Our article arguing that Twitter is a complete waste of time for the most internationally focused agents polarized opinion.

To use it properly you need to create great content regularly that helps reinforce your position as an expert in your niche. However, we argued that in the majority of cases, it takes up valuable time — time that can be spent more profitably on other activities.

Today Mike Cliffe-Jones, managing director of Spanish real estate agency Estupendo Lanzarote, responds to the article with a persuasive argument that Twitter has a role to play in the marketing mix of most overseas agents. As ever, we welcome your comments and feedback.

Editor’s note: This item is republished with permission from Global Edge Marketing Ltd. The original post can be viewed here.

Our article arguing that Twitter is a complete waste of time for the most internationally focused agents polarized opinion.

To use it properly you need to create great content regularly that helps reinforce your position as an expert in your niche. However, we argued that in the majority of cases, it takes up valuable time — time that can be spent more profitably on other activities.

Today Mike Cliffe-Jones, managing director of Spanish real estate agency Estupendo Lanzarote, responds to the article with a persuasive argument that Twitter has a role to play in the marketing mix of most overseas agents. As ever, we welcome your comments and feedback.

Cliffe-Jones: To be honest, Twitter is a complete waste of time for any business if used simply as a broadcast medium. I’ve seen many companies set up Twitter or Facebook accounts, create an auto feed from their sites for a few months, and then declare it a waste of time.

As with any social medium, Twitter will give back what you put into it — engage and help people and they will be interested in and value what you offer them.

The point of contact

But let’s take a step back for a moment and examine the key benefit of Twitter for any estate agent. Most agents have a well-optimized Web site, which attracts people searching for properties in their area. If a potential client keys "property for sale in Lanzarote" they are quite likely to find my company’s Web site.

The problem is that people rarely start there when they’re contemplating a purchase.

They start with much, much, more general stuff: "Which are the best resorts? Where are the best beaches? Where are the kids’ schools? Which bank should we use?" They will do a whole load of research to narrow down where they want to buy in more detail, before they start looking at real estate agents’ Web sites. They’ll do that through search, but increasingly they will use a medium like Twitter. …CONTINUED

Using social media effectively will put you in touch with those people weeks, and sometimes months, before they ever planned to talk to an agent. By the time they start thinking about that, if you’ve been helpful and useful to them, at the very least you’ll have a chance to take them viewing, and in many cases, they won’t even bother talking to anyone else. They already have a (friend) who runs an agency.

So how does it work with Twitter?

You need to establish yourself as an "area expert." Use a tool like TweetDeck, which allows you to set up search columns, to search the Twitter stream in real time. By doing that, you will see every message using your area’s name.

You’ll be amazed at the volume. Even for little old Lanzarote, there are more than 100 every day. There will be a complete mixture: people already living there talking about what they are doing, people planning holidays, people asking for help or advice.

Concentrate on anyone asking for help, and help them! Give them the benefit of your local knowledge. Don’t even mention your business. You’ll have a link in your bio, and you’ll find almost everyone you help will click the link to your site.

You’ll never hear from many, but some will contact you and ask you for more help. Others will directly respond, having visited your site, by making an inquiry.

In time you’ll establish a reputation on Twitter as the expert, and more and more people will refer others to you.

If you really want to make it work well, then link from Twitter to a blog. And make sure the blog is about your area, filled with the kind of useful information we’ve discussed. We post all kinds of things on our blog and give away a really useful relocation pack there. And it’s a great place to capture data.

It takes time and it takes effort, but using social media tools effectively will give you a decent return on that investment by delivering more leads much earlier in the purchase cycle.

Mike Cliffe-Jones is the managing director of Estupendo Lanzarote and is author of Beyond Blogging. You can connect with him at Twitter: @mikecj.

Copyright © 2010 Global Edge Marketing Ltd.

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