Split personality

Posted by S.

Maybe you’ve done it, maybe you haven’t. It’s a simple tweet, perhaps sending a link to a new blog post or a new statistic. It’s quite informative, and surely will cause some buzz among your followers. Maybe it will even garner some new followers and wider exposure around the web. Smiling and confident, you hit the Tweet button and the message goes out into the Twitosphere.

Then you look up. You had the wrong account up. That tweet, carefully crafted for your profile you have been fine-tuning for the past year, went out to your “other” Twitter account. You know, the one where you can goof off, make jokes, be a little less-than-professional.

You gasp. What have you done?

Surely your carefully crafted profile and image has been tarnished forever. You wonder how you could ever be so stupid as to let this kind of thing happen. And you wonder what your 700 followers will think of you now. Have you gone off the deep end?

No. It’s like when my mom would come home from working all day and the phone would ring. She’d pick it up and answer as she would have at work: “This is Michele, how can I help you?”

It’s a simple case of split personality. It’s hard to manage two identities, especially when you’re perfecting each identity to appeal to a certain subset of the population whom you follow on Twitter.

I consider Twitter a niche medium. Most Twitter profiles have one or two causes. If you’re a political reporter,  you tweet about politics and other civic engagements, or you’re an environmental activist, and you tweet about topics ranging from alternative energy to climate change to sustainable farming. You could even be a disability awareness activist and discuss those issues on your Twitter profile, or you could be Joe Shmoe and tweet about the coffee you had this morning or the annoying things your neighbor does at 2 a.m. No matter how hard you try not to, your Twitter profile becomes your individual brand.

When you are tweeting for your company, as I do for my job, you  have to make sure your tweets represent the underlying mission and purpose of your organization. For instance, I don’t send out a tweet about a car crash on the nearby Interstate unless it will impact travelers coming to an event we’re having. But if I come across an interesting article related to the work we do, I will surely send that out because it is relevant to my image, my brand, that I am promoting through Twitter.

I also have a personal Twitter account, which I update about twice a year. I have not come across a “brand” for this account. I have no idea how to condense my many interests and soapboxes into one Twitter account. And, I’m not a well-known enough individual where just my name–like Susan Orlean or Alyssa Milano–is a brand in itself.

My Twitter energy is spent on my work. I don’t want to run into the hypothetical problem mentioned above. I keep it simple, and I tweet for the purpose of growing my organization’s identity and online community. And I dare not get the two worlds  mixed up.

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