The answer to this question is yes. Or no. It depends.
We get this question a lot from clients, and I believe the answer depends upon how closely your own name is associated with that of your business. For many of us who run microbusinesses, our name IS our business – even if it’s not hanging above the door, our personal identity is largely synonymous with our business to all who deal with us.
For that reason, I never bothered to set up a separate Twitter account for Rowboat Media – for most clients, I am Rowboat Media, despite the fact that a team of a half-dozen crew members slave away belowdecks to help them accomplish their goals. So I just stick with my @cynthialaluna account. It’s been around since 2009.
Twitter is 100% public.
The first thing to keep in mind is that Twitter is 100% public to anyone, and Tweets are indexed by Google.
Unlike your Facebook profile, which in THEORY is private (hi, NSA!), Twitter makes no pretense about there being any kind of limited access.
Therefore, whether you Tweet as yourself, or as @AAAWidgetCompany, anyone and everyone, including your existing and potential customers, can see what you have to say.
This is why it’s important to view ALL of your Tweets as something you might say around a dinner table – and what were the two topics we were taught to avoid at a dinner party? That’s right – religion and politics. It’s entirely your prerogative whether you choose to discuss either of those two topics, or anything else controversial, on Twitter, and to a certain extent, that’s what it’s for. Just keep in mind that anything you DO say can and WILL affect how your clients and customers see you AND your business.
Due to the public nature of Twitter, there’s no “hiding” behind a business account and only Tweeting the innocuous and self-promotional (read: boring) stuff over there, and then letting it all hang out on your personal profile. On the Internet, they are ONE AND THE SAME. You cannot hide.
So if you’re going to come out swinging on ANY Twitter account as a die-hard left-winger, right-winger, anarchist, or renegade Muppet, just know that you are talking to everyone, including the little blue haired lady who comes in every Wednesday for a bar of lavender soap. She may not be on Twitter, but her devoted nephew is.
Sometimes a business account makes sense.
As long as you don’t mind maintaining two accounts, sometimes a business account is a good idea. You might run promotions, publish white papers, and curate news stories and blog posts over on your business account that aren’t necessarily relevant to your personal followers. Your business may be JUST large enough to support having some other staff member take care of doing that for you.
Occasionally there will be crossover. If your golden retriever just had pups, I guarantee you people who follow BOTH accounts want to see those photos.
Two boring accounts just doubles the bad impression.
The important thing to remember is that people don’t follow boring Twitter accounts. If all you have on your Twitter stream is auto-Tweets from news outlets and self-promotional links, savvy users will steer clear within 5 minutes. The word “social” in social media is there for a reason – it’s designed for engagement with others.
If you don’t ever actually hang out over there and respond to what other people have to say or pimp their stuff with a reTweet, the only followers you’ll have are bots – because like attracts like.
Ultimately, it’s a personal decision. For me, my persona IS our brand, and I don’t make a distinction. It would make me tired to try to figure out what to Tweet on which. If you see a good reason for it, and know you’ll truly ENGAGE on multiple accounts, then go for it. Just don’t be of the impression that no one will notice what you’re saying on that personal account – if it’s shame-worthy, it’s guaranteed to go viral.