Using Twitter to Listen to Your Customers

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Like many in the real estate blogosphere I’ve been playing around with Twitter a lot recently. (Follow me here jburslem)

I wrote a post on the Inman Blog recently where I described one application of the service; how you could use it to subscribe to news and essentially build a real time teleprinter for your desktop (using a desktop client like Twhirl).

The group blog agentgenius.com is using Twitter to integrate live feeds of all its contributors “tweets” into a rolling stream of consciousness.

But here’s the killer app for Twitter. I think Jeff Turner might have stumbled on to it in his post when he searched Twitter for the word “Realtor”. Twitter is a fantastic tool for business intelligence.

Why? Because you can use it to hear what your customers, clients, users are saying about you.

I use a site called TweetScan to search for keywords through the Twitterstream – this is what I found out in one sitting for searches on a couple of Real Estate 2.0 sites, for example.

Real-time Twitter Search – Zillow

My takeaway: People are still using Zillow – but disappointed by what they’re seeing. Will they keep coming back?

Real-time Twitter Search – Redfin

My takeaway: People are using Redfin to research the market looking for bargains. Seems like their marketing angle (see Redfin’s Business Model Better for Consumers) is bang on.

These are just a couple of examples, but you can see how you could use Twitter to keep a finger on the pulse of your customers’ feelings.

If I were working in the marketing or communications departments for either of these companies, I’d be trolling the Twitter feeds looking for these themes and answering any questions – so where’s DavidG on Twitter? :)

The best thing is that Tweetscan makes it easy to subscribe to an RSS search of a particular keyword (I subscribe to Inman, for example) which makes that job even easier.

Part of the challenge in marketing for many years has been trying to figure out what people think of your product or service. That’s why you often had to resort to focus groups, user questionnaires, surveys and all kinds of brute force methods to figure out what people think.

Twitter on the other hand is a real-time, real-world glimpse into the minds of your customers. Granted right now it’s a small, technologically literate slice of the population using Twitter – but if that’s your demographic, you should be paying attention.