June 5, 2012

2 Accounts, 1 Cup: When to Start A 2nd Twitter Account

Save on Meats.

I get asked this all the time. Should you have two separate, distinct Twitter accounts? And what are the merits of it? Whether its one professional and one personal, or one for business/branding and one for your actual name, it really depends.

1) I generally don't recommend it.

Generally, I highly suggest sticking only to one singular account (at least at first). Most people don't tweet nearly enough to justify two separate feeds.

It really is hard enough to build a decent following on Twitter (I'm talking 1000+ followers), nowadays. It seems everyone is on Twitter now and your message can easily be lost in the stream. It's better to do one thing right than two things wrong. If you can, focus on generating valuable, daily content, interaction, and personality online.

If you want to be on Twitter and do it well, I suggest sticking to one personal account and sharing both personal and professional things. Obviously, don't share anything you aren't comfortable sharing. If you tweet less than once every few hours you are awake, it's difficult to justify starting another account. Ultimately, the best feeds show personality, humour, and professionalism no matter what the account is for.

Mostly likely, you'll just end up just using one account anyways.

2) For the purely professional vs. purely personal.

I understand sometimes you want to clearly compartmentalize your different workflows, spaces, and identities. Some folks are just entirely different people online and offline, at work and at home, with coworkers and with friends, etc.

I see can see the need and idea for two unique identities online for you to interact with and share online. In this case, you're probably following and building two different profiles. This is the best case for the idea of a second Twitter account really working out.

Sometimes the personal account is even privacy protected and you only let a few selected IRL friends follow it (à la Facebook). If you work in the public space, you might feel uncomfortable tweeting things that might call your objectivity and biases into question from a public account bearing your real name and professional credentials.

3) Having two accounts is more than twice the work.

Building a good, successful, loyal following on Twitter is hard enough. Doing it twice is like a double dose of lightning striking.

With two accounts, you have to think and thoughtfully plan how to divide your content and tweets between the different identities separately. There are practical concerns with using two different names, and profiles to manage in tandem. It can all be very exhausting, especially if it goes well.

Responding to and interacting with two feeds often leads to tweets being sent from the wrong account, missed replies, and wrong messages. Don't assume just because you have two accounts that everyone will follow both, you need to give followers reason to.

4) Leverage the following of one account to the second one.

Start with one first. Pour everything into it and after you have a solid following there, start a second account and leverage the popularity and loyalty from your first account to your second one.

I had one primary account (@rickchung) for a long time. I realized that one day I'd probably need a second account for additional branding, business, or professional purposes not tied immediately to my actual name. I figured it was better to start sooner rather than later. I started it slowly with a generic name (changing it often). I followed a lot of (mostly local) people and brands and built a small following purely through retweets and occasional original content to help build personality.

When I started writing for V.I.A. and established the "Vancouver Daze" brand, I introduced the second account public. By then, it already had a few hundred followers and was able to leverage my strong personal following to build up that second account. Now @vancouverdaze has roughly half the following of @rickchung, accomplished with a minimal amount of work on my part, especially compared to how hard it was to build up my first account.

I didn't inundate or force my followers to follow the second account. You need to follow a lot of people (to confirm you exist and) to offset any lack of tweeting and make it clear in your bio, you are behind the new feed. For more on personal branding, see here.

5) If you're prepared to do the extra work, go for it.

If you really are, then go right ahead. Unlike having an account for your professional business or service and having a personal account, having two separate accounts that reflect your who your are as a person can be like splitting your personality in two.

Before you start that second Twitter feed, make sure you are actually going to use it and that it's different and unique from your original account.

Reminder: I'm talking purely about accounts for human beings. It's different if you have an account for your business/work as a company and a totally separate one for yourself as a real-life person. That said, some small business reflect almost exclusively the owner's personal voice.

Photo | Rommy Ghaly

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