Twitter 101

by Jay Thompson on March 8, 2010



Twitter-Logo You’ve probably heard of Twitter, the “microblogging” web site that’s taking the Internet by storm.

But what is Twitter, what is it good for, and how do you use it?

What is Twitter?

Twitter is an open social network that is a microblogging platform.

Huh?

An open network is one where anyone can “follow” anyone else. Unlike a closed network (Facebook) for example, where you have to “approve” a friend or follower, on Twitter all you have to do is click “follow” on a Twitter profile and you’ll be able to see every message that person sends on Twitter.

A “microblog” is a platform that allows only very brief messages to be sent out. In the case of Twitter, messages (called “Tweets”) are limited to 140 characters. How much is that? Not much. This is exactly 140 characters:

Jay Thompson writes this amazing blog called The Phoenix Real Estate Guy. You should read it! It is here http://www.PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com

Of note, self-serving Tweets such as I wrote above don’t work well in the social media space. We’ll have more on that in a future article.

Twitter, what is it good for?

Much of what you may find on Twitter could easily be construed as idle and meaningless chit chat. However, it is a very powerful platform for several things…

A real time news source and education tool: If you are a news junkie, Twitter can be the answer. With tens of millions of users, the odds are overwhelming that someone will Tweet out news as it happens.

There's a plane in the Hudson. I'm on the ferry going to pick... on TwitpicRemember the plane that landed in the Hudson river last year? Twitter user Janis Krums (jkrums on Twitter) was on a ferry that headed immediately to pick up survivors. He snapped a photo with his phone, and sent it to Twitter – a photo that has been viewed almost 600,000 times.

This photo, and the ensuing conversations on Twitter, beat all the major news outlets to the news story of the “Miracle on the Hudson”.

During and shortly after the recent devastating earthquake in Chile, there were over 2,000 tweets per minute emanating from Twitter users. Many of them from the site of the quake itself.

It’s not just major news events like these that you’ll find on Twitter. You’ll also see traffic reports (note, Tweeting while driving is not recommended), weather updates, and links to articles about virtually any topic you can think of. Twitter is a world-class educational tool.

A way to meet people – online AND in real life: Building your SOI (Sphere of Influence) is something every agent should always be working on. Yes, you can learn a tremendous amount about someone just by “meeting” them and getting to know them on-line – and Twitter is great for that. However, real life always has been and always will be the best social network. Ever. Period. Real estate is a face-to-face business. A tool like Twitter will never replace that, but Twitter is a great way to facilitate meeting people face-to-face. Use location based search tools like TwitterLocal.net, TwellowHood.com and Twitter Search to find local users and go to “Tweet ups” (real life meetings), or start your own Tweet up! Use sites like TWTvite and TweetVite to find or plan a Tweet up.

Follow a conference or event: “Hashtags” are little short codes used in Twitter to follow specific events. Organizers will determine a short phrase or abbreviation for the event and by placing a # sign in front of that, you can follow along with Twitter users at the event. For example, the AAR Winter Conference hashtag is #aarwc. Just go to Twitter Search and search on #aarwc. The hashtag for NAR’s annual conference in New Orleans this year is #NARdigras. This works well for finding people at an event, hearing about things happening, or following along virtually if you aren’t actually attending a conference.

Just do it!

Go to Twitter and sign up for an account. It’s free, so you’ve got nothing to loose! Give it a spin and see what you think. Be careful though, it’s curiously addicting. . .

Other articles on Twitter and Real Estate:

Twitter for Realtors, how Twitter can help your real estate business

How Not to Use Twitter

How To Use Twitter


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Jay Thompson

Jay Thompson is the Designated Broker and a co-owner of Thompson's Realty -- an independent real estate brokerage serving the entire Phoenix (and Tucson) Metro area. He is a certified blogaholic and can usually be found at the award winning real estate blog, Phoenix Real Estate Guy. His latest blog adventure is Real Estate Blog Pro.

To see more posts by this author, click here.

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