One Twitter Acount Or Two?

Maintaining two Twitter accounts can be a great solution for your situation.

Maintaining two Twitter accounts can be a great way to reach two diverse audiences.

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.

Alternative Strategies

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.

About author:

Charlene is the information strategist behind Crow Information Design.

7 Responses to “One Twitter Acount Or Two?”

  1. Karen says:

    Did you know that you can easily handle two accounts on Twhirl?

    I am a double-twitterer!

    My first account on Twitter was @stcaccess, which I started for the AccessAbility SIG of STC (www.stc-access.org). This was an attempt to harness the power of Twitter for existing and potential members of the SIG and STC. A week later, I had to start @kmdk for myself. I wanted @stcaccess to stick to the topic of technical communication and accessibility (and usability) issues. It had to be professional. I saw conversations that I wanted to join, but as myself and not as the professional account, so I had to start a private account. :-)

    When I had two accounts, I discovered the difficulties of managing both on the computer. You cannot open the two accounts using the same browser, but you can run two different browsers for the two accounts. That would take up much more monitor space than the Twhirl solution.

    Twhirl provides two windows that you can park side by side on your computer screen. I’d say that is the best option to follow multiple accounts so far.

    I have an iPhone, and Tweetie (http://www.atebits.com/software/tweetie/) is the only iPhone application that handles multiple accouts. I still use Twitterfon (http://twitterfon.net/) in addition to Tweetie, however. There are certain aspects to Twitterfon (showing count of new tweets) that make me keep it and love it, but I actually paid for Tweetie because it handles multiple accounts and has some, for me, useful visual features.

    This is still a learning process for me. I have people who follow both accounts. That muddies the waters! I have identified some people as people my private account would converse with, so I read them on my private account and skip them on the professional account. If they post something that is pertinent to the professional account, I can switch over to that account and re-tweet or reply as appropriate.

    As I write all this, my approach sounds long-winded and complicated. It’s not. It’s one of those actions that takes more words to describe because the flow is actually rather intuitive.

    As for the why of the two accounts – the professional account is for a group that must exist beyond me. Others must be able to step in and use it at any time. I hope it is the voice of the group that it represents.

    If it were for my own business, I would take the same professional approach to it and consider the conversations it should contain. I wouldn’t share a funny YouTube video on the professional account – unless it suited the topics I have chosen: tech. communication and accessibility/usability. However, I do believe a professional account should have personality, and it should participate in conversations – and have humor! Perhaps some companies are best suited to be one-way accounts – announcements of new products and user tips, for example.

    In some cases, the business IS the person and vice versa. I’m thinking @guykawasaki or @stephenfry. There, a single account probably makes most sense.

    Karen’s last blog post..iPhone blogging

  2. Charlene says:

    Karen: Thanks for the detailed comment. There are so many ways to do things, and so many reasons to do them this way or that. I love having your opinions added to the mix. I think a lot of people are struggling to figure out how to use Twitter effectively for business. The more ideas we can put out there, the better is it for people. Thanks, again.

  3. [...] A big hat tip to Crow Info Design, whose blog post on multiple Twitter accounts was the inspiration for this post. Check out the [...]

  4. well, i’m a multiple twitter account user handling no less than four. one is the main personal one, the second is the professional one, the third is a sports-related one and the last is one for my running.

    i broke these into separate accounts when i was having trouple developing the different groups of information. the different accounts require different amounts of participation – some are more listen, some are more post – but they each fit their own need.

    for example, my professional account is designed as a way to send out information in association with my field but my running account is to monitor the insights of other runners who might have good information to help me in my own efforts.

    timewise it hasn’t been an issue since i am using twitter roughly the same amount as before – just subdividing my attention in that period over the accounts.

  5. Johan Lont says:

    Ha, I have currently FOUR accounts. When I joined Twitter last August, I was confronted with a language problem. My own language is Dutch, but I got to Twitter via some English speaking friends from YouTube and similar websites. At first, I used both languages intermittently, but soon, it became 99% English.
    But I also want to communicate with the relatively small but active Dutch Twitter community. Therefore, I started @jclont_nl to reply to Dutch tweets in Dutch without annoying my international friends with tweets they cannot understand. @jclont remains my main account. (I occasionally use Dutch, French, or Polish on @jclont, to tease my friends and force them to use an online translator).
    My other two Twitter accounts are simple services on which I daily post one text from the Bible for inspiration/meditation (one for each language).

    Johan Lont’s last blog post..jclont: Condoms are a great invention. If used consistently, mankind could be extinct in 100 years and all our problems solved.

  6. Charlene says:

    CJ: I’m sure you laughed at my title, since you wrangle four accounts. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m sure there are many other people considering creating more than two accounts who appreciate hearing this.

    Johan: Thanks for sharing your multi-language experience. I follow a few people from around the world, and I see them tweet occasionally in different language. I think you have found a great solution for your situation.

  7. Jennifer says:

    Hi, I found this page because I do have two twitter accounts. I have run into a problem though, and wanted to see if there was a solution out there on the Net. It seems that when you have two accounts you are can only register one cell phone number under “Devices”. I use my cell phone to receive updates daily and want to be able to receive updates on both of my Twitter accounts. However, when I try to enter my cell number under devices for the second account it says, “The cell number is already in use.”! Does anyone know a way around this?

    Thanks,

    Jennifer
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..In the stars? =-.

    • Charlene says:

      Jennifer: Twitter seems to define each account with a unique email and a unique cell phone number. I don’t know a way around this. Any one have a suggestion for her?

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  1. More Than One Twitter Account? | Twitterrati

    [...] A big hat tip to Crow Info Design, whose blog post on multiple Twitter accounts was the inspiration for this post. Check out the [...]

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