Social media in real estate part 9: your Twitter account

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September 8, 2011
7
min read

To paraphrase John F. Kennedy - "Ask not what your Twitter can do for you, ask what you can do for your Twitter."

Obviously Twitter wasn't even thought of when JFK was alive but the sentiments of the quote are relevant – what can you do for your twitter to get the most out of it?Just a quick note before we start this blog: My last blog about Facebook Pages was more tutorial style. Based on the feedback I received, I’m going to just give you links to the tutorial based stuff as there is heaps of content on the Internet for that and for the next few blogs on the specific social networks, focus a bit more on content. Without sounding like I am tooting my own horn – this is how listening to what people are saying to you via your social media networks can help you and them out.

So what's a Twitter and what can it do for my agency?

Before we can get into what you can do with Twitter to get the most out of it, we need to quickly refresh our memories on what Twitter is.According to Twitter themselves: "Twitter is an information network. Millions of people, organizations, and businesses use it to discover and share new information." Basically Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters.As a real estate agency, you can use Twitter to quickly share information, gather market intelligence and insights, and build relationships with people who are interested in your company.

Twitter Lingo

Understanding some common terms used in relation to Twitter is critical. Below are some of the more frequently used terms on Twitter. The full Twitter Glossary can be viewed here.Tweet – The messages you send on Twitter are called tweets.Handle – A user's "Twitter handle" is the username they have selected and the accompanying URL. For example "rexsoftware" is our handle/username and our Twitter URL is http://twitter.com/rexsoftwareFollow – To follow someone on Twitter means to subscribe to their Tweets or updates.Replies – A Tweet posted in reply to another user's message, usually posted by clicking the "reply" button next to their Tweet in your timeline. Always begins with @usernameMention – Mentioning another user in your Tweet by including the @ sign followed directly by their username is called a "mention". For example "I think @rexsoftware is awesome!"Retweet – is the way to republishing someone else's tweet – the original tweet along with author stays intact, but you are basically sharing someone's tweet to your followers.Message / DM – If you want to privately Tweet to a particular user who's already following you, start your Tweet with D to direct-message them, eg: "DM @rexsoftware When can I get my hands on your CRM?"Hashtag – Users often add a # to the beginning of words in their Tweets to categorise them for others eg: "#SocialMedia in #RealEstate Part 9: Your Twitter Account is now up at our blog www.rexsoftware.com/blog". Users can click on a hashtag to see other similarly categorised tweets and find yours in the Twitter search.

Why use Twitter?

Like all other social networks, Twitter gives you the ability to connect and network with other people in your industry. This can be good thing. You will be able to follow other agencies and agents that have been on the social networking bandwagon a little longer than you have, and you can see what they are saying to their clients and potential clients. If they have a social media strategy similar to the one I have been outlining in this blog series, they will be posting really good content to help build their brands. Content you can access, learn from and use for yourselves.Twitter also gives you another medium to interact with your potential and existing clients.

How to set up a Twitter Account

If you haven't already, check out Blog 7 in this series, where you can learn how to set up your Twitter account.

Basic Twitter Use

As I said above, I won't be going through the tutorial side of things, but here are a couple of videos that you should watch to understand how to do the basics in Twitter.

Setting up a Custom Background

When you set up your Twitter account, you can select one of their inbuilt backgrounds for your account. While this is great for personal accounts, businesses should look professional.As I've mentioned throughout this blog series – the whole point of using social media in real estate is to build you brand. How on earth can you do this if your Twitter account looks exactly the same as tens of thousands of other Twitter account? You need to stand out from the crowd, and the first step is to create a custom background that has the look and feel of your brand.Take a look at http://twitter.com/rexsoftware to see what I mean – our logo is clearly visible in the top left section and the rest of the background is the "Rex blue" – giving the page the look and feel of our brand.Setting up a custom background will require the use of some graphics software, so if you're not very tech savvy, talk to your web developer / graphic designer about setting up a custom background for your Twitter account or take a look at this page to learn how to do it yourself.

Twitter Lists

Lists allow Twitter you to organise the people you follow into groups. By segmenting your following list into groups, you can then filter tweets from your main stream and just view the tweets originating from a selected list. You can also subscribe to other people's lists. You don't need to follow another user to add them to a list; if you want to read a user's Tweets but not see their messages in your main feed every day, lists allow you to do that.One of the reasons you may want to create a list is to create a group. Twitter Lists create grouped tweet streams of the people that are on them, so you can use Lists to organise other tweeters into groups based on anything you want. For example, you could create a list of all the agents in your office. By viewing or following this list, your followers can easily see what all of your staff are tweeting about in one handy location.You can take a look at the tutorial Twitter have set up on lists here.

URL Shortening

If you want to link your followers to a blog post on your website, you will use up a huge chunk of your 140 characters for the link alone (e.g. https://www.rexsoftware.com/crm-software-and-the-importance-of-usability is 86 characters long) and doing so doesn't give you a lot of space to actually tell your followers what the link is or to add hashtags to the tweet.Luckily, there are a number of options available to you. Twitter itself has a URL shortening service that will, when you put a link into your tweet, shorten it for you. I've found that sometimes the inbuilt option isn't reliable.Personally, I use a service provided by http://bit.ly. They allow you to convert a long URL like https://www.rexsoftware.com/social-media-in-real-estate-part-8b-facebook-content into a short URL like http://bit.ly/nEyjYo. As you can see, there is a significant difference in the character count of the shortened URL which gives you more characters for the rest of your tweet! Services like bit.ly give you the ability to track clicks to the shortened URL which helps with your analytics.There are heaps of other URL shortening services out there – just Google "URL Shortening" and a plethora of different services will be found.

4 Tips for Getting More From Twitter

I started this blog with a play on a famous quote by John F. Kennedy – "Ask not what your Twitter can do for you, ask what you can do for your Twitter." Here are four important things you can do for your Twitter account:

1. Follow people and organisations that provide useful content

If you follow people and organisations that share great content that relates to the real estate industry, you will always have your finger on the pulse of useful information. Organisations like the state based Real Estate Industry associations (REIQ, REIV etc.), RPData etc are good starting points.

2. Tweet useful content regularly

As you are following people and organisations that are providing you useful content, you can then use that content to write your own articles or blogs and share that with your followers. Make sure you are tweeting at least once a day – though three or four times a day is ideal! Posting too little means people are likely to forget about you and posting too much will mean they will WANT to forget about you (and they’ll unfollow you).

3. Retweet other people's content

A great way to build your followers is to retweet other people's tweets (but only if they are useful and relevant to your agency and area). People like the recognition of being retweeted, and sometimes they will follow you simply because you have retweeted their content. The more people you have following you, the further your message gets. Make sure you don't just retweet content though. There has to be a balance between original content and retweets.

4. Remember the magic rule of social media marketing for real estate

Do not post your listings to your Twitter account because people do not want to be marketed in their social media space!Up next...Next week we'll take a look into LinkedIn and see what it can offer you!

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