TikTok—please stop

How do you create a meaningful professional impression in a 15-second video?

That’s the question I was exploring when I went diving into TikTok videos tagged as “realtor.”

To be clear, there was some entertaining stuff… like The Queen City Realtor and Zachary Loft (who has managed to get half a million followers). But did I leave that experience feeling an affiliation for a brand? Will I connect with their goofiness when I’m ready to sell my house?

I get that advertising is as much entertainment as it is brand expression and awareness. But I fail to see the reason why a real estate agent – or lawyer, accountant, doctor or dentist, for that matter – would spend any time here.

All I can think is, “here we go again.”

Here we go again

In the 18 years I’ve been around real estate, a lot has changed in the marketing and advertising world. We had the rise of IDX websites and search portals, the early paid search advertising days, digital display advertising’s heyday, followed by SEO and blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat. Today, there are podcasts, vlogs and Facebook Live.

Marketing is as much publishing and broadcasting as ever.

But here’s the thing that had me going, “Come on, really?”…

TikTok is the latest to lure people in our industry into the “ready, fire, aim” mindset of marketing. It’s the new shiny object in the room, seducing people into thinking its opportunity is in early adoption. Plenty of industry gurus and marketing experts are happy to throw this bait into the agent pond. Just jump in and figure out your strategy later!

It’s not a good look.

It’s once again showing what happens when you overvalue the medium and undervalue the message. You get a lot of hype with little positive brand awareness (and maybe even some brand damage). Every couple of years, tech companies give us more ways to reach people — more promises of free exposure. Where we often trip up in real estate is jumping in with no strategic message. It’s a death sentence for any sort of business impact.

Look, I don’t think agents are going away anytime soon. But we are on shaky ground. Shaky enough that I believe any sort of marketing that’s done needs to be thoughtful in both the impression it gives and what it’s actually saying.

The time to be super clear about the unique value you bring to every transaction you touch is now. Spending time “marketing” or “advertising” on an app that was designed to be used by people under the age of 18 (and who account for 60% of all active users) is just playing around. 

I do understand a lot of people are simply having fun. But pretending there is a business angle on this platform is naively optimistic at best.

Dig deeper for the gems

What’s more innovative than jumping into the world’s largest pool of people who are not your customer? Your thoughtful and well-articulated answers to these questions:

Why should someone hire you?

What are you better at than your competitors?

How do you want to make your customers feel when they hire you, work with you, and after their transaction is complete?

And can you answer these questions without using the same tired language every other agent uses? (I’m looking at you, “integrity.”)

How can you prove these answers to prospects?

Why are you in this business?

Teens don’t need to be entertained by agents on an app they use to waste time while they wait for their parents to pick them up from basketball practice.

I know at least one person is going to read this post and reach out to prove me wrong. There will be a handful of agents who manage to figure out this whole TikTok thing and get some clients. But it feels like a longshot to me. 

Put your marketing strategy and message ahead of tactics and you won’t have to waste time when the next TikTok comes around. You’ll be too busy inside your business to even give it a thought.