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Why you should stick to one Twitter account in your name

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The latest trend by Twitter users seems to be the creation of separate accounts for personal and professional use — but there are several reasons why you should steer in another direction.

I’m mostly seeing it with journalists — but two-account users are popping up all over the place. (And to my doubled-up friends: yes, I am following both of your accounts)

Why? Most are probably company mandated. Companies have been rolling out strict social media policies that require employees to make a clear distinction between work life and home life for such accounts. These social media rules certainly act to protect the company, but they’re not necessarily helping employees build their own brands or bring their existing brands with them — both of which will aid in developing the business’ brand.

Since a significant part of a person’s day is spent at work — or at least thinking about work — many posts are probably job-related in some way or another. Or at least many users’ followers know who signs a particular user’s paycheck.

Personal Brand

Twitter is really one of the ultimate ways to build your personal brand. If your account is not protected, your tweets and profile will show up (usually high up) in Google & other Web searches when your name is entered. This Internet identity extends beyond the boundaries of your time away from or at work — it’s you representing yourself in all facets of your life.

Twitter’s mission is clear: “To instantly connect people everywhere to what’s most important to them.”

By being involved in the open format of Twitter, you’re basically telling the world that you don’t mind sharing your thoughts, replies and conversations with everyone else. It sounds like a bad thing — but it can really be a tremendous source of information and entertainment, and a great way to connect with people you’d never know otherwise.

Twitter Username: You are who the company wants you to be you are

Pick a Twitter username that closely resembles your name or how you wish to be represented in life. Avoid throwing in your company’s name or call letters, as that job will not likely be a permanent part of who you are. (If you plan to stay at your current company until death, disregard the previous sentence)

Since tweets generally only contain a person’s username, what you pick for your username carries as much weight on Twitter as your full name in real life. If your name is hard to spell or very common, associate an easy part of your name with a topic that helps identify you (@JasonNweather, for example).

Also, if at all possible, avoid using any underscores or seemingly random numbers in your username. Odd characters immediately make your identity hard to remember and tougher for people to contact you on Twitter.

You Are One, Not Two

Unless you’re operating your life under the cover of multiple identities, you are one person — why try to be two different people in a public forum online? Regardless of your account’s identity, questionable posts might get you or your company in trouble. Your inappropriate posts may eventually be found and linked to you. Don’t put yourself in a position to harm your own brand.

In having just one Twitter account, your posts reflect all of your life experiences and allow your followers to better understand you. It’s those non-work related posts that make your followers more loyal to you. But your work connection is probably the reason why they found you in the first place.

You will most likely carry your Twitter brand and followers with you after you leave your current job — a potential selling point that could give you the edge over others vying for the same job opportunity. Very few companies would want you to start from scratch.

Real-life success stories with individual branding include highly-followed journalists Brian Williams, Anderson Cooper and Diane Sawyer. What if they tried to create separate personal and work-related brands on Twitter? The thought of that seems silly, doesn’t it? Think of your personal brand on Twitter as a scaled-back model of their work. Also, notice how all do not include company branding in their Twitter usernames (@bwilliams@andersoncooper & @dianesawyer).

And should any of these anchors go to another network, you better believe they’re taking their followers with them (pending any stipulations in their contracts).

Facebook Pages Are Different

One-account branding principles do not necessarily apply to Facebook with regard to personal accounts and pages, which are inherently different from Twitter. Information posted on private Facebook accounts is typically only accessible within a circle of trusted friends. Plus, these accounts have a limit of 5,000 friends, a major limiter when it comes to growth.

If you’re interacting with many people you don’t know (mostly applies to public figures — politicians, on-air/well-known journalists, celebrity, etc.), having a separate “page” is strongly encouraged. Public pages work to build your personal brand because they’re crawled by search engines and don’t require the high-maintenance upkeep that comes with personal accounts. You also get the bonus of Facebook Insights, which is quality statistical information about posts, number of interactions and even the demographics of the people who like your page. You can use this to determine what is and what is not working with your posts.

Like Twitter, apply individual branding strategies on your page. Do this right out of the gate, as Facebook doesn’t let you change a page name or URL after reaching a certain number of “likes” (this number is less than 100). Keep the page and the information in the profile focused on your personal brand, and you won’t later regret including your company’s name in the page or URL.

Marketing Yourself

Remember: You are your own best marketer. It seems inefficient to spread your personal brand thin on such a transparent medium, like Twitter, that has such great reach. Devote your efforts to one cause — your one account. You will have greater success, more followers and a better overall experience.

Thanks for reading,
–Mike

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What do you think about having two Twitter accounts? Share your successes & failures with regard to social media via the comment box below.

Mike WaterhouseComment