Just read another ActiveRain member's blog about their general confusion about twitter and how to use it. First let me say I love twitter. Facebook....well Mom used to say if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all.
What to Say?
On Twitter try to share things of value or of interest to you (not just real estate). Think of it as a cocktail party. How long would you talk to someone at a party that kept trying to sell you something?
I suggest that you do not hide your tweets (make them private). Social media is about being social after all!
You can use tools such as Twitterfeed to use whatever RSS feed you desire to post to your Twitter stream. However, automation should NOT be relied upon. I can tell, you can tell, everyone can tell it is automated.
And if you do use automated posts, you need to make sure whatever is being posted is always something of value and is never hidden behind a paywall (ie: Inman News or WSJ).
Another great tool for sharing to Twitter is Buffer. This tool will let you schedule posts by installing it into your browser or smart phone. I like to stay on top of current real estate or SEO news and often find things that I think others might find interesting.
However, if I tweeted every thing I found interesting, I would be link bombing 20-30 links an hour sometimes! So by using Buffer I can space out the items I have found. Easy as pie, free for the basic version and worth a look for sure!
You can also posts pictures to your twitter stream and this is a great way to share information about your community to your followers. I have one twitter follower judylynncin that shares beautiful pictures of Key West. And she also shares community news or the posts of others. Be sure to check her out on twitter and see an excellent example of sharing quality pictures of your community.
Automation is a very touchy subject. Some say never ever, some say it is OK. Use your best judgement and always think if you were in the other person's shoes, how would you feel about seeing nothing but automated posts?
Speaking of sharing, one great way to share is to share something that someone else has tweeted. This is called retweeting. ActiveRain has reblogging and Twitter has retweeting. Great way to share something you find interesting.
If you are retweeted by someone else, a great way to thank them is to look at their recent tweets and find something "tweet-worthy". Retweet it instead of saying thanks. Share the twitter love!
What to NOT Say!
Please do NOT try to sell on twitter. Please do NOT post your listings (maybe one a day such as a listing of the day). I have unfollowed many many people because they are doing nothing but posting listing after listing. How interesting is that?
On the other hand, twitter can be a great source of traffic to your website or blog if used properly. Last time I checked, I was averaging 10-25% of my blog's traffic from twitter. Considering the cost (free) that is not too bad.
How to Say It and How to Hear What is Said
Hey twitter can appear bewildering or confusing the first time you look at it. How do I keep up with the roughly 5000 people I follow on twitter?
I suggest that you use either Hootsuite or tweetdeck to monitor your followers and what they are saying (tweeting). I use hootsuite but tried tweedeck long ago. I understand tweetdeck is much improved now but I have found the FREE version of hootsuite is suitable for me. Plus twitter just bought tweetdeck recently so it may become the only option someday (that is another story for another time).
With either Hootsuite or Tweetdeck you can schedule tweets. And also use them to update your other social media accounts such as facebook or linkedin.
You are limited to only 140 characters for a tweet. So try to leave enough room that IF someone does retweet you, part of your tweet does not get cut off!
Creating lists is a must. Why?
Because after you start following hundreds or thousands of people, it is hard if not impossible to see what your favorite people on twitter are saying.
In Hootsuite (or tweetdeck), you can watch several different columns made up of the tweets from the people on your lists.
Maybe you like politics. Well then create alist of nothing but political news.
Or cooking. Or NASCAR. Or whatever. You can create a list and have some of the best content available curated for you by the people you follow and have added to your list about that subject.
One thing I do is I keep some of my important lists private. But my tweets are NOT protected. So if someone wants to they could follow every person I was following or "hear" what we say. Just remember that the internet is not a private conversation!
Who to Follow?
Well, I hope you will follow me. But my style might annoy you because of how often I tweet or what I tweet. However twitter is NOT like Facebook. It will not hurt my feelings if you stop following me.
I head a saying once comparing Twitter and Facebook:
Twitter is for the people you want to communicate with...
Facebook is for your family and the people you went to high school with!
Funny but in some ways it is true for me. Remember it takes time to build up a following and to find good people on twitter to follow. Here are some places to find relevant people on twitter:
http://twitaholic.com You can find people by location and follow those that appeal to you!
http://www.twitterstates.com Find the top twitter users in your state!
http://tweet.grader.com/location/ Another great way to find twitter users by location!
http://www.twellow.com/ Find twitter users by their interests, such as real estate!
http://www.tweetfind.com/Real-Estate.html Big list of people on twitter that are somehow real estate related.
http://listorious.com/tags/realtor Big list of Realtors on twitter. Plus there are many other lists to browse through!
There are many other ways to find people to follow. If you have found other goodies please share in the comments!
I have just recently found an new tool that you may want to use: IFTTT.com.
I have set up a recipe that will automagically put all your new followers into a list.
First create a list on your twitter account called new followers. Then go check out my recipe at http://ifttt.com/recipes/44345
Then every day or so, you can see who has recently started following you and follow back the people that interest you and do not appear to be spammy idiots.
This is just a few tips and I do NOT know everything about using twitter. It is not going to help you sell more real estate but it will help you to get traffic, meet new people and build social signals (think Google Juice).
Twitter has set a limit on how many people you can follow. Until you have more than 2000 people following you, you are limited to following 2000 people. Plus you can only follow 1.4 people for every follower you have. This is to prevent people following every person they can for spammy purposes.
There are many tools out there to help you clean out your followers. I do it manually and also use http://dossy.org/twitter/karma/
This is one of the big mistakes I see people make. You really really MUST upload a profile picture. No profile picture is often a sign of a spammer!
Not only do you need to upload a profile picture, you need to fill out your profile with a description that includes both a few keywords AND the link to your website or blog. And do not use a shortened url for your website!
A Few Words of Caution
If you get a DM (direct message) that says something along the lines of "this person is saying bad things about you" or they are spreading nastyb rumors about you" followed by a link...DO NOT CLICK that link!
The person that sent you that link has had their twitter account hacked and the message is trying to get you to visit a website that will cause you much pain!
Also, do not "buy" followers. They will not be real people!
I also suggest avoiding the followback tribes. Some people think having many followers is a sign of success on twitter. It does not mean much if you have 100,000 followers that never read your tweets!
And do NOT send an automated DM to all your new followers asking them to like your freaking Facebook page! Or asking them a question when they cannot reply to your DM because you do NOT follow them! DUH!
What have you found to help you on Twitter?