Is one Twitter account enough?

I read a post today by Mark Schaefer about “How many Twitter accounts should you have?

A good question–and a controversial one.

Schaefer concludes, “In most cases, you don’t need two Twitter accounts. Just be congruent and honest. Be you.” I agree. I think that one Twitter account is a good rule of thumb–and is probably all any casual or moderate user needs.

But I think there are good arguments for two accounts for heavy or “power” users especially if they have more than one strong focus. In my case for example, I have one for my communications business and one for my interest in social/justice and community building. While there is some overlap of audience, there’s enough of a difference and I tweet heavily enough on both topics that its better to talk to each audience separately. It also gives my business a presence that wouldn’t be possible with a single account unless I reduced tweeting my interest in issues important to who I am.

The key is to use the two accounts in a genuine, authentic way. I don’t try to be two different people. I don’t say something in one account I wouldn’t or couldn’t say in the other. I openly let folks know that both accounts are me (no hiding behind a logo for example). For some, they might be able to say something they couldn’t on the other account so long as it is consistent with being the same person. Your avid interest in hockey might not be appropriate on an account with a focus on legal issues for example. A certain level of Twitter experience is needed to successfully pull off more than one account.

In general, I’d recommend that everyone start with a single account and use it to learn the power of Twitter. Later, if you get hooked on Twitter you may want to consider a second account. Just remember, it’s better to have a strong presence on one account than a weak presence in two or more accounts.

Thanks to Josh Muirhead who brought this post to my attention via Twitter.

What do you think? Is one Twitter account enough for you?

10 comments
Scott
Scott

It never worked for me. Never tried it with Twitter, but I did with FaceBook and Linked In. I have three different streams of work - full time I work in international aid at MEDA (www.meda.org), I do some freelance journalism (www.scottaruddick.weebly.com) on the side and also teach part time at a couple of universities. For a while, I tried to have two seperate FaceBook and Linked In accounts, but it kept getting messy and people who searched me on either would get the wrong profile popping up. I finally just gave up and consolidated. Lesson for me is that I think it is a good idea if you are able to differentiate your various activities enough in name to allow the intelligent 'net search features I hear so much about actually be at least a bit clever.

James Howe
James Howe

Thanks for sharing your experiences here Scott. I agree that multiple Facebook or LinkedIn accounts doesn't make sense. Officially, Facebook only wants you to have one account anyhow. I tend to find that people who have multiple accounts on LinkedIn have them because they've accepted invitations sent to more than one e-mail address. It's usually a sign that they are not active on LinkedIn. For Twitter, you might find it makes sense somewhere down the road. A Twitter account normally works best when it focuses strongly on one subject (though not exclusively!) and that is why if you're a heavy user on more than one subject you might be better to have multiple accounts. But I'm jumping the gun here, experience the benefits of Twitter first. If you're on already, be sure to follow me @communic8nhowe.

Mark Schaefer (@markwschaefer)
Mark Schaefer (@markwschaefer)

I agree. Well done and thanks for carrying on the conversation James.

James Howe
James Howe

Thanks for visiting my response to your blog post Mark. I'm glad to learn that we're on the same page. Thank you for starting this conversation, I'm happy to carry it on here.

Chris Eh Young (@Chris_Eh_Young)
Chris Eh Young (@Chris_Eh_Young)

I have three twitter accounts actually. That being said, I also own two very different businesses. I find that I mostly use one account though and just say what I want. People will skip past what's not relevant to them.

James Howe
James Howe

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here Chris. I think you're demonstrating that for most people a single account is enough even if they have good reasons for multiple Twitter accounts. At the same time, special use accounts may be necessary since someone may not know your name but know the name of one of your businesses. I might have stuck with one account myself but I had already built up a following of other people interested in a better Kitchener and didn't want to lose them with an increase in communications tweets.

Josh Muirhead (@Josh_Muirhead)
Josh Muirhead (@Josh_Muirhead)

You bring up a couple of interesting points here James, as did the post that Mark Schaefer wrote as well. First, we could expand this conversation easily beyond the walls of Twitter to all social media, and even all of digital media. It is that key question of "who do we want to connect with & who is going to want to connect with us?" And I feel that many of your above points are valid. If I was an avid snowboarder {which I am} and I wanted to connect with that community, it would be in my best interest to design my online (or digital) experience around that community, offering value along the way. However, if I wanted to connect with the snowboarding community, and a community of bankers (as an example) I now have that choice that you listed above - do I make two accounts and build both, or do I have one and hope the overlap doesn't scare everyone off? Now I'm a 1 account guy as I bleed most everything I do together (such as the snowboarding comment above). But as a business we have a separate blog, a Facebook page and a few others have their own Twitter accounts (no account is set-up 100% just for the business...yet). Long comment short - I agree that starting with two = bad idea...But to not discard the fact that you may want to have that personal/business separation (much like many of us have 2 or more email address)

James Howe
James Howe

Thanks for sharing your thoughts here Josh. Not only did you bring Mark Schaefer's post to my attention, you brought him to my attention with the Social Media Week webinar that you hosted with Mark and Mitch Joel. I'm glad to hear that we're fundamentally taking the same position even if we're not using the same number of Twitter accounts. I think in short there aren't any one size fits all solutions and each situation must be judged by its own context. But the key is to get started on Twitter and understand it before even thinking about multiple accounts--at least in most cases!

Kirk Zurell
Kirk Zurell

One account per personality.

James Howe
James Howe

I can't say I'd recommend one account per personality. You risk presenting different personas that are inconsistent with each other. With Twitter being so public, that means you could be perceived as not being genuine--especially if as recommended you are known by name as the person behind an account. But if you mean that different accounts can be used for different aspects of your life--such as your personal and professional--I agree with that. But whether its necessary depends upon your set of circumstances and how much you tweet.