I met today with a couple of my social media savvy friends over coffee to talk strategy and tools with a new Twitter and social media user. Our collective goal was to help out Jenn Daniels, a candidate for Gilbert, Arizona town council (@GilbertJenn) by giving her the benefit of our experience. It was a great conversation, and I walked away with a new insight myself.
My Two Account Journey
One issue we discussed was the number of Twitter accounts we have. Most of you reading this know that I have two Twitter accounts, one I call my personal account (@Kinchie), and the other I call my business account (@CrowInfoDesign). I started with my personal account, and began to see value in having a separate business account. I mapped out my goals and strategies for both accounts, and then set up the second account.
It turns out, it was much easier to separate the content between the two accounts on paper than it was in practice. I found myself struggling to decide where to tweet on everything. After thinking about this, I realized that I felt my tweets to my business account were wasted because they reached such a small audience. I found myself wanting to put business tweets on my personal account so they reached more people. As a result, my business account sat underutilized for several weeks while I sorted out my issues.
Then I had an ah-ha moment. I realized that the strategy I had for my personal account didn’t work for my business account. With my personal account, I limit the number of people I follow to a relatively small number. I do this so I can maintain conversations with these people. I changed my strategy for my business account. With that account, I want to tap into the great pool of technical writers, user assistance people, and related professionals. I wanted access to the zeitgeist of that community. I started looking for my business people, and adjusted my expectations from reading every tweet to skimming the tweet stream. Once I did those things, I easily knew which tweets were for each audience. There is still a small gray area, and I put those tweets in the account that feels appropriate in the moment. Issue solved.
One of my friends, Jay Thompson (@PhxREGuy) has a single account. In his archive, you will find him talking about a wide range of topics from the stimulus package, to community events, to family updates, to blog posts. The one thing you won’t find him Twittering about is real estate, his profession.
My other friend, Jeff Moriarty (@jmoriarty) has two accounts. One is his business account, where he talks about work-related things to an audience who wants to know about the developments in his realm at his employer, Intel. His personal account mentions some work items, but mostly captures the wide range of his personality and his personal interests. Jeff is the primary driver of Ignite Phoenix and the Arizona chapter of Improv Everywhere which recently pulled off (pun intended) a no-pants day on the Phoenix light rail.
In listening to them talk about why each strategy works for them, I realized that one factor is the nature of our work. Jay sells real estate, and that is a very personal business. People who want to follow Jay because they are thinking about buying or selling a home are tuned into issues of home and family. And people like me follow Jay because I know him and like him, and find his tweets interesting.
On the other hand, both Jeff and I have technical jobs, and our co-workers and peers want to know about the technical things we cover. It works for us to have separate business Twitter accounts so people can choose which aspect of our lives (personal or work) they want to hear about throughout the day.
That’s my new working theory going forward. The nature of the business is a factor to consider when thinking about a separate business Twitter account.
Two Account Logistics
Having two Twitter accounts creates a bit of a challenge for anyone.
- Time. How do you carve out the time to engage two separate audiences? That’s two tweet timelines to read and two sets of people to engage.
- Twitter Tools. If you use Twitter.com or most Twitter clients on the desktop, you can only be logged into one account at a time. How can you keep both accounts open and active at the same time? I have solved this problem by using Twitter.com for my personal account and using Twhirl for my business account. I’m still looking for a single program that I love that allows me to follow two accounts.
- What To Tweet Where? You must figure out what to say in each account, and figure out what to do if you have a gray area (like me) of tweets that can go in either account.
- Retweets. Sometimes, for things in my gray area, I post the identical tweet to each account. Other times, I retweet one account in the other account. Fortunately, I don’t have many tweets that fall into this gray area.
- Goals and Strategies. With two accounts, you can have similar goals and strategies. But you have the opportunity to experiment with very different strategies. All of this takes some time to work through.
What Do You Think?
Do you have two Twitter accounts, or have you considered using two accounts? What drives you to think that you need two accounts? Or why do you feel strongly that you should only use one account?
I’d love to hear what you think. Please comment and enlighten us all with your insights on this social media challenge.
And I’d love to chat with you on Twitter! Follow me on @CrowInfoDesign.