"The What & Why of Twitter" - Social Network Review

Real Estate Agent with Fathom Realty West Sound WA State 52404

One of the primary reasons I decided to embark upon this series of Social Networking Reviews was to help the general ActiveRain membership weed through the endless offering of new networks that seem to pop-up daily, and provide helpful information in order to better determine which ones pose the most potential benefit to their core business. Ultimately, each of us needs to make the final determination ourselves regarding our Internet time investments.

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"140 characters"....That's it.

Think social networking on steroids  ~  Or Instant Messaging with an Attitude  ~  Or even, Micro-Blogging.

Twitter I am the first to admit that when I heard of Twitter, I was less than enthusiastic. I mean, seriously, who cares if I'm going to the bathroom, or if I'm sitting in the barber's chair, or eating sushi for dinner. Come on! Get a life, will ya? Sheesh!


But when Net-savvy people I trust and respect tell me there's value in something, I can't help but listen to what they're saying.

Jack Dorsey Biz Stone noah Evan Williams jeremiah Blaine Cook Lars Jason Goldman Chris Baum jerrymichalski Buzz Andersen Sacca danah Mary Hodder Brian Walsh Rod Begbie seanbonner Xeni Jardin Ross caroline Nitin om tedr Narendra Dave McClure Nick Douglas Mr Messina Tara missrogue Hunt Brian Oberkirch Jonathan Greene Michael Parekh Paul Terry Walhus Dion Hinchcliffe Hillary Hartley Scott Beale Buster McLeod Oren Michels Josh Bancroft Aubrey Sabala Antonio Edward dydimustk Dave Shawn seth goldstein Dave Winer Jason Calacanis Cameron Walters George Kelly Christine Herron Sanford B lane Glenda Daniel Johnson, Jr. Mirona Iliescu Michael McFadden Dan Cederholm mdy Don The Idea Guy randy stewart Stewart Courtney P Thor Muller brady forrest Pete Prodoehl Chaitanya Sagar holiday i heart quotes Zoot David Parmet Josh Hallett Halsted Chris Campbell Neil Drumm Justine Alicia Megan McCarthy Vinnie Lauria Andrew Parker Rich Ben Brown Frank Gilroy Elea Colin Brumelle Steve Dembo Stowe Boyd Chris Brogan Graham English Justin Kownacki Rob Cottingham Brian Conley Bill Palmer Michael Bailey Beth Kanter John Wall Becky McCray Alan Weinkrantz Marc Sirkin Veronica Brian Clark Doug Haslam

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send "updates" (or "tweets"; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter website, via short message service (e.g. on a cell phone), instant messaging, or a third-party application such as Twitterrific or Facebook.

Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. The sender can restrict delivery to those in his or her circle of friends (delivery to everyone is the default). Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through an application. For SMS, four gateway numbers are currently available: short codes for the USA, Canada, and India, as well as a UK number for international use. Several third parties offer posting and receiving updates via email.


Twitter initially began as a research and development project within a San Francisco start-up company, Obvious LLC, in March 2006. At first, it was only used internally by the company, and then officially launched in October 2006.

The popularity of the service grew rapidly, and in March 2007, won the 2007 South by Southwest Web Award in the blog category. Jack Dorsey, widely acknowledged as the man behind the concept of Twitter, gave the following playful acceptance speech at SXSW:

"We'd like to thank you in 140 characters or less. And we just did!"

A month later, Obvious LLC spun off the service as a separate entity under the name Twitter, Inc., with Jack Dorsey as its CEO.


Well, I suppose the primary benefits are rather obvious:

1) Expanding your networking sphere outside of ActiveRain, and across other business disciplines

2) Increasing/enhancing your Internet exposure

3) Making additional 'touches' with your current sphere

4) Another tool for marketing/promotion

5) It's Fun!

Here's just a brief sampling of fellow Rain Drops & friends who 'Tweet!"....

Bob Stewart, Brad Andersohn, Sarah Cooper, Chris Shouse, Ines Hegedus-Garcia, Todd Waller, Maureen Francis, Melissa Grant, Jason Crouch, Faina Sechzer, Kim Woods, Kristal Kraft, Midori Miller, Chris Elizabeth Griffith, Linda Davis, Bob Carney, Irena Netchaev, Jeff Turner, Rocky Turner, Monica McCullidudy, Rudy & Joe from Sellsius, Jessica Horton, Joel Burslem, Jeannette Neerpat, Carole Cohen, Cyndee Haydon, Roberta Murphy, Teresa Boardman, Linda Davis, Mariana Wagner, Michelle D, MISSY CAULK, Pat Katano, Rob Aubrey, Maureen McCabe, Dustin Luther, Paul Chaney, Steve Dalton, Seth Godin, Kris Wales, Matt Gosselin, Laura Monroe, Jay McCullicudy, Diane Aurit, Bob and Lisa Hammerstein, Alison Werner, David Childs, Sarah Stelmok, Marian Burnstein, Ginger Wilcox, Lola Audu, Brian Block, Karen Moorhead, Ann Cummings, Tracy Thomas, Desiree Daniels, Josette Skilling, John Lockwood, Marchel Peterson, Paul Slaybaugh, Lisa Heindel, Colleen Kulikowski, Laurie Manny. Sally Cheeseman, Joey Aszterbaum, John Novak, Jason Crouch, Nicole Rae, Steven Groves, Ed Ryb, Margaret Rome, Drew Meyers, Galen Ward, Jim Duncan, Robert Scoble, Kaye Thomas, Janie Coffey, Jeff Corbett, Heather Elias, Marlene Scheffer, and many, many more!


Just like ActiveRain, Twitter is a lot of things to a lot of different people. For some, it's simply another virtual destination to hang out after a long day and let your hair down. Personally, I prefer to use my gtalk (Google Talk) for Twittering. It's less cumbersome (you don't have to keep refreshing your screen) and it allows me to multi-task (we all know how important multi-tasking is!)

 I follow Chris Brogan, a well known expert on Social Media/Networking. He has some really great advice to offer regarding the use of Twitter:

"Since I started using Twitter, I have more than doubled my blog traffic over the last several months, and I can tell you how"....

    • Some people just dump their blog posts into Twitter automatically, with a simple "New Blog Post: Money is Better Than Dirt" and away you go. I've found a way of using Twitter to encourage participation on my website, and it's better than easy; it's tasteful!

Ask a Question

    • Instead of telling your Twitter audience that you've published a new post, ask them their opinion on the core topic you've covered. "Do you think banner ads are dead?" followed by a link to your site is much more appealing than posting to Twitter, "Banner Ads Are Not Dead." Asking a question engages your Twitter followers and solicits their experience.

If Comments Flow, Remark on It

    • I genuinely believe that the comments section of my blog is better than anything I write on my own. To that end, when a topic seems to take off, I send a note to Twitter alerting people to the quality of the conversation in the comments. It's not pitchy in nature. I'm simply sharing that the best stuff came after the initial post.

Sometimes, I Even Dare to Ask for a Stumble

    • My number two referrer to my site on most slow-medium traffic days is StumbleUpon. Because I seem to get "better" response from people who visit from that site than from other traffic sources, I sometimes will send a third post to Twitter, asking if someone thinks X post is worth a Stumble. Because I do a lot of sharing and promoting and helping others, I usually get a lot of willing people to Stumble something for me from time to time.

I don't over-do it, and I know that not every day is a "killer blog post" day. With that in mind, when I do ask, it makes a huge difference.

Those Three Touches Help Lots

    • So in the end, I ask my following in Twitter for love three times: once when I post the blog, again if it takes off well in the comments section, and sometimes a third time if I want to really amp the traffic via StumbleUpon. I mix these requests in liberally with all the various ways I help others using Twitter, and so it doesn't come off like I'm perpetually pitching my own stuff. My current monthly rate of pitching others vs. promoting my own site is 75 / 25 in other people's favor. That sounds fair, right?


Another voice that I listen to consistently and trust is Joel Burslem, Marketing Director of Inman News, and author of the popular blog, Future of Real Estate Marketing. He recently shared some great insights about his experiences with Twitter:

Like many in the real estate blogosphere I've been playing around with Twitter a lot recently. (Follow me here jburslem)

I wrote a post on the Inman Blog recently where I described one application of the service; how you could use it to subscribe to news and essentially build a real time teleprinter for your desktop (using a desktop client like Twhirl).

The group blog agentgenius.com is using Twitter to integrate live feeds of all its contributors "tweets" into a rolling stream of consciousness.

But here's the killer app for Twitter. I think Jeff Turner might have stumbled on to it in his post when he searched Twitter for the word "Realtor". Twitter is a fantastic tool for business intelligence.

Why? Because you can use it to hear what your customers, clients, users are saying about you.

I use a site called TweetScan to search for keywords through the Twitterstream - this is what I found out in one sitting for searches on a couple of Real Estate 2.0 sites, for example.

Real-time Twitter Search - Zillow

My takeaway: People are still using Zillow - but disappointed by what they're seeing. Will they keep coming back?

Real-time Twitter Search - Redfin

My takeaway: People are using Redfin to research the market looking for bargains. Seems like their marketing angle (see Redfin's Business Model Better for Consumers) is bang on.

These are just a couple of examples, but you can see how you could use Twitter to keep a finger on the pulse of your customers' feelings.

If I were working in the marketing or communications departments for either of these companies, I'd be trolling the Twitter feeds looking for these themes and answering any questions.

The best thing is that Tweetscan makes it easy to subscribe to an RSS search of a particular keyword (I subscribe to Inman, for example) which makes that job even easier.

Part of the challenge in marketing for many years has been trying to figure out what people think of your product or service. That's why you often had to resort to focus groups, user questionnaires, surveys and all kinds of brute force methods to figure out what people think.

Twitter on the other hand is a real-time, real-world glimpse into the minds of your customers. Granted right now it's a small, technologically literate slice of the population using Twitter - but if that's your demographic, you should be paying attention.


  1. Explore Twitter - Here you'll find Twitter Blocks and other helpful applications. 
  2. Twhirl - Will give you a free download to use Twitter from your computer's desktop.
  3. Quotably - Makes it easy to follow the conversations that people are having on Twitter.
  4. Twitterfeed - Will take any blog you have, i.e., Active Rain, Blogspot, Flickr (anything with an RSS feed), and will post it as often as you like to your Twitter. So you don't even have to GO to Twitter to Tweet!
  5. Twitter Tools - Have your blog automatically notify Twitter when you post
  6. Twitter Etiquette - Evolving attitudes and concepts from Twitter users on how to behave on Twitter
  7. Tweet Scan - Search public Twitter posts in real-time from the page or using Firefox's search box. Find replies, track keywords, and sign up for daily/weekly email alerts.
  8. Twitbin - Allows you to send & receive 'tweets' directly from your Firefox browser.
  9. G-Talk - You can send & receive your 'tweets' through Google Talk.
  10. Tweetburner - Allows you to keep track of what happens to the links in tweets shared with you, by you, by your friends and every other twitterer.


Other similar 'Twitteresque' networks:  Pownce   Dodgeball   Jaiku

So there ya go! I trust that you found the information shared here helpful to your evaluation/decision-making process. Please feel free to comment and share your own personal experiences with Twitter.

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Rich Jacobson is a District Director for Fathom Realty and a licensed REALTOR®; an avid Crab Hunter, Clam Digger, and Oyster Shucker, He is the Social Media Evangelist for Life on the Kitsap Peninsula & The Western Puget Sound in scenic WA State.


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Steve Homer
The HBH Group (Keller Williams affiliate) - Round Rock, TX
OK I am game - Just been "in the Rain" six weeks but this sounds like something else I should be doing.  Frankly when I first started all this social community stuff, I started at LinkedIn.com.  Saw nothing to get real excited about there, but AR has been GREAT.  Thanks Rich for an indepth twitorial in this post!  I will try it!  Steve
Apr 26, 2008 12:41 AM #71
Kim Dean
www.RealFamilyRealEstate.com - McKinney, TX
d + b real estate, McKinney, TX REALTOR Broker/Own

Love it! I'm going to sign up. Thanks for such a thorough "Twitter for Dummies" post!

May 22, 2008 02:06 PM #72
Laura Dee Mytinger, ABR, SFR Kansas City Real Estate
Reece and Nichols Realtors - Prairie Village, KS

Wow- One hour a newbie on AR and I've fallen into a New World of language, technology and what looks like will be fun if I can figure it out! -LauraDee

May 26, 2008 10:06 AM #73
Kathy Anderson
HomeSmart - Surprise, AZ
Arizona Retirement Homes For Sale, Sun City Grand

I work in the active adult communities of Arizona.  Do you think there would be value in lead generation from the baby boomer set or older?  I'm looking into twitter but just not sure if the time would benefit my blog and website, due to the age group I am working with.

Jun 08, 2008 10:38 AM #74
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Kathy:  It can simply be one more way to network yourself with other RE professionals. I don't use it for actual 'client' leads, but it's a great venue for spreading news or events, or promote your latest blog post....

Jun 08, 2008 10:46 AM #75
Pete Jalbert
The Maui Real Estate Team, Inc. - Paia, HI

Thanks Rich. I have been enjoying tweeting for about a month. I found that I was picking up some interesting tidbits on technology, but felt like I was barely skimming the surface in terms of the potential of this platform. I have a few things to chew on now as to how I can better my use.

Jun 08, 2008 10:57 AM #77
Kathy Anderson
HomeSmart - Surprise, AZ
Arizona Retirement Homes For Sale, Sun City Grand

OK.  That makes sense.  Thank you for responding!

Jun 08, 2008 11:02 AM #78
IMNJ - Internet Marketing Specialist
Internet Marketing NJ - Red Bank, NJ

Thanks for the detailed post.  I have been very successful using Twitter not only to connect with other local like-mind people but also to promote my blog and website. Twitterlocal is a great application that lets you scan by location or zip.

Jun 09, 2008 01:22 AM #79
Brett Tousley
Keller Williams Realty - Richland, WA
Tri Cities Real Estate | (509) 420-0013

Well Rich it looks like I'm a few months behind here.  I just poste a "What the heck is Twitter" blog today.  Thanks for the detailed post.  I won't make any promises, but I'll try it out for awhile

Jun 23, 2008 03:52 PM #80
Frank Rubi
Frank Rubi Real Estate, LLC - Metairie, LA

Rich, thanks for the insight and possibility of increasing my traffic with Twitter. I really did not understand how these things work.

Aug 01, 2008 11:33 PM #81
Leander McClain
North East, MD
Cecil & Harford County Realtor


Thank you so much.  I found your post because I was doing research into "what do i use twitter for".  I signed up because i saw someone else was using it...but then i saw posts like. Iam going to the zoo.  I am at the zoo.  Why did i volunteer to go to the zoo......my thought was huh???  What the heck is this and how is this going to help me and my real estate business?

You have pointed me in the right direction


Aug 17, 2008 04:02 AM #82
Terrie Leighton
Ferrari-Lund Real Estate - Reno, NV
Reno Real Estate Agent ~ Selling Homes in Reno

I am setting up my "Twitter" account and found this! I should have read this plus all links included prior to setting up my account, but that is usually the way I do things, jump right in and ask for help later, drives my husband crazy!

But thank you so much for the detailed help Rich, it really will save me time researching all the needed information to get me going on Twitter.

Have a great night!

Sep 08, 2008 12:41 PM #83
The Somers Team
The Somers Team at KW Philadelphia - Philadelphia, PA
Delivering Real Estate Happiness

Wow !  It looks like I have another web site to join and get involved with !!!  Is all good - thanks for the info !

Sep 08, 2008 01:31 PM #84
Victor Amadi
PRODUCER Realty, LLC - Greenville, SC
Greenville SC Realtor - Greenville SC Homes for S

wow, thank you for the tutorial. I am ready to jump on board

Sep 13, 2008 09:30 AM #85
Justin Williams
Independent - Virginia Beach, VA
Loan Officer

Rich that is a massive list of resources you got there on everything you need to know about twitter.  I still have some colleauges who are skeptical in using twitter this is a great book mark to share!  thanks for the post!

Sep 19, 2008 07:48 AM #86
Sonja Adams
Samson Proprties - Purcellville, VA

Great post and so much to offer...definitely a bookmark that i will be coming back to!

Oct 10, 2008 01:39 AM #87
Rich Cederberg
eXp Realty - Albuquerque, NM
eXp Realty Agent Albuquerque

I especially like your tips on how to use twitter to promote my blog.

I guess twitter isn't going away soon, so I'd better get started.

Oct 29, 2009 09:52 AM #88
The Michael Pierce Team
Better Homes & Gardens Kansas City Homes - Leawood, KS
Kansas City Real Estate Experts

Almost 2 years since this post... wow time flies.

Dec 02, 2009 02:31 PM #89
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Michael:  No kidding! How are you doing? How's things in the KC market?

Dec 02, 2009 05:25 PM #90
Kevin Cottrell
Austin Real Estate Today - Austin, TX

Great piece on Twitter Rich.  I'm coming up on 1 year on Twitter and have close to 100K people following me and I get asked everyday how I did it - If every agent followed what you suggest above and provides great value, interaction and uses Twitter as intended, they will undoubtedly get great value in return. 

See you on Twitter   In anyone wants to follow me, they can find me at  www.twitter.com/kevincottrell

Jan 17, 2010 01:01 PM #91
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