Small Business Owners: Top 50 Twitter Influencers Worth Following

Last June, we published a list of  The Most Influential Small Business People on Twitter that went crazy viral (more, more, more, more…) and with 195 subscribers to the twitter list, it’s clear that business owners are interested in filtering through the noise in order to connect with the right people and get the most out of Twitter.

However, after a year, we realized it’s clearly time to update the list, so our team went at this with our usual passion for analytics.

Without further ado, here is our 2012 list:

The Top 50 Most Influential Small Business People On Twitter

Peer Rank YOY Change Influencer Twitter Handle Peer Rank Score
 1 3 Brian Clark @copyblogger  48.0
 2 -1 Chris Brogan @chrisbrogan  40.1
 3 3 Darren Rowse @problogger  36.1
 4 29 Danny Sullivan @dannysullivan  35.6
 5 19 Chris Garrett @chrisgarrett  35.2
 6 6 Robert Scoble @Scobleizer  33.2
 7 39 Hugh MacLeod @gapingvoid  33.1
 8 -6 Gary Vaynerchuk @garyvee  32.8
 9 25 Lee Odden @leeodden  32.7
 10 7 Jason Falls @jasonfalls  30.6
 11 62 Tamar Weinberg @tamar  30.3
 12 4 Ann Handley @MarketingProfs  30.2
 13 85 Tim Ferriss @tferriss  29.6
 14 -11 Scott Stratten @unmarketing  29.3
 15 -8 Liz Strauss @lizstrauss  28.9
 16 N/A Missy Ward @MissyWard  28.6
 17 -7 Jonathan Fields @jonathanfields  28.5
 18 70 Matt Cutts @mattcutts  28.3
 19 24 Derek Halpern @derekhalpern  28.2
 20 N/A Greg Boser @GregBoser  28.1
 21 31 Scott Monty @ScottMonty  27.2
 22 72 Joost de Valk @yoast  27.2
 23 -14 Lisa Barone @lisabarone  26.9
 24 -19 John Jantsch @ducttape  26.9
 25 -14 Brian Solis @briansolis  26.7
 26 9 Pete Cashmore @mashable  25.3
 27 N/A Brett Tabke @btabke  24.2
 28 N/A Jason Calacanis @Jason  23.7
 29 -5 Chris Guillebeau @chrisguillebeau  23.5
 30 59 Dan Zarrella @danzarrella  23.0
 31 27 Sonia Simone @soniasimone  22.9
 32 N/A Chris Winfield @chriswinfield  22.9
 33 -13 Laura Fitton @Pistachio  22.8
 34 N/A Joanna Lord @JoannaLord  22.7
 35 27 Jay Baer @jaybaer  22.5
 36 N/A Brian Gardner @bgardner  22.1
 37 N/A Chris Pearson @pearsonified  22.0
 38 3 Sarah Evans @prsarahevans  21.7
 39 N/A Todd Friesen @oilman  21.6
 40 -26 Jeremiah Owyang @jowyang  21.4
 41 N/A Michael Dorausch @chiropractic  21.4
 42 51 Muhammad Saleem @msaleem  21.3
 43 N/A Neil Patel @neilpatel  21.1
 44 N/A Andy Beal @andybeal  21.1
 45 41 Peter Shankman @petershankman  20.9
 46 20 Lewis Howes @LewisHowes  20.9
 47 -25 Amber Naslund @AmberCadabra  20.9
 48 N/A Meg Geddes @netmeg  20.8
 49 N/A Aaron Chronister @TheMadHat  20.6
 50 N/A Dave McClure @davemcclure  20.6

Make sure to follow us!


For a full overview of our methodology, check out last year’s most influential list.   However, we’ve made some changes this year that are worth describing in a bit more detail:

  • A Larger base.  Thanks to last year’s research, we started with a much larger base of people this year. Specifically, we started with 270 influential people within the small business space and were able to iterate from that base.
  • More selective influencers.  The larger base meant that we had a much larger group of “selective followers” to use in determining who is influential within the small business space.
  • Weighted by influence.  This year we weighted the influence that someone could have based on their level of influence.  If it sounds like a bit of recursive logic, that’s because it is.  On a very rough level, you could think of it similar to an early pagerank model where sites (people) with more influence are able to give off more influence with each link (follow.)

Some things worth noting about this list:

  • Peer Rank is simply a 1 to 50 list of where people fall based on the algorithms
  • YOY Change is difference between where they are this year and where they ranked last year.  For simplicity, we only show a difference if they ranked within the top 100 last year.
  • Peer Rank Score is the actual score that someone received after being run through our algorithms.

We’re pretty proud of this list and hope that it helps small business owners get more out of Twitter by helping them to focus on the people who are successfully engaging with others within the small business community.

Comparison to other Influence Metrics

The common question we get asked is how does this list compare to Klout.  Klout does a great job looking at a person’s “global” influence, but in general we find it’s not a useful tool to understand the influence someone has within a community.

The closest that Klout gets is through their concept of “topics,” but if you look through a topic page for someone like Justin Beiber (Link warning, if you don’t have a Klout account and don’t want to sign up for one, then check out this link to a screencapture of Justin Beiber’s Topic page instead), you’ll see that their algorithm is pretty easily gamed with Justin ranking as an influencer on all kinds of unrelated and very inappropriate topics.   More importantly, our algorithms are designed to be limited to influencers within a specific niche…in this case, it’s the small business community.    For that reason, we think you’ll find this list is much more relevant if you’re looking to connect with the most influential people within the small business community.

Based on the interest in last year’s list, we’re sure there’ll be lots of questions.  How might you use this list of influentials?   Are you following most of these people?   Who do you think didn’t make the cut that should have? 

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!


  1. Thank you for including me this year!

  2. How did you miss Scott Levy @FuelOnline ??

    • Great question Todd! We didn’t really start out with anyone in particular, but took a huge list of people within the small business community and analyzed who the “selective followers” within the top 270 people from last years list. The idea is that if “selective influencers” (i.e. people who don’t auto-follow back) from within an niche (in this case the “small business” community) are following someone, then they are likely the most influential people within a community. In this case, you could think of this list as the people who are influencing the influencers! :)

  3. This is an interesting list. And lots of great people (many of whom are dear friends) are on it. However, while many are very influential, some are exponentially more influential in the enterprise level space than in the small business space. Can you explain how you differentiate? I’d venture a guess that if you randomly surveyed 100 small business owners, many would have no idea who people like Matt Cutts, Pete Cashmore, Jeremiah Owyang or Peter Shankman are … because what they do, or write about or speak about is so often not applicable to small businesses. That doesn’t mean small biz folks don’t read Mashable or care about The Google, but I doubt they know the names behind businesses like that. But John Jantsch, Ann Handley or Jason Falls on the other hand, are likely very influential in the realm of small business owners.

    Lists are wonderful – but oft overrated. As I mentioned, this is a terrific list, filled with many smart people – but is it really a list of the “50 most influential small business people” that small business owners want to “filter through the noise, connect with the right people and get the most out of Twitter from.” Really?

    I’d love to know more :)

    • davinakbrewer says:

      I was trying to say that too; I work w/ small businesses and follow a lot of people on this list. What I read from them, much of it cannot be pared down to their small scale and smaller budgets. And that yes, any Twitter list is a list of Twitter users, kinda self-repeating circle or something. ;-)

    • Sure thing Shelly!

      We started the list by surveying hundreds of small business people who were what we like to call “selective influencers.” These are people who are active within the small business community and are actively followed, but also avoid the “follow everyone back” mentality. We then look at who the selective followers are following. It sounds a bit recursive, but it’s a great way to hone in on a list of people who are most influential to a community. Is it the best list? That’s obviously hard to say. But there really are a lot of great people on the list who are being followed by the most influential people in the small business space, so it would see to be a great place for someone new to twitter to start. ;)

  4. davinakbrewer says:

    Worth following, to whom? This is a solid list of consultants and experts, but that opinion and mileage may very. I understand the focus on the ‘small business’ community, but is ‘successfully engaging with others’ – others in social media – what small business owners need?

    Don’t misunderstand me – I believe SM works for B2C and B2B. I also know that following isn’t enough, engagement is key for social media marketing success. But if you’re a small business owner trying to sell widgets in the ArkLaTex area, odds are your participation/engagement time is very limited. Following Gary Vaynerchuk or Lisa Barone might give them insights on social media or marketing; but I’d think their key influencers would be the socially-active vendors, customers, retailers that connect w/ other vendors, potential customers in their area.

    Putting it another way, as a small biz owner myself: engagement w/ a ‘who’s who’ like this is awesome and very valuable, but wouldn’t a targeted list of ‘biting fish’ be better? That’s for myself as much as anyone, as I am realizing the need to balance social connections, with thought leaders as well as potential customers. FWIW.

    • Hi Davina,

      I completely agree that targeting local folks within a community can often be some of the most effective marketing that a small business owner can do… especially if they are simply trying to reach their local community.

      The flipside is that many small business owners are actively looking to break out of their local niche and reach a larger audience. In that case, learning from this group… and networking with this group… can be make an incredible impact.

      And truth be told, the traffic generated today on this blog post today (traffic is already 19X greater today than it was yesterday to this blog) is a wonderful example of what this group of influencers can do when they are interested in a topic. Here’s a twitter search that shows just how much “background” pickup this group fo influential can deliver when they are talking about a topic: Twitter Search on this Post .

      It really is an incredible and influential group of influential people in the community. When they talk, other influential people are listening (and sharing!), which can lead to wonderful results for business owners with a valuable and/or interesting message to share.

  5. John Jantsch should be at the top of this list!

  6. michaelqtodd says:

    The “follow everyone back mentality” is the only right and useful way to use Twitter in 2012 so it seems that the whole basis of your algorithm falls down?

    • Would be curious to hear your reasoning behind the follow back mentality being the only “right and useful” way to use Twitter. I know lots of people who certainly don’t follow that logic (myself included).

  7. Where is Anita Campbell? She should definitely be on this and future lists!

  8. James Gardner says:

    Great list. Smart to target only those who will write about you. @shoemoney is missing though…

    • Hey James: Only wish most of the folks on the list would write about us! It’s hard enough to get them to post a tweet with our handle in it, let alone follow us. In reality, based on the algorithm we’ve developed, it’s the small business community that made this list.

      The trick for @shoemoney to get listed next time is to make sure to connect with the small business influencers in the community. If he can get enough of them to follow him, then he’ll make the list next time. But it’s probably worth noting that from my experience, you’ve got to add a ton of value in order to get most of the selective influencers to follow you. Most of them aren’t following my personal account (@tyr) or our company account (@DandB)… although my team is doing all we can to change that! :)

  9. It must have been hard to put together a list like this. I recognize some but would have to look into others. It will broaden my horizons.


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