HootSuite for Real Estate Agents
If you are a real estate professional and using social media, chances are good that you have at least one Twitter account. Using Twitter is a wise move on your part. This social network is an excellent way to network with members of your industry and community, get market updates and promote your business outright (by tweeting listings, for example) or indirectly (by sharing blog posts, tweeting company updates and so on).
However, it’s possible that you’re not getting all you can out of Twitter, even if you regularly use it in all the ways described above. Ironically, Twitter.com is not the most efficient and powerful tool for utilizing the micro-blogging functionality the site offers. Community managers, social media interns and other businesspeople around the world rely on social media dashboards like HootSuite to manage their accounts and enhance Twitter’s functionality.
What is HootSuite?
HootSuite augments the functionality of social networks, particularly Twitter, by making it easier and more efficient to use (especially when you are using multiple accounts) as well as providing features the social network itself does not have. HootSuite also bills itself as a major time saver; depending on how much you use your social media accounts, you could save entire days every year thanks to it!
Here is a list of just a few tasks Twitter users can perform through HootSuite that they cannot perform on Twitter itself:
- Schedule tweets for specific times and dates.
- Tweet the same content from multiple Twitter accounts, simultaneously.
- Watch multiple auto-updating feeds of tweets containing user-selected hashtags or keywords.
- Watch auto-updating feeds of tweets that mention any or all of your Twitter accounts.
HootSuite can be used with a variety of social media networks, from Google Plus to LinkedIn to Instagram, but it is by far the most compatible with Twitter. This is largely due to the fact that Twitter’s micro-blogging functionality is ideal for HootSuite’s format.
Still skeptical about how useful HootSuite can be? Know that organizations like Zappos, Sony Music, the Virgin Group and even the Obama administration use it to manage their social media networks. On a personal level, I, as a community manager for a Market Leader, use HootSuite hourly to interact with Twitter’s real estate community.
Please note: This post assumes you have a basic understanding of Twitter. Newcomers should read PowerUP Social Media’s Twitter tips for an introduction to this social media network.
Create a HootSuite Account
First, go to HootSuite.com and create a free account. All that is required to do so is your email address, name and a password. You will only need a single HootSuite account for all your Twitter accounts – business and personal – so it is best to sign up using an email address you will always have access to.
As soon as you enter your personal information, the following page will load. Click on the social networks you want to connect to your HootSuite account.
The following window appeared when I clicked Twitter’s button. Note that the webpage in this window belongs to Twitter, not HootSuite. Enter your Twitter handle and password into the appropriate text boxes, and Twitter will authorize HootSuite to use your account on your behalf.
Once you have authorized HootSuite with Twitter and have completed the setup process, your blank HootSuite dashboard will appear. You will be prompted to create a new “tab” and “streams.”
- Tabs are essentially the folders your Twitter content is placed in. I prefer to have a tab for each Twitter account (i.e., one for RealEstate.com’s account, another for Market Leader’s account and so on), but you can organize them in any way you want. Tabs are located near the top of the HootSuite dashboard. They can be created by pressing the small “+” button located to the right of the tabs. To delete them, press the small “x” located next to each tab’s name.
- Streams are the tweet feeds you can add and remove from tabs. For example, my RealEstate.com tab has one stream for the mentions it receives, one for sent tweets, one for tweets that have been retweeted and a handful of streams for real estate-related keywords and hashtags. Streams auto-update in that HootSuite refreshes your streams to include recently published tweets that belong in them. Streams will be discussed in greater detail later in this post.
Here’s an example of what my RealEstate.com tab looks like. Note that the three streams on the right all display tweets containing keywords and hashtags I chose: “real estate,” “housing,” “realtor” and #househunting. I use these streams to find and join Twitter conversations relating to real estate (another topic that will be discussed more below).
How to Tweet Using HootSuite
Tweets are composed using the bar located at the top of the HootSuite dashboard. To begin, type your tweet into the text box that reads, “Compose message…”
Tweets composed on HootSuite are limited to 140 characters, just like tweets composed on Twitter. HootSuite’s tweet composer will show you how many characters you have left as soon as you have selected a social network profile (see below for more information on selecting a profile).
Twitter’s character limit makes copying and pasting entire URLs into tweets something of a liability. Link shorteners like bit.ly bypass this problem by taking a long URL, like reallylongdomainname.com/article-with-long-name, and shortening it to something with far less characters, like ow.ly/li7bq.
HootSuite conveniently has its ow.ly link shortener located within the tweet composer and provides some analytics on how many times these shortened URLs have been clicked. These stats can be found in the “Analytics” tab in the sidebar on the left side of its dashboard (represented by a miniature graph).
Attach documents, set location, save tweet drafts and schedule tweets
Note the icons that appear to the right of the link shortener. You can use these icons to attach a document or folder, set your location, and – my personal favorite – schedule the date and time your tweets will be published. (The fourth icon, privacy options, only applies to Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn.)
The tweet scheduler can be used to plan your tweets years in advance, for specific times and dates. It is incredibly handy for any social media manager looking to schedule an entire day’s worth of tweets in one sitting.
The floppy disk icon located immediately to the left of the grey “Send Now” button can be clicked to save your tweet as a draft. Your drafts can be quickly and easily accessed by clicking on the arrow icon located between the floppy disk and the “Send Now” button.
Choose social network profile
Choose which account you want to send your unpublished tweets from by hovering your cursor over the drop-down menu labeled “Click to select a social network.” Every Twitter account you have added to your HootSuite profile will appear in this menu.
Click on the account from which you want to send the tweet.
Let’s say I want to share this message with both RealEstate.com and Market Leader’s Twitter followers. I simply need to hover my cursor above the same drop-down menu again and also select Market Leader’s Twitter account icon. It will show up next to RealEstate.com’s Twitter account icon as soon as I have done so.
Have Conversations on Your HootSuite Dashboard
Find people who are tweeting about real estate or other topics you are interested in by looking at the streams you create on your HootSuite dashboard. Consider the tweets in the “real estate” stream in the picture below.
Let’s say that, for the sake of interacting with the real estate community of Twitter, I want to tweet at seydesignstudio. She only has one more night at her Keller Williams real estate class, and I want to wish her luck in the real estate industry. The beginning of this interaction occurs when I hover my cursor over her tweet in the “real estate” stream.
Note that when I place my cursor above her tweet, four icons appear in the box. These icons will appear whenever you hover over any tweet. Click the icon on the far left, the arrow, to reply to a tweet. The icon to the right of the reply button will retweet the tweet to your followers. The icon to the right of that will let you send the tweet’s publisher a direct message. Clicking the icon on the far right will cause a menu to appear with additional methods of interaction, including the “favorite” star icon.
For this example, I will reply to seydesignstudio’s tweet. I do so by clicking the reply icon, and seydesignstudio’s username appears with the “@” symbol in the compose tweet box. I am now able to type my reply to seydesignstudio.
Say I don’t want to send this tweet right away. I can schedule it to be sent out sometime in the future by clicking on the calendar icon under the text box.
Sending tweets is only half of the interaction process. To see the tweets that mention RealEstate.com’s and Market Leader’s Twitter accounts, I keep a stream of these mentions in a visible place on my HootSuite dashboard. This way I can easily see who is tweeting at RealEstate.com and Market Leader and respond to them quickly.
Not able to find tweets related to your interests or profession in the streams you create? Try using different keywords in a new stream.
For example, I’ve learned from experience that the “#househunting” stream that appears on my HootSuite dashboard is typically filled with tweets from people in countries like England, Canada and Australia. Tweets in this stream are thus of little interest to me. Instead of using the keyword #househunting to capture tweets pertaining to the buying and selling of residential real estate, I can use the keywords #homebuyer and #homeseller, real estate terms that are commonly used in the U.S.
This post has only scraped the surface of HootSuite’s functionality. My intention was not to make you a HootSuite master, but to pique your interest so that you want to create an account. You will need to spend time on HootSuite in order to truly understand and appreciate it.
If you are still skeptical about the value HootSuite can offer you, please believe me when I say that you should give it a shot before dismissing it altogether. Any skepticism I once harbored about HootSuite dissipated as soon as I started using it! I went from being skeptical of HootSuite to never visiting Twitter.com to use my Twitter accounts in the space of a couple days.
Andy Fulton is a community manager for Market Leader. He has more than three years of experience with blogging, outreach, and managing social media accounts for a handful of companies and nonprofit organizations in the Seattle area.