#TwitterIsStupid aka Please Help Me
And so began Michael McClure’s journey into Twitter. The above quote was in response to one of his agents coming to him 2 years ago and asking if he thought Twitter could help him as a Realtor. How many of you have had that exact thought?
Fast forward to today and Mike, better known too many as @professionalone on Twitter, has tweeted 27,000 times, accumulated nearly 45,000 followers and become in my opinion the epitome of what to do right with Twitter in the real estate space. He has been named one of the 25 most connected in real estate and 50 most influential. He has toured with Inman News speaking on the topic of social media and brand building. He is on a panel at this years NAR debating the boutique vs. big brand brokerage. More than any of that he is committed to raising the bar in real estate, a bar that desperately needs raising.
I met Mike for the first time on August 18th in Seattle where we were both speaking on the Agent Reboot Tour. The time line is important because I am going to share with you some data and insight into what I have personally seen happen for my brand in regards to Twitter success in the 2 short months that I have known him.
The insight for this post comes in large part to the recent interview I did with Mike on Blog Talk Radio. I have embedded the full audio at the bottom of this post and I highly encourage you to listen but wanted to outline the points and takeaways in written form as well considering in my opinion they are priceless.
On the topic of Automation
“Would you have someone take your wife to dinner for you?” Take it that seriously. It is one thing to use Twitter tools to find like minded individuals to connect with and follow. It is a different ballgame all together to automate your Tweets. That also applies to those of you that may be sending your status updates from Facebook into Twitter automatically. Don’t fret, I was doing exactly the same thing until I met Mike. 2 problems with this approach. The first is that Facebook and Twitter are not the same platform nor do they have the same audience. As Darin Persinger so eloquently pointed out recently, “Twitter is like a cocktail party (where I would argue there is more of a business focused banter) and Facebook is like a back yard Bar B Q (harder to talk shop with family and friends)”. Your in real life approach (IRL) to social settings should be mirrored in the different social media spaces. The other reason that automating your Facebook updates to Twitter doesn’t work is because the link that carries over points back to Facebook not to the page you wanted to link to in your status update. With more than 80% of Twitter usage being mobile, the user experience of linking your followers to Facebook and not the article you wanted to is awful. Quite simply it doubles the number of clicks, forces them to then log into Facebook and eventually your followers will just give up on following that path. Bottom line you need to be using Facebook and Twitter and you need to treat them as separate but equally important to your business.
This one is huge. When you create your account on Twitter you do so through their main hub Twitter.com. Take Mike’s advice on this, never go back there. Tools like TweetDeck (Mike’s choice) and HootSuite (my fave) are so much better for managing the massive flow of Twitter data than the actual Twitter.com is. Once you are following a few thousand people it gets really hard to stay connected to the right ones. By leveraging a better Twitter client as they are called, you are able to segment Twitter into columns. The best 2 ways to leverage columns are for groups of people you want to interact with the most and keyword phrases that are relevant to your local business. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that someone just Tweeted “Moving to Michigan” the second it happened? How about “selling our house”? By leveraging either TweetDeck or HootSuite this is a breeze. Mike also pointed out that he can actually tell when someone is using Twitter.com because of the lag time in their responses to his tweets. The “game” in Twitter is short, sweet and instant. When you respond to a Tweet a week after the sender put it out there it is in the greatest sense of the term yesterdays news. Treat Twitter like an important email. Respond as quickly as possible. Again, the clients I mentioned above make that fairly easy and both also have sweet mobile apps to allow you to Tweet anywhere/anytime, Mike mentioned the gym, I will admit to the toilet.
Can This Be Easy?
In a word, yes. I can appreciate the challenge for many Realtors in regards to the initial learning curve of figuring out what the heck @, RT, hashtags, #FF and tiny URL’s are. That being said Mike and I actually agreed that leveraging Twitter properly can really be summed up in 2 steps. Step 1: Make a list using the aforementioned clients (TweetDeck or HootSuite) of all the most influential people on Twitter in your geographical area. Step 2: Engage with them a lot on a genuine level. That is it, but you have to do at least that.
Isn’t This a Time Constraint?
You can not take the approach with Twitter that you are going to time block it into your day. When you have a thought that you want to share just share it. Mike and I also agreed that while we may spend a lot of time on Twitter the fact that it is Twitter is irrelevant. What we are actually doing is staying top of mind, seeing what our friends are up to and interacting with the people that matter to us the most, good news is they are mostly business people so the deals do come in time if the motives are genuine. There is no secret number of exactly how many tweets to send per day or time to spend tweeting but what we agreed on is that once you get beyond the initial hump/learning curve you will never think of Twitter as a constraint on your time again. Do you think of the time you spend in real life with your friends as a constraint? Then don’t think of Twitter that way.
What Is Your Intention?
This is the most important element. Before meeting Mike, which I will now refer to as BM, my goal was what I would guess yours would be. Use Twitter to drive as much traffic as humanly possible back to your site. What puzzled me was that even though that had been my intention, my Google Analytics was telling me I was failing miserably. The top screenshot is the 30 day period BM in regards to inbound links from Twitter. My intention after hearing him speak shifted dramatically. I was now going to focus on Twitter as an engagement tool to keep in touch and communicate daily with the top players in the real estate Twittershpere. What happened was astounding. Even though my intention did a 180 and was no longer focusing on inbound links they went through the roof. I went from less than 30 a month (BM) to over 600 a month AM (after Mike). Secret sauce discovered! It speaks to the concept that if your content is good and your intentions are pure the influential people on Twitter will take note quickly and spread your message (links) for you. Seth Godin would call them Sneezers! Reread this paragraph and think about what happened for me…I want to also point out that the increase and traffic is only one element that has improved. I am also generating legitimate business opportunities daily. I am also really enjoying interacting with an arguably Tech Savvier crowd than the Facebookers and have learned a ton about technology and social media. Much of which I then filter and bring over to our Facebook Page (benefit dumping I know).
Tip of the Iceberg
Based on what has happened for me on Twitter in only 2 months time I can confidently say that you should all be drinking the Koolaid that Mike is pouring. Facebook has become the focus for most real estate agents. Twitter is still in the embryonic stage in our industry. A lot of agents are not using it AT ALL much less effectively or executing the proper strategies, I say GOOD. I understand that there are more fish in the Facebook pond, but as Mike pointed out to me recently, “Does it really matter that there are 500 million people on Facebook or does it matter how many of them you have connected with and are interacting with in a meaningful way regularly.” Twitter offers the same engagement opportunities, if not better, for a business minded individual who takes the right intention to the platform. It also isn’t quite so saturated with Realtors the way Facebook has become over the last 12 months.
The way our interview ended should tell you everything you need to know about Michael McClure, CEO of Professional One Franchising. After sharing the same knowledge with the listeners and I that I have just shared with you in this post, I wanted to give Mike the last word to tell people about his company, he passed on the opportunity. Instead he just said, “Thank you for having me on and keep doing what YOU are doing Chris”. Still think Twitter is stupid? I don’t.