CHICAGO ( MainStreet) -- For all the hype about Twitter representing a new model of communication, its value as a business tool has yet to be proven. Sure, hip marketing firms may talk up their Twitter feeds as proof they "get" social media, but for most small businesses, Twitter is an option, not a cornerstone of their PR strategy.
Perhaps the best way for small-business owners to use Twitter is as followers, not leaders. Some of the top experts and thought leaders in business today are active on Twitter, sharing their insights and summarizing breaking news. Follow their feeds, and you get a Greatest Hits of current business thinking, along with inspiration for moving your own company forward.
Here are six great Twitter feeds that give you access to some of the best minds in business today:
1. Bill Gross
Gross, founder and co-chief investment officer of the highly regarded investment management firm Pimco, is a busy man, but he finds time to post regularly on Pimco's Twitter feed. Despite his high-profile position, Gross' tweets are refreshingly accessible, even chatty. Most of his tweets give Gross' take on the leading economic news of the day, giving a good general overview of what's going on globally. But he also offers up witty observations such as this Fourth of July message: "Wish financial mkts were like sparklers: brite, user-friendly. But they'll stay more like large firecrackers/dynamite. Be joyously careful!"
The author of Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us and A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, Pink challenges conventional workplace wisdom and has become an influential expert on the ways traditional office hierarchies are being transformed by technology. On his Twitter feed, Pink links to news stories that examine the modern workplace and highlights new content on his website, an informative, entertaining mix of analysis, interviews and personal observations. Following Pink's Twitter feed ensures you'll get a daily roundup of fresh, thought-provoking ideas. 3. David Allen
Productivity consultant David Allen is best known for his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, and his "Getting Things Done" work-life management system has been used by countless Fortune 500 companies and high-level executives. His Twitter feed gives you access into the life of an in-demand corporate coach, including observations from his frequent travels. But he also shares pithy words of advice, such as "The purpose of a purpose? Tunes you in to meaningful things you wouldn't be aware of otherwise" and "Meetings handled well reduces email. Email handled well reduces meetings." It's like getting your own mini-session with Allen himself ... for free! 4. Bob Sutton
Sutton, a management professor at Stanford, is a well-known expert on employee-employer relations, thanks to his books The No-Asshole Rule and Good Boss, Bad Boss. He is also a frequent poster on his blog, Work Matters, and uses his Twitter feed primarily as a way to alert readers to new content on the site. But his engaging tweets also cover developments in psychology, organizational behavior and even the occasional personal aside: "My 19-year-old reacted to Facebook (FB) IPO by saying it is getting old, she is into face-to-face interaction instead. Back to the future?" If you're determined to be a good boss, following Sutton's advice is a good start. 5. Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Harvard Business School professor Kanter has written more than a dozen books, including SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Opportunity, Profit, Growth and Social Good. She is also a frequent blogger on the Harvard Business Review website, writing about strategy, innovation and change management. Her Twitter feed is an upbeat mix of advice and motivational speaking, applying the latest business research to lessons that can be applied at both work and home, such as "Change is a threat if done TO me, opportunity if done BY me." Kanter also offers enjoyable slice-of-life looks into the routine of a busy business consultant: "Stuck in traffic jams this month in Sao Paulo (worst), Istanbul, Montreal, Madrid (not bad -- tough economy, cars stay home)." 6. The Small Business Administration
Sure, this is a government-sponsored feed, so you won't find any irreverent humor or off-the-beaten-path insights. But the SBA's Twitter feed is impressively active, with multiple tweets most days and plenty of information relevant to business owners. Following the SBA's feed is a good way to stay up to date on the agency's programs and resources, as well as stats on the state of small business in the U.S.