It is increasingly important for small business owners to use technology to brand not only their businesses, but also themselves. Doing so allows you to step more confidently into your role as a business leader. It can be challenging to organize all of this in a way that simultaneously serves your customers and preserves your sanity, but you can do it if you have laser sharp focus on who your customers are, on exactly what they want from you, and on what you are trying to achieve with your business.
I find it helpful to see how other entrepreneurs handle Twitter, and I am constantly sifting through ideas to see what works and what doesn't work (so you don't have to …). Over the years, I've made many changes to how I negotiate Twitter. I will continue to do so, because my business is constantly evolving. For now, I have settled on a particular system and I thought I'd share it with you in case it provides you with useful ideas and inspiration. I have several Twitter accounts, all maintained mainly through HootSuite. Here's how everything is neatly arranged.
- @IndieBusiness. With nearly 32,000 followers, @IndieBusiness is used mainly to serve members of the Indie Business Network (IBN), share business and success tips, and to interact with my podcast guests, fellow business leaders, clients, and colleagues. Note that the bio on this page contains the name of my business and a description of what it does, and also links to a secondary Twitter account.
- @DonnaMaria. My secondary Twitter account is @DonnaMaria, used to interact more personally with people who, like me, enjoy business as a lifestyle. I use this account to inspire people to enjoy the type of freedom I left a traditional job to enjoy.
- @IndieCruise. The @IndieCruise account is mainly active during time frames that are critical to IBN's annual signature event, #IndieCruise MasterMind. I use it from time to time during the rest of the year to find cruise resources, make periodic cruise planning announcements, connect with people who accompany me on the cruise, and interact with travel industry professionals so I can deliver a better cruise experience the following year.
The secret, if there is one, behind maintaining multiple accounts is to have a specific purpose for each account. While my accounts ReTweet each other from time to time, I almost never Tweet the same thing simultaneously from any of them. To me, that defeats the purpose of having separate accounts in the first place.
Each account is maintained through HootSuite so I can easily share information via whichever account is appropriate, without missing a beat. HootSuite makes it so easy on my laptop, iPad and iPhone.
When I want to include a big, juicy picture in a post (like this, for example), I use the Twitter.com interface.
Maintaining multiple active (or semi-active) Twitter accounts is not for everyone. However, it is important to have a Twitter account in your name. I'll never forget the time I had a New York Times best selling author on my podcast. I asked his publicist for his Twitter page link so I could promote him and the podcast. She said he didn't have time for one of those. I later discovered that his name was taken on Twitter — and the only Tweet at the account said, “Just setting this up in case I need it one day.” Bam.
If your name is taken, don't panic. Use your middle initial or a shortened version of your name. Or do what the stars do when their names are taken: use TheFirstnameLastname or TheRealFirstnameLastname.
You never know where your business will lead you, or where you will lead your business. Reserve your name on Twitter and at other places that make sense so you can preserve future platforms as your business grows and/or as you start new businesses.