Speaking with many voices. Is one Twitter account enough?

I’ve been having a dilemma about Twitter. You see, of all the channels, it’s proving surprisingly popular, and i seem to be gathering followers apace. This is all well and good, but i don’t really have a very clear tone of voice for it.

The blog is my ‘professional’ site (well, it doesn’t wear a suit, but neither does it talk about going to the pub too much), mirrored by Facebook, which is my social hub. There isn’t much crossover between the two, either in terms of ‘friends and followers’ or content. Occasionally i post an article to Facebook, but it’s rare. Twitter and LinkedIn get all my posts – they are fully formal voices. Additionally, i post other micro blog comments on Twitter, but, if the truth be known, some are social and some ‘professional’.

Now the reality is that i should probably operate two accounts: i know many of my Twit contacts do just that. They have a personal account, where they post comments about life, the universe and everything, and a professional account, where they keep the tone of voice clear and relevant to their professional persona. Some have more than two accounts, indeed i know one person who operates 65 separate Twitter feeds, to cater for their multitudinous client list, but that’s a different situation.

You might be wondering where my doubt comes from as to whether two accounts is the right way to go. Well, you see, it’s about honesty. Not in the ‘i didn’t cut down the cherry tree’ sense, but rather the honesty and integrity of my tone of voice. I’ve somehow convinced myself that Twitter is a stream of consciousness channel, that it’s kind of ok for it to talk about learning methodologies and social media strategies in the day, then to talk about the Foo Fighters gig in the evening. It’s essentially a reflection of what i talk about, unedited, real time.

Fair enough i suppose, but the reality is that most people interested in what i have to say about social media will probably not be so interested in a discussion about how much beer cost at the gig. Honest or not, it risks cluttering the feed and making me look less ‘professional’ (whatever that means).

Or maybe my fear is that i will lose a few followers, and i’m so tuned into the fact that the numbers should go up, not down, that it drives my other behaviours, censoring me so that i don’t mention anything ‘social’.

Quite why i’m treating Twitter any differently the other channels is unclear to me, although i suspect that this obsessive concern over tone of voice is a sign of age and lack of flexibility rather than an actual genuine issue. There’s no doubt that the youth of today are far less attached to their online identities and certainly less concerned about contamination: they are likely just to ditch outdates personas where the rest of us hang onto them like a lifeline.

I’m sure i’ll navigate this etiquette issue without too many challenges, but it does touch upon these wider questions of how we maintain our ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ identities in an increasingly interconnected age. What used to be a simple matter of putting on the suit and going to work, then disengaging at the end of the day by changing again is a redundant notion. As spaces converge, we may have to actively take steps to differentiate our identities and maintain some separation.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
This entry was posted in Facebook, Formal Spaces, Identity, Informal Spaces, Micro Blogging, Privacy, Social Media, Twitter and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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