By Pamela Muldoon published December 4, 2014

The Pivot: A Man of 100 Voices Uses One to Lead Social Media


 Michael Stelzner can do about 100 voices and animal impersonations, but it is his voice leading Social Media Examiner (SME) that attracts hundreds of thousands. His “Social Media Marketing” is a top 10 marketing podcast on iTunes. Over 300,000 people subscribe to the newsletter. Thousands attend Social Media Examiner online summits, and more than 2,500 from over 30 countries travel to San Diego for the annual Social Media Marketing World.

In this week’s episode of “The Pivot,” host Todd Wheatland sits down with Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, during Content Marketing World to discuss the rapid growth of SME, the pivot he took to get where he is, and his goals for the future.

What may surprise you

  • Michael likes to have a lot of fun with his kids. He can do about 100 voices and animal impersonations.
  • He grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with two younger brothers and he loved being outdoors.
  • He grew up emulating famed DJ Wolfman Jack, recreating radio shows with his brother.
  • Michael has a master’s degree in speech communication.
  • While in graduate school, he started a creative services agency after being wrongfully terminated from a high-level agency.

Michael’s pivot

Through his company, Writing White Papers, Michael developed significant relationships in the marketing space. Good friends Ann Handley (MarketingProfs) and Brian Clark (Copyblogger) encouraged Michael to get connected on social media. He joined social platforms in late 2009 and invested some of his company’s profits to fund Social Media Examiner in 2010. If SME took off, he planned to delete his name-branded domain and rebrand himself with Social Media Examiner.

Collaboration is the business

Michael wanted Social Media Examiner to be less about him and more about other experts who had something valuable to share. He envisioned a multi-author blog that provided top-quality information from writers who wanted their work on a high-traffic platform.

He set a high editorial bar and modeled SME after a traditional magazine-editing process. Each article goes through five editors before being published. This high level of quality and consistency has made Social Media Examiner a top resource that receives dozens of guest post submissions every week.

What I did was build it. I recruited. I brought the experts. I gave them the platform. I taught them how to be writers. A lot of our friends today are really great writers because they have gone through our process.

 Listen to Todd’s full interview with Michael Stelzner here:

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Author: Pamela Muldoon

Pamela Muldoon is the Podcast Network Director for the CMI Podcast Network. In her role with CMI, she assists the podcast hosts with the development, production, distribution and promotion of their shows. Pamela is a veteran podcaster who can be heard on the CMI Podcast Network with her latest show "Content Marketing NEXT". To date, she has interviewed over 200 business and marketing professionals as part of her podcast formats. She is also a professional VoiceOver talent specializing in commercial, narration, eLearning, and promo projects. Learn more at or Follow her on Twitter @pamelamuldoon.

Other posts by Pamela Muldoon

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  • rogercparker

    This has to be one of the most important interviews in the Pivot series. Its riveting in its details and providing an fascinating look at Michael Stelzner, the individual and his career.

    Once again, the concept of “conscious pivot” comes up, as an already highly-successful individual describes taking a conscious step to put the past behind him and rebrand himself. Possible lessons here for many.

    As has also been touched on in previous episodes, Michael Stelzner discusses how some of his personal/familial responsibilities are behind-the-scenes drivers of his pivots.

    Congrat’s to Pam, Todd, and Michael for a Pivot that deserves to be listened to more than once. And, once again, Pam, has provided a overview of the podcast (above).

    • Todd Wheatland

      Thanks for the thoughtful feedback, Roger – much appreciated!

    • Michael A. Stelzner

      Thanks for your very kind words Roger and you were there with me before my pivot and have a unique perspective

    • Pamela Muldoon

      Roger, I agree, Michael shares his conscious pivot with honesty and authenticity. We can all take a lesson in the need to evaluate our lives at different stages to ensure we are working on the important relationships and finding a way to still pursue our passions. Thank you for the kind words and for being such a loyal listener to The Pivot!

    • Francisca

      Hi Roger, I agreed. Such an awesome interview in the history of pivot. I really enjoyed you thoughtful reply to this post. I would like to see you again.