My friends will tell you that I love Twitter. I have it up on my computer most of the time since I joined in early 2007. The trick is to not look at it all the time — I would not get any work done.
If you have given up on Twitter because it isn’t working for you, it might be because you are using it for marketing instead of for networking.
Twitter is the most abused of the social media tools. Real estate agents like to abuse it by tweeting about homes for sale or creating automated tweets to alert us to their most recent blog post or photograph.
An occasional automated tweet is alright, but some folks are never around to join in the conversation and so they miss out on the social aspects of Twitter.
They may tweet a link to a blog post, but they are not present to answer a question or comment from a potential homebuyer or seller who just followed the link and read the article.
Marketers of all stripes abuse Twitter in broadcasting their messages. Twitter would never have grown or caught on like it did if everyone used it for broadcasting and no one was reading the tweets.
I have met so many people through Twitter that it’s impossible to attend a local event without running into someone I met through Twitter. There are local Tweetups once a month so that we can meet our Twitter friends in person and socialize face to face.
A couple of years ago Twitter rolled out the capability of putting followers in lists. That has made it much easier to filter out the noise and pay close attention to the people who matter the most.
There are four lists that I follow closely. They are lists of people who live or work in my community, the local news media, and a few government agencies.
The ability to create lists makes it possible to follow smaller groups of people more closely and interact with them, and it makes it easier to ignore the broadcasters.
A list can be made private or public. It is also possible to follow a list made by another user, and there are some wonderful lists out there.
Twitter has become my main news source. I know when there is a traffic jam or accident or when a storm is headed my way. I follow real estate and mortgage news and national news.
There is training available for real estate professionals on how to use Twitter. Some of them set up an account and tweet about their listings or an open house, or they share links to real estate-related articles and act as a curator of real estate information.
I can understand why agents set up accounts and abandon them a few weeks later. They fail to notice that Twitter is social and that the most effective way to interact is by responding to the tweets of others rather than writing their own.
There has been too much emphasis on how many people we can get to follow us on Twitter. The emphasis should be on who we follow and how we interact with them. Lately there has been too much emphasis on Klout scores.
Both allow me to put the people I follow into columns based upon which list they are in, and to follow trending topics on Twitter. I can also follow conferences and events.
Consider using Twitter as a tool for getting to know people in the community instead of using it as a broadcasting or marketing tool. Concentrate on following people who do not sell real estate.
Even though most of my Tweets have nothing to do with real estate, it isn’t unusual for people to recommend my real estate services through Twitter or introduce me to a prospective client.
Most people don’t want to follow a company logo and a business name, but even that can be overcome if some attempt is made to interact with others instead of broadcasting to them.
Twitter can be an amazing business tool if used correctly, but there is no instant success. If you tried it once and gave up, try it again. Start by reading and lurking.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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