Top reasons 'tweeples' love Twitter

Turning online conversations into real estate leads

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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

Attach pictures of your fresh-baked brownies as well as pictures of the property.

3. Twitter — the best tool ever to find like-minded people
A smart move for many real estate agents is to create a niche based upon their previous occupation. For example, if you were a nurse prior to becoming an agent, you could create a niche serving the specific needs of medical professionals who are purchasing real estate. People almost always prefer to work with an agent with whom they share similarities. To find individuals on Twitter who work in a specific industry or profession, visit Twellow.com. Twellow functions as the "Yellow Pages" for Twitter. Much like the regular Yellow Pages, Twellow allows you to find tweeples in specific careers.

4. No more door-knocking or cold-calling!
If you go door-knocking or cold call, most people don’t want to talk to you. On the other hand, when you meet them on Twitter, they are eager to have a conversation. One of the best ways to build your referral database is to engage in conversations with people who live in your area. NearbyTweets.com displays other active tweeples who live near you. Request to follow them and comment on their tweets. If someone has an interesting tweet, retweet it (i.e. send it out to your followers). The process is pretty much the same you would use when meeting new neighbors. Get to know them, engage in conversations about mutual interests, and have fun. Remember the 95-5 rule — 5 percent of your posts are about business. Keep the rest of your posts involved in engaging with others on other topics.

5. Faster than Google, and searchable
Twitter is the best way to be engaged in terms of what is happening at any given moment. While Google takes six to 18 hours before its spidering search engine locates relevant content, Twitter gives you the information the moment it posts. For example, if you love sports, there are plenty of people who will be tweeting about the play-by-play. But there are also plenty of people involved in conversations about foreclosures, short-sale issues and a host of other real estate-related topics. Twitter has just recently added a search function that lets you identify tweets on specific topics. My personal favorite, however, is Monitter.com. This site allows you to plug in three different sets of search terms and see them display simultaneously in real time.

Are you ready to dump expensive mailings, doors slammed in your face, and cold-calling hang-ups in favor of having fun with people in your local area online? If so, you may soon find even more reasons to love Twitter.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com.

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