Reconsidering Twitter for Small Business

Posted by mhurston on September 08, 2009
Creative Corner / No Comments

In the past I’ve talked often about Twitter and its usefulness as both a marketing resource as well as sales tool for online businesses. While I still feel that Twitter is suitable for both of these, I want to make it a point to say, like many online tools, it has its flaws, a serious one at that, and should not be the only form of social media involvement you have, in fact, it might not even be the one you want to rely on the most if you’re an online retailer.

In July over 100,000 users of the popular service Tweetlater were suspended without warning by Twitter, with a simple reply of “Spam cloud hit, we’re working on restoring accounts” While most users had their accounts reinstated within a couple weeks, which may not seem much of an issue to those who post updates of their current habits, for online retailers this was a significant chunk of revenue.

Next came the DDoS attacks in August against Twitter and the site was down for some time. These two events seemed to have caused Twitter to take a new stance on user policies, some good and some not so good. The not so good, being that since the middle of August many online retailers have found their accounts suspended. While larger companies like Amazon and Dell have gone without incidence the suspensions seemed to be more aimed at the small retailers with fewer than 10,000 users.

Take retailers like @moderncourtesan, who sell lingerie on their storefronts and post sales and product specials on their Twitter accounts. Modern Courtesan was someone who had more followers than people she was following, and while she posted often, she did interact with her community of followers, even the popular lingerie site Guilty Pleasures named her as one of the top 25 lingerie Twitter accounts to follow. However, September 1st, her account was suspended without warning for “Suspicious activity” and after sending in a ticket to Twitter’s online submission form as well as sending in a follow up email days later she has not received anything other than an automatically generated response from Twitter and the account is still currently suspended.

In fact, looking through the recent activity of users from Get Satisfaction, many other online retailers and users, such as @mgemporium (a pdf book store) among others have received the same notification within the last two weeks and have yet to receive any type of response from Twitter. While some users admit to breaking Twitter’s ToS, the vast majority of suspension inquiries on Get Satisfaction have all been asking the question of “Why?” with no definite answer.

While a personal account may be easily recreated and have your friends re-added, for businesses such as @moderncourtesan and @mgemporium who have spent both time, and in some cases money on printed materials with their Twitter accounts listed on them, there is a lot of reluctance to start all over and rebrand oneself. For these companies and others, the only real option is to wait and see what Twitter will do and in the meantime look for an alternative service for marketing and sales.

– Michael G. Hurston

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Which social networking site is right for me?

Posted by mhurston on July 22, 2009
Creative Corner / No Comments

If you’re in commercial real estate this is something you have probably started to ask yourself. Do you immerse yourself and join every possible site out there, automate all your postings with Ping.FM and run the chance of not having the time to manage responses to all these sites or do you select a couple key places to better manage your ability to interact with potential clients on a more personal level?

While the first option may sound great as far as exposure for your listings, advertising on a site that doesn’t have your target audience in mind may end up causing you to waste a lot of time on setting up accounts you don’t need. While from a business standpoint it may be worthwhile to create the accounts to block others from using the company’s name, that’s not always a concern when you’re focusing on your individual listings. To help in deciding which place may be the best for you to hang your hat I’ve taken a look at some of the demographic information provided by on several of the most popular social sites and compared to our typical client information.

The following sites are in order of popularity based on subscriber information and visitor traffic. US Site Views are based on 30-Day increments.
US Site Views: 90.8 M
Majority Users: 54% Female
Age: 46% are 18 to 34
Income Level: 30% over $100k/yr
US Site Views: 62.7 M
Majority Users: 57% Female
Age: 46% are 18 to 34
Income Level: 25% over $100k/yr
US Site Views: 10.9 M
Majority Users: 56% Male
Age: 43% are 35 to 49
Income Level: 38% over $100k/yr
US Site Views: 7.3 M
Majority Users: 54% Female
Age: 35% are 35 to 49
Income Level: 16% over $100k/yr
US Site Views: 5.1 M
Majority Users: 60% Female
Age: 45% are 12 to 17
Income Level: 20% over $100k/yr
US Site Views: 4.0 M
Majority Users: 52% Male
Age: 48% are 18 to 34
Income Level: 6% over $100k/yr<
US Site Views: 1.9 M
Majority Users: 52% Male
Age: 29% are 35 to 49
Income Level: 27% over $100k/yr
US Site Views: 485.9 K
Majority Users: 54% Male
Age: 55% are 18 to 34
Income Level: 18% over $100k/yr

So why is the above relevant?

Given that the majority of commercial real estate clients tend to be Male, between 45 and 60 with mid to high level six figure salaries we can see that it wouldn’t be worth our time to advertise our Industrial or Office availabilities on a site that has a primary demographic of females between the ages of 12 and 17 such as is found at

Overall, LinkedIn seems to be the best site for professionals to connect with other professions, followed closely by Facebook, which also boasts 9 times the number of visitors and users when compared to LinkedIn. The only other site from this list I would consider, from a strictly commercial real estate point of view, would be Ning, as this social networking site operates completely different than the others. Instead of signing up and being part of a wide variety of users the site instead allows each user to create or subscribe to user driven social clubs. Essentially a Ning user can create their own “social networking group”, such as a social club focusing on Las Vegas Real Estate.

While other social media services like Twitter can compliment all of these sites it may also be worthwhile to look at up and coming networks. Recently I became aware of a new social networking site geared specifically for real estate professionals. The site, is still relatively new and unfortunately I could not find much third party information for them short of which of my last checking had a lot of holes to fill with their information still.

In any case the site is still worth watching and based on its description and meta tags is usually not blocked by most companies firewalls or web filters, much like LinkedIn, where as most of the popular sites listed above are blocked from within the work place.

– Michael G. Hurston

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Is Twitter Too Automated?

Posted by mhurston on July 14, 2009
Creative Corner / No Comments

With so many applications available to automate Twitter, does it run the risk of losing its social edge? Let’s look at a brief run down of what one could do with a Twitter account and an Affiliate Program that is capable of providing RSS feeds.

Once your Twitter account is created, you swing by and plug in your RSS feeds to automatically post each hour (or however often you want them too) to generate your content. Next we’ll stop by and make it so that our Twitter account will auto reply to anyone I follow with a direct “thank you” type of message and a link to your website.  Make sure to also check auto-follow anyone who follows you and auto-un-follow anyone who un-follows you.  You can also set it so that you receive an email if anyone replies with a @yourname.

Now we’ll start joining the online directories at and, but don’t forget to also swing by and join some similar interest groups. Next it’s on to the spam-follow method of gaining users, which seems to be extremely popular these days. Basically, one searches through Twitter for users who have similar key words to their interest and follows all of them. After you follow a couple hundred followers you’re bound to gain a few hundred in return. Wait a week and then use to un-follow anyone who isn’t following you. Oh and if you skipped a step and need to change your following or followers around in bulk there is always

Guess what happens next? After about a week you’ll end up with a couple hundred followers who are just like you, auto-posting away and ignoring you and your product links. Chances are you may generate a little bit of traffic to your site from this, but more than likely you won’t see any monetary income coming from it anytime soon.

While automation is a great tool for Twitter, it’s not going to work for everyone, especially for users that have no real relationships and instead are just automated bots blabbing away at other bots 24-7. Remember, social sites are popular because they draw on the social aspect of people to talk amongst each other about their interests. If you automate yourself out of this, then you’re losing the whole point behind social based sites and their viral marketing capabilities.

Michael G. Hurston

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Can real estate be sold on Twitter?

Posted by mhurston on June 16, 2009
Creative Corner / 3 Comments

Can real estate be sold on Twitter? Whether you’ve been a fan of Twitter for some time now or if you just happened to start using it recently because you read it’s a great social media tool that is becoming popular, you probably have asked yourself at some point – is it possible to make money with Twitter?

A quick Google search of this topic will lead you to find many people all telling you that it’s easy to do…but is it for everyone? From poking around the net I’ve found, and I think many will agree with me, that the people making money with Twitter are those selling Retail products or Affiliate services. Dell is a great example. Recently Dell announced that they made over $3 Million from Twitter exclusive deals. They would post a direct link to their product on Twitter; people would follow the link and buy the computer. Fantastic, it’s proven; you can make money on Twitter. But can you buy a house? What about an office building?

This is something I’m really interested to find out and am willing to give it a shot for the next while. I’m sure many of you have noticed the feeds from Las Vegas CRE News, which include commercial property listings, get pumped out to Twitter every few hours. While the traffic from this has been great, no one I work with has reported a lead generating into a sale from Twitter. Many of the brokers I’ve spoken with outside of the Vegas Valley have all given me the same response. This begs us to then ask the question – if it is not generating results is it worth it?

Too many variables exist right now in my research to give a definite answer one way or another on how effective Twitter is or may be in the future as more people in the CRE industry begin to use it to market their listings, but who I’d really like to hear from are those on the residential side of things. Residential brokers seem to embrace new technology and marketing ideas a lot faster than commercial brokers, so it would be safe to assume that those who have been using Twitter longer to market their listings would give a better insight into the chances of having a property sell from a lead generated from Twitter.

So this begs me to ask, if you’re a real estate agent or broker for either commercial or residential and have actually had a lead generated from Twitter result in a transaction being completed, I’d love to hear about it and post it here for others to be inspired by. Please contact me at mgh at lasvegascrenews dot com

– Michael G. Hurston

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LVCRENEWS Twitter Breaks 100 Followers

Posted by mhurston on June 03, 2009
Press Releases & Announcements / No Comments

Since our Twitter went up with our site on April 1st we have slowing been growing with over 300 unique visitors in April and almost 400 in May. In addition, many visitors to our site are now following us on Twitter and earlier this week we broke 100 followers. A big thanks to all who have been supporting us and are working with us on some of the exciting new articles coming out in the next couple months. We hope you continue to find our marketing, industry insight and community news a useful resource in this tough economic time.

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Viral Marketing with Social Media

Posted by mhurston on May 25, 2009
Creative Corner / No Comments

What is Viral Marketing?

The buzzword, viral marketing, refers to marketing techniques that use social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet. Viral promotions may take the form of video clips, interactive Flash games, advergames, ebooks, brandable software, images, or even text messages. The goal of marketers interested in creating successful viral marketing programs is to identify individuals with high Social Networking Potential (SNP) and create Viral Messages that appeal to this segment of the population and have a high probability of being passed along.

The term “viral marketing” has also been used pejoratively to refer to stealth marketing campaigns—the unscrupulous use of astroturfing on-line combined with undermarket advertising in shopping centers to create the impression of spontaneous word of mouth enthusiasm.

– Wikipedia


So how do we use this?

One of the great social aspects of the internet are the popularity of Social Networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. All of which focus on the primary goal of staying in touch with friends, family and colleagues, as well as the sharing of information.

One of the benefits of these sites is the ease of automated replication of your listings onto your profiles, so they can be seen and shared with everyone on your network with little time involvement.

The next few pages will list information on how to display your listings on these sites, the initial time involvement is minimal and once done you will never have to manually update anything.


Step One

Acquiring your RSS feed. Chances are no matter which Commercial Real Estate brokerage you work at, your companies database puts out, or has the ability to put out, Property Listings via RSS feeds. For example, at Colliers we have feeds for our Market Reports, PodCasts, Exclusive Listings for each office as well as individual broker listings.

Ask your local Marketing Specialist, Graphic Designer or Research Department for it, if you have questions on this. Once you have the feed url you can start to get your listings showing in lots of different places. Your feed will look something like this:


Step Two – Linkedin

I’ll begin with as it is probably the most easiest to implement as well as the most used site for strickly professional networking.

Once logged in you will select “Edit My Profile” from the left hand sidebar. Next select “Websites” and choose “Edit”. While you can select up to three sites to enter, choose one of these to be “My RSS Feed” and copy your Properties RSS feed to this. Click “Save Changes”.

Next, select “Applications” from the left hand sidebar. Scroll down until you see an application called “BlogLink”. This application will pull information from any of your website(s) feeds and display them on your profile. If you’re feed is working, you should immediately begin to see your listings displayed on your profile.

Note: If you have more than one website listed BlogLink will only display up to the four most recent posts, however it does have a scroll arrow users can use to click through your listings or posts.


Step Three – Twitter, TwitterFeed & OpenID

If you have a Twiiter account, you will not need to do anything special from here. If you don’t have a Twitter account, it might be a good time to create one.

Once you have a Twitter account you will want to go to and set up a RSS Feed that will post to your Twitter account automatically.

You will need to sign in with an OpenID. See below for explanation on what an OpenID is. Once you have logged into TwitterFeed, you can select “View My Feeds” or “Create New Feed”. The form here is pretty self explanatory, you paste your Properties RSS feed where it asks you as well as you can set the time to display updates. I’d recommend setting it to 5 hours. On the section where is says “Include” I would recommend selecting “Title & Description”.

You will need to “Authorize” the application to access your Twitter account. It just involved clicking the Authorize link and signing into Twitter. Congratulations, within the next 5 hours you will start to see your Property listings displayed on your Twitter automatically.

Chances are you already have an OpenID, though if you do not, you can sign up for many free online services and use that as your login. For me, I have an account on Gmail as well as WordPress, so I use those to login.


Step Four – Facebook

Once you login to Facebook, choose “Home” and scroll tot he bottom of your page. A button on the lower left hand corner will say “Applications” select this and choose “Browse Applications”. Search for the Twitter app. (Note: this is different than Twitter Updater app). Or you can go directly to the applications page at to install it.

Once you have it installed, and have “Authorized” the application your Facebook “Status Updates” will display your Twitter posts, which should be including your Property feeds.


Step Five – Other Sites

While other social sites include Myspace, Orkut, BeBo, Hi5 and Friendster – the popularity and target audience are not necessarily the most beneficial for the Commercial Real Estate industry.

Therefore I have not taken the time to create a guide for them. That said, if you have an existing social network on any of these sites and would like me to look into it for you, I would be more than willing to help you out. Just drop me a line.

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