7 ways I use Twitter (and 1 way I don’t)

People ask me all the time why I’m on Twitter. “What’s the purpose of Twitter?” they want to know. Naysayers wonder why I’m on Twitter. Skeptics can’t figure it out. And sometimes clients ask me to help them get new clients from Twitter.

There’s a lot of confusion around Twitter and there are many ways that people use it. I certainly don’t profess to be a guru but I’m happy with my Twitter experience and my business has been positively impacted by it.

7 WAYS I USE TWITTER

  1. I use Twitter to stay up-to-date on general news, weather, sports, and industry-specific news. Twitter is in real-time so with properly chosen people to follow, I stay informed.
  2. I use Twitter to meet interesting people and businesses: I’m fascinated with entrepreneurs, equity and real estate investors, and innovators and Twitter is a great way to listen to them.
  3. I use Twitter to do market research. I pay attention to what my target market is tweeting, retweeting, and commenting on, and it informs my business decisions pretty regularly.
  4. I use Twitter to get outside of my bubble: I work from home and I’m focused on only a couple of niches. It’s easy to stay within that little world. But Twitter helps to get me out of it.
  5. I use Twitter to share myself with the world. I try to do that on my blog a bit, too, but my blog has a focused formality about it that Twitter doesn’t have. Twitter lets me relax a little and share my excitement over a NASCAR race or what I’m reading or eating or doing right now.
  6. I use Twitter to establish my expertise by listening to experts in my field, interacting with them, and sharing thought-leadership that I’ve written or found online.
  7. My favorite way to use Twitter is to have conversations and network with other people. I’ve met some pretty great people on Twitter who I would never normally connect with… but I’ve been able to connect with them on Twitter and then subsequently I’ve connected with them off of Twitter (and even in person). It’s very rewarding.

1 WAY I DON’T USE TWITTER

  1. I never use Twitter to solicit business from a potential client. I don’t ask people to hire me to write or consult for them. I don’t offer my services on Twitter.

In my experience, everyone has a slightly different take on Twitter and some people are totally cool with selling their services or products on Twitter. I’m not there. I love that Twitter is a lens to a larger world of awesome people that I wouldn’t get to connect with in any other way.

One Twitter skeptic asked me if I ever got business from Twitter. Some people who have become my clients have checked out my website, my Twitter account, and other online profiles of mine before hiring me. And I have built some pretty amazing relationships with smart people who have made my business better (through ideas or joint ventures). But no one has ever tried to hire me exclusively because of my Twitter account… and I’m just fine with that.

How do you use Twitter?

How real estate professionals can use Storify.com to sell more homes

Storify.com is a social media tool that enables users to pull together snippets of social media from several sources (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and more). Users bring different social media together into one “Story” that can be published and shared.

This provides yet another point of differentiation for real estate professionals who want to establish their expertise in a particular town, city, neighborhood, or community. Storify.com can help real estate professionals to sell more homes by giving potential buyers an overview of what makes that particular community so special.

Once you’ve created a Story, you can publish it, share it across other social media, and embed it on your websites.

Check out the example Storify.com Story I created to demonstrate the potential: How real estate professionals can use Storify.com to sell more homes (opens in a new tab/window).

Storify.com is free to sign up for and use (and if you have a Twitter account, you don’t even need to create another account). You can create as many stories as you want. Why not create the following stories:

  • Create a Story about the city or town you live in so you can link to it for your out-of-town buyers.
  • Create several Stories about the community (or communities) you specialize in. Introduce potential buyers to the area — where all the schools and shopping malls are. Embed videos of a drive down a typical street so visitors to your Story can get a sense of what the area is like. Interview local business owners and residents about the area and post videos in your story.
  • Create a Story about yourself, pulling snippets of social media where other people talk about you.
  • Create Stories that are linked to target markets like first time home buyers, young families, growing families, empty nesters, retirees, etc. For example, show the top three neighborhoods in the city that are perfect for families with young children.
  • … and more!

There are so many possibilities and you’ll discover new opportunities as you mix and match social media in new and interesting ways!

What should real estate professionals tweet about?

For years, real estate professionals have struggled with finding ways to connect with potential and previous clients to remain at the top of their minds for when those people want to buy or sell again. Calendars, fridge magnets, and the occasional mass mailing were the only way…

… Until social media came along.

Social media in general — and Twitter specifically — offer real-time connection to your potential and previous clients. You’ll know exactly what they’re thinking when they’re thinking it and that will help you to engage them before they make a real estate decision. Along the way, Twitter also gives you the ability to position yourself as an expert in a particular marketplace (i.e. to a specific niche or for a specific neighborhood).

Signing up for Twitter is free and very simple. And finding people (especially locals!) is also very easy.

Okay, so you have a Twitter account and you’re already to tweet. What should real estate professionals tweet about?

Here are 12 ideas that you can build off of to tweet an unlimited number of tweets!

  1. Tweet buying tips: Tweet to give people tips on buying a home in the area you cover. Is there something specific to watch for? Are there great opportunities? Is an older neighborhood regaining traction as a trendy locale?

  2. Tweet listing tips: Tweet to give people tips on how to sell a home in your area. Are there challenges to overcome? Is a certain type of buyer moving into the area? What are the key features for many of the homes in the area? When is the right time to list?

  3. Tweet about reasons and statistics to encourage buying and listing: Let people know when it’s a seller’s market or buyer’s market. Keep your readers up-to-date on how interest rates, the economy, and the local marketplace are combining to make it the perfect time to buy or sell.

  4. Tweet neighborhood stats: Buyers wants to move to an area because it has the right combination of things they’re looking for. Let them know that YOU know how many parks there are; what the student-teacher ratio is at the local grade school; how many Starbucks are nearby; how many buses serve the area; and what the home-sale trends have been like recently.

  5. Tweet about ideas to enjoy the home you’re living in: On average, people move once every seven years. So, for seven years, they’re not necessarily thinking about you and your services. Unless you help them to enjoy what you helped them buy. Give them ideas to increase the value of their home, increase the safety of their home, and make their home feel like their castle and refuge. That will make you an integral part of their home investment for the seven years between the time that they need your services.

  6. Tweet links to homes you’ve listed: This is an obvious one! Don’t overwhelm your followers with tweets about the homes you list, but definitely send out a few tweets a day that say: “Growing family? Check out this home: [link]” or “Newly retired? Check out this home: [link]“.

  7. Tweet your achievements: Be proud of your achievements! Tweet about the awards you won (when you win them; you probably shouldn’t tweet regularly about them after that), and especially tweet about when you list a home and when a home sells. A real estate pro who regularly tweets “I just sold another home! #awesome” shows potential clients that they can get it done.

  8. Tweet what you are doing right now: Real estate professionals are busy people. (You don’t need me to tell you that). So keep people up-to-date with what you’re doing by telling them. “I’m showing a home in the East Culbert neighborhood” or “I’m just about to meet with a potential seller.” Keep it generic and positive and accurate.

  9. Tweet about local neighborhood news: If you are positioning yourself as an expert in a particular neighborhood, become involved in that neighborhood by tweeting their news. Talk about the upcoming street-wide yardsale or the gradeschool magazine drive to raise money for new playground equipment or the quilting bee at a local church to send money to a South American orphanage. Soon, people will recognize you as a place to help them disseminate their local information and they’ll not only pay attention to you for local news (which will include “I’m listing a house in your area!“) but they’ll also think of you when they’re looking for a local expert to help them list or buy.

  10. Tweet to cheer local teams: This tip is related to the above tip but it’s not as “newsy”. Get involved in local teams by cheering them on and reporting their successes. Ball leagues, soccer leagues, bowling leagues, even the dart league at the local watering hole. They won’t mind the extra attention and it will benefit you and them in the long run.

  11. Tweet about local businesses: Like you, local businesses are trying to get by with local clientele. Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes it’s hard. Generously promote local businesses. If one of them is having a special, tweet about it. If one of them is holding a barbecue, tweet about it. If you’re bringing your shirts to the local laundromat, tweet about how much you like their service. Generous promotion is reciprocating, even if those businesses aren’t on Twitter as much as you.

  12. Tweet to engage local people: This one is huge. Don’t just tweet things out as if they were announcements. Don’t just follow the above 11 tips and ignore this one. If you only have time to do ONE of these 12 tips, do this one! Engage your followers. Talk with them. Joke with them. Empathize with them. Communicate with them. Listen to them. Share what they are talking about.

Sit down with these 12 tips and come up with dozens — or even hundreds — of potential tweets. Once you have a big list, you’ll be armed with tweets for every occasion… and you’ll have a reason to send people to your Twitter page. Some of these tweets you can tweet as they happen. Others can be scheduled and put into a rotation (using a social media tool like Hootsuite).

Want some additional ideas about what you can tweet about? Check my blog post 101 retweetable tweets!

Your social presence map: How to define what to share and what not to share on the social web

The web is so social. It’s a great place to connect both personally and professionally.

But not everything needs to be shared with everyone. I prefer to shape my interactions so they are relevant to the context of my relationships. Do you?

For example I have a number of friends who don’t really know (or care) what I do professionally and I’m not interested in pitching my services to them. I have a number of professional contacts who don’t really know (or care) what I do in my personal life and I’m not interested in describing for them what I ate for lunch or what I do in my spare time. It doesn’t matter to me if they find out, but I’m not the kind of person who just lets it all hang out online for everyone to see.

If you’d like to separate your personal and professional life, this idea might be useful for you. Create a chart that maps the geography of your social presence, and identifies the borders between what you’re willing to share with everyone and what you’d prefer to share with a select few.

YOUR SOCIAL PRESENCE MAP

Here’s how to create a social presence map. We start with a simple chart (pictured below) that measures two axes: On one axis, the spectrum of your personal and professional life, and on the other axis, the spectrum of shallow and deep interaction.

This is the “geography” that represents who you are and how you connect with people.


The personal and professional spectrum is pretty obvious – it’s who you are at work and at play.

The shallow and deep spectrum is the depth of your interaction within a specific network. If you’re firing off two or three word statuses (“I’m hungry”, “I’m reading a book”) and not really connecting and engaging people then your use of that network is shallow. But if you’re providing rich content, valuable insight, and enjoying ongoing conversations then your use of that network is deep.

You will be plotting the locations of each network within this geography, as if they were countries on a rectangular continent.

STEP 1: ADD SOCIAL MEDIA TO YOUR MAP

First, you need to figure out how you use your various social networks. List every social network you use, regardless of what you use it for and whether or not you are a power user or a sporadic user. Then add them to the map according to the most accurate location on the two axes.

I’ll use my own life as an example. I have a small handful of social networks I use: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and this blog, AaronHoos.com. So, I will add those to the map, spreading them out according to the two spectrums in the map.

You can see that I’ve placed my social networks at the approximate locations of where they are in the geography of my social interaction.

This exercise can be helpful for you to think about what content you want to post in each network and how you want to interact with the people in each network.

I also find this a helpful way to help me think about how I want to use my social media channels for my sales funnel. For example I note that my usage of Twitter is pretty shallow and somewhere between personal and professional. But if my sales funnel included Twitter as a vital component, I might want to think about deepening my relationships on Twitter and maybe moving my use of that social network slightly more toward the professional side of the chart.

So this social presence map acts as a sort-of analysis of your current position as well as a way to strategize your business’ evolution.

The first step is figuring out where these social networks are in our geography of interaction. We can go a step further…

STEP 2: ADD BORDERS TO YOUR MAP

Next, it’s time to think about how much of your life you want to share with everyone. Some people (myself included) prefer to keep their public life and private life separate. It’s not that I’m unwilling to be myself around my clients, but I also want to cultivate and maintain a professional presence when I’m working and I can relax a bit when I’m not working. If I go out with friends for sushi, I don’t mind sharing that information with my other friends on Facebook, but my clients don’t need to know (and likely don’t care).

So we next add boundaries on the map to show how accessible each network is. Solid lines mean that it’s a private network that requires permission to enter. Dotted lines mean that anyone can enter, view, and participate in that social network.

And you’ll also note the size of the boundaries and the overlap, which help to define the scope of how you use a particular network.

I’ve added boundaries to my social presence map, below:

So, here’s how to read my map: I use Facebook and Foursquare exclusively for my personal network. (In fact, I only use Foursquare because it pushes info to Facebook). They are kept private.

I used LinkedIn for professional relationships and it is open so that anyone can see it. Admittedly (and this is something I’d like to improve), it’s a very shallow network for me right now.

AaronHoos.com is part of my professional social presence, and it’s my deepest network (in terms of audience and subject matter). It’s open for everyone to see.

In the middle is Twitter, which is pretty shallow (although less so than LinkedIn because I do interact with my Twitter network). You’ll also notice that it straddles my personal and professional presences and what I share in Twitter overlaps slightly with what I share in my blog, on LinkedIn, and even a little on Facebook.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN

Now it’s your turn to create your social presence map. Follow the steps in this blog post to determine what the geography is of your social interactions.

But don’t stop there! Use your social presence map as a strategic tool to help you understand what you want to share with each network and where you want to improve. And if you’re ever unsure about where to post something, look to your social presence map as a guide.

Be sure to revisit your social presence map from time to time to see if it’s changed and if there are strategic purposes to evolving how you use some of your networks.

And while we’re on the subject of social networks, I would love connect with you on Twitter and LinkedIn (invites accepted).