Managing Multiple Twitter Accounts

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All kidding aside, I do actually have two Twitter accounts, and I know some who have more. It’s actually becoming fairly common to have a personal account covering a wide variety of topics and one or more additional accounts for specialized niche topics that might not be of interest to your main audience.

For example, @ScottAllen is my main account, but in my new role as Director of Online Marketing for American Guitar Academy, I’ve also set up @AmerGuitarAcad. On that account, I talk pretty much exclusively about guitar. I also have it synchronized with AmericanGuitarAcademy at Blip.fm, where I play and comment on some of my favorite guitar and bass music. While some of my followers might enjoy that, it would be overload for most of them.

Another good example of this would be something like a local coffee shop. The owner might set up an account for the business that just talked about upcoming events at the coffee shop and maybe some occasional posts about coffee or other topics that might be of interest to customers. Then on a personal account they could cover their broader range of personal interests.

The key is that there’s no deception. Be open about the multiple accounts. Occasionally explain what your other accounts are for and invite those who are interested to follow your other accounts. You can even re-tweet from one account to another if you think it’s relevant to the followers of your other account.

What you don’t want to do is pretend it’s different people, e.g.:

I’m loving the music @AmerGuitarAcad is playing.go have a listen if you like great guitar music.

What I actually posted instead was:

Speaking of my other Twitter acct, if you like great guitar/bass music you can follow @AmerGuitarAcad here or at Blip.fm: http://is.gd/kiMj

So how do you manage multiple Twitter accounts?

That’s a great question. Obviously, logging in and out of them frequently in your browser would be time-consuming, not to mention the possible confusion of posting on the wrong account. Even if you use a Twitter client rather than the web, if you use any third-party applications like Mr. Tweet or TwitterGrader, you’ll have to deal with which account you’re logged into in your browser.

My solution is that I use different browsers for each account. I do my main account on Google Chrome (my main browser) and my American Guitar Academy account on Firefox. I also use TweetDeck as the client for my main account. It’s not ideal, but it works for now.

A couple of sites have started building tools for managing multiple Twitter accounts:

HootSuite (formerly BrightKit) allows you to read and post to multiple accounts in a single unified interface. Conceptually it’s great, but I find their design is too spread out. A lot of information comes across my Twitter account – I need higher information density on-screen. This would probably work fine for fairly low-volume, but the people with fairly low volume probably aren’t the people with multiple accounts who need a tool like this.

TweetLater just announced their Professional version, which includes their TweetCOCKPIT, a dashboard for managing all your Twitter accounts. It includes some incredibly useful features like:

  • Including or excluding only certain parts of certain accounts (timeline, replies, DMs),
  • Setting the number of tweets for each part (e.g., max 10 tweets from account "X", 5 DMs from account "Y", 15 tweets and 15 DMs from account "Z", etc.)
  • Pulling in tweets that contain certain keywords regardless of whether you follow the tweeter or not.
  • Take a tweet from one account and retweet it on one, some, or all your Twitter accounts with one click.
  • Respond literally within seconds of someone tweeting about your brand name, or about any of the keywords you monitor.
  • Reply to all the tweeters mentioned in a tweet. No more copying and pasting of @names.

It’s pretty good – quite a few more features and better use of screen real estate than HootSuite. But:

  • It still can’t make use of my whole screen if I want to, plus a good 20% of the screen vertically is taken up with their freakin’ logo!
  • It doesn’t refresh automatically, so it still doesn’t have the immediacy of a desktop client like TweetDeck or Twhirl.

Also, it’s not free (you can try it free for 72 hours). The regular subscription price will be about $30 a month, but if you order before 3/21, you can lock it in at $19.97 per month. If it does the job well, I think it’s worth it. It’s not there for me yet, but I’ll keep my eye on it. A few things would make it worth it:

  • No TweetLater logo/branding on the cockpit.
  • Give me the option of a third and fourth column if my screen size/resolution will support it.
  • Allow exclusion of keywords in their search, e.g., I want “guitar” but not “guitar hero”.
  • An Ajax or Flash interface that automatically pulls updates.
  • A way to pull up the previous tweets that fit the criteria that I might have missed. I want an “older tweets” link.

Actually, TweetDeck is probably closer to being what I want. All they’d need to do is add multiple account support. A dropdown list to switch between them would be fine – I don’t need to see tweets from multiple accounts at once. The screen layout, groups and searches would need to be separate for each account. I’d be happy with that.

Are you using multiple Twitter accounts? How do you manage it? What tools do you use?

UPDATE:

Since I posted, I’ve discovered or had people recommend the following tools for managing multiple accounts:

Also, I’ve been told that you can open multiple instances of Twhirl for different accounts.

And here’s a cool video on using NetVibes to manage multiple accounts:

I’ll post an update next week after I’ve had a chance to try out some of these other tools myself.