Hacker Connect January 16 in New York
An event for and by the real estate tech community

Most people who experience Twitter for the first time walk away feeling confused. If you’re someone who just doesn’t get Twitter, today’s column may motivate you to join the twitterverse of tweeting tweeples (people who post messages on Twitter).

I had a Twitter account for four months before I started using it regularly. I was following one good friend and was confused by what appeared to be one-sided conversations. In the meantime, my husband was happily tweeting to his friends by taking pictures of his latest kitchen triumphs and posting them on Twitter. Sure, the picture of the beer-can chicken was funny, but who cares? The whole thing seemed to be an enormous time-waster.

After six months of doing nothing, I finally committed to filling out my Twitter profile and diving into the conversation. When companies such as Zappos and Dell are building their businesses using this medium, there is obviously a business reason for participating in the Twitter conversation.

1. What’s the real reason people love Twitter?
Sixty years ago it was common for several homes to share a single telephone line or "party line." The local busybodies loved trying to listen in to their neighbor’s conversation. The secret reason that most people love Twitter is that it appeals to the busybody in each of us. Most people love to listen in on juicy conversations, especially when the people having the conversation don’t know whether we’re eavesdropping.

A slightly different way to look at Twitter is that it’s like passing notes back and forth when you were in school. Passing notes in class was a way to have a conversation with your friends when you were stuck in a boring class. Today those conversations are taking place online as tweets and text messages.

2. Twitter works best when it’s fun
A common mistake that many people who are new to Twitter make is sending out traditional marketing messages. When it comes to the types of messages that you post both on Twitter and Facebook, it’s smart to follow the 95-5 rule. In other words, spend 95 percent of your time engaged in conversation with other Twitter or Facebook users and only 5 percent of your time engaged in discussing your business.

Also keep in mind the busybody principle — people love to listen to interesting conversations. Thus, instead of posting a tweet that will cause your followers to unfollow you: "Just listed 123 Main Street, 3 bedroom 2 bath view property — open Sunday 2-5," Tweet something more interesting, such as: "Have brownies, will travel — yummy open house 123 Main Street. Great deal — save $$, eat chocolate." …CONTINUED