The REALTORS®’ Guide to TikTok

You don’t have to learn a dance routine to become popular on TikTok. Many people (businesses, too!) are using the platform to reach new audiences and share their expertise.

We spoke with three Chicago REALTORS® to discuss how their TikTok accounts have helped grow their businesses and reach new clients.

For Leigh Marcus, it all started with Fleetwood Mac. Towards the end of 2020, a TikTok trend had people cruising on skateboards, drinking cranberry juice and enjoying Fleetwood Mac’s song “Dreams.” Marcus saw this and decided to create his own version. It was his first video, and it reached 4,000 views.

How beneficial it would be to show off more of his personality on social media, which he previously kept strictly professional, so he decided to loosen up a bit on TikTok.

He draws on client conversations, social media threads and pop culture references to inform his video content. His most popular videos to date: “REALTORS® in Cars”, inspired by Jerry Seinfeld “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.”

He also uses his expertise to create “The More You Know” videos to talk about homes, which have also performed well.

“If you go through your day and just pay attention, the content is endless,” Marcus said.

He works with his marketing manager to create videos using his iPhone and a microphone. They use the TikTok app to edit, a user-friendly way to cut videos together easily on the go.

When it comes to a posting schedule, Marcus doesn’t worry too much about finding the perfect time. “The beauty of TikTok is that it’s a genuine algorithm. Don’t try to find an audience you don’t know. That’s not our business. Try to connect with everyone you know,” he said.

“If the content is relevant and you’re connected to people, you will reach people.”

He finds TikTok to be a great tool to promote himself and his business, a vital part of being a REALTOR®. “How are you going to market a home when you can’t even market yourself?” Marcus said. “[TikTok] is a platform to demonstrate your resume. On a large scale, it’s gotten our name out there in a bigger way.”

Thanks to his channel, he’s received more referrals and local business. He’s also used it as a recruiting tool with REALTORS® from other states because they’ve gotten a peek into his company culture through his TikTok.

Michael Scavo began using TikTok in the early days of the pandemic. As a REALTOR® who focuses on luxury apartment rentals, his existing backlog of videos on his phone gave him a great starting point.

As many apartment buildings are tiered, most of the apartments he helps lease share the same layout, so he can easily repurpose one video to market multiple units.

Because his videos are tour-style, he uses a wide angled lens on his phone camera to better capture the space. He also makes sure he has good lighting throughout the unit. When filming, he starts with a view (if the apartment has one) to capture the attention of viewers, then moves into its features.

Scavo sees TikTok as a new way for REALTORS® to market themselves. Many REALTORS® on his team have followed in his footsteps, using his TikTok as a blueprint to create their own. He’s also been approached by other REALTORS® who are interested in joining his team, making it an effective recruiting tool.

He’s also gained business through his account; currently, it’s the source of a majority of his rental leads, with 20-plus leads a week. But, when to start? “Go for it. Now’s the best time to do it,” he said. The platform is still relatively new, so it’s easy to get started and grow an audience. “Look at what other REALTORS® are doing to get inspiration, and then make it your own.”

About a year ago, Tammy Hajjar Miller noticed her social media profiles needed some help. “I’m really good at what I’m good at, but social is not my strongest suit,” she said. She wanted her profiles to be more personal. So, she brought on a teammate to help her move her social media channels forward and create valuable content for her audience. Enter: Giselle Otano.

After overhauling her Facebook and creating a brand-new Instagram page, Otano suggested they try out TikTok. “It’s really a great place to dive into the market since millennials are there,” Hajjar Miller added, as millennials have been driving the housing market over the last few years.

Banking, mortgages and credit tend to feel like stiff subjects which can be daunting to most people, and creativity can be stifled because of compliance requirements in the banking world. That’s where their teamwork shines.

Hajjar Miller gives Otano her vision and focuses on the compliance side of things, then Otano connects that topic with TikTok trends to stay current and get the message across. [It’ important to] pay attention to what other people are paying attention to,” Hajjar Miller said.

Two of their most popular series are “What Is,” where Hajjar Miller explains things like FICO, and “Tammy Tidbits,” with her advice and insight.

Once a video has been posted, Otano analyzes its performance to help determine their future content.

One of their guiding beliefs is that the content on Hajjar Miller’s profile must align with who she is and what she represents, and she encouraged anyone else who’s interested in starting an account to do the same. Together, they consistently create two or three pieces of content each week.

Since starting her account, she’s noticed that people find her and her business more approachable. “It helps you grow your influence and credibility, and it’s allowed us to stand out among competitors,” she said.