2011 was the year I fell in love with Twitter. It’s an excellent way to keep in touch with the small businesses I meet on the road (like @babybehip and @BGTP) and to share their successes via their tweets. I also use it daily to keep up on news, trends, resources and advice for small businesses. The 140 character limit ensures that I can quickly consume lots of information and then drill down for more if I’m interested. Just recently, I used Twitter to “participate” in an event. I couldn’t get to StartUp Weekend Mobile NYC, but was able to root for @ConnectBear and @dbdj1007. Don’t get me wrong, I know I didn’t experience the magic of being there, but using Twitter was a great alternative.
Lately, I see more small businesses signing on to Twitter. To help out the newcomers, I asked some small business owners, who are also active tweeters, who they are following and why. Here’s what they had to say.
Insights on innovation
We follow Dr. Mark Drapeau, Microsoft's Director of Innovative Engagement @cheeky_geeky, because he’s a futurist, a creative storyteller and a thought-leader. And I should mention he’s an animal behaviorist and an expert in genomics! Mark doesn’t just talk the talk—he actively promotes online collaboration. He’s just launched the National Piggy Bank, a digital platform for collaborative innovation, and created the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship for disadvantaged youth. Every business owner needs to push the limits on creativity and innovation. Dr. Drapeau engages us in that exercise every day.
Lesson in success
Two Twitter handles to follow: Entrepreneur Magazine (@EntMagazine) & Blanchard LeaderChat (@LeaderChat). Entrepreneur provides valuable info for small business owners, women entrepreneurs and leaders while also empowering them to reach for success. LeaderChat is a weekly blog providing business owners of all shapes and sizes with lessons learned and words of encouragement.
Breaking news and inspiration
I like to keep an eye on tweets from @businessinsider, @mashable and @dailybeast to keep up on news, business, social media and tech trends, as well as @eonyc and @OPENforum for entprepreneur-related content. I also like to follow some of my top “mega entrepreneurs,” like @richardbranson, @oprah and @UncleRUSH for inspiration and little nuggets of information. There is more information out there than one person can find the time to sift through. What I’ve discovered and really like about Twitter is that I can keep an eye on things that are interesting, without having my inbox be inundated with e-newsletters and e-mail blasts.
Government contracting insiders and publicity
The top two people I follow are Amy Morris (@amorriswnew), a leading federal procurement radio reporter at WNEW, the CBS affiliate in Washington D.C., and Jill Aitoro @jaitoro, who covers the government contracting beat for the Washington Business Journal. Following their tweets keeps me informed. Retweeting them lets me deliver high value to my “tweeps” (short for “twitter people,” or followers) and also build my credibility with two influential reporters.
When Summit Insights has a story, or needs a lead, I always make sure to let Amy and Jill know. Last fall, I got publicity for two fellow business owners by recommending them as sources for a breaking story. Everybody wins!
@Mashable is super valuable to Butter Lane Cupcakes. Their tech news helps us stay on the cutting edge and make our customer experience better.
These are all great examples of how small business owners are using Twitter. I personally follow @women20 for news on women businesses in the tech space. They host expert guest bloggers, shine a light on successful women tech firms and highlight resources for women trying to grow tech businesses.
Of course I also follow OPEN Forum, which provides tools to help small business owners grow their businesses and shares small business news and information on industry relevant events and programs. I follow some of my favorite OPEN Forum contributors as well, like my friend Anita Campbell (@smallbiztrends). If you want to make the most of Twitter, check out this article for tips on making your tweets go further.
Are you in love with Twitter yet? Who do you follow?