Whether you were an early adopter or the last to join the proverbial party, it’s never been more clear that Twitter is the place to connect, especially with people outside of your close friends and family. Let’s be honest here–not everyone falls into the category of Facebook friend and needs to see a scan of your high school yearbook picture.

So you’re tweeting, wowing the world with your insight and charm, or at least 140 characters worth. If you’re like me, and most of the other 100+ million users, you probably don’t distinguish between tweets about work, family or Twitpics of your new pug. Do your followers feel the same way, or would they be grateful if you separated personal from professional tweets or at least exercised a little dayparting to keep celebrity gossip far away from child-rearing tips?

As your use of Twitter shifts from a fun social media platform to a method for connecting with readers, fans, potential clients and brands, it may be time to take a more serious look at how you use your Twitter account. And you may need to consider using multiple Twitter accounts to represent different audiences or types of content. Companies and community managers are already using this technique to effectively manage AND segregate Twitter streams and conversations.

For instance, Comcast has 3 accounts–@Comcast for company info, @ComcastCares for customer support and @ComcastVoices for the company blog. Each of these represents an important communication platform but, you can see why these conversations should be managed separately. If a customer has jumped on Twitter for support, it’s likely they’re at the end of their rope and the last thing the company wants is to miss the opportunity to service them because their tweet is buried by tweets about press releases and company blog updates.  At the same time, reporters could be following the main company Twitter handle to stay abreast of company related news and it’s probably not good PR for those reporters to see a constant stream of customer complaints, which you might find on the customer support Twitter handle.

Is it time for you to get in on the act? If not now, then when and how will you know when the time is right?

1. No room for crossover. By day you’re mild-mannered PTA mom, but by night you’re an ecological warrior out to do battle on behalf of Mother Earth. You’ve found an audience and built an impressive following for your cause, organizing online petitions and boycotting brands that are pumping out pollution without remorse. While social media encourages, better yet demands, that are true to ourselves and transparent about who we are and what we stand for, your PTA pals may not want to tune in for a lecture on Global Warming and your eco-friendly allies probably aren’t all that interested in banter about planning for the class party.

2. Separate and unequal. Maybe you and your alter-ego are not as distinct as Wonder Woman and Diana of Themyscira, but you may still see the value in creating a second Twitter account in order to maintain some distance between your personal and professional conversations. If you fancy yourself an online influencer, then you may be approached by a business at some point and asked to be an ambassador. This could involve using your voice on Twitter to promote their products or manage conversations about their brand, such as hosting regular Twitter chats. Before you take on this role of brand ambassador, you may want to create a second Twitter account and shift your friends to that new account so they’re not inundated with your chats.

3. Broadening your reach. We are all multi-faceted creatures, and if you happen to be someone who is deeply involved in or passionate about more than one subject, chances are have potential reach into a few different social circles. Put another way, you could be well-known kitchen wonder and a skilled artisan and Twitter allows you to build and cultivate relationships with both the culinary and creative crowds. Aggregating these audience members is one thing, but effectively managing these two spheres of influence using a single Twitter account can be a daunting task. Creating multiple accounts, rather than just Twitter lists, will enable you to tailor your tweeting AND listening to a specific audience and really focus on honing your influence and broadening your reach on a subject.

So now you’ve made the decision to add a second, and maybe a third, Twitter account. Take a deep breath. Remember we’re talking about social media, not emergency medicine, and few decisions are irreversible or have life-altering consequences. Also know that having multiple Twitter accounts doesn’t have to make things more complicated. There are several free resources available to help you manage multiple Twitter accounts without pulling your hair out, including third party applications, such as HootSuite and Tweetdeck (recently acquired by Twitter), which allow users to manage multiple accounts, schedule tweets in advance, shorten URLs and access through your smart phone.

Explore these resources and be sure to devote equal, or at least proportionate, time to each of your accounts in order to foster meaningful online relationships and a sense of community.