Personal Or Professional? Choosing A Twitter Format

Setting up a Twitter account for your business seems like it should be a fairly straightforward process, but when you get to that first box asking for your name, what do you enter? Although the account is for professional purposes, you actually have three different options: you can make an account under your business’s name, create a business persona that’s shared by several users, or craft an account under your real name. There is no single correct choice.

However, there are different advantages and disadvantages to each type of account, so you’ll need to choose wisely based on your professional goals. Here’s what you need to know about each account category.

All Business, All The Time

If you choose to make your Twitter account under your business’s name, you can expect to field a lot of complaints and service messages through your account – but don’t think this will help you build real customer relationships. As evidenced by Jet Blue, Starbucks, and other corporate accounts, you’ll have to focus on product promotion and company business, maintaining a big picture perspective. Even when you respond helpfully to problems, your account will remain tied to the nebulous realm of “business.”

The main downside to tweeting as your company is that most brands don’t grow their business this way. They provide useful information, assure customers that they’re present in the digital realm, and otherwise exist as neutral bodies. You shouldn’t expect to drive branding through your corporate account, but you also won’t have to work very hard to write tweet content.

Become the Famous Face

Perhaps the best alternative to a standard corporate Twitter account is the business persona. You may choose to make this account under your real name so that you can easily share good press, as seen on Sam Ovens’ Twitter page, or in other cases you might create a joint account maintained by a few team members under a shared business persona – imagine the persona as what your brand would be like as a person. Either way, using an individual’s name and picture can help you to develop the rich personal bonds with customers that help businesses thrive.

If you’re going to use a persona account to promote your business and build customer relationships, you have to be sure to stay on brand without straying too far into the personal. This can be hard when the account is under your name, but as Suzanne Holloway points out, you should be delivering relevant content. The new article about your company on HuffPo is relevant; what you thought about a movie you saw is not.

The Hybrid “I”

Finally, if you already have a popular personal Twitter account, you may want to link your personal and professional web presence under a single account. This can be tricky to pull off, depending on what you post about from your private life, so give it some thought. Many professionals prefer to leave some space between their personal lives and their business lives.

In the best hybrid accounts, the personal and professional come together through common interests. Consider, for example, the fictional parking garage entrepreneur Phil Johnson. As a professional, Phil runs a large, award winning parking garage, while in his personal life he has a passion for NASCAR and classic cars. There’s only so much you can say if you tweet from the perspective of a parking garage company, but people interested in vehicle management would likely be open to personal posts about classic car collecting. In this case, it makes sense to blend the two accounts into one, as it will yield richer professional relationships.

Running a professional Twitter account can be a great experience and allows you to communicate with customers in new, innovative ways, but there’s no singular approach to the process. With that in mind, take some time to consider how you view this mode of interaction and how you want to interface with the public.

Once you’ve got a clearer sense of that voice, you can click confirm on your new account.

About Larry Alton

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

One Response to Personal Or Professional? Choosing A Twitter Format

  1. Joe says:

    Twitter, like other social media, has plenty of potential for marketing, but like other platforms is susceptible to spam. What I would advise is to be as real as possible and interact with others, especially on issues of common interest, without being controversial. There is more than one way to succeed on Twitter given that it’s fairly easy to build followers with. It’s also a great way to get web pages indexed and add a little bit of social signal link juice. Mainly I’d focus on the interpersonal and interaction capabilities of the platform, and use images to convey ideas. Images can speak louder than words.