Did you know that there’s no limit to the number of Twitter accounts you can have? All that’s needed for each subsequent account is a new name and connecting e-mail account. Twitter can be used both for your personal enjoyment and also for business applications. It’s a way to keep in touch with people in real time, tell them where you are and what you are doing in much the same way as sending a text and your followers can counter with their own news. It is used mostly for personal use to say what you are thinking at the moment so anyone who wants to can learn what you are thinking too, but you’d be wise to remember it’s a public forum and anyone can see what you’ve said.
Twitter is useful for business enterprises too who want to connect with people in a more immediate fashion. Staff, clients or the whole cyberspace world can be talked to so that a business can let the world know what they are about. When working with companies, especially those on the Internet, contact can become cold and unfeeling. Twitter is a way for business users to “humanize” themselves and show another side of themselves. Clients and customers can then see that they are not just dealing with a giant, faceless entity. Some people want to know how you spend your leisure time and other social activities.
You can set up Twitter accounts to suit these differing needs. If you want to use Twitter for more than one purpose, you can open as many additional Twitter accounts as you wish. Just because it can be done though, does that mean you would be wise to do so?
I’ve been party to some heated debates on this with strong views being expressed both for and against it. Ecademy is one of the most successful business networking communities with members from across the world. At a recent meeting I attended, Thomas Power, the founder of Ecademy, was absolutely adamant that you should not have more than one Twitter account. His view is that building your online brand is an individual thing and that people want to do business and network online with other people who they can get to know and not with a remote company. He cited the mess that large companies like BP got into with very poor or non-existant use of Social Media when dealing with events such as the oil leaks into the Gulf of Mexico which compounded their unpopularity several times over. He also added that if it was known that you had more than one Twitter account, it would cause confusion. People will not be able to know who you really are so they will not then do business or network with you online. You also never know when something which you think is being circulated privately, finds a wider, more public audience at an embarrassing time.
This view is considerably backed up by the prevailing view that internet newcomers should concentrate on one niche or “micro-niche” to establish their online brand or identity. To be consistent with that, it would be illogical to have more than one Twitter account.
Having one Twitter account seamlessly complements the task of giving your business both a personal identity and humanising it so that people know more about who you are. Sending personal tweets and business tweets on the same account is not a problem for those who want to achieve this sort of image. They can relate to clients in a relaxed, friendly way which puts them at ease and makes them more likely to buy or network with you.
Some people prefer to separate their business and personal lives and that goes for their Twitter account as well. Depending on how much of a Twitterer you are, you might be following all sorts of users: celebrities, old pals from school or others. With one account, your clients can follow these tweets as well if they desire.
This can be a not so good thing if you are not discretionary in your contacts. While you want to seem personable, a client or potential customer can know too much about you. They want to know that you can be trusted and not whether you wear boxers or briefs to bed. so some people will find it easier to have more than one account and set up separate Twitter accounts to keep their personal and professional identities separate. The pressure to censor their tweets or who they follow is an added task that doesn’t have to be dealt with if there is more than one Twitter account in use.
Doing so risks coming unstuck in quite spectacular ways, however. Your tweets will still be in the public domain, there for anyone to see unless you impose privacy restrictions. This has been the fate of several sports personalities. One recent example of this was the then Liverpool footballer Ryan Babel tweeting a link with a photograph of the match referee in a recent manchester united v Liverpool fixture in a manchester united kit. His plea afterwards was that this was meant to be a private joke and that he didn’t realise Twitter was public! He’s far from the only person to come unstuck in this way. Others such as Kevin Pietersen have had similar difficulties.
In a broader sense you just never know when something private will become public. An innocent retweet of a derogatory comment and suddenly your gaffe is in the public domain. We can all probably think of people who’ve been on the receiving end of such embarrassment. Can you rely on your followers not to add a friend of the boss to their list of followers by mistake?
A better case for multiple accounts can probably be made if you are marketing in diverse fields. If you have an internet business which sells fitness products and another which sells computer products it would be confusing to market both from one twitter account. Those buying the fitness products won’t want to be regaled by offers for laptops, PCs and computer security products or vice versa. As Twitter is a free marketing tool, why shouldn’t each business have it’s own Twitter account?
There are a variety of tools available for Twitter users to make it easy to manage multiple accounts. These include Hootsuite and Socialoomph which can take care of tasks like tweeting to multiple accounts and enabling automatic reciprocal following of new followers. Ultimately it is advisable not to have too much automation as this inevitably erodes the personal touch that genuine social media interaction depends on if it is to be used successfully. Twitter has certainly developed a bad name in many eyes for allowing automated accounts to spam relentlessly to their followers. I question how effective that is as the reaction of most people on the receiving end is to cease following that account.
In conclusion then, I would suggest it is best to stick to one Twitter account except for those with the resources to promote businesses in more than one business sector at the same time, and even then, to only do so if the time and resources are available to give each of those accounts proper attention in a way which still carries a personal touch.
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