Do I need two Twitter accounts?

Do I need two Twitter accounts?

I gave a speech recently and somebody asked a very common question — “I like to tweet with my friends but I also tweet for my company. Do I need to have two Twitter accounts?”

A great question. What is the proper balance between personal and professional outreach on Twitter?  If you are using an account to promote company and client content, is it also appropriate to carry on conversations on a personal level about sports, a great recipe or your favorite charity? Do you need to have TWO ACCOUNTS?

I have to address this question on two levels, philosophical and practical.

Twitter and the power to network

There are so many different uses for Twitter but when it comes to business, I think at its heart, Twitter is a powerful networking tool … which is what many companies and individuals don’t understand. They view the platform as just another way to broadcast company advertising and press releases. By trying to force-fit old “broadcast” media thinking into this new platform they are sub-optimizing Twitter at best and hurting their brand at worst.

Think of yourself in another networking situation … say an industry conference or a chamber of commerce meeting. Would you stand there and read press releases? No, of course not. You would seek out great people to connect with, discuss subjects that are interesting to them, and eventually look for ways to work together. Twitter can work exactly the same way.

So even if you are playing a business “role” on Twitter, there is no reason you can’t be yourself, unless you are a naturally mean and sucky person. If you are in that category, you either have to not be mean and sucky or not use Twitter. And if you are truly, chronically mean and sucky, you probably will fail at business any way, let alone Twitter, so it’s better that you find out sooner than later I suppose.

Building trust through Twitter

When networking, the most powerful relationships are built on trust and friendship, so it’s OK to let people know a little bit more about what is going on in your life, including your love of sports, charity, and family. As you go throughout your day, just tweet what is interesting to you, as long it is appropriate and professional.

In most cases, I do not think it makes sense to have both a personal and business account. You’re not two people and being yourself is not only a great way to build your business network, it humanizes your company brand.

OK, now I’ll get off my soapbox and examine some practical realities. Even if you have this concept down, maybe your company doesn’t. If your job is to be your official company Twitterer, you probably have marching orders to follow a role or social media policy that has you tweeting behind a logo. You might even have a (gasp) script.  Here’s what you should do in that case: follow the company policy.  Don’t lose your job over Twitter. You can still work to change attitudes over time. Buy your boss a copy of The Tao of TwitterWe’ll both thank you.

The five types of Twitter accounts

There are several compromises or hybrid strategies to blending personal and professional approaches on Twitter. Here are the five types of organizational Twitter accounts. Which one fits for you?

1) All business all the time. In some cases it is entirely appropriate to “broadcast” over Twitter. Here’s an example: Citi has a site (@CitiJobTweets) that only broadcasts job openings. They really don’t need to engage in a conversation and they’re not even trying. The account follows nobody. They have jobs, people want them … and they subscribe to the account. It’s that simple. They could probably work to build a community, but why? This is simply a broadcast channel.

2) Tweeting under cover – Many of the world’s most important brands have teams of tweeters engaging with the public behind a corporate logo.

A common practice is to tweet with the initials of the tweeter at the end of each tweet and some place to actually learn about who is actually behind the tweets – a link on the Twitter profile page, or a list of names and initials on the Twitter background are common places. I like this best practice because it allows real human connection even in a big corporate environment. A tweet might look like this: Glad to help you @username. Thank you for using our product! – MWS

This is a low-effort, low-risk option to humanize the brand and still operate under one brand banner that is commonplace today.

3) Blending personal/corporate — In some cases there are corporate accounts assigned to individuals, especially in customer service roles.

So for example, you might have an account called @ATTSusan or @CiscoJeff (I made those up).  This account would feature a real person and a real photo but the account is owned by the company. When that person moves on, the profile would change to a new name and a new person in that role in the company.

4) Real persons in real time – Usually the best option is to have real people representing your company like my friend Chad Parizman (@cparizman), who works for HGTV. His profile states: #SocialTV for HGTV & DIY Network. Yankee Fan. Web Analytics Geek.


The ultimate goal for many companies is to get to a place where many employees can serve as beacons for your brand. Chad clearly identifies himself as an HGTV employee but is free to build his own connections through his own personality and content. Of course he also knows that in some respect, he is always “on” for HGTV.

5) Fake and Fun. A recent trend is creating entertaining Twitter accounts based on fake characters. Coke has created a hilarious account based on the quips from the company’s long-dead founder. A restaurant in Seattle has an account for its French Fries and in this case, Geico Insurance unleashes the company mascot, a gecko:

twitter accounts

Top illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Rosaura Ochoa

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  • Claudia Licher

    Hi Mark,
    On your musings:
    In a number of cases I would imagine people may feel they need to keep things separate like (it used to be) in real life. But these things change over time.
    When I decided to get a second Twitter account (seems long ago) it was a matter of claiming a Twitter handle for my new blog, plus I was unsure whether that blog would turn into anything I would like my manager or co-workers to read (and they were all following my first Twitter account). Another concern which surfaced a bit later was that my professional identity and personal hobbies were, not at odds with each other, but so far apart that I couldn’t see how an ‘audience’ interested in one side of matters would also want to know about the other things. Also, I read a lot online and like to share stuff. My ‘professional’ marketing-minded readership might not want to hear about topics ranging from neuroscience to organic gardening and everything in between.
    Over time the identities have started to merge, so keeping them in two Twitter accounts is not in fact useful anymore. I do most of the sharing on my second Twitter account, and my blog has wandered from marketing/content to gardening topics – changing into a personal blog. The question now remaining is how to wrap things up in a way that works.
    This kind of thing happens in every new space I guess. Online places are just another playground for people to experiment with new identities and interests before deciding who or what they want to be (next).

  • Anders Orsander

    I have another aspect on the number of Twitter accounts issue. I need two, one for English and one for Swedish.

    Mixing languages on a Twitter account doesn’t work very well for me. I also notice that if I check a new follower, who tweets almost in nothing but let’s say German or French, I tend not to follow (because my knowledge in those languages is limited to the very basic). If a Swedish person mentions me in a Swedish tweet I always respond in English.

    What are your thoughts about various languages? Mix or keep on separate accounts?

  • I have the same problem and I initially created two separate twitter handles, one for English a second for French. It can get a little schizophrenic and it’s never a clear cut. One account started bleeding over to the other and I finally decided to focus on a single handle, mixing in both languages. But I’ll still not sure it’s the right solution.

  • Anders Orsander

    Interesting to learn from your experiences Quanah.

  • This is an EXCELLENT point I should not have overlooked. Well done. I need to include this when I update the Twitter book next time!

  • Interesting perspective. I can see why that would be difficult.

  • That has been a real Twitter journey! Thanks so much for sharing what you’ve learned Claudia.

  • Anders Orsander

    My pleasure to contribute to an already inspiring post Mark.

  • Interesting journey Claudia. I don´t know how you did it, it seems so time consuming to me. Regarding your question, I´d say to see things from an offline perspective. How would you wrap an offline conversation about marketing with gardening? Let it flow. It´s the same online, we just think we have to be different than in real life. We don´t. We just have to be ourselves.

  • I must say Mark, when I saw the post title in my inbox this morning I was all about NO! Then I thought about it and came up with a… it depends! 🙂
    I believe a business person needs only one Twitter account and he/she should mix the personal stuff with the business stuff. Why? Because it makes them human, real for the audience. Besides in real life you are only one.
    Now if we´re talking about a company´s Twitter account, things are different. In big companies several people are in charge of the same account and, like you said, sign the tweets with their initials. Probably those employees have their own personal Twitter accounts, which cannot be mixed with the company´s.
    Things are totally different when a company hires freelancers to handle their social channels. I work with different companies handling their social accounts and I post, share, tweet as them. It wouldn´t be ok to have my initials on the accounts.

    As for different languages mentioned by Anders and Quanah, I would probably keep only one account and tweet, respond and interact with different people in different languages. I am from Romania, but live in Spain and tweet in English. However, with my Spanish followers I tweet in Spanish, while with the English and Romanian ones, I tweet in English.
    I am pretty sure that your followers follows you and read the tweets that interests them, not all your Twitter feed and it doesn´t bother them to see tweets in other languages. I, for one, didn´t receive any complaint in this respect, nor lost followers because of it.

  • As soon as I saw the post I was eager to get your take on this.

    I personally NEED (at least) two accounts because twitter was not built for multilanguage communication. Very few networks are actually, you always have to find a compromise…

    – Lists on Facebook but you can’t really publish public updates often, which makes you miss out on people who might’ve followed public updates.
    – Circles are cool on G+, however you do miss out on the SERP-advantage when it’s not public.
    – On twitter I tried to do multilanguage but many people told me they’d rather follow me if I tweeted only in German / French. So I tested it and indeed, it seems to work better when you decide on one language.

    When it comes to corporate I do prefer knowing who’s behind a logo. I don’t know if it’s the case in general but I think there’s kinda of a barrier to following a corporate account, unless you are really interested by the brand. I personally always prefer following people rather than logos.

    Corporate accounts who indicate who’s behind the tweet: good compromise and more “follow-worthy” as far as I’m concerned (e.g. Buffer).

  • Oh I just wrote my comment and read yours after :=)

    I have the same problem with not two but three languages. As a result I’d need 3 twitter accounts… But works for me thanks to buffer :=)

  • Anders Orsander

    It’s so interesting to read about other multiple language users Maël. We have rather similar experiences.

  • Anders Orsander

    So one account with more than one language works for you Corina? I tried it but it didn’t work for me. When I tried it I had a significant drop in followers. But it might depent on the ratio of followers speaking the respective languages. I have just over 10% followers in Sweden on my English account, while almost 90% are from the rest of the world.

  • I think a lot more people than many expect have this problem. I know quite a few :=)

  • Yes, it is working for me Anders. I also have around 10-15% of my followers in Spain, the rest are worldwide spread. I can´t manage two accounts in different languages, because I simply don´t have the time.

  • Great topic! Having had the business and personal accounts run in tandem for years, I have to say it’s been a relief to pare down to just one. No crossover posts (which I find annoying when others do it and I’m following both of their accounts), it saves time, and my brand feels more personal.

  • Grassfrog Technologies

    Great article! As a social media marketer, I manage Twitter accounts for some of my clients and am honestly happy that those are separate from their personal Twitter accounts. If you are simply in business for yourself, you could probably get away with just having one, but if you are in a growing business or have employees that you may want to have manage your social media presense, then having 2 (or even more) accounts would probably be best.

  • Claudia Licher

    Hi Corina, how I did it… what made it easier was the fact that our team were supposed to become active on social media as part of our role. So that first Twitter account was truly a work account. That meant I could make it part of my work day, but when my informal reply to an online friend’s remark got a reaction from my manager, well… that took some getting used to. Having a ‘private’ account helped – although my manager unwittingly followed that account over half a year or so later. By that time, my blog was up and running and I had a bit of fun telling my manager about my ‘secret identity’. Turned out he had two accounts as well – each in a different language! Oh well…
    Anyway, I guess it’s about time to let one account dwindle into obscurity.

  • This depends on business type.

    If you want to brand yourself for any business, e.g: marketer or blogger… I suggest you to focus one account at Twitter for both personal and business.

    If you want to brand your own company or or store or product but you don’t need to brand yourself for the business – maybe you need to create the second Twitter.

  • I tweet for the brand I work for and have the flexibility to try pretty much any strategy I choose (within reason at not at the risk of damaging the brand). I am only in this privileged position due to having worked for the business for 16 years and having an in-depth knowledge of our brand.
    We only have 1 Twitter account and I feel it’s important to show that our company has human beings working in it and not just a marketing machine pushing content one way.

    I find it’s the unusual and more ‘human’ tweets that attract the most engagement (specifically comments) and people appreciate the slightly more casual interaction from a brand.
    These Tweets are mixed in with more business targeted messages aimed at attracting traffic or building visibility and influence though, that’s very important.

    Definitely one account for me, I wouldn’t interact with a brand’s ‘corporate’ account but would with someone on the inside providing a human touch and a bit of transparency (I’d also trust them more than a faceless broadcast account).

    Aaaaaand……breathe 🙂

  • Hurray for you. Well done sir!

  • It does depend on business type but I hope people strive to push “humanity” to the forefront in any case. Thanks Iman.

  • I’m not sure I agree in all cases, especially small businesses selling personal services, for example. One account would definitely work best but it sounds like you are finding success so that is awesome.

    Even in this case, you are listed here are Grassfrog Technologies. I’m left wondering who you are. I really don;t care about Grassfrog Technologies but I would care about you. And once we get to know each other, who knows where it might lead. Trying to connect to me as a business is a dead end and I believe it is that way for most people. Something to consider.

  • Great feedback. Thanks for commenting!

  • Interesting points Corina.

  • I think one of the greatest things about Twitter is that it is largely what you make of it. I have 4 Twitter accounts and I use them for various purposes. My personal account (@JainaSolo13 – my gamer handle), which I’ve had the longest, is where I tweet about random things I like (mostly TWD, Star Wars, politics, and religion). Great topics, but not so great on my company account… (@SocialSavvyGeek) which is my second account where I tweet about Social Media, Apple/iPhone tidbits, and business/networking tips. I am most active on those two. My third is my name (@LauraEPence) because I didn’t want anyone else to have it! That account is where I tweet about my US Masters Swimming hobby. And the last and least of my accounts (@SavvyGeekSpeak) is where I tweet about Social Media and Online Marketing for speakers and authors. It’s just a narrower niche and does overlap with my primary business account. Do I really need 4 accounts? Almost certainly not! But, I love Twitter and I’m not giving them up. It works for me. 😉

  • As and aside, it’s not likely, but I may one day sell or (hopefully) pass on my business and its Twitter account will go with it as an asset. My personal account will stay with me forever! Woot!

  • Grassfrog Technologies

    Thank you for your reply, Mark. It’s an interesting subject. I have to say, though, that I do advise people to register their @brand to make sure they don’t lose it to another party. I use my @myname account primarily for my creative pursuits, while I maintain @subject accounts to tweet about various subject matters. Works for me. I understand you disagree and wouldn’t want to connect with me because of that, but that’s allright by me, I’m pretty sure you’re not my target demographic. Peace!

  • Sounds like a plan Laura. Exhausting, but a plan : )

  • Just to follow on from what I wrote on Twitter. I think the decision on whether to have one or more twitter account is linked to what purpose Twitter serves at a given point in time.

    Twitter isn’t a constant. Good example is surges during an event you are at/interested in. Maybe I need 2 accounts this month but not next month. Maybe there’s suddenly too many conversations to manage via one account.

    On the other hand, if I just tweet business one one account maybe I lose followers who secretly love the odd food pron pic mixed with links to all sorts of clever business stuff.

  • Many people try to combine personal Twitter with work Twitter – which sounds like a weak compromise, but this is absolutely nothing new. It’s your professional persona, but made more colourful through personal observations and tone of voice. My favourite metaphor is that it is like attending a barbecue at the boss’s house. You’re not wearing a suit, it’s the weekend, you’re drinking beer. But you still know you’re on show and expected to behave. Be nice, sound smart, and absolutely no naked dancing.

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  • I think that company and personal accounts make sense to stay separate, but having two personal accounts, one for “work” and one for “personal,” has always left a bad taste in my mouth. I think a lot of people think it gives them the go-ahead to be as rude, inappropriate, or otherwise behave badly on their personal account, assuming it will never come back to bite them.

    It’s also hard as an acquaintance…I never know which account of theirs I should follow, or should I follow them both? What will I be missing out on by not following one or the other?

    Personally, my personality and hobbies are part of my personal brand, so they’re going to show up in my stream just as much as “professional” tweets.

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  • In my case, most comments under my personal twitter account are made in Spanish, while English is the most common language at my company… I should create a new business account, I guess. Right?

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