The Most Influential Small Business People on Twitter

NOTE: We’ve updated this list: 2012 Most Influential Small Business People on Twitter.

Can Twitter experts help small business owners improve their businesses?

We think so! In fact, we’re so convinced about it that we’ve tried to identify (objectively, of course) the most influential people in small business on Twitter.  (The process we used to develop the list is described at the bottom of this blog post!).  The ranking shows not only the person’s name and Twitter handle, but also their peer rating percentage based on our measurements and their “Klout” score to give you an idea of how their tool measures someone’s overall Twitter presence (not necessarily their impact with the small business space, which is more interesting to us!).

Make sure to follow us!

We hope to accomplish a couple of things with this list:

  • Measure who is influential in the small business world on Twitter
  • Provide a helpful list of people to follow for those from the small business community new to Twitter

Without further ado, here’s the list of The Most Influential People in Small Business on Twitter:

Name Twitter Klout Score Peer Follows
Chris Brogan @chrisbrogan 76 100%
Gary Vaynerchuk @garyvee 74 89%
Scott Stratten @unmarketing 81 89%
Brian Clark @copyblogger 73 84%
John Jantsch @ducttape 74 84%
Darren Rowse @problogger 79 84%
Liz Strauss @lizstrauss 74 74%
Mari Smith @MariSmith 74 74%
Lisa Barone @lisabarone 65 74%
Jonathan Fields @jonathanfields 69 74%
Brian Solis @briansolis 77 68%
Robert Scoble @Scobleizer 80 68%
Jeremiah Owyang @jowyang 77 68%
Wendy Piersall @emom 54 68%
Tony Hsieh @zappos 66 68%
Ann Handley @MarketingProfs 76 68%
Jason Falls @jasonfalls 74 68%
Jim Kukral @JimKukral 64 63%
Laura Fitton @Pistachio 67 63%
Dan Schawbel @DanSchawbel 73 63%
Amber Naslund @AmberCadabra 71 63%
Valeria Maltoni @ConversationAge 62 63%
Chris Guillebeau @chrisguillebeau 68 63%
Chris Garrett @chrisgarrett 59 58%
Marshall Kirkpatrick @marshallk 72 58%
Mack Collier @MackCollier 69 58%
Guy Kawasaki @GuyKawasaki 85 58%
David Meerman Scott @dmscott 68 58%
Shannon Paul @ShannonPaul 60 58%
Pamela Slim @pamslim 67 58%
Justin Levy @justinlevy 61 58%
C.C. Chapman @cc_chapman 71 53%
Danny Sullivan @dannysullivan 71 53%
Lee Odden @leeodden 65 53%
Pete Cashmore @mashable 88 53%
Shashi Bellamkonda @shashib 67 53%
Anita Campbell @smallbiztrends 71 53%
Ed Shahzade @Ed 67 53%
Shama Kabani @shama 54 53%
Sarah Evans @prsarahevans 72 53%
James Chartrand @MenwithPens 54 53%
Carrie Wilkerson @barefoot_exec 73 53%
Derek Halpern @derekhalpern 58 53%
Wayne Sutton @waynesutton 65 47%
Douglas Karr @douglaskarr 60 47%
Hugh MacLeod @gapingvoid 66 47%
Julia Roy @juliaroy 55 47%
Jeff Keni Pulver @jeffpulver 73 47%
David Armano @armano 73 47%
Aaron Brazell @technosailor 61 47%
Michael Gray @graywolf 67 47%
Scott Monty @ScottMonty 69 47%
Terry St. Marie @Starbucker 58 47%
Stephanie Agresta @stephagresta 48 47%
Reem Abeidoh @rabeidoh 48 47%
Erin Kotecki Vest @QueenofSpain 71 47%
Sonia Simone @soniasimone 54 47%
Aaron Strout @AaronStrout 65 47%
Christine Perkett @missusP 65 47%
SarahRobinson @SarahRobinson 64 47%
Jay Baer @jaybaer 76 47%
Jason Keath @jasonkeath 66 47%
Dharmesh Shah @dharmesh 67 47%
Lynn Terry @lynnterry 53 47%
Lewis Howes @LewisHowes 67 47%
Warren Whitlock @WarrenWhitlock 71 47%
Kristi Hines @kikolani 67 47%
Lisa Petrilli @LisaPetrilli 65 47%

While we’re a relatively new twitter account, we’d love to break into our own list of most influential Twitter accounts, so help us out by giving @DandB a follow:)

[UPDATE: If you're interested in following some (or many) of these people, it's probably easiest to do it from the Twitter List that we created:  @dandb/smallbiz-most-influential/members]

Methodology

What’s behind this list?

First off, the logic we’re using in defining “influence” is to assume that if a bunch of influential people in a community follow someone, then that’s a great indication that they’re influential.  The flipside is that if someone can’t get influential people within a community to follow them, then it follows that they aren’t likely all that influential.

More specifically, we started with 10 relatively random people from the small business community who met a specific criteria (they had to be following at least 50 people, but not more than 1500 and have at least 3X more followers than following to make sure we eliminated all the people who simply follow “everyone” back). We then summed up all the people that these 10 were following to create a new list of influential people within their “shared” community.  Interestingly, we ended up with 19 people who met some specific criteria so that we could use them in the second iteration (The criteria were: 4 of the 10 initial people had to be following them & they had to be following under 10K people.)

With these 19 people, we then ran a complete analysis to see who their “shared” followers were.   The results speak for themselves in the above list as I think it does a great job capturing the influential people in the small business community!  (By the way, if you’re curious to see a similar process used in a different niche, here’s a similar list of the most influential Twitter people in the real estate space I developed a few years ago).

I’d be happy to get super-specific with more details if you’re curious.  Just ask your questions in the comments!

Did you know?

Our social media team at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility has been organizing the CredibilityLIVE events, where we’re bringing credit and credibility experts to talk with our community via live interactive video conversations.  We’ve had hugely successful events with experts like John Assaraf and Paul Chaney… and we’re very excited to bring Steve Strauss to CredibilityLIVE this Thursday (6/23).  If you’re one of the “most” influential people interested in sharing your knowledge with our community, let us know!  Email: socialmedia [at] dandb.com!

Final Thoughts

What makes this list interesting is that the ranking (and the attendant math that went into determining it) is all based on these influencers’ peers within the Twitter community. It’s becoming clear on Twitter that total numbers of followers is meaningless – anyone can get a bunch of followers pretty easily. However, if small business owners can key into a group of true small business influencers, they may discover the tools that can give their businesses a bump. Whether or not that happens, we’re really looking forward to hearing your reactions to this list – so let us hear it!

UPDATE:

A huge thanks to Sarah Needleman of the Wall Street Journal for the great write up of this article: Twitter’s Small Business Big Shots.

We think she did a great job getting at the essence of what made the list special for those who made the cut!

About Dustin Luther

As Director of Engagement at Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp (@DandB), I manage our teams focused on social media and events and always looking for opportunities to engage with small business owners and influencers, both online and in-person! You can find me on Twitter (@tyr), Facebook (dluther) and Google+ (+Dustin Luther).

Do you have an interesting opportunity you'd like to get in front of the @DandB team? Maybe an interesting idea, product or story? Maybe an event that attracts small business experts? Let's talk!

Comments

  1. This is a great list! Thank you to such creative and inspiring entrepreneurs!

  2. Fantastic list and very useful for many small businesses. I totally agree with this:

    “It’s becoming clear on Twitter that total numbers of followers is meaningless – anyone can get a bunch of followers pretty easily. However, if small business owners can key into a group of true small business influencers, they may discover the tools that can give their businesses a bump.”

    If you focus on quality (quality people in your network + quality content), the quantity comes over time. Plus, yes it’s important who you know… but more importantly it’s who knows you. The help of a small handful of influencers can really boost a small businesses’ traffic, subscribers, friends/fans/followers, and ultimately sales.

    Well done, Dustin – keep up the great work!!

  3. Good stuff Dustin as I discovered some inspiring new people and great that you included at least one person from outside America (Darren Rowse) maybe more am not sure. What tool did you use to create your peer following percentage? There is a great tool twlists that enables people to follow all these great people with one click too if you add them to a list in there
    Michael

    • Hi Michael: Glad you found the list useful!

      The approach we used was pretty manual… In that we did a bunch of Twitter API lookups and then used a google spreadsheet to copy, paste, sort, sum, iterate, etc, the results till the list popped out! I tried to explain it a little bit in our methodology section, but truth be told, it was quite labor intensive. Good news (from my perspective) is that the results are pretty compelling and we’re talking about building a more streamlined process going forward.

  4. Sorry Dustin not twlists it is callled twitlists here is an example list very easy to make http://twitlist.us/lists/media-technology

  5. Thanks Dustin for compiling this list and thanks for making this list “followable”. Since folks on this list share a lot of their good article that they are reading this will be a good curated content.

    I am glad you used both PeerIndex and Klout to try to make this list as objective as possibleand sorry about all the manual work you had to do.

    Honored to be on the list.

    Thanks,

    Shashi Bellamkonda

  6. James Blundell says:

    I clicked over to this list hoping for some people with unique insights. Instead, I find the majority of the same rehashed names as usual, and ones that charge five figures to speak, never mind consult.

    How that is affordable and beneficial to small business owners?

    • Great question James! And I think it actually bodes well for the algorithm that you’re not particularly surprised at who tops the list.

      In terms of being useful to a small business owner, two ideas come to mind. The first is that these this is a list of folks that are most able to amplify an interesting marketing message, so if you can develop a relationship with one or a few of these people that can do wonders for improving the effectiveness of an online marketing campaign. The second is that this list of people became influential because they’re consistently publishing and/or curating interesting content, so there’s lots to be learned by simply following and listening to these guys!

      Hope that helps!

  7. How have you defined “small business”?

    • For the purpose of this exercise, small business was defined pretty loosely… As in people who are active within the small business community. Since we weren’t looking at the financials of any of the people/companies involved in this analysis, it didn’t make sense to define it any more specifically.

  8. Wowzer. Honored to be included. I think a few of the entries are less small business focused than others, but still offer great content for any business. Very humbling to be included, regardless. Thank you!

    • Totally agree that some people are more small business focused than others… The “best” way to interpret this list is that it’s who the influential people within the small business community find influential… Some times those people are prominent within the small business community… and other times those people are simply influential to the community (Robert Scoble and Tony Hsieh come to mind).

  9. Thanks for taking the considerable effort to put this together. Delighted to be included. Lots of very strong folks on this list, at least 47% of whom are friends evidently.

  10. Thanks for this, Dustin. Lots of people I respect a great deal on this list, and I appreciate that you put so much effort into compiling the list. Also delighted to be included in such great professional company!

  11. Very cool, flattered to round out the top 3. Thanks!

  12. Dustin! Thanks for the inclusion on the list, it makes my day to be included in such a credible lot, and the fact that almost all of them are friends is a joy to boot. Thanks again!

  13. Great list Dustin and it’s an honor to be included. Many of the people here are peers and friends – a testament to the connections methodology. As a creator of such lists myself, I can only imagine the work that you put into it.

  14. Thanks for the inclusion Dustin. Would love to see the geeky breakdown of the numbers/technique if it is out there somewhere.

    Great list and I really appreciate this type of data research. But I am curious who gets to be on the list exactly? Do they have to be a part of a small business or just followed by small biz folks? If the latter how do you determine someone on Twitter is part of a small business. Has me curious. Plenty of people on the list work for some very large companies.

    • All great questions Jason! There were no requirements for being included on the list whatsoever…

      It all flowed from a look at who people within the small business space follow. Influence is a tough nut to crack, and I like to think that one of the hardest things to crack is getting followed by someone I call “selective influentials”… That is someone who is influential in their own right AND selective in who they follow. In practice this means that the follows of someone like Chris Brogan (who follows >130K accounts) doesn’t carry much weight because he pretty much follows everyone back, while the follows of someone like Bryan Clark (@copyblogger), who follows < 130 accounts, gets a lot more weight.

      Nonetheless, at the end of the day, someone like Chris Brogan who really doesn't get a vote in the rankings (because he follows too many people back) can still rank really well if the "selective influentials" follow him (as they do).

      What I like about this logic is the process for "gaming" the list is pretty straightforward, but extremely hard to execute. You've gotta get the influential people who selectively follow people to follow you.

  15. Holy Cow. Thrilled, honored and humbled to make a list with so many – well – famous people!! Thank you so much including me. Plus, I get to make sure I’m following all these fab people – yay!!!

  16. Terrific service, thanks so much. Totally concur with @chrisbrogan at the top, his 100% peer rating speaks for itself.

    Many of the others are no surprise and richly deserved; but there’s a bunch on here I don’t know, and what a great resource for finding out more about them.

    Again, many thanks,

    @charleshgreen
    Charles H. Green
    Trusted Advisor Associates

  17. Thanks for including me Dustin.

    I’m with Jason Keath here. I’d love to hear more about how this list was created (I’m in love with data :-D)

  18. This is a great list, and I have no doubt that Chris Brogan deserves to top it. Happy to see so many wonderful people that I follow and interact with here: Jonathan Fields, Chris Guillebeau, Pam Slim, Sarah Robinson, Ann Handley, Scott Stratten, Amber Naslund, CC Chapman. All good, smart people who actually engage with their tribes and share valuable information.

    However… if “When They Talk, People Listen” is a measure of influence — which in my book, it is — then your roster also HAS to include Gini Dietrich, Danny Brown, Danielle LaPorte, Marie Forleo, John Haydon, Mark Silver, Shelly Kramer, Erika Napolitano, Tamsen McMahon…and probably another couple dozen people I’ll think of later.

    Interesting start of a conversation: Who really influences you… and in what way?

  19. Thanks for sharing some about how the list was created! Love to hear more about how you are defining and measuring subject matter expertise in the area of small business.

  20. Fascinating list here! I was struck by the number of people on it who are signed up with the social media stock market game Empire Avenue (37/68) so I wrote a blog post about that. I think of particular interest is that the lion’s share of the people on this list with the highest Klout scores are signed up with Empire Avenue – for instance all of the top 5 Klout scorers on your list have Empire Avenue accounts. You can see the results of my list sorting @ http://eavshar.es/eavshares-member-blogs/entry/an-empire-avenue-view-of-dun-and-bradstreets-most-influential-small-business-people-on-twitter-klout-sorted

  21. I have a great deal of respect for those on this list but the data collection methodology baffles me. Any time you take 10 random people, I would suspect it would produce at least a significantly different list. It is a disservice to label this list “The Most Influential Small Business People on Twitter” when that is far from the case. There are many people missing from this list who are more influential to small business owners than at least half of those listed – Shelly Kramer (K 76), Danny Brown (K 72), Jeff Bullas (K 82) – are a few that come to mind. Heck, my own Klout is 81. Perhaps a more appropriate title would be “Twitter Users Small Business People May Want to Follow.”

    • Hi Sharon:

      You’re not the only one that’s a bit baffled by the initial “10 random people” concept. In explaining it to dozens of people over the past few days, I think I’ve come to a better (and just as accurate) way to describe how I started. In reality, we started with a few hundred people who we “knew” were in the small business community. However, we wanted to focus on people who were selective in who they followed because if someone’s not selective, then their follow (or “vote” for that person) is not strong.

      Once we identified 10 people on the list who were selective in who they followed (i.e. they followed between 100 and 1500 and had 3X as many people following them), then we had a good basis to use them as the seed group for determining who were the actual “selective influencers” to run the analysis on.

      In terms of the klout scores, it’s a good rough metric, but not particularly useful for most of the social media marketing campaigns that I’ve run. I’ve seen people with high klout scores who don’t drive any meaningful traffic with their tweets/retweets… and more importantly, a high klout score doesn’t tell me which niche they’re going to be able to help me amplify my message.

      Focusing on folks who are being “followed” by influential people within a niche has been a much better indicator for my social media campaigns and much harder metric to game.

      • Hi Dustin, thanks for the detailed response. I actually agree with your assessment of Klout. I do understand your methodology although I don’t necessarily agree that it is an accurate reflection of influence level. The issue was not so much with the list itself or how you went about gathering it; it was how you positioned the list.

  22. Thanks for the detailed analysis Dustin — I am thrilled to be included on this list with so many friends and peers I admire.

    If we can use our influence to help, support, inspire and inform the small business market, economic progress will happen in the overall economy. I believe deeply in the power and will of entrepreneurs.

    All the best,

    -Pam
    Escape from Cubicle Nation

  23. I dunno. Seems a tad tautological to me. You’re influential because you influence people?

  24. Thanks for including me on the list. Normally I’m not a big fan of “lists” but I like this one and how you did it, and I’d say that even if I wasn’t on it. :) Influence is the key metric for sure. Followers mean really nothing.

  25. Awesome list, and great effort putting it together. Many recognizable, but a few I’m not familiar with but that I’ll def check out. Thanks!

  26. Thanks, There are some great people we’ve never checked out before.

  27. I’m not sure I completely buy the argument regarding peer follows. For example, let’s say some small business person has a Klout score of around 60, but not as high on the peer follows. How did they get that Klout score? They must be influencing somebody, right? Probably small business owners directly, rather than peers.

    Continuing that logic, if someone has an equal Klout score, but lower peer follows, it would seem that they are actually more DIRECTLY influential than those with higher peer follows. Those with high peer follows would be the proverbial fishbowl…a more enclosed conversation…vs those with more direct influence.

  28. OK, not to quibble, but a couple of other things I noticed:

    1) The vast majority of these people basically auto-follow – they have pretty close to a 1:1 follower/followed ratio. So pretty much anyone could come along, follow all these people, and take care of the peer follows column. (Oops — did I just give away my strategy? ;-) )

    2) I checked my stats:
    Klout: 49
    Peer follows: 50 out of the 68 people on this list = 74%

    And yet I’m not on the list? I’m not insulted or anything… just wondering what’s wrong with the algorithm or process.

    • Scott,

      You’re definitely thinking about this the right way… and highlighted a problem that I tried to avoid. For peer follows, I wasn’t using this list because so many of the people autofollow. The peer follows were determined by the top 19 folks who fit the “selective follower” criteria, not all of whom even made this list.

      Hope that helps clarify things a bit!

      • Got it… makes sense. I guess I’m still longing for those glory days of my social media celebrity… you know, back before I got a real job. ;-)

        And sorry for the implication that there was something wrong with the algorithm or process — poor choice of words. Should’ve included “or that I’m misunderstanding”.

        • No problem at all! I really enjoy the feedback! Wish more folks dove into it as deeply as you! :)

          • So let’s dive a little deeper… :-)

            I was thinking more about what I know about social network theory, as well as my own experience analyzing audience demographics while I was the Entrepreneurs Guide at About.com, and wondering if there’s a possibility that your methodology might have led you to A cluster of 19 people with somewhat similar following patterns, but not necessarily THE cluster of 19 people.

            I just kept thinking, “small business people” is a huge freaking network, with lots of hubs and lots of clusters. I kept thinking about the fact, for example, that there are some very distinct groups within “small business people”:
            - Wannabes (I hate my job, have an idea, I want to start a business, so I’m trying to learn about it)
            - Independent newbies (I just started a business — what now?)
            - Bootstrappers (those who have tapped into some kind of peer network)
            - WAHMs (work-at-home moms running a side business)
            - Angel/venture funded startups
            - Traditional brick-and-mortar local small business (retail, restaurants, etc.)

            I can tell you that absolutely, unequivocally, these are fairly distinct clusters with very different behaviors. They don’t talk to each other much, they don’t read the same online sources, and… they probably don’t follow the same people on Twitter.

            So, that leads me to wonder if you might not get very different results if your initial 10 people were all within one of those clusters I identified above. I also have to wonder how different the picture might look with 10 different random people, depending on where they are within the network.

            • You’re definitely thinking about it the right way… If the initial 10 aren’t in a niche that communicates with each other, then the results do end up skewed towards celebrities, national politicians and/or major news sites. In this case, part of the issue is address by the fact that we started by looking at hundreds of people from the small business community and only stuck with those who were “selective” in who they followed, but if we were to run it on 10 people who were not connected to those 10 in any meaningful way, then we’d very likely get different results.

  29. A very belated thank you for including me on the list! -Sarah

  30. Scott Monty!!!! Ford!!!. Hardly SME’s

  31. Thanks so much for this fantastic list. This is a great tool for ant small business using social media.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] of what I mean came this week when I saw that Dunn & Bradstreet was trying to identify “the most influential people in small business on Twitter.” They sought to expand beyond a simple criteria like number of followers or even a Klout [...]

  2. [...] week we published our list of the Most Influential People in Small Business on Twitter. This week we thought we’d give you a taste of what some of those people are talking about. [...]

  3. [...] Dustin Luther recently published his exhaustive list of the “most influential” small business people on Twitter.  You can view it here. [...]

  4. [...] the question D&B Credibility insights pondered, and answers in the affirmative: We think so! In fact, we’re so convinced about it that we’ve tried to identify (objectively, [...]

  5. [...] Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., which provides credit solutions for business, has its social media crew working overtime. The company has developed a list of the Most Influential Small Business People on Twitter. [...]

  6. [...] to start recognizing how these tourism professionals are the real stars. After seeing this list on Twitter’s most influential small business leaders, I became intrigued with what would happen if we came up with a similar list of those that are [...]

  7. [...] of how many members of our community get next to no recognition for their hard work. And then this small business influencers list started getting tweeted out by a lot of people. With a few tweaks on my part, I had found my [...]

  8. [...] he is influential, has been voted as Most Influential Person in Small Business on Twitter recently among countless other things that makes people follow and listen to [...]

  9. [...] the small business community… with Anita Campbell leading the way by making our own list of most influential small business people on [...]

  10. [...] won the Best BtoB Engagement Campaign for our work around developing and promoting the Most Influential Small Business People on Twitter and the Best BtoB Social Community for our work creating the CredibilityLIVE web series with [...]

  11. [...] since we published the list of the most influential small business people on Twitter last spring, we thought it would be interesting to turn to these experts for insights into what [...]

  12. [...] he is influential, has been voted as Most Influential Person in Small Business on Twitter recently among countless other things that makes people follow and listen to [...]

  13. [...] on Top” in Davos, Switzerland and is the highest ranked woman on Dun and Bradstreet’s 68 Most Influential Small Business People on Twitter. Liz has been named twice to the Top 100 Social Media & Internet Marketing Bloggers the Top [...]

  14. [...] is on the list of most influential Twitter users in the world #3 on Dun and Bradstreet’s List: the Most Influential Small Business People on Twitter . He Runs the Firm Unmarketing and wrote the Bestselling book of the same name. He is also a mean [...]

  15. [...] as someone having an impact on small business in North America. You were also named one of the most influential small business people on Twitter for 2011. Obviously, you know small business! How important is it for you, personally, to do your [...]

  16. [...] as someone having an impact on small business in North America. You were also named one of the most influential small business people on Twitter for 2011. Obviously, you know small business! How important is it for you, personally, to do your [...]

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