Shannon Whitley – Social Media Programmer Extraordinaire

N748080336_1913I can’t ignore this issue anymore.  I must say something.

Shannon Whitley is an extraordinary Social Media Programmer.

I’m not sure if “Social Media Programmer” is an actual job function or title, but I can’t think of a better way to describe Shannon.  The man programs new applications to make Social Media services more functional and interconnected in a way that is so helpful, useful and efficient that it’s literally inspiring.

Want examples?  There are plenty.

When I first debuted the Social Media Release template, Shannon reached out and said, “I can automate a way to make one of those thingies.”  (PRX Builder)

CclogoWhen I (and many others) complained about “the broken conversation,” i.e., many thoughtful ideas about blog posts were simply disappearing into the twittersphere, rather than being posted as comments, Shannon said, “I think I can fix that.”  (ChatCatcher)

When the digerati guffawed about the naughty words polluting the twitterstream during the #skittles launch, Shannon said, “I could figure out a way to let companies do the same thing, but with the ability to moderate brand-related tweets.” (Real-Time Chatterbox)

TwitconnectShannon recently took it one step further.  While Facebook and Google each came out with competing “Connect” products, Shannon focused on helping his Twitter buddies gain the same cross-platform presence.  On my blog and a handful of others, you can sign-in with your Twitter credentials to see your avatar accompany your comments. (Twitter Connect)

Shannon also developed the Movember Moustache-Maker Facebook app we designed, which allowed users to stick a funny moustache on their FB friends’ photos.  Almost 5,000 people used it, with just a few tweets and a single blog post to herald its existence.

Keep in mind, Shannon has a day job.  This is no April Fool’s Joke: he does all this stuff in his spare time!

Shannon’s need to keep his family housed and fed means he doesn’t have a lot of time to promote his accomplishments — which in turn means that Shannon becomes the proverbial “pioneer with arrows in his back.”  It’s not uncommon for young & hungry entrepreneurs to develop and hype similar services that eventually overtake Shannon’s inventions.

Shannon Whitley cannot remain in obscurity.  As Shel Holtz noted on Twitter, “(Shannon) is not only one of the smartest people I know, but he turns ideas into action for the good of the crowd. Nice, too!”

You need to know about Shannon.  If you have a crazy idea for how-to improve Social Media, you ought to run it by him.  If he can do it, he will.  And invariably, if Shannon can’t do it, no one can.

Posted on: April 1, 2009 at 9:08 am By Todd Defren
18 Responses to “Shannon Whitley – Social Media Programmer Extraordinaire”


  • Paul Kuhn says:

    Thanks a million Todd. I had an idea for social networking, but I had no idea who to approach about making it happen. Shannon is THE GUY and I hope to make him a social media STAR!!

  • Thanks for posting this, Todd. Shannon is one of the most helpful, friendly and genuinely nice people I’ve ever come across. It’s been a pleasure to work with him over the last few years…

  • Bryan Person says:

    What a tribute to Shannon, Todd, and right on with every word! As it happens, I have some crazy ideas of my own about how to improve social media that I ran by Shannon just last week. With any luck — and if Shannon can find a spare second — one or two of them just might come to fruition!

  • Ike says:

    Way to go, Todd…

    …now EVERYBODY will be bugging Shannon about tweaking this or that, and he won’t have time to do OUR bidding!

    (He deserves every kudo, and more.)

  • Thank you so much for sharing this! After seeing all the great things that he has done, I definitely think that he deserved his own post. I can’t wait to see what he does in the future.

  • simonsanders says:

    Thanks for sharing Todd, and pointing the spotlight Shannon’s way. Very generous of you, and of course of him.

  • laurent says:

    About ChatCatcher… I’m questioning the value of having tweet related to a post in the comment section (at least for the audience of a doubt there’s huge value for the blogger).
    The risk is that the comment section becomes a big echo chamber and that comments that are trying to move the conversation further will be lost in the mix.

    • TDefren says:

      Any blog owner who worries about that can curate out the “retweets” that might not add conversational value. That’s my take. I sometimes do that, but not always: I like to see big #s next to “Comments:” I am shallow that way. ;)

      But, in most cases, I do see value in capturing the tweets; it is like capturing the “sidebar conversation.”

      • laurent says:

        Makes sense. Funny but I never saw chatcatcher before and this morning I saw tweets in the comments section of several blogs! Either it’s a trick of relevance (i.e: you brought it to my attention thus I saw it when I didn’t see it before) or it’s becoming more popular or both ;-)

  • Kellye Crane says:

    So glad to see you shine this light on Shannon, Todd. He is truly a generous soul who embodies the spirit of social media!

  • Mike Keliher says:

    I’ll second that! Shannon’s a great guy who’s done so much for our geeky corner of the PR community. Thanks, Shannon!

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