When One Twitter Account Is Not Enough

by Michelle Rafter from WordCount: Freelancing in the Digital Age. Follow her @michellerafter.

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?

Comments

  • April 6, 2009

    I think I might be more of the fourth kind – I have a unique Twitter account for each domain web site that I own; whether or not it is active or not.

    This way I have secured the twitter username for when an inactive web site is launched and for the sites that are active; I want to be able to post site news and articles and discuss related information to THAT account, so I don’t speak Joomla related stuff in the middle of WordPress or PHP Software discussions.

    Those are the ups – the downs of course is that it gets a little hectic keeping track of all the different twitter accounts.

    Anyone else like me? :)

    Tony Lindskog
    Agency Point Publications

  • April 6, 2009

    I have 3 accounts; one for my BellaOnline site, one for my Literary Lunch blog, and a personal one.

    I just started using HootSuite and it lets me read all three without logging in and out of accounts. It also lets me send to all three at once if I want.

  • April 6, 2009

    I have two. One personal to follow those who I really want to read about and another as social media experiment I have been conducting.

  • April 6, 2009

    I have only one Twitter account, which I reserve for my blogging alter ego (Siobhan Curious) and use to promote and investigate matters related to teaching and education (my blog topic). If a lot of my friends were Twittering, I might consider setting up a personal account as well, but I have no idea how I’d keep up with both.

  • April 6, 2009

    When TwiTip had its poll, I chose one Twitter account but soon that will change though. As I enter the local niche market, I also need to tweet in foreign language other than English.

    It is annoying to tweet in two languages and force the followers to see other content that are entirely irrelevant.

    Personally I don’t believe in split personality with multiple Twitter account. You can still be yourself. For instance, while I rarely talk about my personal life, what people see is still an authentic individual just that they don’t see much of my other side.

    But in another account that I soon will start people can see more of the other side. Or perhaps in yet other topic that I am currently interested in.

  • April 6, 2009

    I use one Twitter account at the moment, but is planning to use two, when Twitter becomes bigger ind Denmark – so one in English and one in Danish. The English is me following the Business and the Danish account will be more marketing of my business.

  • April 6, 2009

    I have 3. Well… I have my own (@jennyonthespot) where I am me and etc… Then I Tweet for a local coffee shop where I get paid in coffee cards (shizzle!!!) and then my alter ego set up a Twitter account (@J_Bling), but J-Bling also set up a Facebook profile page. I have no control over that girl… As a matter of fact, my IRL friends who are also online — often ask when they see me in person, “Is this Jenny or J-Bling?”. Teehee…

  • April 6, 2009

    I only use one twitter account. I would love to use another but I still can see that having one account will make me focus on branding my blog and at the same time focus on one goal, to connect with everyone and promote my blog in the process.

    Should I have more time, I’d create another twitter account for our freelance writing business, I guess that’s more appropriate in that case to filter followers who would really be interested in outsourcing their writing projects. :)

  • April 6, 2009

    I keep two Twitter accounts for reasons #1 and 2. I find that having a Twitter account for your blog is an easier way to drive traffic and stay on target.

  • April 6, 2009

    I am somewhat odd in that I Tweet and follow Twitter users involved in 2 drastically different fields, ( Internet Marketing and Acting). Lately since I am currently not performing or rehearsing for any plays, the bulk of my Tweets are IM related and I have alienated and lost some followers who enjoyed reading about my acting career. For this reason I think I am going to use my TMJonsson acct for personal/acting purposes, and use a new acct I just opened “NicheJourney” as my IM acct branded alongside my blog, The Niche Store Journey. Great post here weighing the pros and cons!

  • April 6, 2009

    This issue comes up every couple months or so and unfortunately the issue/discussion/comments always seem to get unnecessarily bogged down by those who seem to think that “authenticity” or “transparency” mandates some unwritten rule that one person = one account. Or the more ridiculous argument that “it’s just too hard to maintain both a personal and professional account”.

    This in nonsense; As you outline above, there are several reasons why someone should absolutely have more than one Twitter account. To expand somewhat on those use cases:

    1) As Twitter users add followers they prefer that their stream remain relatively clean. If you have something valuable to say from a business perspective but include too much personal stuff people are going to bail on you. Beyond this, 95+% of the users I’ve spoken to have indicated that they either; a) Wanted to post a personal tweet but decided not to because they were unsure whether their business audience would find it inappropriate, or b) regretted sending a personal tweet after losing followers or receiving negative feedback. If you have to think about filtering your tweets because of this personal/professional balancing act, where’s the “authenticity” or “transparency” in that?

    2) If you tweet on behalf of (or primarily in support of) your employer, you need to have a separate personal account. Not only is this just common sense (you’re not going to talk about personal stuff that you’d like to talk about but is inappropriate for the business acct), but there is increasing discussion about who owns the followers that you accumulate in that account while working on behalf of the company. See Beth Harte’s perspective on this topic here: http://bit.ly/aLJac.

    For some people one account is clearly appropriate and sufficient. But for an increasing number of users multiple accounts are not only preferred but ultimately required. As both Twitter and its users evolve, the advantage of multiple accounts will make itself more apparent.

    @socialmedia411

  • April 6, 2009

    What a timely post. I’ve been grappling with this very question. I have two distinct audiences (consumers and advisors) and write separate blogs for each. But I’ve only got one Twitter ID. As point #1 says, separate Twitter accounts probably make sense. I’ll give it a try. Thanks!

  • April 6, 2009

    Tip: You’ll need a different email address if you want another Twitter ID. Luckily, that’s easy enough to provide.

  • April 6, 2009

    I have two accounts as well–one for my Spanish blog and one for my photography biz. I keep them organized by using Twhirl.

  • April 6, 2009

    I use one for each of my blogs, as they are very different topics, and one for personal. It does get busy, and one of the blog accounts is basically an RS substitute, rather than a real communication tool.

  • April 6, 2009

    One reason I have been considering starting a second account is so that I can have a separate RSS stream for the articles I read that I can put into my blog. I haven’t decided if this is worth it yet.

    Currently I use a service called FoodFeed that enables me to stream what I am eating onto my blog (I’m a food blogger) by using @having, and there is no need for a separate account. My readers love it. But I do not want to post all my Twitter posts in my sidebar because I think it would be overwhelming to new visitors. Then again, I may devalue my current Twitter stream by removing this aspect of my tweets. Suggestions welcome!

  • April 6, 2009

    I’ve been looking at this question myself. Fairly new to twitter, and have been hitting my LowCarb site stuff, my Hosting biz stuff, and a dash of my personal life with the same account.

    Currently, I’m going to leave them as one. I like the cross-promotion aspect and it gives a better, more immediate feel for who I am.

  • April 6, 2009

    My personal account @greggwitt, a couple of private ones that I set up for private data feeds (exercise log, package trakcing before @tracker, etc) plus 5 local feeds (@bikememphis, @chowmemphis, @memnews, @memphisnights, @memtraf) that are essentially twitterfeeds of relevant memphis focused bike, food, news, entertainment or traffic feeds. Every so often I’ll post a personal message to one of them (especially to @bikememphis). I think people like it. They tend to be one of the first “friended” by new Memphis twitterers.

  • April 6, 2009
    kristy
    @mookie5

    I have two Twitter accts. One for stuff I just wanna read and save for “later.” One for immediate stuff and commentary. All personal use, no business use for me. For me, the reading one is like saving parts of the newspaper for reading later in the week. (The paper version of the paper, that is. Ha ha)

  • April 6, 2009
    Karen Ward
    @KWalto

    I am pretty new to Twitter, but I do have need to set up a second account, however Twitter would not let me set up a second account under my email adddress. Is there a way around that?

  • April 6, 2009

    I struggled with is issue last week and and I’m glad I created a new ID. My online life, blogging and marketing were hampered when folks from RL found my ID. The separation has helped me use Twitter more effectively and really connect with my readers. Before I was too worried about what my boss would think about my blogging life.

  • April 6, 2009
    Markus
    @Unkraut

    I’d like to have two (both just for fun, but different) but I use twitter via my phone over 90% of the time and I can use only one twitter account per phone…

  • April 6, 2009

    I have two, but I’ve considered three. My main account is used for tweets about education technology, technology trends, and my writing on Google at About.com. That’s a lot of topics at once, but I think they mesh well together and followers of one topic wouldn’t consider the other items to be “noise.”

    The other ID is personal and relates to parenting my special needs children. It didn’t make sense to put those tweets with my main ID, and it gives me a chance to network on two very different topics.

  • April 6, 2009

    I currently manage several Twitter accounts for various reasons.. it really can be overwhelming at times…
    http://twitter.com/DotSauce – main
    http://twitter.com/TweetSocial – Twitter Forum
    http://twitter.com/AQDN – Domain sales business
    http://twitter.com/DNMarket – Domain marketplace
    http://twitter.com/ThemeHunter -WordPress themes

    More in the works, hehe.

    Services like TweetDeck, SplitTweet, FutureTweets make life as a multiple twitter account owner easier. Especially SplitTweet which I highly recommend for anyone with multiple accounts.

  • April 6, 2009

    A great post!

    @eltonbear is my personal account, and the first that I set up to get a feel for Twitter. I use that ID to let people know my day-to-day activities, and share links among friends (and anyone else who’s interested).

    However @RecklessGeneral is the public account for Reckless General Records, a small label I’m involved in. That’s where I share industry-related links and discuss social media/marketing ideas that my AFK friends probably wouldn’t be interested in.

  • April 6, 2009

    As well as my personal account, I manage another account for ParkRideFlyUSA (@parkrideflyusa). I blog for them, so it seemed sensible to have a Twitter account linked to that blog. While I think that’s a good solution for the company, so that they can still have an account should we ever part company, I find my personal account easier to run, because I am myself, which means more interaction.

  • April 6, 2009

    Not sure if I will ever do that. Most certainly have different blogs for different focus and different target audiences.

    but with different twitter accounts I might find myself using the wrong one by mistake – oooh.

    I also think one reason why most people will only use one twitter account is that they (me included) are enamored with twitter ranks, grades etc and a second account will slow the momentum on the other.

  • April 6, 2009

    I use two Twitter ids. One for work and other is personal!

    Managing two ids is alright.. but cant think of managing more then three or four at atime!

  • April 7, 2009

    I currently manage only one account. For small businesses that see value in separating an owner’s personal account from their business account, as well as those who need to keep track of multiple accounts, http://www.splitweet.com is a useful solution.

    @wvpmc

  • April 7, 2009

    I have been wondering about this as well. I use Twitter for work related (librarian) discussion/interaction.. But now some friends are starting to twitter.. I Know they don’t care about evaluating websites, great new YA novels, etc.. I was thinking of starting a personal account, and Now I think I will. A comment recommended using HootSuite to manage the accounts easily – is that the best one?

  • April 7, 2009

    I have three Twitter accounts of my own. A personal account that I use for following friends and family and that also feeds to Facebook status, a blogging account for sharing blogging-related resources, and a Twitter account for sharing Twitter-related resources.

    Plus, I contribute to a handful of accounts at work. And my two cats are both on Twitter, and since they don’t have opposable thumbs, I have to do the typing for them. I use HootSuite to manage all these accounts, but even then, it’s sometimes overwhelming.

  • April 7, 2009

    In my case i have tree one personal and two for my different blogs so juts imagine sometimes i juts hard to have all of them.

    Than you for the pots.

  • April 7, 2009

    i have 2 accounts – one for my business and one for my personal where i can be less formal and were i have it set up as a private account for only my friends.

    i use splitweet – awesome way to read from both accounts and tweet to one or both at the same time.

    can we have a discussion about what people with multiple accounts do about tweeting from their phone? i would love a really easy fewest-clicks-possible way to update my accounts from my phone – i’m never home!

  • April 7, 2009

    I currently maintain 4, one personal and one for each subsidiary of the corporation whose online communications I manage. The subsidiary leads don’t have time to learn about twitter so they relay information for me to post, and I communicate feedback to them and help formulate reponses. It gets a little hairy at times, but it’s interesting managing them.

  • April 7, 2009

    Excellent blog post.
    Personally;
    1x for personal as well as professional tweets, occasionally linking back to my web blog.
    1x for hobby ethical fashion blog

    In hindsight, I think many Twitter users may have wanted to start two – one for personal one for job tweets. Sometimes I see people using their Twitter accounts for smart work related comments – then moan or send drunk Tweets at night about their love life. Not good!

  • April 8, 2009

    My two accounts are for my business. I use CuriousDina on other social media sites so that became my first Twitter account- @CuriousDina. Helps to maintain a consistent presence across platforms. This ID is for networking with folks in online business, online marketing, blogging, and authors. Because it was my first ID it also has some personal flavor, which I hope let’s folks get to know me.

    Thank goodness for HootSuite (and my buddy @MitchWagner) who turned me on to it. I wouldn’t dare attempt monitoring two accounts without it. I like the tweet stats. My second ID, @Whats_Romantic, is a bit of an experiment. I’m using it to identify relevant content on romance and marriage and generate interest for a site I’m developing now.

    And, thanks to this excellent post, I think I’ll add a research ID to keep up with conversations in my niche. Good stuff.

  • April 8, 2009

    Using two twitter accounts, one for public tweets and one for contraversial tweets you want a persona to hide behind in case it effects your jos or relationships.

    Thats said, if you cannot say it out loud on you main account should you be saying it?

  • April 8, 2009

    Many people whom I know have more than one twitter accounts. They have a few blogs and a twitter account for each blog. One could also have a personal twitter account and one for work.

  • April 9, 2009

    My business is personal: so much of my business is about my life. My books, my blogs, etc, I write about what I do, how I live, who I am. That said a few people suggested that I get another twitter account for my bricks and mortar bookstore. I thought about it, and decided that approach is just not for me. I just have one twitter account, and it’s a mix of stuff about my business, stuff about my life, and conversing with lots of folks about little things.

  • April 9, 2009

    So, for those of us who are new to having two accounts: Is it possible to set both accounts up with one e-mail address? Or is it absolutely necessary to have a new e-mail address for each account?

    Thanks.

  • April 13, 2009

    Multiple accounts can be effective its when knowing how to execute it wisely and not overdo it can be worth it. I have a business and personal account, so I use them accordingly.

  • April 14, 2009

    Great article. One question – is there a workaround to the “one mobile device issue”? I added a second account for a club I manage, but twitter won’t allow me to use the same mobile phone number as I use for my personal account…

  • June 19, 2009

    I’m in the group of people who tweets in 2 different languages. As of now, there’s no way around this. Posting in 2 languages under the same account is just too much noise and can be very annoying for your audience. It’s not very practical, but tools like Seesmic Desktop makes the task much easier.

  • June 26, 2009
    M. Cooper

    I have one account and would like two. However, Twitter won’t let me set up another account (one for work, one for personal) on the same mobile number…is there a way around this?

    Thanks

  • November 10, 2009

    Good summary. I would only add that there is another reason to have multiple corporate Twitter accounts: front-end and support, for example.
    I put it into this short article “How to Build Twitter-worth”: http://bit.ly/ipVts

    Just my 2 cents.
    Thanks,
    -Stas
    SmartSymbols
    Follow on Twitter

  • January 22, 2010

    Re M. Cooper: yes, there is a way; see http://www.djomp.co.uk/pages/update-multiple-twitter-accounts-via-sms-from-one-phone for more info!

  • February 17, 2010

    Good article. I have two twitter accounts. One twitter username is sfihomebizz for my blog sfihomebizz.info and second twitter username is ktshoppe which I am using for my blog vitalsupp.info.

    ktshoppe was the first twitter account I opened where I used to post my health related articles and tweeted health tips. So I am using ktshoppe for my health blog vitalsupp.info as I feel maintaining and tweeting on multiple twitter accounts is a bit difficult.

  • February 27, 2010

    I do have more than 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and even 10
    Why?
    1 is personal but has most followers as that was the first
    1 is official for my author career
    2 are for road safety tips
    1 is a restaurant idea
    1 is a board game idea
    1 is a form of humour that requires acronyms
    4 are for writing psuedonyms 1 of which is now published 3 will be eventually

    Does this make me the record holder? I have a feeling it doesn’t.

  • February 27, 2010

    @johnrossharvey official author twitter
    @acronymr acronym humour
    @harveyhelmet road safety tips
    @S_i_n_s (Snow Impairment’s Not Safe)
    @carnivoresrest self-explanatory
    @trafficbrdgame self explanatory
    @nahtan_hoj (published pen name)
    @tfoevil (pen name)
    @markhamwells (pen name)
    @wentworthvaughn (pen name)

    yes they all have different emails, mostly gmail, 1 is yahoo
    these will accept all followers @jrharv is more likely to block so stick to following the rest

  • March 12, 2010

    I have several also, one for each of my domains and websites, each covering different topics or areas of my business. I use twitter for work and play and for my clients. Is there an API that allows tweeting to more than one account at the same time, this I find frustrating logging into all of them separatly because sometimes a tweet is suitable for all of them.

  • March 20, 2010

    I have twitter for my cat blog. I also have a website for anyone who has or knows someone who is living with HIV/AID> then I have third I just started named oops that’s life.com. I need two more twitter accounts. My problem is that I can’t get anywhere. Twitter automatically takes me to my cat blog. HELP!!

  • March 20, 2010

    Gail you’ve probably clicked to ‘Remeber my Password’ when you logged in last and so it’s taking you back to your own account. Just click Logout in the top right corner of your twitter page, then open a new account by clicking the Join button.

  • April 24, 2010

    One thing that is not covered in this article is the importance of “branding” your account to fit your personality. Choosing your colors and style to fit you! Remember that as you are making these “connections” online you will want others to “get to know you”. Choose a good avatar picture that suits you and then having a great Twitter Background is an excellent way to re-enforce this! If you’re not graphically inclined, check out Twitter Background sites, such as http://www.TwitterGrounds.com to find great backgrounds at affordable costs. They will even customize them for you!

  • May 28, 2010

    Hi Gail (@queenbaileeanne) and other that might be having similar problems making a second account. You will need a second email address for the second account. But even with that I was having problems with the registration Captcha not showing and the audio catpch alternative not playing. I finally opened a different browers (IE instead of Firefox) and was able to create my second Twitter account.

  • August 13, 2010

    Two accounts – one for personal side of me, one for my business. My problem is how to create the second account.

  • August 16, 2010

    Karen: very easy, 1 email per account, 2 accounts, 2 emails, done.

  • November 29, 2010

    So, O.K., I do need a second account, how do I do it?

  • December 13, 2010

    I’m still wondering if to set up two accounts, for different niche markets. Still not decided on which way to go.

  • December 15, 2010

    I split to two accounts because I had two Wordpress blogs, linked to Twitter. It seemed to me that my Music followers did not want to keep scrolling through Science tweets and the Science followers did not want to keep scrolling through Music tweets. I found after I split them I added followers at a faster rate.

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