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Can Twitter Really Increase Your Real Estate Sales?

Can anyone tell me why so many agents spend so many hours on Twitter?

It seems a lot of agents are caught up in the Social Media hype these days and Twitter is high on their list.  Is the business they generate off Twitter predictable and duplicate-able or just a big waste of time? I have been trying to figure out if agents are really getting business from spending so many hours following people and tweeting or is it a way to avoid what they really should be doing to generate business.  That would be contacting their past clients, calling their COI and actually prospecting to locate new clients. Now the results from those activities are actually predictable and duplicate-able if tracked.

I can see a small benefit of getting a referral now and then since most agents are following other agents. Those are far and few between and very hard to build a business on. I have heard some agents say that it helps their search engine rankings which is totally ridiculous. Now I can see it would have value if you were a vendor and had a lot of agents following you. A lot of agents are looking for that magic pill that doesn’t require work and believe a lot of these snake oil salesmen ;-)

Can someone please tell me what I am missing?  I really want to know. I truly think agents could be spending their time in more productive activities.

On another note: I will be in San Diego at NAR and look forward to meeting some new real estate friends to share ideas about converting more business online, SEO, social media and any other productive activities :-)

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  • http://www.sandiegolifestyle.info jeffreydouglass

    Jeff, Twitter is a good way to get conversations going and follow some really interesting people. I recently wrote a post regarding Twitter and real estate.

    http://www.sandiegolifestyle.info/2009/09/twitt

    See you in San Diego!

  • http://www.ubertor.com/ Steve Jagger – Ubertor, Reachd

    Twitter is a communication tool that lets agents/consumers/other agents/etc learn more about each other. It is a fantastic tool, but can be a time waster like anything else if you let it. Her is a video with Ian Watt where he talks about his ROI – http://blog.reachd.com/2009/02/09/ian-watt-talk

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  • triseanallen

    Thanks for the post. The problem is in the questions? Twitter doesn't directly increase your sales as a real estate professional. What it does is exposes you as a knowledgeable professional (or not), engages you in b2b and some client networking, and serves to expose your web presence and ultimately drive traffic to your blog. The point is to move from A to B to C….which is to say, in this day and age, move people to your blog/site, engage, inform, education, and ultimately convert for an appointment or referral. In addition to lead generation 2-4 hours a day, and after appointments, current transactions, etc, I spend time delivering content to my community, clients, coi via my blog. Then I talk about “stuff” via twitter/fb to guide interested people to my blog. That is my strategy at least. I heard Jim Marks say that twitter (maybe Facebook) without a strategy is just a T.O.Y. It takes some time to filter through the noise and make sense of what you want to do. I have made some fantastic b2b connections. Having said all of that, if you are not a solid professional with good lead gen habits BEFORE these tools, they won't make you better for using them. We will just be more exposed professionally. Join us at RebarcampSD.com by the way. Thanks again for the post.

  • http://www.joelane.com JoeColleen

    Amen! Colleen uses Twitter and Facebook but in moderation. We know leads are still coming primarily through SEO, PPC, and good old fashioned face-to-face relationships. Twitter and Facebook in my opionion is for fun, and building relationships with other real estate agents.

  • http://twitter.com/academyblog Dan Hare

    I agree with triseanallen. Twitter can help agents to build credibility and authority with potential customers. Many surveys and sites look at house price data and trends nationally, but these statistics are meaningless. It's on a local level that matters to customers and Twitter is a great place for an agent to demonstrate their expertise in their local market place.

    Admittedly, not many are doing this well or at all at present, but a good example of someone who's doing it right would be @marshandparsons

  • http://www.teamensor.com/ Joe

    I recently read about someone creating a Twitter account for each listing, and then having it auto-follow other accounts where people type in a certain keyword in their tweets. This could catch on as a way to use Twitter for real estate agents.

  • geordieromer

    Social Media can be a total waste of time.

    http://www.geekestateblog.com/realtor-on-realto

    The Pareto Principle seems to be pretty strong in real estate and I would guess it's the same here. 80% of agents are using Twitter as a toy and time waster, 20% (or less) are using it as a tool to drive traffic to their website and to connect and build their Sphere of Influence.

  • housechick

    If I'm spending hours on Twitter, it's because my work day is done and I'm having some fun with my friends there. Otherwise, it's just something I check when I'm waiting around, or I send out some random thought inbetween tasks.

    I think the nature of Twitter lends to the perception that people are always on, when most of the productive people I know are not. It's easily squeezed into downtime.

    As for the ROI of social media, that's a question that always gets my hackles up. Repeatable? How many Sundays do you have to go to church to get a listing? How many soccer games to you have to attend to pick up a buyer? It's just networking – becoming visible to local peeps, being involved in the community. Though I have gotten business directly off of twitter, sent and received referrals from other agents, been in the paper twice because I follow a local journalist.

    I have current and past clients on Twitter too. I believe following them there and being able to reply to them there – in one of their chosen mediums for communication – is just as good as a phone call or email. Better, possibly, as the communication is mutual and happening in a place of their choice. I'm not interrupting anything, I'm just meeting them where they already are.

    But beyond that, I enjoy it. That's largely my water-cooler time, how I keep up with my friends and my community, how I meet new local peeps.

    See you at #nardiego!

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  • chuckg32

    Jeff,

    Twitter by itself will not increase an agent's sales in most cases. Twitter should be used as an extension of a balanced, on-line marketing plan. I use it Twitter as a way to extend the reach of my blog posts. But this doesn't require any additional time on my behalf, since a handy WordPress plug-in does it all automatically. It's a free and easy vehicle to blast out blog posts to a bigger audience.

    The other way to use Twitter effectively as an agent is to envision it as a “micro-blog” — this is simply a place to post stuff that's too small for your regular blog, but still timely and important information…i.e. the sales price of a home that just closed, or a new listing.

    If an agent is relying solely on Twitter for their online strategy, you're correct — it's not going to happen. But it definitely has its place in an intelligent marketing strategy.

  • houseyourmom

    I think I may have figured a system for getting some measurable roi outta twitter… sorta:

    http://www.bloodhoundrealty.com/BloodhoundBlog/

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  • JoelMcDonald

    I think Twitter is like any other form of prospecting… Some people can do it extremely effectively, and others have it all wrong.

    It's no different than agents who spend thousands on name recognition postcard campaigns and barely cover their investment, compared to other agents who have a laser-targeted direct response postcard campaign with a back-end followup system.

    To each their own.

  • atlantarealestate

    Jeff:

    I've asked this same question on various blogs and you always get a lot of opinions, and some heated debates at times.

    Personally, I don't tweet or facebook. I would rather spend my time on provable repeatable lead generating tactics on my web site.

    So, call me a 44 year old Grampa, I can take it.

    :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Rathbun/679455743 Matthew Rathbun

    I've read several blog posts with this question. I do think Twitter is awesome, and I've enjoyed the people I've encountered. I've made some money off those of connections, but that's been the benefit and not the priority. I happen to like people…

    Why did Norm hang out at Cheers?

  • http://www.ajsquare.com/products/helpdesk-software/overview.php joel

    Definitely, because twitter providing more traffic to my site. Through my traffic i can get more customers to my site.

  • kbmetro

    I don't think so…. Twitter and Facebook are not going to produce sales, my opinion. If an agent used the same amount of time spent on these social media outlets by just “getting back to the basics,” I bet agents would be more successful. I would like to compare side-by-side any agent doing social media and an agent actually working more traditional methods of prospecting…… I'm not saying twitter or Facebook isn't “fun,” but, seriously? So, I agree with you!!!

    Keith Bennett

  • Steve

    Quite a wide variety of opinions here. I have been in corporate work for 36 years advising businesses in sales and marekting. Frankly those who 'don't get' or think that social media is does not generate ROI are probably not working to a formal and professional 'social media marketing strategy' – this isn't just about Twitter, this is about utilising all THE APPROPRIATE social media networks that are available. Right now the Arabic fraternity are interested in investing in Spain, therefore social media netyworks are an excellent way to network and make the necessary contacts with investors abroad. Sure, like anything you have to put time and effort int o understanding it, you have to put time and effort into participating. Maybe 10 or 20% only are responsible for the current level of tweeting, but it doesn't mean it is unsuccessful.

    I'm getting sick of the comparisons of numbers between Facebook users and Twitter users. This isn't about numbers! This is about quality and how you use the networks….that's the crux. I use Twitter and others for business, but Facebook for family. I don't expect to do any business on Facebook – if I do it's a bonus. I know of successful businesses generating huge income through only using Facebook. This is about understanding your marketplace, and investing a sensible amount of time and effort into 'doing it right'.

    The more time you spend doing online or offline marketing right the greater the rewards….this is about 'getting it right' and investment of time is always essential in any successful business, even if it is to find a way to reduce your time, through systems such as Posterous.

  • Steve

    Quite a wide variety of opinions here. I have been in corporate work for 36 years advising businesses in sales and marekting. Frankly those who 'don't get' or think that social media is does not generate ROI are probably not working to a formal and professional 'social media marketing strategy' – this isn't just about Twitter, this is about utilising all THE APPROPRIATE social media networks that are available. Right now the Arabic fraternity are interested in investing in Spain, therefore social media netyworks are an excellent way to network and make the necessary contacts with investors abroad. Sure, like anything you have to put time and effort int o understanding it, you have to put time and effort into participating. Maybe 10 or 20% only are responsible for the current level of tweeting, but it doesn't mean it is unsuccessful.

    I'm getting sick of the comparisons of numbers between Facebook users and Twitter users. This isn't about numbers! This is about quality and how you use the networks….that's the crux. I use Twitter and others for business, but Facebook for family. I don't expect to do any business on Facebook – if I do it's a bonus. I know of successful businesses generating huge income through only using Facebook. This is about understanding your marketplace, and investing a sensible amount of time and effort into 'doing it right'.

    The more time you spend doing online or offline marketing right the greater the rewards….this is about 'getting it right' and investment of time is always essential in any successful business, even if it is to find a way to reduce your time, through systems such as Posterous.

    • http://www.hawaiirealestatereporter.com/ Joe

      I personally think twitter is fun, I log into tweetdeck once a day, but somewhat of a waste of time if the goal is to initiate and cultivate/drum up new business for realtors.

      I think this because I know a twitter user who is the ROCK STAR of twitter in Hawaii. Very nice person, many, many thousands of followers, and this individual is very active, as in tweeting 5-15 times a day. Pretty low sales volume. This person does have one confirmed sale from a contact made from twitter. The ROI on time spent doesn't look like its worth it from my perspective. There are other much more productive ways to get business.

      I would say blogging and Facebook would be more productive social media venues to participate in.

  • http://www.adrhi.com/ Jeff Manson

    Thanks for all the great comments. I would personally love to respond to each one of you, but unfortunately I am under a deadline to get a few projects completed. Looks like twitter if used effectively can be a great tool to meet new interesting people that you can share ideas with. That in itself can improve your business if those Ideas are executed on :-) I look forward to meeting some of you in SD.

  • fionatustian

    I couldn't agree more. The time spent on Twitter could be far more productive talking to prospective clients and past clients. I feel Face book is the same thing, though they now have an area similar to Linked In – anyone had success with this.

    • http://PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com Jay Thompson

      I'm curious… you say the time I spend on Twitter could be far more productive talking to prospective and past clients.

      How much time do I spend on Twitter?

      Why can't I use Twitter to talk to prospective and past clients?

  • abijahs

    All depends on how much time you invest on these sites & know how. So I disagree

  • http://twitter.com/RickSchwartz Rick Schwartz

    One word (actually an acronym) — SOI. It's just one more way to get involved in the community. Community is everything in the RE biz isn't it?

    I've made some new friends through Twitter – many of them local. I stay in touch by Tweeting – just as I might call, or email my Real World SOI.

  • http://www.soldbyarthur.com arthurh

    Twitter is just another tool to develop relationships in social and business circles which could eventually lead to a referral or potential business. Good tool to get to know your competition.

  • http://PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com Jay Thompson

    The answer to the question in your title is “yes”.

    All the clients I've gained from Twitter are a result of using Twitter as a tool to meet people in real life. As in face-to-face shake their hand real life.

    It's fabulous for getting to know people on-line first, and then organizing or discovering real life “Tweetups” to finally meet them in real life.

    I don't think many use it this way.

    I also don't spend nearly as much time on Twitter as people assume I do. It's “parallel processing”, multi-tasking, background, whatever you want to call it. TweetDeck runs on one monitor while I work on the other monitor. And really, how much time does it take to type 140 characters?

    I constantly hear “It's great for networking with other agents”. Yep, it is. But it's also GREAT for networking with LOCAL non-agent people. You know, the ones that actually but and sell homes.

    ROI? “Repeatable”? Who the heck knows. Find me someone who can quote the ROI and repeatability of their Rotary meeting, volunteering for some organization or any other “social thing” agents claim to get business from. Some things can't be measured.

    Like enjoyment. How do you put a value on that?

    For God's sake, not every waking moment has to be spent obsessing over business, lead generation, ROI and repeatability.

    But yes, Twitter really can increase your sales. If you don't hard sell, push listings, spew automated tweets, claim to be the NUMBER ONE AGENT ON THE PLANET and other such abuses.

    Be real, share, reach out, engage, meet others.

    That increases sales whatever the tool / platform is.

  • http://www.memphisrealestate.blogspot.com joespake

    Jay Thompson: Thanks for giving some perspective to this conversation. My answer to the title is also YES. I realize ROI is a soft term, so here are some facts.
    1. Twitter ranks #3 behind google and Facebook in sending visitors to my websites.
    2. I was able to identify a customer problem from his post today, and solve it via twitter. I was lavished with online praise, that literally thousands of folks saw. ROI? Maybe Whuffie is a more appropriate term.
    3. I went to a function tonight for a group I sponsor and was approached and engaged enthusiastically by 3 “strangers”, uh Twitter followers. ROI? who do you think they will think of when they think of real estate?

  • 1000wattmarc

    I don't think this is about trying to lead generate.

    Basically, it's a semi fun past time for a small segment of agents who are a bit socialaholic and require a little ego boost and acceptance from the world after spending all day dealing with blood sucking consumers.

    It's the equivalent of happy hour in your favorite bar. And honestly man, who gives a crap whether agents spend time on Twitter or sitting at home watching CNN?

    The reality is, out of this whole industry, it's a handful who do this. Sure it's silly. But silly isn't bad. Or damaging. Just silly.

    The damaging part is when someone decides they are now an expert in this silliness and decides to unleash their expertise on the rest of the industry, publish reports and manuals, teach classes on it at conventions and sell their coaching services to brokerages who then offer their agents like Abraham did with Issac on the social media alter.

    Meanwhile all over the worlds tens of millions of people join and tweet with nary a lesson. To me, that is what I am missing.

  • losangelerealestate

    I wouldn't say I'm new to twitter because I've had an account for 6+ months. I'd say I'm new to actually figuring out how it can be a useful/interesting tool. I just got started with Hootsuite, which is an awesome tool for harnessing the power of Twitter IMHO. Basically I think its cool to be able to periodically monitor streams of information from people you may be interested in following. How else would it be possible for me to hear what all the pre-eminent leaders and most progressive thinkers in my industry are thinking and reading at all times? Tools like Twitter are why agents can stay in touch remotely. If you don't think that is useful do you find reading the newspaper useful? With twitter I can spend the time I would reading the newspaper but only read articles on the specific subjects I'm interested in.

    As others have mentioned it is difficult to measure the ROI of expanding visibility and expanding your social network but I don't think anyone can deny that these are important parts of succeeding in the Real Estate industry and basic relationship building. Personally, I don't think you can put a monetary value or an ROI on building relationships. Outside of just being advantageous from a business perspective, to me personally, developing relationships is what life is all about.

  • http://www.mydentoncountyrealestate.com Jay Myers

    Well a few things personally I know for sure.

    Who would have ever thunk there were so many “Social Media Experts?”

    So many coaches, speakers and motivators and they all want Followed and do Follow back but never read a thing just post self promoting stuff.

    Tired of people not Following me Back. (I am a good guy I swear)

    Also tired of people who say they are involved in Social Media, and they are just not social.

    I still think for the most part it is 2 million people speaking out-loud and hoping someone is listening. Please notice I said for the most part.

  • Drew S.

    So I take it you don't have a twitter handle?

    • http://www.adrhi.com/ Jeff Manson

      I do, but do not really follow it. It seemed like it was distracting on what I really needed to get done for the day.

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    Hi,
    Yes Twitter Really Increases Real Estate Sales.One of the really great aspects of Twitter for any professional is the ability to target large amounts of people based on their interests and location. It is this niche/geo targeting that enables “web savvy” real estate agents to reach much larger amounts of prospective clients than ever before.

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