How to Use Twitter

Posted by: Jay Thompson on June 9th, 2009

OK, that is a pretty pretentious title. Who am I to tell you how to use Twitter? The simple fact is (and it’s one of the true beauties of social networking) there are no “rules” about how to use Twitter. The title, and gist, of this post however, fits in with my previous post, How Not to Use Twitter. That, and Louis has been bugging me to complete this “series”…

Rules or no rules, there are some tips and techniques that you can utilize to increase your chances of “success” on Twitter.

Whoa, “success” on Twitter? How do we define “success”?

Depends. Personally, I think if you are using Twitter for the sole purpose of generating leads (and eventually commission checks), then you are making a mistake and likely wasting your time. If you want to expand your sphere of influence, if you want to get to meet and engage with people from all walks of life, if you want to share and expand your knowledge and increase your “internet presence”, then by all means, utilize social networking tools like Twitter.

Simply put, the “hard sell” doesn’t work in social media. Start with the “I’m a REALTOR!” and “I’m a top producer!” or “Look at my new listing!” talk and people will instantly tune you out (if not outright unfollow or block you). In my opinion, the single best thing to do with a tool like Twitter is use it to engage with people. Ultimately, you can use Twitter to actually meet people “IRL” (In Real Life). And let’s face it, in real life is still the best social network ever, bar none.

Setting up a Twitter account is simple. Just go to and follow the brief instructions and you’ll be “tweeting” in no time.

But without “followers” (people that chose to connect with you on Twitter), you’ll be tweeting in a vacuum.

Warning! While you do need followers, please don’t fall into the trap of thinking of Twitter as a numbers game. There are countless articles out there about how to get a bazillion followers on Twitter. Don’t fall for them. It is not just about the number of followers.

Find a couple of people to follow. Once you follow someone, you can see who they follow. As a real estate agent, you will likely naturally navigate toward following and engaging with others in the real estate space. And that’s OK. It’s viable networking and a way to learn more about real estate.

But if you don’t engage with local, non-real estate people, then you are missing out on a huge aspect of Twitter -– specifically expanding your sphere of influence. So seek out some local folks and begin watching their Twitter streams and just jump into the conversation.

How do you find local people on Twitter?

There are several ways. Here are some methods I’ve found particularly effective:

Download It is a desktop application (free) that allows you to search the “Twitter stream” by location.

Use Twitter’s search function at Go to the advanced search and enter a location into the “Near this place” box. You can even set a distance to search by. You’ll see all sorts of local Tweeps.

TwellowHood is the Yellow Pages of Twitter. You won’t find ALL local Tweeps here, but I bet you find a bunch.

How do you manage followers?

Once you get upwards of 100 or so people you are following, if you only use to read through Tweets, you’ll probably find you can’t keep up. Importantly, you don’t HAVE to keep up with Twitter all the time. In fact you can’t. But there are applications that make managing Twitter much simpler and more effective.

I am a big fan of TweetDeck. It is free, and allows you to set up groups of followers. I have groups like “Phoenix”, “Agents”, “Cool People”, and “Friends”. Setting up groups allows you to break out your followers by categories and makes it much simpler to keep track of what people are saying. TweetDeck also allows you to set up searches that update in real time. I have searches set up for “Realtor” and “Phoenix” -– so any time someone uses those words in a tweet, whether I am following them or not, I’ll see it.

There are other Twitter clients available. Seesmic Desktop is also widely used. Another popular Twitter client is Twhirl.

There are also applications for smart phones as well. Just Google “iphone twitter client”, “blackberry twitter client” etc.

OK, so I’m Tweeting with local people, now what?

MEET THEM. I mean meet as in real life. You know, face-to-face over a cup of coffee, a beer, at an event, whatever. MEET THEM. Get to know them. Make a friend!

How do you do that? Organize a “Tweet up”. Get out there on Twitter and ASK people to get together. Meet at a coffee shop, a restaurant, a bar. It may take a while to organize and get going, but set up a regular meet up. Start with monthly. Maybe you can move it to weekly if it gains traction.

If you are in a reasonably large metro area, chances are there are already meetups happening. Join them! Use twitter search and try searching for the word “tweet up” (or Tweetup) and restricting the results to a specific geographic area to find local Tweet ups.

Or try Twtvite. You can search for existing Tweet ups, or create your own. Don’t be shy! Send out a Twtvite and see what happens.

I’ve met close to a hundred local, non-real estate related people thanks to Tweet ups. I’ve never given any of them a business card, and I never well. But they all know I sell real estate. And now many are seeking out my advice. Some are even asking me to help them buy or sell a home.


Get a Twitter account

Follow local people

Be real.

Attend Tweet ups (or organize one if none exist in your area). MEET PEOPLE!


You don’t have to spend hours a day doing this folks. Twitter limits you to 140 characters per Tweet, so it only takes a few seconds to send one. Pop in and out of Twitter as time permits. Get a desktop client and keep it open while you work. It’s not hard, it’s fun!

And follow me on Twitter at!

Be careful, Twitter has strong addictive properties!



5 Comments on “How to Use Twitter”

Jon Cooper

This is a really good article that I wish real estate agents would read and pay attention to. I “met” Jay on Twitter we followed each other and then we exchanged emails about selling a home I have in Phoenix (I am in New Jersey). The thing I liked about how he used Twitter was that he was open and genuine and did not do “the hard sell”. That is SO ANNOYING and there is SO MUCH of it out there. I sent out a tweet once that contained the word “realtor” and was instantly descended upon by several agents. That is a BIG BIG turn off.

I have not listed my house yet but when I do I will be able to say I found my agent on Twitter. If he had been like many agents are on Twitter I never would have noticed he even existed.

Portland Real Estate

Great advice, I hope this actually gets read and remembered. I have already noticed several agents in my area that just inundate the system with new listings and sale requests and RT requests. Come on man, this is not another free advertising channel, this is supposed to be useful and not clogged up with junk.

Jay Thompson

Coop – Thanks for the kind words. The time to list may be near!

Portland RE – there’s a lot of that going on. Search Twitter for the word “listing” or “realtor”. Better yet, don’t….


Jay, you’re absolutely right. There is a ton of that going on, but not just in our industry. Seems there was a mass email sent out telling people to jump on twitter and immediately start twitting about what you do for a living.

Real Estate Taxi

Twitter is taking over the blog-o-sphere. I enjoy hearing the thoughts of stars, because you never get there opinions in magazines.

Leave a Comment


For Real Estate Agents

Online Marekting Solutions

For Home Buyers and Sellers

e.g., 1250 S Main St, Burbank, CA or 91506
     Search Foreclosures    Search New Homes    Search Rentals    

Blog Categories

Blog Archives

Real Estate Blogs

Top Articles

Recent Comments

Guaranteed LeadsReferral Lead ProgramListings PackageVisits to your WebsiteFind REALTOR®Homes For SaleHome Values