Have I told you about Twitter? No? Well, allow me to introduce myself ... my name is Jeremy, and I'm a Twitteraholic.
Several months ago there was a buzz through the online real estate community about this new online communication tool. "Have you heard about Twitter?" "Are you on Twitter?" I had no idea what Twitter was, but people kept saying things like "it's microblogging", it's "text messaging over the web". When I looked it up, I saw no immediate use for it - post what you're doing online for people to see, ask questions that people can answer ... how is this any different than anything else out there? A friend of mine - and new Twitter user - accurately described it as a group chat, and he's partially right. I quickly found out that Twitter was so much more.
When I created an account, I was quickly "followed" by a user here in Blacksburg with the username @TMarkiewicz (I'm sure there's a reason why we have to have the @ symbol in our names, but I don't know what it is). @TMarkiewicz saw that I was in the same area as he was, and he followed me ... so whenever I posted something to Twitter, he saw it and could respond. As my community of people I followed - and those that followed me - grew, the conversations expanded - if @Tmarkiewicz wasn't following the same people I was, he wouldn't see the whole conversation, just a portion. But it also introduced him to people in my social circles, and vice versa. You can run applications on your computer, or your phone, that tell you when people you follow post something to Twitter, and you can choose various notification options as well. It's all very ADD-ish, and while I don't pay attention to everything everyone posts, it fits my need to multi-task.
I still wasn't seeing a business-value to Twitter though. I was learning a lot about people around the country that I followed, though - in particular, I started to learn about them through the posts they made online. I learned about their real estate markets, I learned about their marketing strategies, I learned about them as professionals ... and suddenly I found that it was becoming a community. I was becoming part of a community. And it was affecting my business in a way that I hadn't expected - I was CONSTANTLY learning something new, that I could apply to my business here, and it was making me a better professional. All of that education, for free! The best kind ...
Then one day, it happened. I got a message from @TMarkiewicz that said he and his wife were going to be leaving the area, and they wanted to talk with me about possibly listing their home. WOW ... here was this guy I'd never met who was inviting me into his home to discuss being his representative, and solely because of the relationship I'd formed with him on Twitter. I was floored. We talked, we negotiated, and a few weeks later we listed his home. Suddenly, it happened again. Another message, this time from @stuboo (don't you just love some of these names?). This message was a little different, it said "@NRVLiving, have you ever gotten a client from Twitter?". When I responded yes, he wrote back "would you like another one?"
Amazing. Two clients, a buyer and a seller, both acquired through relationships formed on Twitter. I haven't even had the chance to meet @stuboo yet, but I know a lot about him, and he about me, and we're working on crafting a search that'll help him land a home here to serve his needs for the next few years. Awesome.
So now I'm a Twitterholic. I don't expect that everyone will receive business-related contacts from the service, but they certainly might. The greater value may just be in connecting us with other individuals who share similar interests, or similar geographic locations, or maybe we just like talking with each other. We may never meet in person, but I notice when they're not online anymore. And when I close these pieces of business, I might just send Twitter a thank you card. Who should I address that to?
A post on customer service is forthcoming, but here's an example of how companies are using Twitter to actually SERVE their customers better. If you join Twitter, look me up ...
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