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The Comprehensive Guide to Twitter for Real Estate

May 29 2013

twitterTwitter is a free social networking service that consists of short, text-based messages. These messages, called "tweets," can be no longer than 140 characters, are generally visible to the public and can contain links to websites or images. Twitter has over 200 million active users and is the third largest social network in the world. Around 25 million of these users reside in the US.

Twitter users "follow" other users in order to read their tweets. The tweets of the people you follow appear in your "feed," which is basically a long list of tweets in descending chronological order. Your feed will constantly update, bringing in new tweets from the people you follow. This stream never ends, so you generally won't see the tweets of users you follow unless you happen to be on Twitter when they are tweeting.

While it's true that many tweets are meaningless, poorly spelled drivel, millions of businesses and professionals use Twitter to share their expertise and interact with each other and consumers. Twitter gives its users the unprecedented ability to instantaneously broadcast short, easily-digestible messages – for free – to tens of millions of people around the world. RealEstate.com, for example, uses its Twitter account to announce important site updates, promote blog posts, share information about the real estate market and interact with real estate professionals (among other things).

While social media experts generally agree that you should limit the number of times you post on your Facebook page, there is no downside to tweeting around the clock – as long as the content of the tweets is valuable, of course.

Create a Twitter Account

Twitter accounts are exceptionally easy to make. Your first step is to open a web browser and visit Twitter.comTwitter.com. The home page will have a box titled "New to Twitter? Sign up" where you can start the account creation process by providing your name, email address and a password. These pieces of information can be changed once you have created your account. Click on the "Sign up for Twitter" button once you have done so.

ml Create Twitter Account First Page

Next, you will be taken to a page where you can review the information you just entered. Pay attention to the "Choose your username" text box. Your username will be the aspect of your profile that people interact with as well as the primary way people find you on Twitter. Usernames cannot be changed once accounts have been created, so make sure your name is professional, simple and meaningful (i.e., pertains to you or your business). Click on the "Create my account" button once you have selected your username.

ml Create Twitter Account

Follow Other Users

Twitter will walk you through its features with a handy tutorial once you have created your account. During the walkthrough, it will prompt you to follow other Twitter users. By following a user, you are electing to read everything that they tweet. This relationship is not reciprocal, however; other users must follow you in order to read what you tweet!

It's easy to find people to follow on Twitter. In the search bar located in the upper right corner of the screen, simply type in a keyword that corresponds with the type of users you would like to find. In the below screenshot, I searched for "real estate" in order to find users in that industry.

ml search for real estate1

After pressing enter, the following search results appeared. Several accounts that relate to real estate are listed at the top (and I can press "view all" to see more users) as well as tweets that contain the keyword "real estate."

ml search results for real estate

Of course, if you can't find a person or organization using Twitter's search function, simply perform a Google search for their name followed by the word "Twitter" (i.e., "Market Leader Twitter"). The account you are looking for will generally be in the top couple of results.

Don't know who to follow? Simply ask yourself, "Whose opinion do I care about?" As a real estate professional, you most likely care about news, strategies and insights pertaining to the real estate market. You probably also care about the local market in which you operate. Find the accounts of the professionals and organizations that tweet on these subjects and follow them. Next, monitor who those accounts interact with, and follow them as well. Finally, follow the people or organizations that interact with you. Twitter is a social network, after all, so make sure you use it to socialize!

FYI: The blue check mark that appears next to some Twitter users' usernames demonstrates that they have been "verified" by Twitter. Verification is meant to demonstrate that the account actually belongs to the person or organization claiming it. Unless you become a highly sought after expert on real estate, or start an important company within the real estate industry, do not count on being verified.


How to Tweet

Tweets form the backbone of Twitter. They are what you create, read and interact with whenever you use it.

To create a tweet, simply visit the "Home" section of your Twitter profile. There will be a text box in the left sidebar that reads "Compose new Tweet..." Click on this text box to write a tweet, and remember that it has to be 140 characters or less! (Alternatively, you can click on the blue button in the upper right corner of your screen.)

ml sample tweet

In addition to regular text, you can add links and hashtags to your tweets.

You should add links to your tweets whenever you are talking about something found on the Internet that can't be summarized in 140 characters. Links on Twitter operate the same way that links operate anywhere else on the Internet.

Hashtags are words or phrases marked with a "#" symbol. Twitter users add hashtags to their tweets in order to identify the content. For example, a tweet about real estate may use the hashtag "#realestate." Using hashtags in your tweets can help them be found by other users. For example, if enough Seattle real estate agents use the term #seattlerealestate, it can become a "trending topic" (listed in the "Trends" box on your Twitter home page) on a local or even national level.

Please note that the conventional order of content in tweets is as follows: Main tweet text, link, hashtags.

Connect with Other Users

It's possible to start a conversation with other Twitter users by using the "@" symbol. For example, if you were to tweet "I love your site, @Real_EstateCom," the RealEstate.com staff would get a notification and see your tweet in the "Connect" portion of our Twitter account. You would get a similar notification if we responded with "Thanks, @random_agent, we like yours as well."

ml Connect section

You can also interact with users by "favoriting" their tweets. To do this, simply click on or hover your mouse over a tweet and then click on the "Favorite" button. The user whose tweets your favorite will get a notification that you have done so. The benefit you receive from favoriting others' tweets is convoluted; accounts that have many tweets that have been favorited appear more prestigious, so favoriting other users' tweets will earn you some brownie points with them.

How You Benefit

Can you make a living as a real estate agent without being an active Twitter user? Absolutely. Do the agents with the best online presences all have Twitter accounts? You better believe it!

So why do real estate agents bother with Twitter if they don't need to have it? The short answer is that Twitter is exceptionally advantageous for businesses and professionals. It gives them another avenue to communicate with potential clients, to connect with fellow professionals, and to keep track of developments in their industry. Twitter can also be used to develop rapport within your geographic or industry community; if you tweet frequently and intelligently about your region or industry, other Twitter users will come to associate you with both. It also gives you a simple, fast and free way to instantly communicate with hundreds, thousands, or (in some cases) millions of people who follow you. Most importantly, as the world grows increasingly connected through the Internet and social media, consumers will use services like Twitter more and more frequently to contact businesses like yours.

From personal experience, I can confirm that Twitter is an excellent way to get in touch with businesses. On two separate occasions, I have used Twitter to contact customer service personnel when more conventional means failed. While my emails and calls went ignored, my tweets were responded to within hours. I can also confirm that my perception of who is a thought leader in various fields is heavily derived from who I see tweeting about those fields. Seattle-area real estate agents should see consumers like myself as an excellent opportunity; convince me to follow you and read your tweets, and I will likely contact you when it comes time for me to buy my first home.

To view the original article, visit the Market Leader blogMarket Leader blog.