Laurie Weston Davis, broker-owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Lifestyle Property Partners in Pinehurst, N.C., has a respectable 13,700 followers on Twitter and garners retweets and mentions by sharing her relationship-first business approach and national speaking engagements. Davis set up her account in 2009. But she admits that gaining this amount of attention on the social network wasn’t easy at first—in fact, she let her page fall by the wayside for a few years.
“I just didn’t understand it,” says Davis, a common admission among those with a Twitter aversion. That’s because the conversations that work on other popular social media sites don’t necessarily work on Twitter. After attending a more in-depth Twitter training, Davis began diligently using the platform for marketing her business and engaging with other real estate professionals and clients.
But her 13,700 followers didn’t come overnight. Learn Davis’s insights on Twitter’s nuances and how she built up her profile as a referral network overtime.
How to Build a Following
“First and foremost,” Davis says, “watch and listen. Then engage.” She encourages real estate professionals to follow influencers in the industry along with local real estate pros and area businesses. See what they’re talking about, she says. Read what they post in order to gain an understanding of how they use the platform to communicate.
Define the purpose of your Twitter account—for instance, to build community connections, network with other agents, or provide information to prospects. Once you’re ready to engage on Twitter, start by crafting original tweets. Keep them professional and make sure they serve the needs of your audience. Sharing informative, actionable, industry specific content is important. “You want to present yourself as an expert in your field,” Davis says. Hone in on your market knowledge or expertise in a particular area—condos, short sales, flips—and share that knowledge on Twitter.
Unlike Facebook or LinkedIn where one post a day is generally acceptable, Twitter requires more commitment. “The platform is so fast paced,” Davis says. “Twitter is all about being seen, and to do that, you have to tweet regularly and often.” One way to do this is through automation. Social media tools like Back At You Media, a REALTOR Benefits® Program partner, and other social media management platforms allow you to schedule tweets in advance so you can ensure a constant flow of posts.
However, you don't want your account to come off as fully automated, so it's important to join in conversations. If you have a question or want to comment on a post, you can do so through the reply feature. Conversations on Twitter, Davis warns, are different in nature from those on Facebook, though, and understanding the difference is important. “It’s necessary, again, to realize that Twitter is a fast-paced platform,” Davis says. “Facebook is more like the backyard barbeque, whereas Twitter is the cocktail party. You’re moving from one conversation to the other quickly.”
Retweeting other people's tweets will also help build relationships while simultaneously sharing useful content on your profile. When you share or comment on someone else’s post, you show them you’re engaged and value their input on a particular subject. “Retweeting is a great way to make connections with local businesses and clients and grow a referral network,” Davis says.
Once you've connected with a business or organization in your community, find ways to partner with them. “Make a video or interview the business owner and then tweet that information out,” Davis suggests.
Maximize the Use of the Live Tweeting
When attending a networking or educational event, you might notice that marketing materials or presentations include a hashtag. Using the hashtag on Twitter is a great way to organize conversations while tweeting about an event and connecting with other event-goers. Real estate practitioners can use Twitter to relay small tidbits of information. For example, Davis attended the Inman Connect NYC conference in January, and while there, tweeted out one-sentence quotes she found useful from the presenters. She also retweeted other attendees’ tweets that resonated with her. On every post, she included the event hashtag, #ICNY.
The hashtag allows Twitter users to easily search for posts related to a specific event or topic. Live tweeting is not reserved only for big real estate events—you can use this method at community events in your market as well.
A Few Warnings
As with all social media platforms, using sound judgment and commonsense etiquette is necessary. “When using automation tools, it’s important that you’re still actively engaged in the platform,” Davis says. “You don’t want what you’re posting to seem insensitive if there’s some event happening that needs your attention.” Since Twitter is a space for news as well as information, many sensitive subjects are shared, and it’s important to acknowledge the significance of such happenings when warranted.
It’s also important to be aware of the fact that social media users are inundated with information and companies trying to market to them blindly. You want your approach to be sincere and beneficial. For example, Davis warns against setting up automated responses to followers where your account automatically sends them a direct message once you're connected. She says this can come off as inauthentic to your followers. Build the relationship first, and then focus on the marketing.
Though the platform might take some time to fully understand, Twitter is a great place to build up a local referral network and connect with an engaged audience. Calculated, consistent use of the platform can open doors other marketing methods might not, Davis explains. “The beauty of Twitter is that you have this huge space to make an impact,” she says. “It gives you the ability to make connections that you may never be able to make otherwise.”