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Tweeting for CRE: What is More Valuable, Amount of Followers or Their Engagement?

A recent article on Generation Internet Real Estate was an admission by Mark Hawkins of how not to use twitter. Like me, he is not afraid to admit his mistakes. In this case his article is an admission that he unwittingly hired someone who probably rented a list just to get more followers.

My experience with Twitter is a bit different. As an attorney, I have consistently and deliberately been an early adopter of technology, as opposed to some of my more conservative colleagues. I am a gadget geek par excellence, always looking to take on new technology, despite sometimes disappointing results.

CRE Radio Twitter followersIn late ’09, I started trying to figure out how use Twitter to help build my practice. Previously thinking it held little value for business, I reagrded Twitter as a medium for teens following celebrities or griping about their parents.

I liked LinkedIn for joining groups, participating in discussions and expressing my “business self.” I soon attracting many followers/links. LinkedIn was my primary marketing tool for my law practice, and our early shows on CRE Radio.

In the spring of 2012, I noticed I had 87 followers on Twitter. Why would anyone follow me? I had never even posted a tweet?. One evening I googled Twitter to learn a little more.

It dawned on me that people were actually following me so that I would follow them. Experimenting, I searched for people who might be interested in following me (commercial real estate) and linked to 2,000 of them before Twitter cut me off. Turns out that they applied an algorithm of follows to followers once you follow 2,000 people. Although I sorta kinda broke the rules, I had about 800 somewhat relevant followers. I began using Twitter like a soap box I could use to let people know what I was doing on the radio. Ahh! I had it figured out. Well, no — but I was getting closer.

In the next year, my following increased to 1,500 based upon about 4-8 tweets a week and liberal use of hashtags. My bathroom reading featured “The Idiots Guide to Tweeting for Business” and other similar dummy books. This was how it went for me until May of this year, when I started tweeting at RECON. I also began tweeting from my smartphone on my “down” or “boredom” time. Most significantly, I started genuinely interacting with my followers and others.

Since then my Twitter following has increased to about 3,200. I am often personally interacting with followers who seem follow me because they are genuinely interested in what I have been saying. We seem “connected.” These followers are retweeting many of my posts, which expands my reach to many more people. Even my “Klout” influence score has increased to 57. I don’t know if that’s high enough to be good but it’s certainly better than it was.

The significance of Mark’s experience, and mine, is that numbers alone mean very little in social media. It is the “social” that is the most significant aspect of social media. How you interact and the genuineness of your interaction is what’s important.

You often hear the word “engagement” when social media is discussed. Engagement is not just you talking or broadcasting your thoughts or messages. Engagement is when you communicate in a way that motivates your followers to do something. It may include communicating back or, in Twitter-ese, retweeting your tweet. It’s crucial to develop an emotional connection rather than just a logical connection. They retweet because they relate to you and want to know that you “feel” the same way about them.

It appears Mark and I have come to the same conclusion via different routes. Shortcuts can have some value, but that value is limited unless your main goal is to get big, hollow numbers. I believe my 3,200 followers are really solid followers. And, as so, are much more valuable than those who have used “bots” to accumulate 50,000+ followers, most of whom are meaningless.

Something to Add?

  • Howard,
    To me Twitter is a like a neighborhood, there is always somebody around and it is a place where you can almost immediately find somebody to have a conversation with or just get caught up on things. It is short and forces you to be concise. That is what I like about Twitter. For our site, it is a great source of new members and also a customer service tool. When people need help they can just send us a Tweet.
    Great post!