a few considerations before starting that 2nd, or 3rd, Twitter account

“Who should I follow?” It’s a question every new Twitter user asks. But it’s also a question that established users continue to grapple with. As our following counts escalate, so do the challenges of keeping up with it all. The questions may shift to more narrow focuses such as follow etiquette, data quantity and filtration practices, but the root question is the same.

There is a worthwhile conversation emerging on this subject on Tomas Carrillo’s blog. I highly encourage you to read both his original post and the comment string before continuing with the rest of this post.

Tomas is leaning toward creating a second account so that he can manage his professional and personal interests separately. For many, this can appear an attractive solution.

The jump into multiple accounts is a critical step with a variety of implications. The benefits will vary depending on your goals, but there are some ramifications, for both user and reader, that are easy to overlook.

  1. Compartmentalizing business, personal, and niche identities as separate entities forces others who may be interested in the multiple sides of you to follow multiple streams. It’s easy to think others might only be interested in the _blank_ side of you, or that you’re only interested in the _blank_ side of others, but that’s rarely true. Being one-dimensional is usually considered a character weakness.
  2. Maintaining multiple accounts is likely to increase your overall time investment on Twitter. Just as you are forcing a reader interested in the multiple sides of you to read multiple streams, there will be individuals you engage both professionally and personally. On which account do you then follow them? More often than not, you’ll probably choose to follow them on each of your accounts, increasing the redundancy of your feeds.
  3. One account is likely to become favored, while another will become neglected. While your time invested on Twitter increases, time available in a day remains static, making it less feasible to devote equal and adequate attention to each account.
  4. You may undermine your brand. Whether you are a company or an individual, your brand is the unique composition that emerges from a variety of facets, from history to aspirations, from deep-seated values to social connections. As you siphon off certain facets for promotion in other channels, you risk the overall richness of the fuller brand. This risk is greater for freelancers and sole entrepreneurs. Your business is most likely an extension of yourself, and as such, your professional and personal lives are mutually reinforcing.

Using multiple Twitter accounts to separate interests is a growing trend, but in general, it’s something I would advise against. The exception may be for highly niche interests. For example, I maintain @PhxArtYC to provide updates on events at the Phoenix Art Museum. And consider Francine Hardaway who tweets as @Earth911 which is dedicated to environmental and recycling content.

Unless there is a need separate a niche interest from your personal brand, keep a single stream and show of all the different sides of you.

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  1. #1 by Tomas on January 6, 2009 - 6:26 pm

    This is just what I needed Heather, thanks for spilling your thoughts into a blog post!

    Interestingly enough, I once tried running two blogs at the same time and points #2 and #3 quickly became apparent, so I eventually dropped one and just poured my energy into my current blog and am very happy that I did so.

    As for points #1 and #4, I can see how multiple Twitter accounts can dilute your brand and introduce redundancy since you can end up handicapping yourself by ‘painting yourself into a corner’. Funnily enough, I’ve followed several Tweeps who diverge into business and pleasure accounts and find difficulty in continuing the success in one or the other or both. Of course, there are some individuals who can manage business and pleasure accounts successfully but they have also thought it out and put in a good amount of work to make it happen.

    Anyway, thanks again for the post Heather! 🙂

  2. #2 by jes on January 6, 2009 - 8:06 pm

    Um, don’t you have 3 Twitter accounts or did @mercilessflirt hang up her lipstick gun.

  3. #3 by francinehardaway on January 6, 2009 - 9:41 pm

    I love being Earth911 and being able to expose my environmental side to people who really care. Many of my other friends don’t care as much. So I keep the environmental separate, and blog and tweet for that wonderful website in which I am personally and professional invested, and then blab about the rest of my life (you can call it a personal brand, but I wouldn’t go so far) as @hardaway:-) Thanks for noticing.

  4. #4 by CrysOhara on January 11, 2009 - 6:37 pm

    I’m actually in the processes of eliminating a lot of things that I feel are redundant. I’m on MySpace, FaceBook, Utterli, Twitter, Plurk, Yahoo 360 and many others that I don’t even use any more. I feel like I’m juggling websites more and more and well I’m not a juggler. I use ping.fm and realize that I have it updating sites that I don’t use. Slowly, I’ve started letting people know that I’m updating my blog and using pretty much Plurk and Twitter for most things. If anyone wants to know what I’m doing they can usually contact me at one of three places.

    Thanks for mentioning Francine’s environment account as I wouldn’t have known about it and I’m always open to environment issues and resources.

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