When I talk with Realtors in my local market here in San Diego, I always like to check in on which social networks they like to use.

Facebook is far and away the dominating force, and it’s easy to understand why. Creating a Facebook business page allows you to stay in front of past clients in a way that your monthly email newsletter can’t. Google Plus has a much smaller niche in the social world, but many search engine optimization (SEO) experts think that it’s the most significant network in terms of search engine rankings (specifically on Google). YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram should be getting your attention as well, as the most important piece of a marketing plan is the video/photo strategy. So where does that leave Twitter?

I notice that Twitter is usually the first social network that gets cut from the roster. I had a recent conversation with someone who actually said, “There is barely ROI (return on investment) with social as is, and Twitter has none.”

I have to think that this is a classic case of blaming the arrow and not the archer. I heard Gary Vaynerchuk say it best when he said, “For me, the ROI of a piano is 0 percent. But for Elton John, it’s astronomical.”

Most people use Twitter strictly to promote themselves. New blog post? Push the link to Twitter. New YouTube video? Push the link to Twitter. Then they get disappointed when they get no interactions with their Twitter content, and they blame the medium. Actually, they’re using Twitter all wrong.

Twitter is a very interactive, conversational platform. If you were in a conversation with someone, and a Realtor walked up to you and pitched themselves — no hello, no introductions — and then walked away, what would you do? Realtors are going straight for the close without romancing their clients first. And that is a technique that is sure to fail every time.

Let’s take a look at how you should be using Twitter.

Twitter has a very cool search feature. With Twitter Search, you can type in keywords for pretty much anything and take a look at what people are saying about it. I like to type in my keywords “San Diego condo” and switch the results to “all tweets” and then see who is talking about what. Within the last few months, I’ve seen people tweet, “Thinking about buying a condo in San Diego, which neighborhood is best?” and “Couldn’t sell the condo in San Diego.”

I can already see Realtors salivating at the chance to close right there. “Well, my neighborhood is best and I’m the best Realtor in town, blah blah blah.” Like a high school boy, there is still much to learn in the art of foreplay. You should be responding to that tweet with “What are you looking for in your neighborhood?” or “I’d love to help out, ask me anything.” You have to add value to the conversation before you can close.

Try it with your own market. Search “(insert city) condo,” “moving to (insert city)” or “(insert city) house” and see what people are talking about. You can try “(insert city) real estate,” but I’ve found that usually you’ll get an endless stream of Realtors promoting themselves with that one.

Remember, you want to search how people speak conversationally. People will say, “I want to buy a house in San Diego,” before they will say, “I want to buy real estate in San Diego.” It’s often beneficial to just search the name of your city and see what people are talking about. Be available to lend advice or compliment people on successes. You’ll be surprised to see how quick people are to interact with you, which can lead to future business — when they’re ready.

Jason Cassity is a real estate professional at City Consulting Group in San Diego and specializes in the downtown San Diego real estate market.

Email Jason Cassity.

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