By now most everyone is aware of Twitter (unless you’re my parents), but you may not know or understand how it works, and just how powerful it can be.

For those of you that have been living a somewhat sheltered life (or with my parents), Twitter is a micro-blogging social networking site. Each post is limited to 140 characters, hence the ‘micro-blogging’ label. At first glance, for most of you Twitter probably seems like so much pointless, mindless drivel, spewing out what people ate for lunch, what their dog ate for lunch, or that their car broke down. And, if you follow people that write about such mindless crap, then yes, it’s completely pointless.

A word of caution (and I’ve said this before, often): don’t underestimate the power of Twitter. It’s real-time, high-speed information sharing like we’ve never seen before. Take the plight of US Airways Flight 1549 that crashed on the Hudson River – news of the crash broke on Twitter before any of the major networks had even heard about it.

What you get out of Twitter has everything to do with who you follow and what you share. Who you follow brings you the news and information you find useful and valuable. What you share gives others, your followers, information they find useful and valuable, and will hopefully want to re-share (ie. retweet) with their followers.

Businesses of all types have grasped Twitter as another marketing channel, promoting free and paid content, sales messages, surveys, promotions, and support updates. One industry that seems to be divided about Twitter is real estate – some use it to their great advantage, while others struggle to comprehend it and the purpose behind it.

The reality is, there’s nothing to figure out – it’s not rocket science, and it’s certainly not hard to understand. It’s simply an ongoing stream of information and randomness. The tough part about Twitter isn’t understanding it, it’s controlling and managing the streams so that what comes into your consciousness is relevant to you.

Some great tools for managing Twitter are Twitter Lists (accessed through Twitter and a number of external apps), HootSuite (my personal fave), ping.fm and TweetDeck. There are a ton of others out there, it’s simply a matter of trying them out and finding one that works best for you.

Incorporating Twitter in your real estate business is more than just Tweeting out links to new listings, virtual tours and open houses. You’ve heard, “Build it, and they will come”. Have something useful to share, and they’ll read it.

Twitter – and other social networking sites – are simply another way for you to communicate with others, and them with you. You wouldn’t call a prospect and tell them you just ate a grilled cheese with pickles; they’d probably think you were nuts and never have anything more to do with you. So please don’t be compelled to share that same sort of thing over other communication channels. Blog posts, the latest industry stats, market trends and changes, proposed construction, and so on – that’s something useful that people will want to read and share.

Keep the grilled cheese and pickles to yourself.

Lisa-May Huby, Director of Marketing

Lisa-May Huby, Director of Marketing

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