I was recently asked about whether I would advise multiple accounts on Twitter for brands. The answer, as always, is that it depends on your business objectives.

But, by in large, if you have a complex business offering with many sub-brands, vastly different service offerings or very different target audiences, then yes multiple accounts can be a very sensible strategy.

The reason is simple - you wouldn’t talk to your mum in the same way as you would to your partner, right?

Coca-Cola have been doing it for years with separate accounts for every product and every market it operates in, Google has close to 100 Twitter accounts (and the bodies to manage them all - for geo-related initiatives, different products, technical teams and recruitment purposes) and Nike has an account for each subsidiary brand, multiple products and interest areas (see Fuelband, Nike Running and Nike Basketball for just a few examples).

In fact, over 63% of top brands now use multiple twitter handles. What’s more, Twitter themselves follow the very same strategy. If all the big boys are at it you can guarantee there are some clear benefits to doing so.

So, what are the benefits of having multiple Twitter profiles for brands?

Relevance
Instead of taking a broad brush approach and speaking to all your audiences with the same tone of voice and with the same content, having multiple accounts allows you to segment your audiences down. This means you can provide customised content to defined audiences, thus increasing engagement.

Concise messaging
Social content can be seen to dilute your core messages. Having multiple channels allows you to keep the content as tailored as possible and better manage user ‘noise’.

Personality
Different accounts can showcase the different sides to your brand’s character without irritating your audiences. Many technical businesses, for example, choose to segment their core brand platform from their customer service platform. This allows them to speak to consumers with their unique brand tone of voice on one hand, and maintain professional customer services decorum and factual information sharing within a completely separate profile.

But, what are the drawbacks?

Resource
All too often companies see social media as a ‘free’ tool to prop up their marketing strategies. While the platforms may be free to use (although this is changing - see Facebook Zero blog here), they require considerable resource and time if you wish to drive optimal return on investment. So, more Twitter profiles means an increased demand on your resource - can you cope with this internally or do you need to consider a social media partner to support you?

Clarity
Brands need to make sure they have a clear social media strategy in place that outlines what they are trying to achieve through these channels. Each profile must have a clear vision, both internally for your team and externally for consumers. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of this channel and why would people engage with it? Then make sure you ‘brand’ the channel appropriately and make the answer to these questions clear.

The ultimate question - what do I want to say from this Twitter profile?

Content should be distinct, not a regurgitation of content from other accounts. When it stands on its own two feet, then you know it deserves its own platform - that bird is ready to fly (excuse the Twitter related puns).

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