If one Twitter account is good, are two better?
If you use Twitter for more than a single purpose, at some point you have to decide whether to stick with one account or sign up for a second, third or even more.
I recently polled readers of my freelance writing blog to find out how many Twitter accounts they used and why. According to the results of my very unscientific survey:
- 68 percent of people use one Twitter account
- 16 percent maintain two or more accounts
- 15 percent don’t use Twitter at all
My findings were similar to the results of a TwiTip poll that 2,500+ people have taken since November. According to that poll:
- 68 percent of Twitter users have one account
- 27 percent have two or more
- 5 percent don’t use the service.
Tweeting on one account is time consuming enough, so why go to the trouble of having two? According to people who have more than one, the main reasons are:
1. Keeping different areas of interest separated. E.B. Boyd, a Bay Area freelance writer, uses @ebboyd to keep up with freelance writing issues and colleagues. She saves @ebboyd_newsfut for participating in discussions about the future of the news business, “so I send out maximum signal and no noise, and thus become a valued member of that conversation among the folks who are having it,” she says. She’s thinking of setting up a third account for writing she does on sustainability issues.
2. Separating work life from personal life. Melissa Sachs uses @RecruiterEsq for her work as a legal headhunter, and @Nonpretentious for a sideline venture, an online pop culture zine. Kimberly Sallingboe, a marketing and communications manager in Copenhagen, Denmark, also sees the benefit in keeping one Twitter account for family and one where for professional matters. “This way potential employers don’t have to follow the ins and outs of house hunting and your family doesn’t have to listen to you debate the newest additions to the Oxford dictionary,” she says.
3. Twittering on a work account or on behalf of a client. John C. Abell, New York bureau chief for Wired.com, has a personal Twitter account, @johncabell. He also contributes to two others for work: @Wired, the main Twitter feed for Wired.com, and another for a Wired.com blog called @TheUnderwire. “So I really only have one, but I write for three. Sort of like blogs, no?” he says. Kathy Sena, a Southern California freelance writer, recently became Consumer Reports’ part-time Twitter presence, so part of the time she’s @kathysena and the other part she’s @CReporter.
4. Tweeting in different languages. Jill Sommer, an Ohio-based translator, wishes bilingual Twitterers would consider creating separate accounts for each language they tweet in, “because several of them post things twice – in both languages.”
There can be a downside to having multiple accounts. For one, you can develop a case of Twitter split personality, which might not be good if you’re trying to create a name for yourself online. “Obviously, (it’s) very hard to brand yourself when you have 3 separate brands,” says Boyd, the Bay Area freelancer.
Could TweetDeck or other Twitter utilities address some of the reasons people create multiple accounts? Maybe. But while TweetDeck does allow you to separate people into groups, it doesn’t filter out the tweets that don’t pertain to group you put that tweeter into. Boyd says:
“Let’s say I follow Bobby Joe. I want to hear Bobby’s thoughts on clean tech, which we both cover, and any freelancing tips he has. But I don’t want to hear what he did this weekend, nor his thoughts on enterprise software, which he also covers. Right now, I don’t have an efficient way to cull his tweets. By creating several accounts for myself, I’m doing that culling for the people who want to follow me. They can follow all three of my accounts if they’re interested in journalism, freelancing, and clean tech or they can following the journalism-only account, if that’s all they’re interested in.”
How many Twitter accounts do you have? If you have more than one, why?