Few small real estate offices have a staff position with “social media expert” in the job description. Finding the time to tweet and do it well can be a challenge, especially if you’re not sure where to start.
But with a little strategic planning, you can easily get your Twitter feed off the ground, or resurrect it if it’s been lying dormant. Ignore Twitter and its 255 million regular users, and you’re missing the chance to engage with customers for free on a personal level, while driving traffic back to your website.
Here are the answers to a few common questions many brokers have before getting started:
How do we find an audience?
If you’ve never used Twitter, it’s important to understand that your tweets are seen only by those who’ve chosen to follow your brokerage online. (Following is a simple matter of clicking on the Follow button from your Twitter account.) Connect to your built-in audiences by linking to your Twitter account from your website, e-newsletter, and other social media accounts. Follow other organizations in your community and engage with them by “favoriting” and retweeting items that are relevant to your audience. They’re likely to return the favor down the road. If you’re starting from scratch, here are some more ideas for building your audience.
How can we make time for Twitter?
Develop a social media calendar that highlights interesting facts about the neighborhoods you work in, specific areas of expertise, or seasonally appropriate updates. Posting on Twitter should also be part of your marketing publication schedule, so whenever you’re putting out any type of communication – new listings, open houses, news on local real estate trends – also share it on Twitter. But be sure to not overwhelm your followers with only listing and open house information. Your goal is to stay timely, consistent, and relevant to your followers in order to build brand loyalty over time.
How often should we be tweeting?
The general rule is to establish consistency. Start by scheduling at least one post a day and work up from there. Because each tweet only has a shelf-life of two hours, it’s okay to recycle topics, especially if it’s big news.
Tools like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and Buffer allow you to schedule tweets in advance, so you don’t necessarily need to come up with new material daily. Even if you pre-schedule tweets, you will want to monitor your account daily so you can respond to incoming messages. You wouldn’t want to miss out on someone who is looking to buy or sell.
Many social media management tools can help determine when your followers are online, and experts like Dan Zarrella offer research-based insights that can help you determine, when and how often to tweet, and how to frame your posts.
What makes a good tweet?
It’s not just what you tweet that matters – how you tweet it can make a big difference. Which of these tweets about the same house would you find more exciting?
Tweet A: Just listed: 4 bed, 2 bath house at 123 Oak St. $250,000
Tweet B: Classic 4 bd/2 br Victorian in Uptown near great schools, restaurants, and transit (including photo of home and link to listing).
Tweet A simply shares a fact, but Tweet B contains information about why you would want to live here. Twitter isn’t just a platform for sharing information, it’s a chance to make your elevator pitch in 140 characters. Ask yourself before tweeting, why would somebody be interested in this?
Do we really have enough subject matter to warrant a Twitter account?
Remember that old saying “location, location, location?” Sharing good news about neighborhood schools, new restaurants, parks, and other attractions will help your brokerage make an even greater connection with prospective customers. Tweeting industry news is also a great way to demonstrate your expertise in the industry, as well as engaging with others who are tweeting relevant information about your market.
Should all of our agents be on Twitter?
Twitter is one of many great tools agents can use to network with clients, so it generally pays for them to maintain their own accounts. Keep in mind that branded accounts maintained by your agents reflect your company, like it or not. Setting expectations about what’s appropriate for business Twitter accounts and having a social media policy can help you avoid problems down the line.
How do we know if our efforts are paying off?
In addition to monitoring the rise in your followers and scheduling tweets, you can use tools like Hootsuite to track retweets, replies, and mentions. Dive into Google Analytics and see how much of your website traffic comes via Twitter. Find a number of other tools for measuring your success on Twitter’s business page.
Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine Online, August 2014, with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright August 2014. All rights reserved.