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With more REALTORS® using social media as a way to reach out to potential clients, finding ways to master each social network is imperative. Starting an account and using it without a strategy is a quick way to fail. If you’re using Facebook and you’d like to take on a second platform, Twitter is a great option for reaching out to those potential clients.

Why should you be using Twitter? Because your competitors are using it. According to the 2011 National Association of REALTORS® Technology Survey Report, more than a third of all real estate agents are using Twitter for their business. It’s time to get ahead of the game.

If you’ve already set up your account – great, you’re already ahead of the game. If you haven’t, go to twitter.com and choose your Twitter handle, or screen name. Make sure it’s something memorable, preferably with your name in it.

Who should you follow? You should be following anyone within the industry. This includes any real estate agents, real estate information accounts and anyone who is talking about your industry. These people will follow you back and you’ll have the start of your community.

Once you’ve created your account, it’s time to start tweeting. Twitter is all about what’s happening now. You have 140 characters to get your message across to all of your followers. A variety of tweets is what will get your account the most feedback. Tweeting current real estate news with a link attached is a great way to push out information. You can also mix in tweets about listings or upcoming open houses you may have. Use caution with this. Always attach a link to your website with the listing so that the reader can read more about it if they choose. Don’t overwhelm your Twitter feed with listings. People will get bored of this and it’s a quick way to get someone to stop following you.

The lingo of Twitter can be a little difficult to understand at first. Here’s a quick breakdown:

@ symbol. The @ symbol goes before any Twitter handle. To talk to someone type @ followed by their Twitter name.

# symbol. You can hashtag words on Twitter, which allows people to click on them and read any tweets that contain that hashtag.

RT or Retweet: A retweet is when one of your followers reposts something you tweeted.

Star or Favorite: You can “Favorite” any tweet and it will be saved forever.

DM: Direct message. This is a way to private message one of your followers. The person must be following you to receive the DM.

Twitter can be an extremely valuable tool for real estate agents. If used correctly, it’s a great way to reach a very large audience with an abundance of information about you, your business and what’s going on the world of real estate. After mastering Facebook, Twitter is another great (and free) social media tool to help you boost your marketing efforts and add to your brand awareness.

Burke Smith is the Chief Communications Officer for HSA Home Warranty.

For more information, visit www.onlinehsa.com.