Speaking In Thumbs

Posted by: Louis Cammarosano on May 23rd, 2008

Do We Really Need To Twitter?

A few years back I knew a guy who had one of the first blackberries. Armed with this new device, he would fire off incessant and inane emails while outside of the office, just because he could.

The emails often contained numerous typos, cryptic messages, stray useless thoughts and were sometimes sent to a few too many addressees, many of whom may have been the subject of ridicule in the emails.

Whenever I used to receive on of these electronic missives (clearly indicated as such by the “sent from my blackberry” tag line) I would recoil in vague amusement and remark to one of the many other recipients “there goes X again speaking in thumbs”; meaning cryptic and typo filled.

I filed this thought away for a few years. It strikes me X was sending these messages solely because he could not because he needed to or there was any value in doing so.

This is how I view the early adopters of twitter as they vainly try to justify some business reason for “following” the random stray thoughts of dozens of people similarly affilicted with repetitive thumb injuries.

Is there really any business value in twitter or are we just using it because its there?

Louis Cammarosano



36 Comments on “Speaking In Thumbs”

Wayne Long

I am with you here Louis. I don’t get the twitter craze. I am sure it has some value but I don’t have time to find it. :)

Missy Caulk

I love Twitter, here is how it worked for me tonight. I am at our lake house for the weekend. I got and email from an Active Rain member on my Blackberry. I said hey, Marc can you log onto to Twitter and “nudge” comcastcares ? We are at our cottage and can’t log on, send them my cell phone number. Five minutes or less later, my cell phone rings. I said to my kids as we were sitting around the fire, “whose calling my on holiday weekend, on a Friday night?”. But, I answered,
Guess who?
Comcast Cares from twitter.
If that had not happened I would not have read your email and been able to add my two cents here.

Stephen Fells

I don’t use twitter yet but see the attraction in it being a more interactive/frequent version of the Facebook status. Personally I update my “Stephen is…” Facebook status at least once a day, sometimes three or four times and I love to see other friends notes on the mundane but more representative/normal things they do in their day. I get to know them on a level our previous infrequent communication prevented. I have signed up for twitter but have yet to make it update my Facebook status. I expect to do that soon.

BawldGuy Talking

As you’re aware, I’m pretty much in your camp. I’ve been using twitter as an experiment for the last week or so. It’s resulted in potential business already. What I avoid like the plague is the comments so bereft of value they’d have to move up a couple levels to be merely mundane.

‘They’re outa half ‘n half @ Starbux’ and such. It’s ok, I’m not criticizing, ‘cuz I realize much of what twitter is, revolves around friends, you know, ‘social’ stuff.

I try to keep that at a minimum, maybe 10-20%. So far so good. It has surprised me though. It’s put me on to opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

I’ll give it a fair trial and report back to the troops. :)

Todd Carpenter

You won’t “get” Twitter until you stop trying to figure out how to get business from it. You have to do it for fun. You have to genuinely want to talk to people, not market to them. If you just try to market yourself there, nobody will want to connect with you.

I love Twitter, and have met about 150 people there (follow me, I’m tcar). Out of that 150, I bet 130 of them are real estate professionals. I’ve also forged stronger relationships with better than 150 other RE professionals that I had met before.

Louis, I’ve grown relationships with 300 new media aware real estate professionals. The exact sort of agents that I call clients. Some RE pros connect with others and generate referrals. Some connect with consumers. some just like to hang out on the virtual water cooler and take a break.

Again, I’m on Twitter because I like to meet and talk to people. I don’t care if it ever earns me a dime. But on the other hand, the top referrer to my newest blog is… Twitter. Five of the first six people who confirmed they were coming to RE BlogWorld, I met on… Twitter. The local meetup of RE 2.0 talent I organized today was promoted and organized largely on… Twitter.

I didn’t “get” Twitter either because I was trying to figure out a business use for it. But I got hooked on it because it was fun, and now the business opportunities are bearing fruit.

Louis Cammarosano

I’ve been on twitter for a couple of months. And it can be fun. My biggest issue is keeping up.
Without spending the whole day watching and commenting, how do you keep up, or is that futile?
It seems to me that being on twitter is like being famous where all your followers have to know what you are doing all the time.

@Missy -certainly any additional way of communication is useful and your tale tonight is a good example.
Just wondering is twitter like the CB Radio, a craze or a permanant communication device?
@Stephen – isn’t once a day on facebook enough?
@mitch, wade and Jeff – perhaps if you have time on your hands it may be worth wading in.
Seems like the re downturn has given us a lot of time on our hands to blog, twitter etc.

Barry Cunningham

Louis, Like Todd said, it takes a while to get used to it. I initially followed as many people as I could then had to eliminate a lot of the Active rain type comments.

Now like todd, one of our big referrers is Twitter..have a new post..instantly let a couple of hundred people know who have given you permission to send messages to them.

Lately I have begun using Summize and it’s like google for twitter..it’s pretty cool.

In any event, it’s working for me and helping us generate traffic and readership and eyeballs for our sponsors :)

You just have to weed through the BS sometimes.

Mitch Ribak

I guess if my office wasn’t so busy actually working with buyers and selling houses I might be one to spend the time needed to check out yet another passing fad of Internet fun.

I’ll ask the question I always ask when something new is trying to break into the Real Estate arena.

Is it going to help my Agents and myself increase productivity with a limited amount of time involved in implementing and figuring out how it works?

It seems like every other week or so something comes along thats cool and someone thinks there must be a way for that “cool” tool to help our business.

Is there any business value? Maybe. Is it something my Agents would even think about using? I doubt it.

Louis Cammarosano

@Barry It sounds like Twitter is where there are many engaged eyeballs…

Rich Jacobson

Louis: I am a huge fan of Twitter. It offers many useful benefits for business applications.

Here is my review that I posted on ActiveRain:


I find it an exceptionally valuable way of promoting my local blogsite, http://www.SoundBiteBlog.com, or to announce things that are happening on ActiveRain – i.e., to promote the latest featured article, to announce contests, etc. I also promote other articles that I write on platforms like http://www.AgentGenius.com

It’s a wonderful platform for polling popular opinion or getting really great information quickly.

Have a software issue? What’s the best digital camera for taking wide angles? Need a good sushi bar in Chicago? Instant qualified answers.

I find the best strategy is to follow as many people as possible, so you can be exposed to the greatest amount of conversations.

I use GoogleTalk as my Twitter Reader. Some use Alert Thingy. The problem with simply using the Twitter platform alone is that you have to keep refreshing your screen to get the latest updates. By using GoogleTalk, the conversation is real time. And by keeping your Twitter screen open alongside, you can do other functions while you’re following the conversation.

Twitter is simply one more way for us to expand our sphere, to connect with other professionals. I don’t use it as a means of generating business, although I have passed several referrals. It’s more geared towards B2B. The members are very eclectic, and tend to be early adapter types – those who rapidly embrace latest technologies, and apply to meaningful applications.

There is another social network, http://www.BrightKite.com that is geographical and interfaces with Twitter. I see that platform as having more consumer oriented possibilities.

Let me know if you need any additional questions, or if you want me to walk you through anything I’ve mentioned.

Louis Cammarosano

I fear as more people get on Twitter, we may have some of the issues that have plagued craig’s list-like fraud, spam etc. Seems like now is the time for the early adopters to enjoy it the way it is.

Louis Cammarosano

I’ve been moderating this thread since I posted as it seems to have attracted plenty of comments. Apologies but I don not have another comment from you this evening other than the one above.
Certainly you are one of our star bloggers, so there is no reason to hold up your comments.
Please resubmit your earlier comment as I have no record of it.

Todd Carpenter

Louis, Think of Twitter as a Water Cooler. Or your new fancy break room at Home Gain. You wouldn’t ever get any work done if you felt like you HAD to stay there all day and talk to everyone who came by. Instead, you drop by to get a drink of water, chat about the ball game with whoever is in there for a minute or two, then go back to work.

Like Rick said, I run Twitter from a client. I use twhirl. It basically runs in the background until I tune in for a break. I don’t worry about missing anything because nobody expects me to always be listening.

As far as spam goes. Twitter already has spam, but you’d have “follow” it for you to effected. That is the pure beauty of Twitter. It’s nearly impossible for a spammer to succeed.

Mitch Ribak

Hey Todd. That was a great comment on my comment. You are totally right. I wish I had the time to actually enjoy some of the new technologies out there. Maybe I need to spend a little more time having fun than working so much. You make a great point though. The reality is, sometimes it’s not about the marketing. I love meeting new people, but I prefer to spend my extra time, if I’m not working, playing golf and getting away from the computer. Since I spend about 70+ hours a week working on this thing, the last thing I want it for is to have fun. Maybe it’s time to wake up and enjoy the keyboard.

Mike Farmer

how come these other comments seem to be flowing in order, yet mine are held up? I must be on some bad list somewhere

Mike Farmer

I said a lot of profound stuff that I can’t remember, now. I’ll post something tomorrow.

Rhonda Porter

First, I’d like to thank Todd Carpenter for posting this on Twitter. :)

It took me a while to “get” Twitter as well. I now love it. I think it’s a lot like using a Mac…you can’t over think it. It’s very simple…you have 140 spaces to leave a comment.

As a Mortgage Professional, I use Twitter to leave “live” rate quotes and mortgage advice that I’m currently giving…plus maybe some boring real life stuff like listening to SRV w/hubby (my last post at http://www.twitter.com/mortgageporter).

I have found that my clients ARE following me.

My biggest problem w/Twitter is that I now may have to start weeding thru a few people I’m following…but not many.

I’m really not using Facebook much anymore (it’s becoming too “myspace” for me)…it’s Twitter for me.

Brad Coy

I know some geeky people but I hardly think we are using it just because it’s their.

“Social networks are your local pub” – Chris Brogan. Twitter is a pub, plain and simple. Sometimes you get business in the pub but not by looking in the window. As a B2B one could do real good. But you need to step on in and press some flesh.

Brad Coy

I know some geeky people but I hardly think we are using it just because it’s their.

“Social networks are your local pub” – Chris Brogan. Twitter is a pub, plain and simple. Sometimes you get business in the pub but not by looking in the window. As a B2B one could do real good. But you need to step on in and press some flesh.

Ryan Ward

I think at some point, you have to be able to set down the social aspects of work so that you can actually “work”. Twitter is another of the time consuming addictive social concepts that can become all consuming. At this point, I already have clients who contact me with instant messaging and text messaging. I think it’s okay to not get back to someone in 13.5 seconds sometimes…Let’s say I’m with a client working on something important. I should not interupt this because someone wants to get me immediately. The person I’m with deserves my undivided attention and the other person who wants to contact me would appreciate the same courtesy if I was with them. I can get back to them.

With so many ways of staying in contact already, I have yet to be convinced of any real benefit from using it. I’m open to it, just don’t see it yet…

Roberta Murphy


I was a Twitter wallflower for a couple of months, and when time allowed, tried to “get it.” I now use it mostly to share and follow links–which is why I am here.

It is also 5:30 a.m. and an acceptable time to hang out at water coolers.

Louis Cammarosano

@ Brad/Todd
I like the pub/water cooler analogy. We go to it because its there, we don’t need to go to it, we might get some business, but that is not the pub’s purpose, some people spend too much time in pubs.
@Roberta – welcome to the Homegain real estate blog.I am glad you picked up on the water cooler analogy and not the pub one esp at this hour.
@Ryan if allowed to dominate your life, things like twitter and facebook will take you out of the real world. In your example, you are not willing to interrupt your meeting when you receive a text, to answer back. More and more, however, you are probably seeing your clients/friends fade away from you to attend to their mobile devices.


It seems like Twitter is a good place to drop by. I am liking the water cooler/pub analogy more and more. These places’ primary purposes are for socializing. But as well all know social contacts often lead to business.
I think however, its incorrect to tout twitter as a business tool.

louis cammarosano

Your thoughts are echoed by Nicole over at HomeGain Nation

Mike Farmer

I don’t think twitter was created as a marketing tool. It’s a communication and social tool. First you have to decide if you want to be sociable and create a network. If so, twitter is a good tool for creating a hi-touch social network online — away from the business-focused tools we use for a specific purpose.

The ease of use with twitter makes it attractive for the modern person who is gradually adapting new ways of communicating. It’s the creation of a new language where a conversation is going on in short, pithy statements that have meaning to the users.

I am at the beginning and I haven’t learned the language, nor do I see any immediate business being created. I started using twitter because I wanted to be a part of the conversation and learn the language. “I’m at Starbucks and they are out of cream” can be taken literally and the answer can be “who cares?” or you can read something into it — I’m at Starbucks and I have some time to reach out to my network and say “Hi”, nothing important, just thinking about you and want to reach out for a second into the cyber-world and transcend this mundane moment with no cream.

As networks grow and the human side is revealed, “no cream” is a way of staying connected to something larger, something perhaps more human than the blank stare of a bored Starbuck employee when you ask how they could be out of cream.

Business? Twitter wouldn’t last 2 days if everyone was marketing their services 24 hrs a day. But being a part of a network puts you in a position to receive business should some happen to come up. There are plenty of other ways to be known, but this one seems personal and a little stronger as far as connections go.

Mike Farmer

Indirectly, I believe it’s a tool — but it’s a paradox — a business tool that shouldn’t be used as a business tool.

When we talk about “business” I think the Gen Y attitude of business being broader than the clear-focus business mindset is likely to be the way of the future — The mixture of business, social and play has an appealing quality that if done artfully can add enjoyment to business. Productivity is still an issue, but I suspect the newer minds are finding ways to be productive while playing a little. I must have been ahead of the times, because I’ve always tried to combine work and play into sometime that is not boring and so seriously 9 to 5ish.

Mark Eckenrode

yup, it’s about being social. not everyone enjoys being social in this way, that’s cool (heck i still hate to IM but i love to twitter, go figure). when you’re social you’re seen as “real”… no one wants to refer business to, or do business with an “entity.” we want real people, warts and all. twitter gives folks enough of a view into who you are as a person for them to choose to step closer into business with you.

in fact, there were a number of twitter success stories shared at a recent social media real estate event. one person set up twitter that morning, followed 5 people within a 2 mile radius of his home, and within a few hours had a listing request.

with so many tools out there to be transparent, consumers are voting… if you’re not working to be transparent, they don’t want to do business with you.

does it have business application, sure, communicate with your entire team and keep all on the same page.

Joseph Ferrara

Twitter is a social networking tool. I call it the Internet Party Line. And like all social media, business is a potential byproduct (but not the main product). Anyone who uses it strictly for business will stick out like that “thumb” guy. Heck, going to a cocktail party is a social networking event that can lead to business & if I had to choose, I’d pick the face-to-face, (as opposed to avatar-to-avatar) brand of social networking (a laugh is worth more than a lol and you can’t taste those Facebook drinks). But like a cocktail party, there is a fair amount of “noise” on Twitter (so I use Summize as a filter).

One advantage of internet social networking is the ability to connect with someone across the country or across the planet & if I did relocation business, or was in a market which attracted these clients, it would make more business sense to me. By hey, to each his (or her) own– personally, I prefer Meetup.com and I use Twitter mainly for link sharing.

@Barry: Try using Summize as you would Google Alerts via RSS.

Brad Coy

@Rhonda without @tcar on twitter, I would not have found this post either. Most feeds today are not in my feedreader.

@bawldguy @mfarmer great to see two guys pick it up, as a tool of communication and quickly take to it and understand how effective it really can be.

Every aspect of business has a social component to it. Thinking about leveraging a social utility for business is just a bit over analytical. This power of twitter is that this whole conversation could have and has taken place in minutes on twitter in minutes and much quicker. The way I see it, this blog is your house. The communication is happening on a different level of frequency, and with few privy to the conversation.

I have been saying for months now that the utilities of twitter and other forms of micro-communication will change and be incorporated with a greater power of communicating. Twitter, albeit not quite even close to being mainstream, yet mainstream media channels are catching on. Far from a fad, the latest shiny object for the RE.net has been in the tech scene now for more than a minute as utilities like Facebook with too much functionality continue to feel clunky.

I’ve been on both sides of the fence with this discussion with myself and others over and over for the last 9 months. At the end of the day, this is all just a part of the more efficient social networking function. Anyone who actually spends time building social capital understands what it means to prosper because of it. This misunderstanding I think comes in when one understands that at this level of frequency, anything can and will happen.

As a business tool, I reluctantly shared some success stories with others last week. Why reluctantly? Because I think mileage will vary given your locale and temperament. Although as Mark said above here, after sharing how to use this, one lucky fellow may have secured a listing just for signing up. Also, I am not sure I understand very much how to describe using a social device that is as familiar as the pub, because talking to Jeff Brown face to face makes me feel as if I have much more to learn from him then he does from me. Are we on two different ends of the tech curve or closer to the middle than we already know?

Brian Brady


You’re closing your eyes. Twitter is a great conversation starter and and useful thing to watch…that’s right…watch. Watch and find opportunities.

Why’s Louis watching on Twitter? He knows PPC efficacy is waning. It’ll never die but it’s going to be less effective as consumers connect on social media.

Mitch- we’re overdue for a phone call and I’m putting on a another social media marketing conference, in Orlando, this November.

Is it okay to call you? I’m not trying to be confrontational. I owe you some reciprocal knowledge; you opened my eyes on BuyerLink.

Louis Cammarosano

I am not watching Twitter because I “know” ppc efficacy is waning, I am watching it as I watch all new potential marketing avenues.

It has been predicted that social media will replace google. So far there is no evidence that it is happening as google revenues continue to grow at a rapid rate.

Whatever the marketing medium, homegain will be there to facilitate connecting consumers with realtors.


…well…I think twitter uses me.

And I don’t mind a bit. It is a very simple venue where ideas, messages and products mingle, so
speak your mind, even if you are talking to yourself.You can bet someone is listening and looking for ideas.
Having found some great ideas-and some business-on twitter-it’s in my toolbox.

…And so I’m off to find you on twitter, Louis. I promise not to bug you too much.


Mitch Ribak

Hey Brian, you are probably right, I may have my eyes closed. It does make sense to keep them open and keep expanding my Internet knowledge, etc. I would welcome the call any time. You know I love this stuff. I should be around most of the week coming up so drop me a note and let me know when a good time to hook up. I look forward to it. Have a great night.

Brian Brady

Will do, Mitch.

Louis, I KNOW HomeGain will be connecting REALTORs and consumers; you’re doing it already with the new blog network.

I can’t wait to see what you do next

Laurie Manny

Twitter, Facebook and other Social Media sites are great places for lenders and other vendors to herd Realtors to whom they are marketing. Of course, they will tell you it’s a great place to pick up business, which it is – for them – Realtors are their clients.

I know a few Realtors who have used Twitter to make local contacts successfully. They are not using twitter to socialize with other Realtors.

With the market in the condition it is in, it is imperative for each of us to assess what works for us and what doesn’t. While there is nothing wrong with socializing with other Realtors, everything has its time and place. Each venue should be assessed by each Realtor for its highest and best use.

Mark Wayman

I use Twitter as a way to keep up with the latest trends/happenings and *direction* for social media. There is no way I could do this as efficiently with any other tool.

It’s not for everyone and it’s not for everything but for me it is invaluable as a bellweather for the social industry.

You need to carefully select who to ‘follow’ to cut a balance between the informative and the overly chatty.

I do find some of the “I’m doing laundry” type comments annoying but those that I’ve eventually narrowed down tend to have a low ‘noise ratio’.



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