About 25,000 tweets and 5,697 followers later, Twitter is still one of my favorite social networks. My Twitter "birth certificate," which came this week, shows that I started my Twitter account five years ago.
I love Twitter — it makes me feel connected to the rest of the world when it isn’t distracting me from getting my work done.
When I first saw Twitter my reaction was the same as everyone else’s. I did not "get it." It took six months of trial before I learned to appreciate Twitter and to stop overthinking it.
There isn’t anything to "get" about Twitter, and because it really isn’t for marketing in the old-school, in-your-face kind of way, no complicated strategy is needed.
The biggest challenges are learning to communicate in 140 characters or less and learning when to turn it off.
I like to tweet about what I had for lunch to start a conversation. That flies in the face of what experts recommend, but they don’t have to follow me. Twitter is social, and so is eating.
People are even more interested in food than they are in real estate. Mentions of chocolate start more conversations than an American Foursquare or even a Tudor-style house ever could.
There are a couple of things about Twitter that experts and non-experts seem to agree on: Auto-tweeting and advertising are obnoxious. I challenged a Twitter expert who was auto-tweeting a promo for his Twitter class, but he never saw my tweets.
Teresa Boardman’s Twitter "birth certificate."
He probably signed in once to set up his account, then set it up to automatically tweet.
Twitter is an amazing place to keep up on the news, and for meeting people and sharing ideas. Over the years Twitter has been good for businesses. I have never sold a house through Twitter, but I have met people who have houses to sell or who want to buy a house.
I have met more people in my own community through Twitter than I have through any other method. There are Tweetups and other events that I would not even be aware of if not for Twitter.
Twitter has also been a place to experiment with content ideas and to test out reactions to photographs and articles.
Twitter isn’t new, but maybe you didn’t get it when you first saw it and just kind of gave up on it.
It is never too late to get started, but don’t bother if you just want to use it for advertising and self-promotion. It just isn’t worth the time or effort from a business point of view.
If you want to use Twitter to learn and to meet people, here are some tips for getting started:
1. Find people in your own area to follow on Twitter. People who do not have real estate licenses or sell to the real estate industry can change your life.
2. Follow the local media. They tweet the news and are usually pretty social. They also read my blog.
3. Spend more time on Twitter reading than tweeting.
4. Turn off Twitter and Twitter alerts when there is work to be done, and never use it when you are with clients.
5. Promote businesses in your community by mentioning them on Twitter and by checking in on Foursquare.
6. Use the lists function to filter out the noise.
7. Practice safe tweeting: Never drink and tweet or drive and tweet.
Neighborhood businesses love it when I mention them on Twitter, and they are the reason I use Foursquare to check in. Promoting the idea of buying local has also been good for my business.
Twitter does not have close to as many users as Facebook does and is not about reaching the widest audience — that is what Google is for.
Learning how to use Twitter means being able to network anytime and maybe even connect with people that you wouldn’t get to meet any other way.
Don’t worry if the cool kids are using Twitter or how they are using it. Try it out again for the first time and if it isn’t right for you just stop using it. If you are not interested in what others have to say, Twitter isn’t for you at all.
If you think people all over the world care about your open-house tweets, or want to read all about that just-listed property in a series of tweets, please delete your Twitter apps now so you won’t be tempted to use them.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.
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