Woman making a video

© FG Trade - E+/Getty Images

Video-sharing app TikTok is surging in popularity, jumping from approximately 5 million users in 2019 to over 1 billion in 2022. It also boasts the highest engagement rate of any social media site, clocking in at 18%—far higher than Instagram’s 3.6% and Facebook’s 1.7%.

With its broad reach and high activity level, TikTok can be an invaluable marketing tool for real estate professionals, said Heather Haase, an agent with HER, REALTORS®, in Dayton, Ohio, during Tuesday’s session, “Let’s Talk About TikTok: A Hands-on Workshop,” at the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C. Haase, who goes by the handle @daytonrealestatedarling on TikTok, is an expert on the app that allows users to post and share videos up to 10 minutes in length and add music, backgrounds, and a variety of image-altering filters.

For Haase, the app is a good source of high-quality leads. Consumers want to work with people they know, she said, and the immediacy of video allows her to build relationships with potential clients through shared networks of friends and business contacts before she meets them in person. “We can build trust through social,” said Haase. “I just closed a deal from a mortgage lender who referred me to the client through TikTok.”

Forty-nine percent of the app’s users are between the ages of 18 to 31—a prime first-time home buyer demographic. Despite their youth, the TikTok audience is affluent: More than 40% of users make at least $80,000 a year, and 90% of those users open TikTok daily.

Haase said the key to reaching these users lies in branding. Rather than inundating her followers with videos featuring her brokerage logo or listings, she posts and shares videos on topics she finds personally entertaining, such as raising farm animals. She also offers quick, fun lessons on the homebuying process and how to qualify for a mortgage. “If you put your logo on everything, you won’t get a lot of interaction,” she said. “Make it relatable and fun. And offering education for your community is a great way to encourage people to reach out to you.”

Haase added that agents need to be aware of their brokerage and state branding requirements when posting. In order to maintain compliance, she names her brokerage and includes a link to the broker’s website in her bio.

For those who are new to TikTok, Haase suggests just hopping on the app and taking a look around. “Explore other people’s videos and see what kind of things you like,” she said. She recommended checking out @themortgagecreator, @the.mortgage.mentor, and @itsthatrealestatechick for examples of real estate–related accounts that are entertaining and informative.

The goal is to create content that is likeable and shareable. Videos that receive interaction through favorites, shares, and comments will receive a boost through TikTok’s algorithm and be presented to more users. Using relevant hashtags, such as #realtor, #realestateagent, and #mortgage, and hashtags for your state and city, is another way to help users find your content. Haase advised posting regularly to gain traction with viewers. “The number one thing you can do is be consistent. Post every single day—even a few times a day if possible.”

Haase recommends batch recording—filming five to 10 videos at once—to save time.

TikTok also offers analytics that can help users determine when to post to get the maximum engagement for their videos. For Haase, the best times to post are 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.—times when people are hitting the morning doldrums at work or settling in to relax after returning home from the office. To get started, “just post one video,” says Haase. “Make a video about yourself, who you are, and what you do—your town, your niche. Help us get to know you.”