Business Technology

The most influential business personalities to follow on Twitter

10 min read

22 September 2015

Former deputy editor

Twitter isn't just for teenage trolls spewing nonsense about One Direction – it's a powerful tool for businesses and individuals to share their products and thoughts with the masses. As such, we've rounded up the influential business personalities likely to have enterprise guidance you can adopt, as well as some to avoid.

Warren Buffett, the Sage of Omaha, is hailed globally for his entrepreneurial expertise.

Indeed, he has some 1.1m Twitter followers hoping to secure some knowledge and wisdom from him. Too bad he’s only posted seven tweets since April 2013 – just two of which were in 2015.

Elsewhere, Mark Zuckerberg, master and commander of Facebook, is also something of a Twitter maverick. He joined back in February 2009 under the alias of @finkd – a curious name that’s caused much speculation – and posted 18 tweets between then and March, abandoning ship after posting one last tweet in 2012.

Of course, Zuckerberg can be found on Facebook – a place where he is known to post extensive updates, varying from photos, Q&As, videos and more. And in August, the social network champion took to his page to announce Facebook’s newest milestone of one billion users in a single day.

With 24.6m followers, Bill Gates outstrips the two aforementioned entrepreneurs. And at almost 1,800 tweets, he’s an addict compared to the pair. However, the Microsoft founder is today less focused on business and profits, and more interested in making the world a better place, which you can’t fault the man for.

One of the campaigns he backed this year saw him drink purified water made from waste products – a move designed to create entrepreneurs in the sanitation sector, which will in turn generate both revenue and clean living for people in emerging markets.

The latest of his philanthropy-fused tweets discuss energy innovation – edible saltwater batteries – and farmers adapting to climate change. He also partakes in the odd bit of billionaire banter with the likes of Warren Buffett.

A veteran investor on Dragons’ Den, Deborah Meaden joined the BBC TV show for its third series – today it’s on series 13.

As one of the most familiar personalities to grace the show, Meaden has parted with more than £2.6m to budding entrepreneurs. And, while she may come across as fierce on TV, her Twitter personality says otherwise.

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With a solid following of 215,000 people, Meaden’s is modest compared to the likes of Gates and Buffet. However, she is easily more engaging and useful, having sent more than 18,000 tweets. 

Her latest posts have been to promote the protection of wildlife, but, in addition to personal tweets, Meaden is often found engaging with business owners and frequently offers advice.

Virgin boss Richard Branson is an interesting one. Like Gates though, he is often plugging and promoting various campaigns – most of which are from Virgin HQ. In fact, his tweets are so polished and corporate, it wouldn’t be a shock to find out his marketing team is responsible.

That said, even though he’s incredibly unlikely to respond to a tweet from one of his 6.55m followers, the content churned out on Branson’s page is useful to entrepreneurs and environmentalists alike.

He’s let go of the name Alan, preferring to be known to his 4.55m followers as Lord Sugar instead, but face of The Apprentice is hugely engaged with the Twittersphere having sent almost 34,000 tweets – a number of which involve insulting Piers Morgan.

A notable – and delightfully hilarious – Twitter campaign from Sugar saw him reach out to the public for book title suggestions. Naturally, this begun trending as people used the #LordSugarBook hashtag to contribute names such as Fingering Apprentices.

The final name was Unscripted: My Ten Years In Telly – in case you were wondering.

And if you were confused as to how Twitter fiend Sugar has managed to run a business and send all of those tweets, well, it’s a good question.

However, his social media pal Piers Morgan, former News of the World editor and winner of The Celebrity Apprentice, has sent double the amount of tweets Sugar has with almost 70,000.

He can be found firing out thoughts on everything from politics to business to celebrity and, if you’re a sports fan, Arsenal – meaning you can troll him depending whether you’re a Gunner fan or not.

Continue reading on the next page to find out why it’s more useful to follow British female leaders than American counterparts, and discover the one businessperson you definitely need to follow.

Michelle Mone
 is the woman of the moment. While she was already a familiar face in the business world and to customers of her Ultimo lingerie line, Mone was thrust into the spotlight in August when she secured a government position to work with David Cameron and conduct an entrepreneurship review.

Like Meaden, Mone is also very engaged with her follower base of 1.05m and has sent over 20,000 tweets. Whether it’s an update about her travels, business ventures or a simple thank you to a fan, you can rest assured Mone’s account is one that will keep you in the loop with enterprise developments.

We hop across the pond again now to look at another prolific female business leader – Marrisa Mayer. She just edges Mone’s following by 60,000, but her account is really quite dry. The most recent tweet – from a total of 1,296 – saw the Yahoo CEO announce she’s pregnant with twins.

The month prior she’d welcomed a new hire, revealed an acquisition and promoted a Yahoo billboard. So if you’re looking for personality and guidance, you’ll be wasting your time.

Like her boss, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has also abandoned Twitter. Although she joined in 2009 and possesses a verified profile, the last posts were in early 2013.

That’s not to say she’s as social media-shy as Mayer, however. It’s probably a case of conflicting interests as Sandberg, like Zuckerberg, is a frequent Facebook user.

But if it’s Twitter that’s your thing, not Facebook, you’ll want to follow Jacqueline Gold, CEO of Anne Summers – who proves that Britain’s female business leaders do social media better than their American counterparts.

The following of 49,600 isn’t as large as some of the others that have been mentioned, but Gold has posted 28,500 tweets and many of those are in support of the female entrepreneurial community, thus it’s likely you’ll find yourself on the end of a response from her.

On a weekly basis she adopts the #WOW hashtag for a Women on Wednesday campaign to get females talking business and listens to their ideas.

Last but not least, if you follow anyone, make sure it’s Jack Dorsey. After all, without him, Twitter wouldn’t exist.

Plus, he shouted out his barber the other day. That’s a true man of the – small business-owning – people. Plus he tweets entrepreneurial stuff too.