Yet Another Take on Minnesota’s Social Media Innovators

A few local bloggers have recently put together lists of Minnesotans they consider to be social media innovators. I like bandwagons, so I’m jumping on.

To me, a social media innovator is someone who’s found creative ways to use new social media tools to change their businesses for the better, or to build entirely new businesses. Here is who comes to mind.

1. MinnPost – While some news organizations think tweeting out their headlines is a Twitter strategy (it’s not necessarily good or bad, btw) MinnPost has many employees who actively engage readers through various social media channels. Karl Pearson-Cater, David Brauer, and Corey Anderson come to mind.

2. MinnPost is also creating new forms of advertising, widget syndication, and other fun stuff with the help of Garrick Van Buren, so Garrick makes my list.

3. Aaron Weiche does a nice job balancing work related and social tweets for his web design firm and has measured the revenue per tweet that he’s generated.

4. Jeff Pester has curated one of the most followed Twitter accounts on Social Media @socialmedia411 in the world.

5. Jason DeRusha has built an incredibly loyal audience by engaging with locals on a variety of online platforms including blog comments, twitter, his own blog, and JasonCam.

6. Lee Odden has used blogging and Twitter to become a thought leader in SEO and social media.

7. The Uptake has essentially created the next generation of CSPAN using free to nearly free web technologies together with passionate political people.

8. Punch Pizza and Common Roots for their impressive use of social media sites to build direct relationships with their customers. How many Twitter followers will they need to reach before they no longer need to spend a penny on advertising?

9. The folks behind Solutions Twin Cities for their effective use of Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook to put butts in seats of the wide variety of events they product every month.

10. Sam Glover, for building his legal business through social media, including his Caveat Emptor blog, webinars at Minnesota CLE, Lawyerist blog, and contributions to The Consumerist.

These ten came from 10 minutes of pondering who’s making money or effectively leveraging social media tools to make their business or organization better.

11 thoughts on “Yet Another Take on Minnesota’s Social Media Innovators”

  1. Thanks for the nod, Ed!

    You could put yourself on the list too. Your Twitter-based advertising is one of the most innovative uses of social media tools I have seen.

    (Also, fix that link to Consumerist.)

  2. Great points, Ed. And organizations like Minn Post should certainly be recognized for their work in this space.

    Interesting that some of the brands on your list are supported by some of the folks on the list over on my blog (Blois Olson and Dave Erickson work closely with Punch Pizza at Tunheim Partners). And clearly you agree with the community in recognizing Jason and Lee. Nice list.

    @arikhanson

  3. Arik, thanks for the comment. As someone who does his share of string pulling, I decided to look at the public facing side of this niche rather than the string pullers. Blois and Dave seem to do great work, but the real innovator is Punch for deciding to try innovative social media marketing strategies. Whether Punch does it all themselves or contracts with professionals, Punch deserves the credit.

    @sam, That little project of mine is organically growing at around 50 followers a day. All opt-in with around 5 minutes a month of work. Craziness. Link fixed. Thanks.

  4. While he gets a slice of the credit for his work on The Uptake (which I refer to as the UpChuck), I think no list of MN SM innovators is complete without Chuck Olson.

  5. I add my congratulations to minnpost – Bravo! Iisn’t is interesting that minnpost is able to pull off this wonderful effort without government support? Wouldn’t it be nice if MPR (or should I say newsq.org) would do the same?

  6. Thanks for the mention Ed, sniff, I didn’t know you cared. 🙂

    I really appreciate the business perspective to your consideration. Ease of publishing makes everyone “an expert” but in the end, it’s the ability to create, grow and innovate bankable business either directly or indirectly that social media innovation answers to.

  7. @Steve, I think it’s a bit too early to hold MinnPost up as a successful financial model. It looks like 8.7% of MPR’s budget (PDF) came from government sources last year, which is down from 13.6% the year before. That comes out to around 11 cents per Minnesotan per month, if I’m reading the numbers correctly.

  8. Thanks for the mention Ed. I enjoy the interaction and access that Twitter & blogging give me to other great minds and interesting businesses.

    I can say for some of the others mentioned on your list, I had never eaten Punch Pizza until being persuaded by their SM efforts and I would have never read a MinnPost story without David Bauers heavy use of Twitter. Thanks again.

  9. If you talk about social innovators in minnesota, don’t forget SuddenDeals.com We connect shoppers with merchants in real-time via SMS text messages on cell phones. Our shoppers request Sudden Deals from merchants and receive them on their cell phones when they go out.

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