TikTok for real estate agents: waste of time or lead goldmine?

May 13, 2022
0 min read

You can’t have a conversation about marketing nowadays without hearing about TikTok. Some real estate agents swear up and down that it’s the next big thing in lead generation. Others say that TikTok can be a black hole for real estate agents who already fill their days with more reliable methods of attracting new clients.

So is it worth honing your TikTok chops to create new sales opportunities, or is the platform simply a digital playground for younger generations to post their viral videos? See what real estate and social media experts have to say about the merits of using the increasingly popular app to drum up real estate leads.


Goldmine: why real estate agents should use TikTok

Those unfamiliar with TikTok may know it only as a platform where people post short, funny videos. While that’s certainly part of the appeal, the platform has a growing user base and a set of unique features that makes it a perfect channel for real estate marketing efforts.

You meet prospects where they gather

The media often dismisses millennials as unreliable consumers—but don’t make the same mistake. Millennials make up the fastest-growing demographic of homebuyers. The National Association of Realtors reports that millennials currently comprise a whopping 43% of those purchasing homes.

The need to target millennials makes TikTok the perfect platform to focus your marketing efforts on. 39% of millennials in the U.S. have TikTok accounts. Since TikTokers spend an average of 52 minutes a day watching videos within the app, that’s nearly an hour millennials could spend viewing your real estate content.

While TikTok’s user base skews young, older generations also enjoy the app’s short-form videos. 31.3% of TikTok users are older than 40. 78.7 million U.S. users on the platform in 2021, giving you ample marketing opportunities spanning several generations.

You build interest without spending a dime—and potentially making one

TikTok provides a free alternative to other pricy marketing avenues. Yard signs, billboards, and Chamber of Commerce memberships all cost money. Even Facebook and Instagram require payment to increase post visibility to your existing followers, let alone new prospects.

The only things you need to create TikTok videos are a decent smartphone and a bit of ingenuity. TikTok doesn’t hide any of its features behind a paywall. The visual filters and music are all included in a normal TikTok account. TikTok also doesn’t limit organic reach to get businesses to pay for ads. Videos become popular based entirely on how many people watch, like, and comment on the content. Businesses who make engaging videos on TikTok stand a better chance of a wider audience viewing their videos.

TikTok’s robust editing features come free for all users. (Source)

Shaun Connell, founder of  Rental Property Calculator, points out that TikTok isn’t just free; it can be monetized. “While TikTok can be utilized to generate organic leads,” he says, “it can also be monetized on its own, providing your agency with a secondary revenue stream.”

Monetization isn’t automatic, with a user requiring at least 10,000 followers and 100,000 video views within the last 30 days to be eligible. Those who grow their following to achieve this standard are rewarded with monetary kickbacks based on how many views each video receives. TikTok only pays out a few cents per thousand views, so monetization won’t justify quitting your day job. However, the prospect of earning any amount of money gives ambitious agents a prize to set their sights on as they develop their TikTok brand.

You can target your audience based on their region and interests

Most real estate transactions are hyper-local to a specific city or neighborhood. Any content you create and distribute online needs to target those who live in this specific geographical location, so you don’t waste time or money. Facebook and Instagram require businesses to shell out cash for audience targeting as part of their paid ads services. TikTok uses an alternative method that’s free and flexible: hashtags.

Hashtags have been around the internet since the inception of Twitter, but they’re especially important on TikTok. That’s because TikTok’s algorithm factors hashtags into its determination as to which videos to show users. Essentially, if you engage with a video that contains certain hashtags, you’re going to see similar videos that contain the same or related hashtags.

TikTok content creators use hashtags as a free means to narrow down the geographical reach of their posts. This feature comes in handy for real estate agents looking to increase interest in a specific locale. “Through TikTok, I can use location-based hashtags to engage with my target audience without spending heavily on marketing campaigns,” says Anthony Minniti, owner of  Minniti Investments. Hashtags ensure that the people using your video are potential leads. You can’t sell a listing in Austin, Texas, to a TikToker in Reykjavík, Iceland, no matter how good you are at your job.

Hashtags aren’t limited to geographical targeting. Content creators use topical hashtags to focus on users who share an interest in their area of expertise. Real estate agents include “#realestate” in their videos to share their content with those surfing the topic on TikTok. Savvy agents combine topical hashtags with geographical hashtags for maximum results. (Think “#houseflip” alongside “#tallahassee.”)

An example of a TikTok video using topical hashtags. (Source)

Waste of time: why TikTok may not work for real estate agents

TikTok’s free features and massive (and young!) user base appeal to real estate agents looking to use any means necessary to drum up leads. However, there are limitations to the platform that must be considered before you adopt a long-term TikTok marketing strategy.

Hard to stand out in a crowded app

New TikTok content creators often struggle to create videos that make an impact with their target audience. TikTokers crave unique content, which puts its content creators under pressure to craft consistently engaging posts. This fight to create videos that make an impact means real estate agents looking to get leads from the app must commit to posting quality videos day in and day out. Busy real estate agents may simply not have enough bandwidth to dedicate that much time to a single marketing platform.

TikTok videos are renowned for their humor, but educational content also fares well on the app—so long as it’s engaging. Ditch the more conventional tone you use on more “professional” pages like Facebook and embrace the more fun-loving side of your personality. “Have some fun with it,” says Amy Kite, owner and real estate agent at The Kite Team. “The trick is: you’re not trying to attract other realtors. You’re trying to reach people in your specific area (or with an interest in that area) who are casual users of TikTok.”

Specialization helps to differentiate your account and stand out from the rest. You don’t need to create content on every real estate topic. In fact, posting videos on real estate topics that aren’t strongly related may have the opposite effect. A TikToker who engages with your videos showcasing listings in a specific neighborhood may not find your “history of real estate in America” series particularly useful.

Consider specializing in certain subjects and video formats to build a dedicated following, including:

  • Tours of historic houses in your neighborhood
  • Property rate increases over time
  • Before-and-after videos highlighting renovated houses

Need to stick to the short stuff

Real estate agents field questions on more than a few complex topics, but TikTok isn’t the place to dive too deeply into the answers. “TikTok users have notoriously short attention spans, making it difficult to deliver a compelling message in such a short format,” explains Chris Grayson, founder of InfluencerMade.com. “While there are certainly some benefits to using TikTok, I believe that there are more effective platforms for real estate marketing.”

Evidence supports Grayson’s claim. 50% of TikTokers find videos longer than 60 seconds long “stressful.” TikTok’s format makes it too easy to swipe away from a video that doesn’t immediately appear gripping, and users are looking for maximum enjoyment in the shortest time possible. After all, it’s called short-form video for a reason!

Successful TikTok creators find creative ways to shorten the length of their videos. For instance, they often minimize their voice-overs to keep the content highly visual. Luckily, real estate agents should have no issue with finding visual focal points for their TikTok videos. If you find your video requires a lengthy voice-over, save your long-form content for YouTube, a platform where users expect extended and in-depth videos.

An example of a TikTok video using topical hashtags. (Source)

The verdict: invest in TikTok for real estate before it’s too late

Real estate agents who have invested wholesale in TikTok for real estate advertising already see the value in establishing a presence on the app. Madison Sutton, an agent in New York City, now gains leads exclusively from TikTok after just two years on the platform. Another NYC-based agent, Cash Jordan, has doubled his customers since joining.

No single marketing platform is perfect, but it’s hard to find a better way to engage with young homebuyers than TikTok. An incredible eight new users sign up for TikTok every second, cementing the app’s status as the hottest social platform out there. While TikTok has been available in the U.S. for five years, it’s still early days for the social media platform. Develop your brand and take advantage of TikTok’s enormous popularity to advertise your business before you end up behind the real estate marketing curve.

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