11 Influencers from online communities you need to know

Khoros Staff

Starting an online brand community can be a daunting project with a large investment at the beginning. Even though communities consistently show strong ROI, the specifics of how to implement them, what strategies to use, and what features are needed can be difficult to determine. It helps to find an expert to talk to, so here’s a list of some of our favorites.

Many people we talk to ask about this, so we’ve invited our favorites to join the conversation here. Many of those in this post have over a decade of experience in online community building and have accomplished, and written, so much it’s difficult to capture all the details in a short, referenceable document — we’ve done our best to capture it here.

Rachel Happe, The Community Roundtable

Rachel is a prolific, candid, and knowledgeable research analyst and thought leader in the community world. She is the co-founder of The Community Roundtable and produces its frameworks, research, and training. The Community Roundtable is an extensive source of insights on brand communities today.

Favorite Content: The Annual State of Community Management Report (over 10 years now!)

Recent Highlight: Community Careers and Compensation 2020 Report

Great for: Networking, Strategy, Advice/Consulting, Training, Benchmarking, Content

Bonus: Unlocking Community Engagement Webinar

Twitter | LinkedIn

David Spinks, CMX (Bevy)

David founded CMX six years ago and has spent more than a decade in the Community Management space. Last year, CMX was acquired by BevyLabs and the annual CMX Summit surpassed 1,000 attendees — it’s clear, David is having a growing impact on our industry.

Favorite Content: Community Industry Trends Report

Recent Highlight: The Difference Between Field Marketing and Community-Driven C2C Programs

Great For: Networking, Training, Content, Did I mention Networking?

Twitter | LinkedIn

Richard Millington, Feverbee

Richard Millington is the founder of FeverBee, one of the most popular communities blog, author of the popular Buzzing Communities, and a frequent speaker at online community events around the world. His posts focus a lot on psychology and Feverbee just launched online training courses on that topic.

Favorite Content: Buzzing Communities, a book dense with insights and easy to read. A must-read for people new to the community world.

Recent Highlight: What Does Great Engagement Look Like?

Great for: Content, Advice/Consulting, Networking, Training

BONUS: Planning the Future and Growth of Your Community

Twitter | LinkedIn

Wayne Kurtzman, IDC

Wayne Kurtzman is an experienced technologist, practitioner, and analyst of enterprise collaboration and social media solutions. He’s also an adjunct educator and is responsible for the IDC Social, Communities, and Collaboration practice. He is part of the IDC Future of Work and Future of Customer and Consumer teams.

Favorite Content: The Benefits of Collaboration, Quantified

Recent Highlight: IDC Market Glance Update: Future of Work, 1Q20

Great for: Advice/Consulting, Content

Twitter | LinkedIn

Jono Bacon

Jono Bacon is a leading community and collaboration speaker, author, and podcaster. He is the founder of Jono Bacon Consulting which provides community strategy/execution, workflow, and other services. He previously served as director of community at GitHub, Canonical, XPRIZE, and OpenAdvantage. He has an extensive client list and publishes a ton of content on a wide variety of community and customer experience topics.

Favorite Content: People Powered: How communities can supercharge your business, brand, and teams

Recent Highlight: Conversations with Bacon podcast

Great For: Content, Advice/Consulting, Training

Twitter | LinkedIn

Nick Hill, Khoros

There are a lot of experts to choose from here at Khoros. The goal of this post is to help further the conversation on communities by providing multiple perspectives, so we picked one! Nick has spent over a decade designing, coding, and building communities for some of the world’s biggest brands at Jive, Lithium, and now Khoros. The Khoros team (including Nick and this author) put out a lot of content geared towards all phases of community building across public social and brand communities. In addition, Atlas is a 70,000+ member community where you can connect, engage, and learn from a wide variety of digital professionals.

Favorite Content: Science of Social Blog Series

Recent Highlight: Gamification Best Practices from 3 Leading Brands

Great for: Content, Networking, Training, Vendor

Twitter | LinkedIn

Emily Collins, Research Director, Forrester

Emily comes to Communities from a loyalty and advocacy program perspective. This is different from the primary focus of an online community, which usually starts with support and call deflection or self-service. Therefore, she brings a fresh perspective and a lot of really interesting stats, especially if you’re trying to convince your marketing team on the value of a community.

Emily’s Blog:

Favorite Content: Predictions 2020: B2C Marketing

Recent Highlight: Customer Communities Are Buzzworthy Again: Answer Four Key Questions Before You Jump In

Great for: Content, Advice/Consulting

Twitter | LinkedIn

Jessica Liu, Forrester

Jessica (Jessie) Liu covers the “brand-owned communities” market from the perspective of the B2C marketer, with a heritage in social technologies. This extends way beyond the social networks themselves and is increasingly including Communities. She is a vast resource and can help marketers take the power of communities beyond just customer engagement and care.

Jessie’s Blog:

Favorite Content: Make Social Media Bigger Than Marketing (Forrester Research Access Required)

Recent Highlight: Social Suites Technologies Are Coming Together

Great for: Content, Vendor Selection, Advice/Consulting


Jay Wilson, Gartner

Jay Wilson focuses on helping clients achieve the best possible results in social marketing, with an emphasis on measurable results and impacts on customer experience. His background has focused on leveraging social media insights to inform advertising, marketing, and customer service efforts online and offline.

Jay’s Gartner Profile & Blog:

Favorite Content: Top Strategic Predictions for 2019 and Beyond: Practicality Exists Within Instability

Recent Highlight: Defend your Brand in the Era of Fake News

Great for: Content, Advice/Consulting

Twitter | LinkedIn

All the people at People & Company

People & Company is an innovative new partnership of some icons in community building. Bailey Richardson, Kevin Huynh, and Kai Elmer Sotto comprise People & Company with experience at Instagram, IDEO, CreativeMornings, and Facebook. They are a new team of highly-experienced individuals and have been extremely prolific with high-quality content of a variety of types.

Favorite Content: Get Together Book and Podcast

Recent Highlight: Turn Your Customers into Your Community

Great for: Content, Advice/Consulting, Networking

Twitters: Kai, Bailey, Kevin

Patrick O’Keefe, Community Signal

Patrick O'Keefe has been managing online communities for more than 16 years. He authored the book Managing Online Forums and has spoken for major corporations and universities. His content is ideal for anyone who’s daily job is managing online brand communities.

Favorite Content: Managing Online Forums

Recent: From Engineer to Community Manager to Engineer to Community Manager

Great for: Content

Twitter | LinkedIn

Thanks to everyone who joined us for this online influencer spotlight!

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