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Should you maintain multiple accounts on Twitter?

We wrote this week's column in response to a post Bridget wrote a while back about having conversations on Twitter. The reader asked us if we would recommend having several different Twitter accounts, for different uses. Here's what we wrote:

There's not really a straight yes or no on this one -- we think it depends on the situation. Here's why:

As a general rule, you shouldn't have separate work vs. personal Twitter accounts. It's no fun to read someone's tweets that are all work -- a little personality goes a long way in social media. If you have a hobby (I'm obsessed with tea; Bridget is the biggest Disney freak you'll ever meet), put it in your bio, so others are not surprised when you're making comments about those things.

Also, just from a career standpoint, it's a bit dangerous to try to create a separate ''non-work-appropriate'' personality online, especially on Twitter. Nothing is private anymore -- whether it's a direct message, a text message or an e-mail -- people can copy and paste your ''private'' messages and spread them to others.

You can still be human, just act professional. We also think it's important to focus on one account because it's hard enough as it is to gain ''followers,'' which is Twitter's term for making connections. Why put yourself through the hassle of trying to build a following on several accounts?

Of course, there are exceptions. If you have a large business or corporation, it's best to have a separate account that only reflects the corporate voice. For example, there is a MiamiHerald account (MiamiHerald) that just pushes out news stories. If it's just a corporate account, try to avoid using the term ''I'' because it's not a person, it's a company.

Dunkin Donuts (DunkinDonuts) handles this nicely, because its bio says: ''Dunkin Dave here, tweeting on behalf of the DD mothership.'' While the tweets are only related to the business, it's OK to sound personal because it is actually an employee on behalf of the company.

If you're having a hard time reflecting a neutral corporate voice, be creative. Take a lesson from SeaWorld's account RealShamu, who is a killer whale with sass (the user name is a play on celebrity Twitter user Shaquille O'Neal, who uses the name TheRealShaq). Shamu interacts with fans by providing fun facts, challenging Michael Phelps to a race, answering questions and generally just promoting the park.

And that's the key goal on Twitter. Be entertaining. Or be helpful: like the account ComcastCares, who is actually Frank Eliason, the company's director of digital care. He responds to anyone who mentions Comcast.

Overall? The point is whether it's being entertaining, helpful or informative, to be adding value for other people.

Any ideas on what you do to shape your corporate or professional voice on Twitter?


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