How Should a Real Estate Agent use Twitter?

Filed in Social Media by Matt McGee on October 12, 2009 16 Comments

Would you follow a house on Twitter? (Yes, a house.) If you were auto-followed by a house, would you consider it spam? Think about those questions as you read along.

Ryan Hartman, a real estate agent from York, PA, has created a Twitter profile for one of the homes he currently has listed for sale. (It might be his own house, actually, as there’s a mention in the account of being FSBO.) For years, agents have been creating web sites specifically for each home they list for sale, but a Twitter profile for a house? Yep. Have a look:


The most recent three tweets are … off-topic, I guess. But if you scroll back through the account, you’ll see tweets like

“I’m in a beautiful neighborhood with a great school district.”

“My FSBOnwer is thinking of reducing my price. I’m beautiful, and i’ve been very well marketed, but no bites.”

“French Doors Off Living Room to an additional room with outside entrance.”

There’s also a tweet that says this account will auto-follow anyone who mentions “Philadelphia” in a tweet.

In a post on the Bloodhound Blog last week, Hartman explained what he’s doing:

“Over the next few weeks, this clever little property is going to automatically follow a whole bunch twitterers in the Philly area, systematically inviting lots of local folk to take a little tour inside.”

But back to my original questions: If this account started following you randomly, would you be curious enough to learn more about the house? Would you think it’s another spam account?

Bigger questions: Is this the best way for a real estate agent to use Twitter? Judging from the headline of Ryan’s post — “The Day Realtors Figured Out A Practical Use For Twitter” — and some of the comments he got, it seems like there are a few real estate agents who aren’t sure why and how to get value out of Twitter. What would you say to them?

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  1. Legitimate ways Twitter can help your small business | Social Noobie | February 4, 2011
  1. Joe says:

    Congrats on the creativity of using Twitter this way. I could see this catching on if it proves to be successful.

  2. Muiden says:

    I’ve tried a similar thing with a website and twitter account for the village I live in. Unfortunately it seems that ‘impersonal’ accounts mostly attract spammy followers and not people from my village.

    I found that twitter works well if you are using it to communicate with other people (even if you are using a fake personality!). But I don’t see how twitter can be successfully used in marketing a house in this manner.

    I would create a twitter account for a fake (or real) owner of the house. A person that is sharing wonderful experiences about living in that house who then starts communicating with people who live in the same city/area. That way it might be a success, but still I think it is a bit shady. The tweet about “naked” pictures is just pathetic.

  3. Mickey says:

    I’m not sure it’ll work, but I give him big props for the creativity. I’m always looking for new ways to use twitter — some work, some don’t, but you don’t know unless you try. Very creative.

  4. Syzlak says:

    This is an interesting strategy, and definitely unique; however, it creeps me out. Using the address as a name, wouldn’t click with me at first glance, so I’d assume it was a spam account. Then, looking through the tweets, I’d think that it was rather random, or maybe a bit too sales-y. I don’t know exactly how else to do it, but it’s not working for me.

  5. David says:

    I’m with Mickey on this. Tough to know for sure the impact this would have on a buyers decision, but it gets an A+ for creativity and thinking out of the box definitely!

  6. Dan Connolly says:

    When I saw this initially on BHB it seemed like to a road map to spamalot…and I am a real estate agent. I can’t really imagine that it would generate serious responses from real interested buyers, but I suppose anything is possible. It’s definitely creative thinking, but just doesn’t seem to fit with the spirit of twitter. Imagine how much silly self promotion noise there would be if all 80,000 listings in the Atlanta area had twitter accounts and auto follows!

    In response to your questions, I wouldn’t follow a house and ANYONE who auto follows me seems like spam.

  7. Jim Kimmons says:

    There is huge value in Twitter for real estate professionals, but this approach isn’t an illustration. It’s cute, innovative, and I believe will be ineffective in getting any serious buyer attention. Even if the first one out there does, simply because it’s different, as soon as the lemmings arrive, no more juice.

    Now, if this real estate professional placed a link on all Web displays of this listing, inviting followers who actually want new information as it’s released, then you have something. They see it in searches, and they want to know if the price changes, new features are mentioned, etc.

    This is more of a customer service approach, adding value for Twitter users doing home shopping; an alert service. Twitter can be a really valuable tool. If you consider it a marketing hammer, spinning it in the air and dropping it into a holster is cute, but actually driving nails with it is the value.

  8. Matt McGee says:

    Great replies, folks – thanks so much. I agree that it’s not likely to have much impact and won’t provide much value, despite the agent saying that it only takes 20 minutes to setup. Must be a better way to spend that 20 minutes.

  9. Justin M. says:

    I actually adore part of this idea. If a few properties that I am currently keeping an eye on had a twitter account I would definetly follow it. Right now I only follow the agent, but 95% of the time she’s talking about other properties so I don’t always read all of her tweets. Might be nice just to follow updates on a particular property.

    But I do think the auto following part of this idea is a HUGE mistake that could destroy the idea altogether. It has spam written all over it. I agree with Dan Connolly, the thought of it makes me want to vomit.

    It has potential though…. It would be a cute little addition to flyers or listings, I could see it working in certain cities with lots of twitter users – – rather nicely, but only if it’s actually being done in good taste.

  10. James says:

    I use twitter but not regularly as I am still to be convinced that that is where my market is hanging out or making connections when looking for real estate.

    I think for twitter to be useful you need to be posting information which is relevant and interesting to your target audiance (if they are there) otherwise you will not catch the eyes of the follwers you want. Whether it is possible to maintain a twitter presence for a property over a period of weeks I don’t know “just had my (door) knob polished” or “my drains are blocked”…..!! But seriously even if you could sensibly maintain a presence for one property could you do it for ten, twenty…

    Innovative idea but can’t see that it could be easily rolled out to a business level and if it could the effort it would require could be best spent elsewhere.

  11. I always liked the agents who set up a blog for the house, where features could be detailed, and updates could be posted. Real time search is evolving, but I just do not see it at a stage where house hunters will go to twitter to search (maybe Zillow should add such a feature 🙂 Being a home inspector, I partially see what happens on the real estate agent side, and my impression has been that it is best when they integrate various social media ventures with their website. Promoting a clear brand to draw interested buyers in. For example, the “foreclosure expert” and the “eco-broker” or maybe “the green home expert” let you know what the agent does well. When the brand is consistent across platforms, others notice. At the website, visitors can explore different choices while looking for the information they want about the neighborhood, schools, and related topics.

  12. Gary Little says:

    Instead of having a house spam you by indiscriminate following, why not reverse the scenario: send tweets to a house and get a response that includes price, BD, BA, size etc. This is just what I created recently via the @AskHouse twitter account. See for a full explanation of the concept.

  13. M Sherwood says:

    I have had great success with my Twitter account. The key is, to only publish quality Tweets, and people will pay attention. And, when you can actually and responsibly promote your office it is appreciated a lot more.

  14. It seems like as soon as you posted this, the house stopped tweeting. I can’t imagine any strategy where only a dozen tweets will accomplish the task.

    Looking at Zillow:

    It appears the house sold in July of 2010 for $355,000 …. but is back on the market for $379,000 again.

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