I have been playing with Twitter for almost three years now. It is one of those social media that I felt I should be using, but I found it a bit difficult to figure out what to Tweet.  I simply tweeted things that I found interesting. After several months of tweeting, I surveyed my tweets and discovered that I was tweeting with several distinct voices.  I struggled with how to make that work with a single account. I experimented with attaching distinct hashtags to my respective twitter voices.  I soon realised that I wasn't actually attracting any new followers.

My concern with having 4 distinct voices in one account is the potential for irritating my followers.  I have unfollowed overzealous Tweeters whom I initially followed for their alleged subject content which promised to be relevant, engaging and interesting.  Unfortunately it is interspersed with various tweets about ice cream flavours, dancing hot-spots and how irritating their neighbours are. I respect their desire to tweet what they like, but it muddied the authority of their more professional tweets. When the excessive Tweets which are irrelevant to or inconsistent with their bio, it is time to reconsider the relationship.

I was worried that the authority of my professional tweets would be compromised if interspersed with posts about my dog or my politics.  I decided to create separate accounts for each of distinct my voices.  The result is that I now manage 4 Twitter accounts, each with its own personality. Although I am spreading my followers over 4 accounts, I have actually gained many new followers since adopting this strategy. That said, twitter isn't a popularity contest about how many followers you have. I am interested in the number of followers as a way to gauge how successful/relevant my tweets are.  As more people follow me and re-tweet what I have said it suggests to me that what I am doing is interesting or useful.

Having 4 accounts sounds confusing and cumbersome, but it is actually quite easy to keep them separate. Sometimes there is cross-over, but generally these are distinct on-line identities; the tweets tend to fall into one or two accounts.  You'll note that 2 of my avatars are the same.  I didn't think that there would be much cross-over between the 2 groups, so when I seconded the Dead Canadians maple leaf avatar for the Canadian Registrars group, I didn't feel compelled to replace it.    

twitter piperchickTO

@piperchickTO is my personal account in my own voice. It feeds my Facebook status and my personal web site (social media convergence is another topic worth exploring). I tweet about my dog, my house, my bagpipes, my politics, and what I am doing. I don’t expect those beyond my circle of friends and family to follow this account.

twitter canreg

@CanRegistrar is my professional special-interest account. I strive for a neutral voice.  I am the founder of a group for Canadian Registrars, and I run a web site and a list-serv so a Twitter account seemed a logical extension.  In fact, I post more on twitter than the web site or list serv.

twitter dead canadians

@DeadCanadians is my personal special-interest account for which I use a neutral voice.  It is a very specific this-day-in-history type of account. I usually express facts and don't usually express opinions. This is my most widely followed account.

twitter gloamingTO

@GloamingTO is my professional account for tweeting industry-specific news and events using my own voice.  This is the account that I use in the course I teach at Ryerson University which is about using digital applications in museums.  I set up a class hashtag and everyone signed up for a twitter account.