Twitter for Real Estate Agents
A page dedicated to Twitter for Real Estate agents has been developed, as part of our ongoing series of articles to help real estate agents with their marketing. You’ll learn the inside tips from an expert. What follows is the transcript of an interview between Realwords’ James Mackay and social media expert Kate Wilson.
If you enjoy this interview you might also enjoy the email marketing article, the Facebook ads article and the branding interview.
JAMES: I’m very excited to be joined today by Kate Wilson. Kate is the founder of CINC Social, a company that does nothing but help people and companies develop social media strategies to grow brands. CINC helps peoples start offer the basics or develops a complete plan to get social media working for business. Of course, one of the critical social media platforms is Twitter. Kate is going to impart her knowledge of Twitter for real estate agents.
Wait, don’t throw up your hands in despair. Don’t groan and don’t leave! Kate is going to tell you what Twitter is all about, and how Twitter can be effective for real estate agents. There is no use pretending social media doesn’t exist anymore. People spend more time on their mobile device using social media than for anything else. Potential buyers will probably check out properties, agents, and agencies online before making that first call. It’s critical to get the first impression right, and you can actually use the tweeting machine to make money.
Kate Wilson should know: Kate was Senior Digital Communications and social media adviser for the Queensland government under former Premier Campbell Newman. She was his right hand when it comes to social media. Kate built Premier Newman’s following into many thousands of followers. She also worked on the G20 program and has extensive experience managing social media communities. The lessons Kate will teach here will carry across to real estate agents. Kate is available on twitter, @cincsocial.
JAMES: Kate, welcome!
KATE: Hi! thanks for having me.
JAMES: Before we go any further, I want to let you know that a lot of real estate agents I speak to tell me that they are not interested in Twitter and that it’s a waste of time. There’s a lot of pessimistic people out there. Go ahead and convince us otherwise.
KATE: I’m going to say it’s not just real estate agents! Hardly any of the people I talk to see many opportunities in Twitter.
JAMES: Well you say you talk to people, so let’s pretend you’re in a lift. By the time it gets to the top floor, you need to convince an agent to get on twitter and to use it effectively. Elevator pitch, go!
KATE: Now the thing about Twitter, it is awesome for news and updates. So if you are using Twitter properly, it can be a really good platform to get constantly updated.
I can see that being really good fit for real estate agents. However there are some challenges with it, I will be honest, but Twitter has moved them a long way from just being 140 characters of text.
JAMES: Alright, well… we just hit the top floor, and I’m prepared to give you a shot. My pessimism is being put aside and I’m prepared to give it a go.
JAMES: Before we get into the tweeting, I want you to share a little bit about your background and how exciting your journey has been up to this point. Because you have done some pretty cool stuff with the premier of Queensland no less.
KATE: Yeah it was never really something I planned, I’m an ex journalist and then I just happened to be the youngest person in the office. At one stage when I first started working in politics somebody said to me “Oh! you’re young, you get that Facebooking Twittering thing, and from that, it became a career and then I suddenly found myself working for the candidate for Premier and in government. And it’s been a pretty cool job because doing that I found myself attending the G20, which was incredible, doing sorts of crazy things and using not just Twitter and Facebook to have conversation on a daily basis with Queensland which was a lot of fun.
JAMES: That is pretty cool and I am a little jealous about your involvement with G 20. know It’s probably going to be difficult for you to know this off the top of your head, but tell us how many Twitter followers did the Premier have when you came on and how many did he have when he left office?
KATE: That is difficult, when he became the candidate back in 2011, because I actually campaigned with him for the whole year before he became the Premier. Then we started the Queensland Premier account which means we started that from scratch too.
JAMES: So this is a different account is it?
KATE: Yes. We killed the first account, it hit about 5,000 followers so it wasn’t a huge amount to lose.
JAMES: But 5,000 is a lot of followers for most people listening you know.
KATE: Yes! for most people, for most people I have to say being the Premier in Queensland is a lot easier to get a lot more followers.
JAMES: How many do you think he had during the election in 2015?
JAMES: Holy smokes! But what you’re going to do Kate is tell us that you don’t have to be the Premier of Queensland to get a good following and to make that following work for you?
KATE: I think the key part there is what you said at the end which is making the following work for you. Of that 44,000 I’m not sure how many supporters necessarily voted for Campbell Newman. I mean, it’s good to have followers, but what you actually really want to have, is people that do want to engage with you, and do want to listen to your brand. At the end of the day followers is not everything but it’s a very good start.
JAMES: I guess the good news there is that real estate agents won’t have thousands of trolls like a politician might.
KATE: Definitely. Avoiding them is very nice. Make sure people know you’re on twitter, so that means have your Twitter handle on your business cards, getting in all your new emails, making sure it’s on your websites, etc. Let people know that I can actually ask you a question about a property on Twitter that I can get in touch.
JAMES: Well, we’ll get into that in a minute but there’s a lot of similarities between politicians and real estate agents and what I mean by that, is that by both have a part of the job is promote their own personal profile. You might see a real estate agent profile on a bus stop and you might see a politician’s profile or an advertisement on a bus stop when they’re allowed to. So, you could say that using Twitter, leaving the trials aside but using Twitter effectively, they would both be trying to aim for the same thing, what do you think?
KATE: Yes, definitely. Politicians have to work quite hard to create an image that they’re trustworthy person who knows what they’re doing and can help the best deal for you. Exactly the same for the real estate agent.
JAMES: Trust is very important when a real estate agent is trying to convince or show someone that real estate agent is the best person to list their house work. So good point.
KATE: Definitely, which brings me to, I’m trying to remember a statistic on Twitter. They’ve actually found that while someone might not necessarily buy a house off you, if people are following someone on Twitter they’re 30 % more likely to recommends, them to their friends like “Oh! I follow this real estate agent, maybe you have a check to them…”
KATE: 30% yes. 30% increase, that was a figure..
JIMMY: that’s a lot isn’t it?
KATE: It is! I mean there are definite benefits, and I think like what you were saying about building that profile that’s where Twitter is really, really useful on social media network because it can actually sort of shows if you’re doing it right. And inside into your life and your personality, and what you’re thinking about things it doesn’t just have to be, you know “buy, buy, buy!”
JAMES: Well, that’s an excellent point. Now let’s dive into this. We’re talking to potential real estate agents whose voice in their head says”Oh God I don’t wanna touch Twitter, there’s no point.” Why would a real estate agent, why in ten words, should a real estate agent use Twitter?
KATE: To reach more people and to improve their profile.
JAMES: When we’re talking about potential buyers as well as potential listings, which do you think it would work better for?
KATE: I did a hashtag search for real estate and another one for property —
JAMES: And a hashtag is basically saying search this keyword?
KATE: Yes, so the keywords that have the pound symbol in front of it.
JAMES: And that basically means it’s an identified keyword?
KATE: Yes. And in any tweet that includes that hashtag can be searched. I did that search and I was quietly surprised to see no listings. Maybe they’re not using those hashtags…
JAMES: So, alright. I’m a new real estate agent, and I’m thinking “Okay, well Kate is making some good points, maybe I’ll try to tweet up.” What do I do?
KATE: The first thing to do obviously is to set up a Twitter account, and one thing I would suggest is, when you’re with one of the big real estate agencies is to actually have it in your name. So keep in mind, your account is about the real estate agent – even if they leave their current agency.
JAMES: So choose a unique nick name?
KATE: Definitely. By having something with your name, it gives you the freedom to as well showcase your listing and tips for getting you know, a great deal or increasing the value of your property.
You’l also have the ability to show the rest of your life and being human on Twitter is one of the most important things you can do. It’s quite difficult.
JAMES: It builds trust.
KATE: It builds trust, it develops a whole vision of I’m not just telling you what you want to hear, I’m actually here, a real person, this is what I do. But it can be quite difficult I know for people to start with because you only have a hundred and forty characters. People get very nervous about sending those first two tweets; that they’re gonna say the wrong thing, or its going to blow up in their face.
JAMES: They might break Twitter!
KATE: They’re gonna break Twitter? Not possible. People are quite hesitant but the best thing to do is actually to start tweeting and as I said, It doesn’t just have to be about real estate, you can share good things that are going on in your life, you can share things you’re interested in, and build that whole picture that shows who you are and what your role is in the community.
JAMES: So you’re sort of adding a backstory, adding some value and very barely selling?
KATE: I am, Yes! I actually reading… I can’t remember who the author was… but I was reading something the other day about how online marketing should be about sharing not selling. And so, I guess an obvious take home that is rather than listing properties for sale, why not find something interesting or cool about their property, or something that’s unique, whether it’s the location, or can you imagine living here? You know…things like that.
JAMES: And you can add photos to that, right? You can take photos on your phone and build the whole scenario. Not just use words but add a photo of the nice fireplace, of the sunset from the back deck?
KATE: Exactly! and really good news on that front: for a while now verified accounts (they’re the accounts with a blue ticks) on Twitter…
JAMES: And what does that mean?
KATE: Ah…so, Twitter verifies certain accounts. There’s no rhyme or reason as to who actually gets a blue tick…
JAMES: What’s the benefit of a blue tick?
KATE: The blue tick means that you are a verified user.
JAMES: Which means that they’re not a spam – it means they are a legitimate person.
KATE: This is a legitimate person, so it’s a very big deal. Celebrities often have a blue Tick; Ashton Kutcher as an example, would have a blue tick, and it signifies to the reader that it is actually Ashton Kutcher not some random pretending to be Ashton Kutcher. You get politicians around election times often being approached by Twitter and they hand out blue ticks as well to so to stop the fake profiles from popping up.
JAMES: It’s something we should be well aware of.
KATE: Yes! Its quite a big deal getting all those blue ticks. And probably a big job proving everyone is who they say they are.
JAMES: So we will basically, aim for the blue tick for verification and that is another step in building the trust?
KATE: No, sorry I got carried away. It’s verification but new Twitter users probably won’t get a blue tick anytime soon. It’s a great goal, like bucket list goal.
KATE: Probably not realistic when starting out. However, what I was going to say is I’m going back to using different media for instance with video: people with blue ticks should have actually upload videos direct on to twitter for since the start of last year. Now anyone can do it, but they get priority access to certain things sometimes.
KATE: If you do have a really lovely video of the property you can almost do a walk through of that property on twitter!
JAMES: That’s a great idea! Facebook Live, Twitter, etc.
KATE: Yeah, that is great for a property that’s not selling.
JAMES: No. That’s right. That’s adding value to the person. So if we go back: we set up our account and we’re going to tweet about what we have for breakfast, and that we just go for haircut… Obviously I’m just being fictitious there, but moving into the…
KATE: Yes! so please start…
JAMES: You’re building your personality.
JAMES: And then you put up your listing, you might put up your open homes and so on…with that sort of thing. How many times in a day, or how many times in a week should a new real estate agent be expected to post a tweet?
KATE: Twitter is quite intensive, that’s because the half life of the tweet is only 24 minutes.
KATE: After 24 minutes you know, much, much, much fewer people will be seeing your tweet. So the advantage their is you know, if you have one property that you want to share with your audience. You can actually share the same content a few times every few days, and chances are people around are going to see one of those tweets.
JAMES: Kawasaki said that he shares the same tweet hourly for a day if you think that’s important which is…blows my mind, and I think that’s over the top. But for a real estate agent, is there any point in tweeting once a day?
KATE: You need to tweet more than once a day. The worst thing you can do is tweet five of six things in a row and then avoid it, for you know, a couple of weeks, and in come back, say oh no! my personal account, I’m very guilty of that. It’s do what I tell you to do, not what I do thing.
JAMES: So we could schedule in making it regular and consistent…
KATE: Yes, that’s what you wanna do. I mean, the idea here is to get you know, a whole bunch of stuff together, you know schedule those tweets, you know guys sending those tweets every hour.
JAMES: And then basically, put them out at a designated time?
KATE: Yes! That’s it. And in that way you know, you can have that same thing go out three or four times over three or four days. It sounds like alot but once you actually sit down and write a few and then schedule them, its actually not that hard to do.
JAMES: And could I put something to you, that would be a real estate agent could outsource that work and have a reliable social media manager to get the photos of the real estate or a domain websites or even the agents’ website, get the photo, post that, keep them in touch with what’s going on suburb and so on, and that would really lessen the load on the real estate agent?
KATE: Yeah! I mean It is, the trick is to get someone who is good. You know you wanna get someone who can catch the right spirited voice for your tweets. You also want to input yourself regularly to keep it fresh, you know selling your own image. But when it comes to doing things like that, that are… I guess you’re a lot more of the bread and butter but a standard tweets is supposed to you know, exciting things going on in your life. Yes, the important thing is that it happens and you know, i know for me, I’m sure a lot of people often my own social media is a last thing I can get to in a day because you’ve got to do a million one other things first.
JAMES: Well… it is, it does comes down to prioritizing or scheduling i supposed?
KATE: It does, it does, and you know scheduling does only what i tell people often is you know, to actually book on a session are usually suggested Thursday’s because its a good day you know, its not like you limit to the last day and it falls off to the right hour on Friday. And then you can also have everything ready to go for the week coming so that come monday you’re not waking up coming back to work and then going “Wow! What are we gonna talk about today?”
JAMES: Freaking out…
KATE: You already know, its all there and its so easy.
JAMES: And it’s a good day for the real estate agents because they can post open homes on Saturday.
KATE: Very good point!
JAMES: Now look! The clock is ticking, so we’re going to move along to few more points. Now real estate agent, we’ve gone through setting up the account, we should post three times a day…
KATE: We’re posting everywhere, we’re posting three times a day, yes!
JAMES: No one’s following me! What do i do?
KATE: Okay, as I said number 1 thing is make sure people know your honest, so if your sending out a newsletter you already got a website, if you’ve got Facebook, actually tell people “Hey! we’re on twitter now, come check me out!”.
JAMES: You know, I saw real estate agent do something pretty cool. They join twitter, took him a long time to get him on board, and then I was sitting here saying “Oh! How do I get people following me?” valid point right? So we suggested, they send a text message to all their people on their list. And they did! and they didn’t get one complaint, which I would hope you wouldn’t, but they ended up getting you know i think it was 50 or 80 or something new followers and for one text message!
KATE: That’s it, that’s it! I know everyone is talking about you know, the 44,000 followers that, for the former primiers account had. But the average number of twitter followers is a hundred. So that is a brilliant result.
JAMES: And if you get a hundred followers, and they’re in your area because real estate agents…quality followers, and if they’re in your area because real estate agents are geographically specific, generally speaking. And then from your post code, then they’re either potential listings or potential buyers?
KATE: That’s it! or people who will also recommend somebody else.
JAMES: We’ll that’s an excellent point. Referrals are huge aren’t they?
KATE: Yes, and also said you know Twitter if people are following they will get you know, a greater sense of who you are and more likely to recommend you on! So, but! Here are other things that you can do to get more followers as well..
JAMES: Relevant followers?
KATE: Relevant followers, they obviously..
JAMES: We’re not talking about buying them from ah…
KATE: No, no, no, no! Never ever, ever, ever, ever buy followers. It just makes you looks like an idiot, it opens you up to more spam, and twitter can penalized you and shut you down if they chase you…
JAMES: But it’s okay,
KATE: No! you will never get a blue tick with that. Hahaha!
JAMES: But.. So, sorry…go ahead.
KATE: So what you do, one of the most obvious thing to do is to actually start following other people. You know what you can do is start following other businesses you may interact with in your area, you know follow…
JAMES: The local PNC ?
KATE: The local PNC, local schools, businesses, sports club, things like that. That helps you so to start to build it up, but also people in your area you know if your costumers are on twitter, follow them. Now, finding out their on twitter can often difficult if you don’t know…
JAMES: Again, you can outsource that work to someone who can go through your list and try to there email addresses to your twitter right?
KATE: Well, that’s it! you can actually import them to twitter and find them so, yes! That uhm..its a bit tricky so it’s good to have actually someone who knows what their doing with that. Which is totally possible so to start finding people and following them. You also want to talk about like local events…
JAMES: Like some local school fight or something you know?
KATE: Yes yes, like you know…you are going to school fight and dropping in, you would certainly be talking about that event. Its huge in Brisbane to talk about the weather for some reason you know. It’s very cold, whenever you talk, whenever there is an spectacular blue skies, lets face it, thats every other day. You know twitter cannot be…
JAMES: Show off…
KATE: Yeah, twitter often could become buzzed about you know, Brisbane weather and…
JAMES: Well posting a sunset photo from a back deck of a listing probably good one to get on the board?
KATE: That is a brilliant thing to go for, and you know including the hashtag Brisbane weather be any weather with that, you know the hashtags can help you then, become part of the greater conversation, so that not just a…
JAMES: And it takes followers right?
KATE: That’s it! people might go “Hey! I really like this photo. What else has this state got? And then you know, they can find small photos which they can be interested, they might start following you.
JAMES: Alright so, two questions for you. How long could I plan, or what should my goal be in time to get my first 100 followers?
KATE: Oh! that’s a good question.
JAMES: Should we get 2 months? Do you think that’s realistic?
KATE: Yes! if you…you know, having a good solid goal, you know, you are promoting a twitter account offline as well as on. You do consider doing things like the text messages that you were in twitter. You know, if you’re actively using it constantly not just logging on in day 1 then 2 months down the tract how’d you got 100 then? I think that’s a yeah! that’s a fair amount…
JAMES: For a goal?
JAMES: But you, you just on my next question, If I only got few followers less than a hundred followers, fewer than a hundred followers, am I wasting my time?
KATE: Not necessarily, that’s with twitter is different to something like Facebook. You know on Facebook, if you’re posting, it’s a lot more private. It’s not you know, public photos, place to be talking. Tweeting can be compared to putting up a billboard . A very, very, very, very much cheap little billboard but essentially that what you’re doing, you’re putting message up somewhere and saying “Whaa..”
JAMES: Alright, so i think, tell me If I’m picking this up…
KATE: I’ve tried to go ahead!
JAMES: And that’s what I think. Tell me from getting this right. On twitter, even if I only got 50 followers, if I tweet hashtag be any whether, everyone who is searching or looking at be any weather tweet may see my tweet come up not just my 50 followers, is that right?
KATE: Not. it depends, probably can say everyone because it depends on the time and how far people can scroll down, but just…
JAMES: Oh sure! but what I mean is you can be..
KATE: But yes! yes!
JAMES: You’re in the traffic flight.
KATE: That’s it! it’s not just people who are following you.
JAMES: Not just my followers.
KATE: It goes much further. And then the other thing is this, the the culture on twitter of retweeting, so that’s a little tedious appear and what retweeting is to sharing somebody elses tweet. And a lot of people will just sit there and you know go come up with your tweet themselves. But a lot of the time just share funny, interesting, amazing pictures or other things that other people have done. So…
JAMES: Yeah, share a beautiful picture…
KATE: If someone shares your tweet, you have no idea where its going.
JAMES: Well, that could be Ashton Kutcher …I say Ashton Kutcher because I thought you read somewhere he was the first person to get million followers but if Ashton Kutcher were retweets, there’s a million people following Ashton Kutcher.
KATE: He was…
JAMES: I think there’s a lot more than a million now.
JAMES: Well, so…as an example of what you’re saying, I could go and take a photo of a beautiful house in Paddington and hashtag Paddington Architecture or Paddington house or something like that, and then that could really just be shared by a lot of people?
KATE: Yes! I mean it depends what people are looking for and some people use a technique of looking at what hashtag are popular and so jumping on bandwagon with them. You have to be careful with that because you know, its gonna be tasteful if you start it.
JAMES: Oh sure!
KATE: And you know, relevant but you know, one obvious option I can think of this is, the state of origin around that if you had a house you know, that was just up the road or close by. You know, you could be sharing a tweet saying “Well..you’d be easily get home from state of origin if you lived here”, something like that.
JAMES: Oh..that’s right. I like that.
KATE: You know, if jumps on board that bandwagon, a little bit…
JAMES: And then if you shared that to 50 people, and two or three of your followers say “Oh, that’s good! I like that!”, and shared that then that’s going to the you know potentially hundreds of followers and times 3 and the names might share, so you could hit you know 10 thousand people in your local area pretty quickly couldn’t you?
KATE: Yes! yeah. Obviously you know, the more interesting the more compelling, the more funny, a tweet is, the further it has the potential to go.
JAMES: Well that’s really exciting! I mean, you’re not wasting your time then, if you run and got 50 followers and you put out content that’s worth looking at, then I can really say that the twitters potential is can be quite large.
KATE: Yeah! It definitely is. And I mean its amazing. Its something you see all the time and social media where you know how some posts are gonna be received and then sometimes you will be so surprised by the photos that go, you know viral loaded that the messages just gonna like “Wow! couple of 50 people retweeted that! why?”,
JAMES: And viral basically means it spreads like ebola. Is that right?
KATE: Yes! yes pretty much.
JAMES: Yeah, okay.
KATE: Not always as deadly either, but you know…
JAMES: Well, It cant’.
KATE: Yeah you’d wanna hide, but you know twitter, you can make very big boo-boos if you’re not careful.
JAMES: So what we’ve done today is talked about how real estate agents can really benefit from twitter. And one thing that we didn’t cover though I think is really, really powerful for real estate agents is the fact that, so few real estate agents use twitter properly or effectively! So to me…
KATE: Or at all…
JAMES: Or at all! and not just opens up the potential of twitter for switched on real estate agents to jump on board to use it properly or to use it effectively and to really drive it home and get that edge. Will you agree?
KATE: Definitely, there’s so much potential there, to be the only one, you know you can stand out, you know, if you’re doing it properly. If you..you know, telling great stories and sharing good content and you stand out!
JAMES: Right. So, we’ve talked about how to get started, we’ve talked about how to get some followers, we’ve talked about what to tweet, we’ve talked about some oh, nice little blue tick that you committed or somehow committed.
JAMES: Can you think of anything else as a parting message that people should know about using twitter in real estate? One can’t take away?
KATE: One can’t take away, is gonna make me sound out like I work for twitter and I showed you I don’t, But looking at advertising on social media, I’d strongly recommend it. The days of having amazing reach for free on facebook is gone.
JAMES: Oh you mean get paid to host advertising , pays some money to promote what you are doing.
KATE: To promote tweets? Twitter is really moving into the space now, that made very easy for small businesses to start advertising on twitter and having campaign so that whether that’s driving someone up to down low, driving them to your website, all those sorts of ads are there, Its quite reasonable if you start comparing it your traditional marketing.
JAMES: Oh, I like that.
KATE: So it is a space and I recently spoke with someone on twitter and they said they’ll launch it and I’m quietly surprised that nothing happened.
KATE: Which proves that you know, its not just us, you know we started twitter account nothing happened. So they’re actively now working with people trying to educate them to actually what we can do in 3 days platform…
JAMES: So basically no one knows yet?
KATE: Yes! yes, again you can be the only one out there, you know you can reach to people, looking to this stuff, and considering what you can do with it.
JAMES: Wow. That’s a really, really good edge. Now tell us what (CINC) CINC SOCIAL does and help people can get in contact with you.
KATE: So, I am a social media coach and consultant so, I’d like to compare myself to personal trainer, beacause everyone understand what that is…
KATE: And I come ’round to people, and I sit down with them and I coach them through social media based on whatever skills they already have, and what we can develop and grow
JAMES: And if they’re outside Brisbane they can do it on Skype or on a mobile call or something?
KATE: Yes! yeah, definitely. You know we can locate different ways in talking online and getting down I’ve had some people tell me you know, you’re not patient enough to work with me but I have actually tutored a hundred of people from all sorts of background from quite young and savvy to very old. How to get on the internet, how to get use all this stuff…and its a lot of fun! You can have a lot of fun doing it with people.
JAMES: So do you promise that for real estate agents who followed you on twitter, you can follow them back?
KATE: I can definitely promise that.
JAMES: Now, how can someone get in contact with you? I want to chat more about getting some coaching?
KATE: Probably the best way is to jump on to my website which does show you all my social media accounts there, so that’s cincsocial.com.au and CINC for the CINC but you can also you know, jump on Facebook CINC social or twitter, Linked-in I am on it all.
JAMES: Look, one point that I should say is that we promote property can do schedule tweets and personalized tweeting for the busy real estate agents. So, CINC SOCIAL and we can promote property can work hand in hand. So that’s a really nice thing!
JAMES: Kate Wilson from CINC SOCIAL media, thank you so much for joining us. I hope the real estate agents listening have work tips on how you’ve been fantastic, you’ve broken it down, gone through it bit by bit, step by step, and I really think that you’ve given a lot of inspiration for real estate agents all over the country. So thank you so much for being with us and have a good day.