Questions for the Twittering Realtor

Posted By Rob Hahn November 21, 2008, Filed under: Marketing, Real Estate@ 11:10 AM

According to Forrester Research, 6% of Americans use Twitter.

Robert Scoble calls bullshit:

There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY that many people are using Twitter.

My data shows that the regular users are between 50,000 and 300,000. A high percentage of which are outside the United States. That doesn’t come anywhere close to the numbers required for 6%.

And much debate ensues in the comments sections of geekblogs everywhere.

Here’s the thing, though: whether the number is 1% of 6%… for realtors who are getting into the Twitter action, and espousing “microblogging” as a strategy for business development…

How you liking that 6% number?

Take your relevant market.  My local area is probably 3-6 towns (Millburn, Short Hills, Maplewood, South Orange, maybe Livingston, maybe Springfield).  Say the total population is about 100K people.  6% amounts to 6,000 Twitterers.

How much time should you spend to form connections with that 6,000 people?  Not all of whom are in the market for real estate services, and may not be for six years.

-rsh

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38 thoughts on “Questions for the Twittering Realtor”

  1. @Dan –

    Yeah, the commenters were bringing that up over at the Peter Kim blog.

    What I wonder about is the value of Twitter as a business tool for agents. Even if we go with Forrester’s high of 6%… is that enough?

    -rsh

  2. @Dan –

    Yeah, the commenters were bringing that up over at the Peter Kim blog.

    What I wonder about is the value of Twitter as a business tool for agents. Even if we go with Forrester’s high of 6%… is that enough?

    -rsh

  3. @Dan –

    Yeah, the commenters were bringing that up over at the Peter Kim blog.

    What I wonder about is the value of Twitter as a business tool for agents. Even if we go with Forrester’s high of 6%… is that enough?

    -rsh

  4. There’s no way it’s 6%. But let’s say that’s true, it highlights the reality that use of social media is an extremely hyper-targeted market, much like mailing flyers to only one exact subdivision which we know the ROI to average at 1%. With any use of social media however, it’s not the amount of time one spends in the environment, rather the quality of connections and level of conversation they are engaging in while in the space.

  5. There’s no way it’s 6%. But let’s say that’s true, it highlights the reality that use of social media is an extremely hyper-targeted market, much like mailing flyers to only one exact subdivision which we know the ROI to average at 1%. With any use of social media however, it’s not the amount of time one spends in the environment, rather the quality of connections and level of conversation they are engaging in while in the space.

  6. There’s no way it’s 6%. But let’s say that’s true, it highlights the reality that use of social media is an extremely hyper-targeted market, much like mailing flyers to only one exact subdivision which we know the ROI to average at 1%. With any use of social media however, it’s not the amount of time one spends in the environment, rather the quality of connections and level of conversation they are engaging in while in the space.

  7. I’m not exactly espousing it as a strategy for business development, so maybe my answer doesn’t apply. My town isn’t at the head of the tech-ability curve, and there are but a handful of active tweeters in Tucson. However – I can attract local geeks, and some of them happen to be on Twitter, though we didn’t meet there. 3 of those will do business with me – we’re already working together. And another 1 that has done business with me. And of the group I did meet at Twitter, we discuss ballet and books and restaurants and they know enough to ask me for a plumber recommendation, should they need one.

    I understand my Twitter-time is social-fun-time for Kelley. I’m not there to get business, though the potential is there. Heck, I don’t even tweet my blog posts. If it happens, it happens. But it’s not the point.

    Though I will say this: if it wasn’t for Twitter, I wouldn’t have made pretty much any of the connections that I have to other agents and bloggers and industry influencers, which has opened a lot of doors for me. It’s not why I started tweeting, but was an unintended and valuable side effect.

  8. I’m not exactly espousing it as a strategy for business development, so maybe my answer doesn’t apply. My town isn’t at the head of the tech-ability curve, and there are but a handful of active tweeters in Tucson. However – I can attract local geeks, and some of them happen to be on Twitter, though we didn’t meet there. 3 of those will do business with me – we’re already working together. And another 1 that has done business with me. And of the group I did meet at Twitter, we discuss ballet and books and restaurants and they know enough to ask me for a plumber recommendation, should they need one.

    I understand my Twitter-time is social-fun-time for Kelley. I’m not there to get business, though the potential is there. Heck, I don’t even tweet my blog posts. If it happens, it happens. But it’s not the point.

    Though I will say this: if it wasn’t for Twitter, I wouldn’t have made pretty much any of the connections that I have to other agents and bloggers and industry influencers, which has opened a lot of doors for me. It’s not why I started tweeting, but was an unintended and valuable side effect.

  9. I’m not exactly espousing it as a strategy for business development, so maybe my answer doesn’t apply. My town isn’t at the head of the tech-ability curve, and there are but a handful of active tweeters in Tucson. However – I can attract local geeks, and some of them happen to be on Twitter, though we didn’t meet there. 3 of those will do business with me – we’re already working together. And another 1 that has done business with me. And of the group I did meet at Twitter, we discuss ballet and books and restaurants and they know enough to ask me for a plumber recommendation, should they need one.

    I understand my Twitter-time is social-fun-time for Kelley. I’m not there to get business, though the potential is there. Heck, I don’t even tweet my blog posts. If it happens, it happens. But it’s not the point.

    Though I will say this: if it wasn’t for Twitter, I wouldn’t have made pretty much any of the connections that I have to other agents and bloggers and industry influencers, which has opened a lot of doors for me. It’s not why I started tweeting, but was an unintended and valuable side effect.

  10. I’m guessing that the number will grow. It might not be 6% now, but it could be soon.

    I also think that agents are likely to attract or come in contact with like minded individuals. Tech savvy agents will connect with tech savvy consumers. The number one employer of my clients is Microsoft. Staying ahead of the tech curve is important to my business.

    I have met with folks from the local newspaper and with an agent in Seattle who might refer me business. It’s not closed business, but I am creating relationships and that is always the beginning.

  11. I’m guessing that the number will grow. It might not be 6% now, but it could be soon.

    I also think that agents are likely to attract or come in contact with like minded individuals. Tech savvy agents will connect with tech savvy consumers. The number one employer of my clients is Microsoft. Staying ahead of the tech curve is important to my business.

    I have met with folks from the local newspaper and with an agent in Seattle who might refer me business. It’s not closed business, but I am creating relationships and that is always the beginning.

  12. @Kelley –

    See, I’m sort of with you. I use Twitter primarily to stay in touch with folks in the RE.net I’ve met at various conferences and events. So it’s more of a social thing for me as well, I guess.

    Kinda like this blog — I started it for fun, and I continue to write it for fun. But I can’t deny making connections and new friends and such because of it. It never occurred to me to use it for a bizdev purpose.

    I just feel like many agents are being preached a message of, “social media drives leads to you”. And I’m just not sure that’s true. Some fraction of 6% is certainly a tiny little niche that may or may not be as valuable as some offline niche, y’know?

    -rsh

  13. @Kelley –

    See, I’m sort of with you. I use Twitter primarily to stay in touch with folks in the RE.net I’ve met at various conferences and events. So it’s more of a social thing for me as well, I guess.

    Kinda like this blog — I started it for fun, and I continue to write it for fun. But I can’t deny making connections and new friends and such because of it. It never occurred to me to use it for a bizdev purpose.

    I just feel like many agents are being preached a message of, “social media drives leads to you”. And I’m just not sure that’s true. Some fraction of 6% is certainly a tiny little niche that may or may not be as valuable as some offline niche, y’know?

    -rsh

  14. @Kelley –

    See, I’m sort of with you. I use Twitter primarily to stay in touch with folks in the RE.net I’ve met at various conferences and events. So it’s more of a social thing for me as well, I guess.

    Kinda like this blog — I started it for fun, and I continue to write it for fun. But I can’t deny making connections and new friends and such because of it. It never occurred to me to use it for a bizdev purpose.

    I just feel like many agents are being preached a message of, “social media drives leads to you”. And I’m just not sure that’s true. Some fraction of 6% is certainly a tiny little niche that may or may not be as valuable as some offline niche, y’know?

    -rsh

  15. @notorious-one: there’s always people preaching dumb messages, and hardly any of them original or insightful, but I think I get your point. For me, it doesn’t drive leads, it just makes me more available and approachable, and I enjoy it enough to make it worthwhile.

  16. @notorious-one: there’s always people preaching dumb messages, and hardly any of them original or insightful, but I think I get your point. For me, it doesn’t drive leads, it just makes me more available and approachable, and I enjoy it enough to make it worthwhile.

  17. @notorious-one: there’s always people preaching dumb messages, and hardly any of them original or insightful, but I think I get your point. For me, it doesn’t drive leads, it just makes me more available and approachable, and I enjoy it enough to make it worthwhile.

  18. Twitter ain’t gonna drive 100 leads your way in a year, not of people willing to buy or sell real estate. But their is a better than average chance it will drive 1-2 a year (if you live in a place where adoption is decent). Plus, those 1-2 are probably going to be (or should be) in addition to the leads you are getting from your other efforts.

    If you are going to rely on Twitter as a significant source of leads, you are going to be very disappointed. That doesn’t mean, however, that it has no value. It would seem that many of the commenters here feel the same way.

  19. Twitter ain’t gonna drive 100 leads your way in a year, not of people willing to buy or sell real estate. But their is a better than average chance it will drive 1-2 a year (if you live in a place where adoption is decent). Plus, those 1-2 are probably going to be (or should be) in addition to the leads you are getting from your other efforts.

    If you are going to rely on Twitter as a significant source of leads, you are going to be very disappointed. That doesn’t mean, however, that it has no value. It would seem that many of the commenters here feel the same way.

  20. Twitter ain’t gonna drive 100 leads your way in a year, not of people willing to buy or sell real estate. But their is a better than average chance it will drive 1-2 a year (if you live in a place where adoption is decent). Plus, those 1-2 are probably going to be (or should be) in addition to the leads you are getting from your other efforts.

    If you are going to rely on Twitter as a significant source of leads, you are going to be very disappointed. That doesn’t mean, however, that it has no value. It would seem that many of the commenters here feel the same way.

  21. Everything happens at the margin, the tipping point, if you will. Web presence, being a twit, might just be the one marginal factor that puts an agent over the top for a tech savvy subset of clients. That additional marginal client might be the marginal client that keeps an agent in the business, and encourages a competitor to leave the business.

    As a ‘dinosaur’ (velociraptor I hope) agent, I struggle with all things web 2.0, but the cash cost in an environment there is more time than money available, sure makes SMM compelling.

  22. Everything happens at the margin, the tipping point, if you will. Web presence, being a twit, might just be the one marginal factor that puts an agent over the top for a tech savvy subset of clients. That additional marginal client might be the marginal client that keeps an agent in the business, and encourages a competitor to leave the business.

    As a ‘dinosaur’ (velociraptor I hope) agent, I struggle with all things web 2.0, but the cash cost in an environment there is more time than money available, sure makes SMM compelling.

  23. Its about the audience. I’m finding that more people I want to talk to are on Twitter – folks in real estate, folks in my market area, the local media, Google – you’re connecting with others and creating content for Google.

    Not only that, but from a personal level, I get</em more than I can give from my Twitter friends, and that is the real value.

    I believe that doing anything with the sole intent to “get leads” is not going to generate the fulfillment that I’m looking for – especially Twitter.

  24. Its about the audience. I’m finding that more people I want to talk to are on Twitter – folks in real estate, folks in my market area, the local media, Google – you’re connecting with others and creating content for Google.

    Not only that, but from a personal level, I get</em more than I can give from my Twitter friends, and that is the real value.

    I believe that doing anything with the sole intent to “get leads” is not going to generate the fulfillment that I’m looking for – especially Twitter.

  25. Currently Twitter is a niche market so I agree no way is it 6%
    The people that do use it are avid users so you know you will reach them.
    Building a real estate strategy around it would be foolish, but it doesn hurt to have it as part of your communication strategy

  26. Currently Twitter is a niche market so I agree no way is it 6%
    The people that do use it are avid users so you know you will reach them.
    Building a real estate strategy around it would be foolish, but it doesn hurt to have it as part of your communication strategy

  27. It sure seems like a high number to me too. Only a few people in my office of 150 agents have even heard of Twitter and I think maybe only a couple of others have tried it besides me.

    FaceBook and LinkedIn are another story. They are MUCH more popular than any other social networking platform, except maybe MySpace.

  28. It sure seems like a high number to me too. Only a few people in my office of 150 agents have even heard of Twitter and I think maybe only a couple of others have tried it besides me.

    FaceBook and LinkedIn are another story. They are MUCH more popular than any other social networking platform, except maybe MySpace.

  29. Twitter is a weapon of the arsenal that is web 2.0. It’s a piece of a puzzle that, if done right, puts that Realtor out there as someone in the community who is seemingly everywhere and knows a thing or two about real estate.
    I Twit more for business than pleasure and that’s not an easy line to walk. I divulge some personal information but I’d rather say I’m showing a house right now in the neighborhood a potential buyer wants to buy in than say I’m having a meatloaf sandwich right now. (which I’m not, btw, but it does sound very good)
    Now that I’m a Broker and in the market for agents to come on board, you can bet that I’m looking for area agents that “get” web 2.0. Twitter isn’t a bad to be looking.

  30. Twitter is a weapon of the arsenal that is web 2.0. It’s a piece of a puzzle that, if done right, puts that Realtor out there as someone in the community who is seemingly everywhere and knows a thing or two about real estate.
    I Twit more for business than pleasure and that’s not an easy line to walk. I divulge some personal information but I’d rather say I’m showing a house right now in the neighborhood a potential buyer wants to buy in than say I’m having a meatloaf sandwich right now. (which I’m not, btw, but it does sound very good)
    Now that I’m a Broker and in the market for agents to come on board, you can bet that I’m looking for area agents that “get” web 2.0. Twitter isn’t a bad to be looking.

  31. Most agents are not using twitter properly in my opinion. They all want to connect with other agents, not with their local community. The emphasis is in the wrong spot. I do think twitter can be used to meet people locally. I have actually met quite a few, but I also live in a very tech focused area- the home of twitter. I agree with Kelley, I don’t really use twitter to meet buyers and sellers, but it has opened up a ton of connections for me. I go to a ton of local tweet ups, where I further connect with new twitter fans and develop offline relationships. These connections are a real source of leads, but if you stay in the computer, I don’t think you are going to get much out of it. Using twitter or any other social media tactic exclusively is a guaranteed way to go out of business IMHO.

  32. Most agents are not using twitter properly in my opinion. They all want to connect with other agents, not with their local community. The emphasis is in the wrong spot. I do think twitter can be used to meet people locally. I have actually met quite a few, but I also live in a very tech focused area- the home of twitter. I agree with Kelley, I don’t really use twitter to meet buyers and sellers, but it has opened up a ton of connections for me. I go to a ton of local tweet ups, where I further connect with new twitter fans and develop offline relationships. These connections are a real source of leads, but if you stay in the computer, I don’t think you are going to get much out of it. Using twitter or any other social media tactic exclusively is a guaranteed way to go out of business IMHO.

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