In training sessions or presentations, people often ask me whether it’s acceptable to have multiple accounts on a single social media platform.
The answer is that it depends on the platform.
Individuals should only have one Facebook profile and one LinkedIn profile (as per their terms and conditions). A business can have a LinkedIn company page, and use showcase pages for specific products, brands or business units. Over time, changes made to Google products has meant some existing users inadvertently created multiple Google+ accounts; my advice is to try and keep your interaction with Google+ as simple as possible, with just one profile and one business account.
Many organisations opt for multiple Twitter accounts. People like to follow accounts that post topics that interest them, so if you have disparate messages to send, creating separate accounts can be a great way to show a human side to a business and be more relevant to the various needs of your audiences.
You could consider having:
- a corporate account – specifically dedicated to providing updates on your company as a whole
- a customer service account – a profile to answer questions and comments
- a product-led account – to provide product news and information: for example, retailers could have separate accounts for menswear and womenswear
- audience-led accounts – focused on the needs of a target audience: for example, this could be location-specific if your business is international, or subject-specific for higher education establishments.
Consider asking key individuals within your business to Tweet. For example, messages straight from the CEO can work well. It’s great for thought leadership positioning and for raising your brand’s profile. Richard Branson is excellent at this.If you have a number of customer-facing staff members, consider a unified approach to usernames, such as @CompanynameJohn, @CompanynameSarah, etc. I believe that people-led accounts are important in building trust and relationships, but should not replace a corporate Twitter account.
As well as needing to have the time and resource to manage multiple accounts, it is important to establish whether you have an audience and a need for multiple accounts before setting them up. If you’re not sure how to progress, take a look at what your competitors are doing. Do they have multiple accounts? Also, review the type of responses and messages you are receiving from your audiences – what do they need from you? If you think it might be too complex to manage multiple accounts, consider how you might unify your content.
Note: an email address can only be associated with one Twitter account at a time. Setting up a new Gmail account might be the best way to create a new email address to use with a new Twitter account (the email address is never publicly visible to others on Twitter).
For example, I once facilitated a workshop at an event venue to discuss its social media presence. The venue hosted a variety of events from weddings to corporate conferences. To create multiple Twitter accounts for each type of event would be too time-consuming to manage, but to share wedding information alongside information on corporate events could alienate an audience. The workshop concluded by deciding to focus content-sharing on the venue, to emphasise its versatility. It’s a well-known venue in the local area, so to highlight ‘what’s on’ and key features such as food, staff and service, which make the venue the right choice for any occasion, the Twitter account could stay manageable and meet the interests of a wider audience.