Originally published on Inc.com.
People often confuse influence with how many Twitter followers someone has. However, some of the most influential people are influential because of the relationships they build with others, their unique knowledge and positions, who they know, and how they know you.
In that vein, here's a list of 25 marketing influencers from up-and-comers to established industry leaders--who are sure to help you stay sharp this year:
1. Jay Baer, president, Convince & Convert
When a marketer has worked with more than 700 brands, founded multimillion-dollar companies, and written a The New York Times bestseller Youtility, it's best to observe his work. Jay's new book, Hug Your Haters, should also do well in 2016.
2. John Hall, co-founder and CEO, Influence & Company
An influencer of influencers, Hall's company helps leaders build industry influence. Hall was recently described in the book Remarkable You as "one of the most powerful people in media who you've never met," and has emerged as a go-to keynote speaker on topics like marketing, sales, and leadership. His new book, Top of Mind, will be a must-read for marketers and company leaders in 2016.
3. Ann Handley, chief content officer, MarketingProfs
Handley is considered one of the foremost women in content marketing--and for good reason. Author of a Wall Street Journal bestseller, Everybody Writes: Your Go-to Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content, and a popular keynote speaker, Handley consistently churns out thought leadership content for one of marketing's greatest training and education sites.
4. Brian Solis, principal analyst, Altimeter Group
He is one of the first leaders of digital influence and marketing, having worked with some of the most recognized brands, startups, celebrities, and industry leaders. If anyone understands the complications progress purveys, it's Brian Solis. At Altimeter Group, he serves as the company point man when adapting disruptive, emerging tech to traditional business models.
5. Shama Hyder, CEO, Marketing Zen
Honored as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs in the U.S., Hyder has already shared the stage with dignitaries ranging from President Barack Obama to the Dalai Lama. She's devoted to helping brands succeed in this chaotic digital age. Shama is the author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing and speaks frequently around the world.
6. Adam Singolda, CEO, Taboola
Singolda's background in elite mathematical computation provides the backbone for his pioneering work in analytics. The result of his ingenuity is one of the world's leading discovery platforms, Taboola. He's often seen speaking about the future of media and content discovery.
7. Pete Krainik, CEO, The CMO Club
Krainik leads a group of some of the most powerful and influential CMOs. At the center of some of the most important conversations in marketing, he regularly shares his knowledge of the industry with some of the smartest minds in brand marketing.
8. Jorn Lyseggen, CEO, Meltwater
Starting Meltwater with only $15,000 and turning it into the leading provider of online intelligence wasn't an easy task. Lyseggen is the authority on "outside insights," a next-generation intelligence solution that extracts the insights required to manage your brand, understand competition, and keep you on top of industry trends. Later this year, Lyseggen will be publishing a new book on the topic that's sure to be on people's radars.
9. Bob Glazer, managing director, Acceleration Partners
Bob's expertise lies in growing revenue through e-commerce. He's worked with some of the largest brands, including Adidas, eBay, and Target, and is an authority in the retail marketing area. Glazer consistently covers affiliate marketing, retail marketing, and quite a few other marketing topics across a variety of publications.
10. Erik Huberman, CEO, Hawke Media
Hawke Media's ascent has been rapid, and at the helm is Erik Huberman. Named to Forbes' 30 Under 30 list in 2016--alongside some of Hollywood's finest--his outsourced digital marketing model is changing the way companies approach the practice. His unique digital mind consistently produces rare insights.
11. John Rampton
Recently named No. 2 in the Top 50 Online Marketing Influencers list in Entrepreneur, Rampton has made a name for himself not only as an expert marketer, but also as a savvy investor. A self-taught professional, his incessant hustle differentiates him from many other marketers.
12. Travis Wright, chief marketing technologist, CCP Global
Wright has worked with companies of every shape and size to develop online and social strategies that make those companies easy to find. He not only drives strategy, but he also has significant experience crafting teams. Travis has become a leading voice in the marketing technology area.
Did you know we have a new eBook? Download The 7 Secrets of Facebook Marketing for Small Businesses today!
Freeman's time spent working with high-growth companies provides him a unique perspective on digital projects. His work explores the relationship between analysts, direct-response customer acquisition, and growth hacking.
14. Rick Nash, managing partner, Spotlight Analyst Relations
Nash is extremely connected in the world of industry analysts, given that Spotlight is a leader in the industry. Spotlight Analyst Relations continue to be a go-to resource when it comes to choosing vendors and technology, putting Nash in a valuable position to have influence in that space.
15. Andrew Davis
Andrew was rated the second most influential marketer at Content Marketing World in 2014, and his book Brandscaping provides a practical, actionable framework for using content to power business partnerships. A best-selling author, engaging speaker, and founder of Monumental Shift, Andrew is truly an industry influencer.
16. Michael Brenner, CEO, Marketing Insider Group
After spending time with Nielsen, SAP, and NewsCred, Brenner has developed a customer-centric approach to marketing. His experience across subunits of the conventional marketing team allows him to execute it.
17. Phil Laboon, CEO, Eyeflow Marketing
Phil is one of those naturally creative marketers who can really differentiate a marketing strategy. Recently, he turned his own canceled wedding reception into a charitable event that drew attention from all over. He's a natural at creating influence for himself and others around him. His background and creativity in SEO and growth hacking marketing makes him a valuable person to follow in 2016.
18. Tami Cannizzaro, head of marketing, eBay Enterprise
Many marketers seem to reach a personal growth ceiling once they achieve senior-level roles at large brands. However, Tami is a natural at maintaining her voice in the industry through a strong social presence.
19. Rohit Bhargava, CEO, Influential Marketing Group
A former Ogilvy executive, Rohit knows a thing or two about brands and storytelling. His writings champion marketing strategy predicated on humanity and personality, something every business possesses by some measure.
20. Matt Cronin, founding partner, House of Kaizen
Matt has been involved in marketing strategy for some his company's largest brands. He's consistently speaking and writing about marketing trends, pitfalls, and other information that anybody following the marketing world should pay attention to.
21. Michael Maslansky, founder, Maslansky and Partners
Michael is a speaker on transforming communication strategies. Over the years, he has helped Inc. 500 companies position and differentiate their brands and products during good times and protect their reputations. Michael's book The Language of Trust: Selling Ideas in a World of Skeptics covers ways you can build trust with consumers and tackle other industry challenges with communication.
22. Jason Miller, group manager, LinkedIn
When he's not photographing rock bands, Jason is educating marketers on the benefits of engaging with LinkedIn's suite of features. With previous experience in social strategy and music marketing, he brings cross-industry expertise to the table. And as LinkedIn has become a powerhouse in the marketing community, it's good to pay attention to what Jason is up to.
23. Noah Brier, co-founder and CEO, Percolate
After co-founding his company in 2011, Noah has helped grow this startup to reach No. 6 on Fast Company's list of "The World's 10 Most Innovative Companies in Advertising/Marketing" in 2015 for bringing strategy and systems to the chaos of big brands' content initiatives.
24. Carrie Kerpen, CEO, Likeable Media
Full disclosure: I'm married to Carrie, but undoubtedly she has built up a lot of influence running Likeable. From writing for Forbes and various other publications to speaking all over the world, Carrie is becoming one of the leading female storytellers to keep an eye out for. Check out her podcast, "All the Social Ladies," here.
25. Scott Yates, CEO, BlogMutt
As an award-winning writer, Scott knows what it takes to craft strong blog content. At BlogMutt, his writing background gives him a unique perspective on the challenges marketers face when forced to be verbally creative. You would never know this, but his company creates a substantial amount of content across a variety of brand blogs.
There's obviously a ton of industry influencers out there, ranging from the Seth Godins of the world to the up-and-coming marketing leaders that you're just hearing about. Hopefully this list reminds you of some good people to follow and will put other folks on your radar who may not have been there before.
Don't let the roller coaster ride of 2016 throw you for a loop. Start following--and connecting with--the industry's leading influencers to keep a pulse on the latest trends, tech, and practices, and prepare yourself for domination this year.