Should I have separate Twitter accounts for personal and professional use?

Bruce WilsonA number of individual professionals at companies where I’ve consulted have come to me for advice and coaching about developing their personal brands as high-profile representatives of their employer. Here is one question that comes up frequently.

Q: Should I set up separate Twitter accounts for personal and business purposes?

A: I characterize this as a “personal brand” question. Separate accounts—allowing for audience segmentation–is a partial solution to simplifying your brand message. But a certain amount of brand complexity is good, yes? For example, a company’s brand might emphasize the quality of the work it performs, the quality of life of its employees, and its non-profitable giving (Corporate Social Responsibility). People tend to tune-out corporate brand messaging when it’s  100% advertising.

Conveniently, check out this Tweet with a Wall Street Journal link I reccently received via Twitter:
Are You Talking to Me?: Best Practices for Engaging With Consumers Through Social Media – –

The first example they use in this article is that Dr. Pepper gets more traction in social media with edgy sayings than it does with promotional offers.

Partly because of social media–although there’s a chicken-and-egg problem somewhere around here–we’re seeing a massive increase in the popularity of “content marketing,” along the lines of “here are some intriguing and valuable ideas for you that don’t directly involve the people or solutions of our company” that attract more attention and word of mouth among companies’ target populations more than traditional advertising.

So then, from your personal branding perspective, the question is: who is going to follow you if you do…or don’t…mention your charitable work alongside your professional messaging on Twitter? The answer is different groups of people, to some extent; and doubtless different numbers of people. But what’s important about that answer? What’s your objective when using Twitter in the first place? To treat it as purely a numbers game, as a popularity contest, is simplistic and ignores the qualitative dimension entirely. If it’s mostly for personal gratification (like a journal), easy communication, and exploration (breaking news and trends) then what does it matter who / how many people follow you?

What motivates you to Tweet in the first place? (I don’t think that many people have answered this question.)

But if you do want to be popular, both with your friends and strangers, the secrets are 1) make it about them 2) make it emotional. So even if you’re talking about you, they will respond the most if they can relate on an emotional level.

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