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Are you on top of your Twitter game? If not, don’t worry because you’re not aloneSocial media has created an entirely new way of communicating with clients and prospects, but Twitter continues to go unused by real estate professionals simple because they just don’t get it.

Katie Lance, CEO and owner of Katie Lance Consulting, believes that Twitter is one of the primary ways to grow your business using social media. Lance, considered the Twitter expert of real estate, knows a thing or two about optimizing this social network to grow a business. Lance recently explained the basics of this “hashtagging” and “re-tweeting” network during Homes.com’s Secret’s of Top Selling Agents Webinar, “#Awful @Twitter, Please Help!”. Homes.com has consolidated these tips into a “how to” on mastering Twitter, so that you can start “tweeting” your way to success!

1) Creating A Profile

Let’s start with the basics. Like any social network, you’ll want to select a profile picture. To keep your Twitter account consistent with your other social networks, Lance suggests to always use the same photo. This simple but effective tactic allows your followers to easily identify you across all platforms.

The next step is to create a Twitter handle, the name that will be associated with your profile. The rule of thumb is to select a handle that is close to your actual name, allowing other users to quickly and easily search for your profile. After selecting your handle, you’ll want to fill out the bio section.  Here you will include the areas in which you work, specialties or interests and any personal information that you would like your followers to know about you.

2) Understanding the Language

Most up and coming Twitter users face the same problem, understanding the lingo. Terms such as “DM”, “Re-tweet” and “Hashtag” are the most commonly used, but they really aren’t as confusing as you would think.

“DM” or direct message is exactly what it sounds like, a way to make direct contact with another user through a personal message. Just like any social network, direct messages are a way to contact other users “behind the scenes” and will not be visible to anyone else.

#Hashtags, probably the most confusing aspect of Twitter, is the most important concept for new users to understand. Lance explains that in its simplest meaning, a hashtag is simply a search term. If you are searching for content, you’ll want to search for the most relevant hashtag. For instance, if you are looking for moving tips to share with your clients, you’d search for the hashtag “#movingtips”. In the search results, you will discover all the content that others have associated with this hashtag. It’s important to remember that not every user will use a hashtag in the same context, so don’t feel discouraged if your search turns up with unrelated topics.

To make this simple, “Retweeting” is Twitter’s equivalent to the “share” feature on Facebook. If you stumble across a “tweet” from another user that interests you, “re-tweeting” it will display it on your own profile for your followers to view. This is a great way to share information that you feel would be valuable to your followers.

3) Best Practices

One thing that Lance stresses to all Twitter users is to keep your tweets short, just because you’re allowed to use 140 characters doesn’t mean that you need to use them all! Katie explains, “Tweets under 100 characters have 20 percent more engagement and when you keep them short, you’re more likely to get re-tweeted and the amplification increases.”

“On Facebook we talk to friends, but on Twitter you can expand beyond your reach. Twitter is the shortest distance between you and your interests” explains Lance.  Although you can connect with people on every social network, Twitter offers you the chance to discover people that share the same interests that might be outside of your normal circle of friends.  Don’t just connect with people interested in real estate. Try finding people that share the same personal interests as you, starting a relationship around something other than real estate will allow you to make a better connection with your followers.

Lance continues by saying “People have told me they have gotten business because they connected with cat people or those who love sports. When you connect with people, they go to your profile instinctively and at some point, the conversation may turn around to real estate. It’s like being at a dinner party, you don’t just jump to what you do.”

4) The “Don’t Do’s” of Twitter

Katie believes that the biggest mistake most real estate professionals make is just tweeting their listings. Think about it from your followers perspective, if all they ever see from you are listings but have no interest in buying a home, odds are they will stop following you. Always share content that provides some sort of value because people use Twitter to discover information they are interested in, not to see every home you have for sale.

“If that’s all you’re doing, stop!” says Lance. “In those cases, it’s clear the person is only promoting themselves and there’s no interaction or engagement. Social media is a two-way street. You can talk about listings, but make sure it’s not the only thing you talk about.”

Another thing that real estate professionals need to be mindful of is staying away from self promotion and auto messaging. Sharing impersonal posts and sending automated messages to your followers can tarnish your brands image. Don’t send a cookie cutter response if one of your followers makes the effort to directly message you, send a personal message because it shows that you care.

Lance recommends to always be sure that your auto messaging is deactivated. “A lot of agents will retweet and post but forget if someone acknowledges you,” she says. “You should always respond. ‘No tweet left behind’ I always say. If someone takes the time to tweet me, I respond. It could be a think you, a smiley face; it’s easy to do but also easy not to do.”

The final “no-no” that Lance stresses is something that most people do without thinking twice, connecting your Twitter to your Facebook account. Although you may think this tactic will help promote your Twitter account, in all actuality it will just be an annoyance to your Facebook friends. “Facebook moves slower and if you are pushing your tweets there five to 10 times a day, you are jamming the newsfeed,” Lance concludes.

All social media can be beneficial to real estate professionals trying to build their brand, but Twitter gives you direct contact with clients and prospects. Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t a Re-tweetin’ or hashtaggin’ guru right away, with these guidelines and a little time you will be on your way to mastering the art of Twitter! Follow @Homespro to keep up with everything going on in the real estate industry.