

      Wait a minute, Steve Dalton is over 40??

    11. Dalton, Daver, Mayor, how’d y’all get beat by Shawn Carter? Seriously! Step up the game. :-P

      JK – great work y’all.

    12. Looks like it’s time to move to Indiana, the apparent hub of the social-media universe! ;) All kidding aside, this is a great list. Well done. I’m planning to spend some time checking out (and in some cases, following) the people on the list.

    13. A great list to be included in and I’m honored. Thanks for pulling this together and of course creating a new group of people for me to follow as well.

    14. Erik,

      Love that you tipped the whole 40/40 thing over. I too get tired of those lists.

      I’m especially flattered to be included in this list… very, very good company. So thanks for the hat tip.

      As for Brazil, it was fun and interesting. Lastly – anyone looking for me over at Zehnder won’t find me… I actually no longer work there… Converse Digital is my new consulting group full-time.

      Have a great day.

    15. Thanks for the inclusion! It’s an honor to be listed with so many great folks. Thanks for recognizing folks over 40, Erik!

    16. Very much appreciate being included Erik, although when I look at the list it includes some terrific examples that are way ahead of me on their useage of New Media. Following all now!

    17. Good to know children born in the 1960s are doing good work :) Honored to be included in this list. Thank you.

    18. Love this concept and admire many of the “old folks” on this list. Two of the partners of my social media agency (myself included) are 40+. We have plenty of young college grads wanting to intern with us to learn more about social media which makes me smile since they are the generation that supposedly has grown up with this knowledge embedded. We’re happy mentor the next round of 40 over 40!

    19. Thanks so much the inclusion! Some awesome people on this list!

    20. Erik,

      What a great idea. Enjoyed reading about each of the people who made the list and look forward to following those who I’m not already following. Thanks!

    21. David Petherick says:

      Brilliant. As a 40+ social media person, this cheers me up!
      Thanks for this – a few names new to me, and a few I’d assumed were perhaps under 40.
      Regards, David

    22. @Patrick, thanks for the information on Jay-Z vs. S_C_. I added that one to the list too.

    23. Wow, I’m having fun exploring all the folks that are new to me on this list. Great list and thanks for putting it together, Erik!

    24. Hey thanks for the inclusion and mentions. #nwindiana is something pretty special, we love to collaborate. If anyone is going to be in the region let us know, we’re glad to meetup and learn and share.

    25. John Wolfe says:

      Great call with Jay! We’re sorry he left AZ but we’re sure he’ll be back often!

    26. Nice list. :) I would have given the nod to Sean “Diddy” Combs (@iamdiddy) here over Jay-Z as he has done a solid job of engaging in the space directly via his account and also using it for promotional means, too. And he’s been at it longer. I’m a Jay-Z fan, too, though. In any case, good list, lots of good people.

      Small aside, I wanted to mention that Jay-Z actually has over 700,000 followers on his personal account, which is The @JayZ account is a promotional account run by Roc Nation.



    27. Thanks for the inclusion on the list, I always wanted to be on the 40 under 40 lists, but never seemed to have the voice at the time to make it. Well, at least, according to their standards. Whoever they are?

    28. Alright, qualified for the 40/40 list; whew! Thanks for the write up and inclusion; I’ll work on living up to the honor every day! :-)


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