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Micro-Blogging
All A-Twitter/Users/adamp/Desktop/Stuff for FAR/Magazine Assets/JAN09/images/TechYou

A social networking tool helps this sales associate create a following online.

Kristen Hart was riding around downtown Orlando on her Harley, previewing properties, when she got the call. Yes, the listing agent told her, the seller accepted the contract she submitted on behalf of her buyer. Hart, a brand-new sales associate with Keller Williams Advantage II Realty in Orlando, pulled over and immediately called the soon-to-be-first-time homeowner with the good news. And, thanks to Twitter, an online social networking and micro-blogging service, she was able toinstantly share the news with all her friends and colleagues.

With the phone application still activated on her Blackberry, she spoke, “I want to text Twitter” into the device. The text-messaging application opened, and she thumb-typed: “In the process of making a first-time homebuyer’s dream come true this morning. Celebrating the acceptance of a contract on a home.”

Her message, or “Tweet,” was instantly sent to the computers and cell phones of all the people who are signed up as her friends, or “Twits,” on Twitter.com. Twitter is a great way for real estate professionals to gain exposure for their blogs, build a referral network, learn new things from their peers and seek out assistance from their colleagues, to name a few.

Here’s what Hart has to say about the service:

Free and Easy
On the surface, Twitter may look like a frivolous way to pass the time. “Not so,” says Hart. Real estate professionals will find this service is an easy way to network with peers and build referral business. Users log in as often as they want and simply answer—in 140 characters or less—the question: “What are you doing?”

Hart, whose customer base includes many young professionals, has discovered that it’s a great way to stay in contact with the younger buyer.

Her Tweets typically run the gamut from, “Compiling a list of the best deals and steals in the Orlando housing market” to “Today I’m at the Orlando Regional Realtor® Association for orientation.” “It’s like a mobile telegram service, and it’s as simple as sending an e-mail.” Hart adds.

Create a Following
Hart suggests that beginning Twits find someone whose style they admire and use it as a model for creating the way they want to come across on the service. “Twitter is like a sitcom,” jokes Hart. “People can follow what you do, and it allows you to reach people. Real estate is a business of lead generation and networking. It’s about establishing relationships, so if they choose to follow me they’re no longer anonymous.”

Twitter lets real estate professionals get feedback from and share information among themselves and with their customers. A Twit’s profile page is accessible by searching that individual’s user name at twitter.com. Twits can receive updates via twitter.com as well as via text message to mobile phones, RSS (Web feed format used to publish blog entries, news headlines, etc.), e-mail or an application such as Twitterrific or a site like Facebook.

Have Something to Say
Hart stresses the importance of “being yourself” on Twitter—without sharing every mundane detail of daily life.

“The millennial generation is wired for this interactive method of communication,” says Hart. “Through language, you can help build trust and still have the transparency that’s good for a great real estate transaction.

“I want to make sure I’m [communicating] knowledge of the inventory [in my area]. I plan to eventually says things like, ‘Just looked at seven 2/1 homes. Great opportunities. Hey, I’m out here, and I can help find the right [home].’”

Cross-Promote
Hart hopes the exposure she gets on Twitter—her photo is on the site as well—will  build interest in her blog, hartandhome.blogspot.com. “I’m using it to promote my brand and the services that I offer, and to share what I’m doing. Some other online networks, such as Facebook, let you pull Twitter in. And you can add a twitter widget to your blog. That brings in access to your Tweets [messages] and helps you gain new Twits [friends or followers]. I’m blogging about a first-time homebuyer and what she’s gone through in the last 30 days. I believe human contact—and the voice that can answer questions—is still important.”  

This column, designed to offer examples of how salespeople and brokers are using technology, won the Silver Award in the 2008 Best Column category from the Florida Magazine Association. Opinions expressed here don’t reflect an endorsement of the views by Florida Realtor® magazine or the Florida Association of Realtors®.