Back in September, we blogged about TweetLister a new and innovative real estate listing service that list properties for sale and rent via the micro-blogging platform – Twitter. Quite a lot has changed at TweetLister since our last feature. So we asked Lloyd Chrein (pictured on the right), a founding Partner at TweetLister.com to update us about these new changes and share a few thoughts about TweetLister and he was kind enough to oblige.
Could you explain how Tweetlister works
TweetLister is a tool developed specifically for posting, scheduling and managing real estate listings on Twitter. At the core of what TweetLister does is a simple form that turns property listing information into a clear, straightforward tweet. Each tweet includes the listing information (bedrooms, baths, square footage, price, features, etc), a link to a detail page on TweetLister, and a searchable hashtag. Listings not only appear on Twitter, but they can also be found using TweetLister’s Search Listings tool, which allows you to locate listings according to specific requirements and keywords.
Surrounding TweetLister’s simple “Add a Listing” tool are useful features designed to help to turn clicks into deals. These include enhanced detail pages, agent bio pages displaying contact information and current listings, and reporting tools that allow members to track and download clicks and contact information. Members can post and tweet an unlimited number of listings, and they can associated an unlimited number of Twitter accounts – allowing them to post different listings to different Twitter account timelines (for example, many agents have specific Twitter accounts for different neighborhoods, or different types of properties they represent). And members can place their own text-based Vendor Ads on their listing detail pages, creating a potential profit center for realtors and property owners.
TweetLister recently created a partnership with ListHub.net, one of the largest Multiple Listing System (MLS) syndicators in the US. This not only placed nearly 1.5 million active listings into our search system, but it made it possible for more than 300,000 listing agents in the US to “claim” their listings in TweetLister. When they register, they select their MLS from a dropdown list and enter their Agent ID number — and their listings are automatically placed into their account, converted to tweets, set up with enhanced detail pages — and ready to schedule to post to their Twitter accounts.
TweetLister is a one-stop, professional-grade tool for realtors and property owners, allowing them to tap into the marketing power of Twitter — and making the process simple, fast and effective.
How did come up with the idea of mashing up Twitter with real estate listings?
TweetLister was a natural outgrowth of what we do every day — we build and market web solutions, primarily for members of the real estate industry. We’re also consummate entrepreneurs — we’re always looking for a way to build a better mousetrap, and to fill a need. With the continued growth of Twitter, and the buzz in the real estate world that it is a great way to market, we saw a two-pronged opportunity: to build a tool that would demystify Twitter and make it accessible to realtors of all levels of technical sophistication; and to create an online business that could be marketed effectively and inexpensively — using social media. We believe we succeeded on both levels, as the real estate community has embraced us as THE Twitter tool for real estate, and word has spread virally to all ends of the globe.
Have you been involved in any other Web 2.0 projects in the past?
Yes. We’ve been around the block more than a few times — with our clients’ projects and our own. Our latest was a site called ClickSprout, which began as a turnkey tool for search engine optimization, and has now morphed into a custom solution business that creates optimization strategies for businesses of all sizes.
What is the current take up? How many realtors have signed up to Tweetlister?
We have thousands of users, and the potential to serve hundreds of thousands instantly through the ability to claim MLS listings.
Does Tweetlister appeal to a predominantly U.S market?
TweetLister currently appeals to any real estate agent who wants to promote property listings on Twitter. We are already working on developing TweetLister in other languages to accommodate various countries that have shown real interest in using our service. Some of our earliest users were from overseas, and we continue to speak with large brokers and listing providers in other countries regarding feeds and partnerships.
Does Tweetlister also target international real estate? What percentage of total listings are international?
Due to our recent partnership with ListHub.net, we now have up to 1.5 million listings mainly in the U.S. Outside of that feed, however, we have thousands of international real estate listings. The percent is now very small compared to our overall number of listings. We are in contact with several international listing aggregators and MLS services to introduce TweetLister on a wider scale internationally.
What is the most popular country outside of the U.S on Tweetlister?
Currently, Thailand has the most listings on TweetLister of any country outside the U.S. Beyond that, Australia, Canada and Portugal rank high.
Does TweetLister pose a threat to more traditional real estate listing sites like Trulia and Zillow?
TweetLister is not in direct competition with sites like Trulia and Zillow. These sites are buyer-centric and TweetLister is agent/seller-centric. We offer a tool to help agents and property owners automate the process of managing their listings on Twitter, while these other sites primarily offer buyers a wealth of information on properties.
Are there any upcoming updates on Tweetlister?
We are constantly working on feature upgrades and future updates to our service. Members can rely on a steady stream of improvements that keep pace with changes and trends in social media, and that add useful, effective functionality to our service.
I noticed there are no ads on Tweetlister at the moment – how to you intend to monetize TweetLister?
In early November, TweetLister switched from a free model to a paid subscription model. TweetLister is now available for only $9.95 per month, including the ability to claim your MLS listings and add new listings of your own. We do place small ads on “unclaimed” MLS listings. Meanwhile, TweetLister members can place their own text ads on their listings — creating a potential profit center for realtors and property owners.
Would you be offering XML feed upload support to automatically add listings to Tweetlister?
Through our recent partnership with ListHub.net, we now have a feed of up to 1.5 million listings in the system that can automatically be claimed by the listing agent, simply by signing up for TweetLister. In addition, we can also accept XML feeds in the RETS standard from those who do not have listings in ListHub. We currently have minimum size requirements on feeds, but this will change as we continue to grow. Those interested in supplying a feed may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do you prevent overloading and spamming Twitter with masses of Tweets advertising properties?
Our tweets go to the user’s Twitter account. So we are not spamming at all. Individual users are simply using our tool to post relevant content to their own Twitter timelines. In the Help files and FAQ items on our site, we try to instruct users on proper “Twittiquette”, which includes mixing up your listing tweets with other informational tweets — so that your Twitter timeline is more than just a selection of listings. We make sure to keep up with Twitter user trends and we listen to feedback from our members and from the broader Twitter community, and we plan to continue to pass this knowledge along to our members.
Twitter is a text only platform; how do you intend to bridge to gap between picture oriented real estate listings and text only Twitter?
We have already bridged the gap by automatically generating a shortened URL and link back to a landing detail page on TweetLister. This page contains photos, a video tour, and additional details on the listing. In addition, when you search for properties on TweetLister, the results you see are actual tweets that feature a picture of the property, if supplied by the member, rather than their Twitter photo.
Do you have any plans for a Facebook equivalent of TweetLister?
Yes. One of our next versions will include the ability to push your listings to your Facebook account, as well.
How important is Twitter in the marketing mix of real estate?
We believe it’s very important! Social media in general is a centerpiece of any business marketing plan, but Twitter in specific brings immediate, round-the-clock proactive marketing to the mix. On any scale — local or international — your listings and information have the potential to reach large numbers of interested people, instantly. With TweetLister, you not only have a tweet out there — you have a tweet that leads to a marketing-oriented detail page. And every tweet you put out there is not only searchable on Twitter — it can be found on Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and other search engines. And on TweetLister!
Have you any Tweetlister success stories, leading to increased lead generation via Twitter?
Yes. Here are two:
“We’re getting quite a bit of ‘traction’ from buyer and seller prospects that said that they’ve seen our Tweetlister posts – especially if they’re technically savvy from St. Louis.” – Kevin Cottrell, Cottrell Realty Group, St. Louis, MO, USA. You can contact him if needed: email@example.com
“TweetLister has been a positive ‘game-changer’ in the growth and development of our niche Real Estate resource.Â We’ve created a marketing focus and listings distribution program unique to our content built on TweetLister’s easy application and efficiency.Â We love it, and better yet … our growing number of clients love it.” – Kevin Schwartz, Top10GolfHomes.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, do you have any social media advice to real estate professionals?
Consider social media as a golden opportunity to reach out to many people at once, and to expand your network and marketing reach. But don’t go overboard on the sales language — be natural, try to “give” to the community by providing information, insight and perspective from your own market and experience. And mix that in with the information that people are always looking for — great new listings! Finally… sign up for TweetLister!