Twitter Strategies for Realtors: Hashtag Discussion Groups

Hashtag

Realtors are beginning to use Twitter strategies to create exposure for listings, open houses, REO sales, foreclosure news, and industry related developments Yet, one of the biggest mistakes that Realtors continue to make on Twitter is to “spam” the network with hard sell tweets about their products, services, listings, and information exclusively promotional in nature. This type of low signal high noise ratio in messaging leads to audience indifference, low priority, and a less than open level of communication between the Realtor and their intended target audience.

Twitter Hashtag Categories

Hashtags (#tag) allow Twitterers to create categories, groups, or subjects for tweets that their audience or other twitterers can use as well. With this in mind, Realtors could begin to create real time discussions with consumers, peers, and investors for a multitude of topical Real Estate information. Here are examples of subjects already being discussed on Twitter using hashtags:

  • #REO
  • #Foreclosure
  • #Realtors
  • #Realestate
  • #Listings

Twitter Hashtag Strategies: Hyper Localize

All of the above examples have current discussions but they all lack one thing: hyper local information. Brokers or groups of Realtors should combine efforts to create hashtags that would provide hyper local information for consumers in their area. Here are examples of hyper local hashtags that are not being utilized in the San Francisco Bay Area:

  • #SanRamonListings
  • #SanFranciscoListings
  • #CitynamesRealtor aka #OaklandRealtors; #SanFranciscoRealtors; #SanRafaelRealtors
  • #Countynamesrealestate aka #Marinrealestate; #SantaClararealestate; #ContraCostarealestate
  • #Neighborhoods aka #PacificHeights; #NorthBeach; #RussianHill

Hashtag Strategies: Brand and Create Your Group

Create online discussion groups with your hashtags. Choose the most important subjects to your consumer audience that will provide the most value. Brand your business cards, website-blog, business communications, flyers, and promotional materials with your Twitter hashtag group discussions. Don’t forget your Twitter address too.

Hashtag Benefits to Realtors

The benefits for Realtors in setting up hashtags for consumer research, localized information, and marketing include:

  • Targeted Lead Generation: creating a hyper local hashtag discussion can attract consumers, if promoted properly, interested in a specific location, type of dwelling, or lifestyle
  • Research: hashtags on specific real estate functions can produce research content, via links, that helps educate and inform the public and real estate community
  • Audience: build an audience for any subject that pertains to your business services or products
  • Conversion: there are no statistics available but it would be interesting to measure engagement through hashtags. Specifically, do consumers click through links a Realtor provides in a hashtag discussion more readily than those provided in the general twitter stream? Are consumers more comfortable clicking through to a Realtor website-blog while engaging in a hashtag discussion?

Banks’ Twitter Strategy: Lack of Strategy Hurting Brand

wachovia-bank-twitter

FoxBusiness.com published this deansguide article 3-06-09

We’re here primarily to listen, to learn, to engage with the Twitter community and, occasionally, to share information about our company and services.”–Wachovia Bank

The Wachovia bank bio on Twitter explains their strategy in using Twitter. Unfortunately  they seem to be stuck in the same misunderstanding that many companies have wandered into blindly: they are missing their greatest opportunity to connect.

Wachovia’s Misunderstood Strategy:

According to Wachovia they are on Twitter to:

  • Listen
  • Learn
  • Engage with the Twitter community
  • Occasionally share information on their company and services

Wachovia’s Bio: Problematic

Listening, learning and engaging are exactly what works on Twitter. The first problem in this bio is the fact that you should never make the statement that you (company) “occasionally share information on our company and services.” The idea is to occasionally share company information and services  without stating that is your intention.

Step#1: One of the strategies that best suits businesses on Twitter is to be a go-to source of information by varying the content to include more “outside” information than sales pitches for your own products or services. The “Hard Sell” is dead and gone.

Mixed Signals: Challenge #1

Wachovia wants to “engage with the Twitter community” yet they only follow 204 out of a possible 1,793 people that follow them.

Step #2: If you want to engage your audience, possible customers, or networking partners on Twitter then you must acknowledge their existence and importance by following all 1,793 of your followers.

Perception Challenge: Understanding Strategy

Wachovia’s challenge is that they are trying to fit two divergent strategies into one Twitter account. They say they want to listen, learn, and engage with their audience. At the same time, it appears that they are trying to learn, from prominent Twitterers, information that they can leverage in their own social media efforts. This leads to an ineffective campaign.

Danger of Perception:

The danger is that Wachovia’s audience could perceive them as attempting to build “authority” by accumulating a large number of followers while keeping the number of people or companies they follow to a minimum. This ratio of large tribes of people following you (company) to you (company) following a select few is often perceived by people as:

  • The company or individual “must” be important and worthy of following for their brilliant content
  • The company or individual “must” be uncaring in their attempt to be perceived as important and a “player” in the Twitter community

Best Strategy:

Step #3  Wachovia’s Options

  • Keep the original account (we will call it #1) and make it your customer-audience engagement account
  • Account #1 immediately follow everyone of the 1,793 followers
  • Go to Tweetlater.com and set the “auto-follow” so that you automatically follow everyone that follows Wachovia
  • Set up Account #2 your Learn and Listen account. On this account Wachovia ONLY follows those individuals and companies that provide the most relevant information. If you wish to follow your competition, social media strategists, industry pundits, then do so on this account. Don’t worry about anything else except the research of learning and gathering recon information

Conclusion

By creating two accounts you are able to satisfy all your needs, create better perception for your brand, specifically and strategically target sources of information, and appear to care about the very customers who represent the life line to your business in this or any other economy.

National Association of Realtors’ Twitter Strategy

The National Association of Realtors is one of the most, if not the most, powerful associations in the real estate industry.The people at NAR are often helpful, very pleasant, and professional in their approach. They take their jobs seriously; and that is why I am puzzled.

The NAR’s mission is to support Realtors, educate the masses, and provide a touch point for an industry that is quickly changing. The biggest change is the utilization of social media tools and blogs, by Realtors and brokerages, for branding, marketing, and lead generation. One of the most prominent of these new tools is the microblogging phenomenon called Twitter.com.

“The Voice for Real Estate”

If the NAR is setting the tone by being “The Voice for Real Estate” and leading by example then what is their Twitter strategy? My point is why don’t the people running the NAR twitter account give a voice to Realtors on Twitter?

Follow Strategy for Twitter

Many major brands or entrepreneurs that utilize Twitter want to initiate conversations with their targeted audience. The strategy most often used supports an open follow process on Twitter. Simply put if you follow Guy Kawasaki he follows you back-each and everyone of you.

The question I would like the NAR to answer: Why don’t you follow any of your constituents who follow you? If the NAR is the “Voice of Real Estate” why not give voice to Realtors, brokers, and affiliate service providers in the industry by following each one of these people back? As of this date, February 15, 2009 the NAR strategy:

Fact: 539 Realtors, brokers, industry affiliates follow NAR on Twitter
Fact: NAR follows “0″ as in zero as in none as in nobody

The following is a snapshot of the NAR Twitter page:

nar-twitter-account2

Entrepreneurs and Corporations Measure the Impact of Social Media

Today 105 major corporations, more adopting everyday, have corporate blogs that engage their audience, tell their story, deliver their value, and offer a place for insight. Entrepreneurs are at the forefront of this evolution. In addition, many of these corporations are adopting social media tools like Twitter and Facebook as tools to help create audience and “evangelists” for their products and services. The following are steps provided by Peter Kim on how to measure a social media campaign.

Peter Kim is one of the most important architects of social media and a well respected new thought practitioners. Peter is considered an expert in the art and science of “the intersection of social technology and marketing strategy.” He has been quoted by the most prestigious press organizations from the Wall Street Journal to CBS Evening News.

In Peter’s article “A framework for measuring social media” he outlines four concepts that provide the framework for social media measurement or ROI:

1. Attention: “The amount of traffic to your content for a given period of time.  Similar to the standard web metrics of site visits and page/video views.”

IA: Your readership can vary in many ways and although measuring number of readers and page views is quite telling, average time per visit is a major factor. Simply put how long a person stays on your site reading your content can be indicative to your content’s value in the eyes of your readers.

2. Participation: “The extent to which users engage with your content in a channel.  Think blog comments, Facebook wall posts, YouTube ratings, or widget interactions.”

IA: Key is a users willingness to engage with other users on your site. The comment section for each blog post has the potential to become their own mini “forums.” Within these forums your readers debate your content, collaborate, and communicate freely. One of the best examples of this is on ChrisBrogan.com another social media expert.

3. Authority: “Ala Technorati, the inbound links to your content – like trackbacks and inbound links to a blog post or sites linking to a YouTube video.”

IA: Although Technorati is the most well known inbound link measurement site, it is often not as accurate as Google. Peter is right on the money here with the fact that your trackbacks and inbound links are absolutely critical in measuring your content’s effectiveness in attracting readers.

4. Influence: “The size of the user base subscribed to your content.  For blogs, feed or email subscribers; followers on Twitter or Friendfeed; or fans of your Facebook page.”

IA: Attracting subscribers means you are producing excellent content. Yet in some cases, the subscription numbers can be “infected” by misleading subscription growth trends based on inaccurate numbers.

Mainstream Media’s New Source For News, Opinion, And Content Is The Blogosphere

Blogburst blog contributor Daysha gets all the credit for writing a very compelling article on how the relationship between bloggers and the mainstream media is an ever changing landscape. Her fine piece “Blogger’s Influence on Print Media” was the impetus for this snapshot into the evolution of the blogosphere

Daysha’s research was based on a report by Cision billed as the “leading global provider of media monitoring, research, distribution, and evaluation services for PR professionals” released an article July 17 that “demonstrates the growing influence of blogs in the mainstream print media.”

The findings support the premise that mainstream media organizations and their writers mention and utilize blogs for their own stories and content generation. Simply put “we” are viable and important, and in many cases, more relevent than many mainstream media organizations

Discovery

1. “The Top 20 national magazines and newspapers mentioned blogs and bloggers 13,066 times in the one-year period ending June 30, 2008, according to Cision”

2. 2004 total year long mentions of “blogs” and “bloggers” totaled 795 times

3. 2005 total year long mentions of “blogs” and “bloggers” totaled 2,179 times

Mainstream Media Importance

“The stunning growth in blogger influence magnifies the importance of employing common sense when contacting bloggers”, according to Cision Executive V.P. Peter Granat

1. PR firm Brodeur Partners reported that in a January 2008 Survey the following results:

*Of 178 journalist contacted “57 percent said they read blogs at least two to three times per week”

*18% of journalist said “they spend at least one hour per day reading them (blogs)”

Ultimate EyeOpener

1. PRWeek/PR Newswire Media Survey revealed:

*40% of participating journalists employ blogs to find content topics for stories

Analysis

The mainstream media and it’s writers are recognizing the value of blogs as viable research tools, sources of new information, places to immediately measure reader opinion, and as a testing ground for their own opinions

What this means to bloggers:

1. Credibility with public and media

2. Media related exposure to mainstream media writers and editors

3. Possible mainstream media collaboration with writers

4. Recognition by public and professionals

5. Solidify Web 2.0 collaboration as the media platform for now and the future

6. Global Reach to a world wide audience

7. Instant measurability

8. Advertising monetization platform

9. Business marketing platform

10. Joint Branding opportunities