If you’re trying to develop a consistent voice, brand or set of relationships across the social web, it’s very useful to choose a username that is available on all the major social networks and use that as your consistent handle online. (I’m awsamuel, everywhere.) But as much as I believe in using one username across the web, there are times when one username is not enough.
Here are six social web services where I hold multiple accounts:
- Gmail. You need a new Gmail account every day. OK, not quite, but multiple Gmail accounts are really useful for creating multiple identities on other web sites: for example, both Facebook and Twitter limit you to one account per e-mail address. In a lot of cases you can use the trick of creating additional pseudo-addresses on Gmail by prefixing your real Gmail address with “label.” — for example, firstname.lastname@example.org. But if you are setting up a bunch of social media accounts for a specific client or project, it’s best to start with a dedicated Gmail account that you can use to register all the social media identities you’ll need for that project (the Twitter account, Facebook page, Flickr account, etc.) so you can turn over the Gmail account to your client or collaborator and give them the keys to all their accounts at once.
- OpenTable. Since OpenTable only lets you reserve one table for any given evening, it can be handy to have a second account so that you can reserve a couple of different options and make a final decision closer to the date when you will be dining. Just remember to cancel your unused reservation.
- Delicious.You need separate delicious accounts for the 3 Cs: classes, clients and collaborative projects. If you’re teaching a class, creating a delicious account just for that class is a way of collecting all the resources you’re sharing with your students: for example, the Web 2 and You class I taught a few years ago. If you’re creating a collection of resources for a client, creating a separate delicious account for that client helps them get started with resources relevant to their work and keeps their initial collection confidential (as long as you save all their bookmarks as “do not share”). And if you’re working on a collaborative project with a bunch of colleagues, you could choose a tag to use in common, but if your colleagues are new to delicious it may be easier for them to get started if you set up an account you can all share.
- Twitter. If you’re Guy Kawasaki or another mega-tweeter you might want a separate Twitter account just for your replies to other people’s tweets about/to you, so that you don’t have to clutter up your main Twitter feed with replies. If you’re me, you might want a separate Twitter account for each of your kids, which you can use as a kind of virtual baby book to track the HILARIOUS things they do or say, and which you only allow a small number of trusted friends and family to follow. You might also want the occasional special-purpose accounts for crank tweeting people.
- Flickr. If you use Flickr to organize and share pictures of your kids, and to collect or share photos professionally, use separate accounts for each purpose.
- Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg only wants you to have one Facebook account, as your own real self, but if you do any marketing or development work on Facebook you’ll need at least a couple of totally fake accounts to test out what kinds of context are visible to different kinds of connections. And even if you’re not doing testing for professional purposes, you may find it useful to have a couple of fake Facebook accounts: one that you friend and one that you don’t, so that you can periodically check out what your profile looks like to other people. Finally, even though Facebook lists make it possible to restrict specific content to specific lists of friends, you may find it easier to have an entirely separate account for sharing news and photos of your kids, with only a very limited number of friends.
What are other web services where it’s handy to hold multiple accounts? I’d love to hear your suggestions.