When I started working at SEMrush a year ago, I made a new Twitter handle and promptly began engaging influencers and participating in #semrushchat and other Twitter chats. It made a lot of sense: as a reflection of an established and respected brand, I wanted to present myself in the most professional manner possible. I assumed people wouldn't want to hear about all the nerdy stuff I do on the weekend, my #EditorProblems and my struggles with the characters who live in my fiction.
I was wrong.
This is the metrics-supported story of how and why I chose to merge my personal and professional brand on Twitter.
What Are My Reasons for the Merge?
1. Personal Brand as a Company Asset
In previous positions, employers didn't leverage my personal brand. Even when over a decade of SEO copywriting experience was entirely relevant, I was to act on behalf of the brand – nothing beyond that. Being an employee, I understood this, but it also meant I felt no obligation to go the extra mile when it came to securing opportunities for the brand.
At SEMrush, my personal brand is strongly valued. Like other SEMrush employees, I bring a unique segment of viewers to our blog, webinar and Twitter chat channels. This encouragement and positive recognition allows me to grow along with the brand, and when I see an off-the-clock or after-hours opportunity to represent the brand well, I do.
2. Intersection of Personal and Professional Brand
What do you do in your spare time? Supposedly that's your passion – the thing you should be doing for a living. I spend most of my free time editing my own publication, blogging, writing and storytelling in plays or LARPs (live action roleplaying games). Each and every one of those interests is relevant to my day job as a blog editor at a maker of digital marketing software. Even my interest in comic books and comic book movies has added some personality to the brand.
Over time, I found myself cross-promoting material over the personal and professional accounts I had.
3. Time Management
Even with the help of CoSchedule, it takes an inordinate amount of time to manage multiple Twitter accounts, especially considering I'm more of a writer/editor than a content marketer. That said, I was keeping an eye on my several Twitter accounts and also wanted to enhance my personal brand on Facebook. Consolidating my Twitter accounts felt like the right choice for time management and allows me more time to focus my attention on social when I need to – and on the publications I edit at other times.
I chose to abandon @TaraMClapper and go with @irishtara for a few reasons:
- I'm unconventional, and so is the handle
- It describes something important about me: my heritage
- It's an older account – I claimed it in 2009, and it likely had more authority in Google SERP results
How I Merged My Twitter Accounts
Unlike Facebook, there isn't a process for 'merging' two Twitter accounts. I didn't want it to look unprofessional (since in hindsight, I goofed by making a professional Twitter account). My friend Dan suggested I have a "Twitter wedding" in February around Valentine's Day.
Before embarking on this 'merge,' I asked my favorite Twitter expert Madalyn Sklar for advice. She said:
With that in mind, I proceeded with the merge.
1. I Invited Friends to Follow Me and Lured Them With Pretty Art
When merging Twitter accounts, be sure to do two things:
- Update your bio saying you've combined accounts and will no longer be tweeting from this profile and to please follow you @YourTwitterHandle.
- Have your final tweet say the above.
These two things will make it very clear to anyone who visits this profile that you are no longer using the account.
I made the initial announcement on my old Twitter account Jan. 26, 2016 using the lovely image he created:
Not only did people think the idea was cute, they even responded to ask me who designed the image. Something that was sort of a mistake turned into a clever marketing move for my personal brand.
Yeah. It was totally intentional, I swear. :)
2. I Cleaned Up My Image
I had to improve the image on both Twitter accounts – the one I was getting rid of as well as the new one. Here's what my permanent looked like before I made changes:
My permanent @irishtara URL before the merge.
In this profile, I directed others to follow me at my professional handle for SEO-related things.
Here's how it looks now:
Here's what I changed:
- Added relevant hashtags (both professional and fun)
- Changed location to reflect city in which I work
- Added updated, professional headshot (consistent with the one I'd used on my 'pro' account)
- Included my roles and titles at the top of my bio
I wouldn't have encouraged people to follow me on the account if I'd had any truly unprofessional content, but it still needed a bit of housekeeping before it was ready for the delicate eyes of marketing professionals everywhere. (Okay, so sometimes some of us may drink and swear considering the high-stress nature of the business, but true professionalism is the gateway to candor.)
I also made sure others weren't managing my images for me. I'd authorized dozens of apps (on both Twitter accounts) over the years. I revoked access as needed. Do I really need to give permissions to HBOTrueBlood? Probably not, Sookie.
3. I Repeated the Message on Multiple Channels
I made sure to repeat the message on my other social channels. I started with my professional page on Facebook:
Then promptly shared that post over on my personal Facebook page.
I was also sure to notify my SEMrush teammates on Slack.
Additionally, I made sure to update my Twitter handle on other social channels such as Facebook, About.me, Pressfolios and LinkedIn.
And lastly, I left a little goodbye note on my old profile:
4. I Accepted a Fact: I Won't Reach All My Followers
I still have 1,775 followers on my old Twitter account, and it makes me sad. I could direct message them (which would probably annoy them and would take a fair amount of time), but overall I hope they notice the activity announcement. It's not likely I'll let go of @TaraMClapper because I don't want to relinquish the handle (it is my name, after all), but I have yet for devising a better strategy for getting these people to move.
How Has My Curated Social Media Presence Changed?
I've been a bit more careful about what I post over at @irishtara. I used to use it for more local things like traffic reports, complaining about traffic and posting pics of the adventures of my Thor action figure on my desk. My account still has a lot of my personality in it, but overall it's more streamlined.
My activity has also been much more consistent since merging the accounts. I don't feel like I need to have two separate tones split between different accounts. Instead, I've experienced steadier growth on the one account:
Do you have more suggestions for merging Twitter accounts? Please let me know in the comments.