Confused Twitter Accounts: An Observation

I checked my email last evening and discovered a new batch of Twitter users had started following my account. As I always do, I visited their account pages and looked for those I might be interested in following back. Unlike many Twitter users I know, I don’t automatically follow every non-spam account that follows me: I look for people and organisations that I can interact with, converse with, gain value from.

Of late, I’m seeing a lot of accounts that just seem, well, odd. I pondered this out loud, and when Tim Malone asked me what I meant, I thought I’d try and distill my thinking into something coherent.

There are a number of things these odd-looking accounts have in common:

  1. The accounts have a real person’s name attached
  2. The backgrounds advertise a company or an organisation
  3. Their tweet streams don’t fit either profile

Let me explain what I mean:

  1. This isn’t unusual at all, and by itself doesn’t mean much — in fact, I expect most twitter accounts to have a real person on the other end. However, if I follow a personal account, I expect the way they tweet to reflect their personality, who they are, how they think. This is partly what makes Twitter such a rich online experience: opinions, conversations, jokes, games – there’s always something going on.
  2. I have no problem with corporate twitter accounts per sé: if you’re using social media and networks to spread your company, good on you for being proactive! I follow a number of companies / organisations that I support, because they are focused and provide me with information and interaction that I wouldn’t get otherwise. It provides a central point of contact for customer service, and makes hearing from these organisations easier. If I follow a company, I expect their tweets to be about services they offer, responses to customer feedback, or content that directly pertains to them.
  3. What makes these accounts so strange to me is that they try to be both, and end up being neither. I don’t expect a person tweeting as themselves to plaster advertising all over their Twitter page. On the other hand, I don’t expect a company account to post quotes or links to online news stories that are of limited relevance to their organisation.

I am not a Social Media Expert (thank goodness!) But I do offer these suggestions under the umbrella of Common Sense:

If you’re a person: don’t sell yourself, be yourself. If you’re a professional, no one is going to hire/collaborate/communicate with you because of your awesome Twitter background that contains half your resume. They’re going to do those things because of how you act and interact online (just as they do offline).

If you’re a company: keep your tweets directly related to company material. I don’t expect a company to tell me about a news story, or give me an inspirational quote. I want to know what you’re doing, and how you’re making things better for your clients/customers. That doesn’t mean every 2nd tweet should flog your product, but it does mean stay on message.

Decide what type of account you’re starting, and stick with that. If you want to do both, make two accounts. Trying to be both just looks weird, and ends up being neither.

Photo: Southend: Van Looy’s Sandwich Board by DBullock. Used with Permission.


A single-line anonymous insult with nothing useful to say? Ooh, insightful :)
"I am not a Social Media Expert"

It shows.