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Madison Sutton of Brown Harris Stevens wasn’t always a TikTok pro, but once she decided to give the social platform a shot with the handle @thenycagent, she gave it all she got.
Today, part of her converted loft in New York City’s Seaport neighborhood is a dedicated content studio where she films her videos for TikTok, and — aside from referrals — pretty much all of her real estate business is generated from social media, she told Katie Kossev of The Kossev Group during a panel at Inman Connect Now on Thursday.
Sutton shared what she’s learned during the past few years while on TikTok and suggested that other real estate agents wanting to find success on the platform do the following.
Stick to three different types of content categories
Sutton said that agents should keep in mind the three different types of content social media consumers seek out: education-based, shock-based and entertainment-based. She said agents should be mindful of what category they’re going for in the content they produce, and to keep in mind that everything doesn’t have to be strictly related to real estate. But when whoever is watching your TikTok eventually needs a real estate agent, they’ll know who to turn to.
“Not everyone is constantly thinking about real estate like we are,” Sutton said. “So the idea is, they see you enough so when that moment happens, you are the first [person] they’re thinking of. You’ll have such strong brand association.”
Don’t neglect the basics
Real estate agents have so much knowledge that they sometimes forget that consumers often have a lot of basic questions that could be answered in a concise TikTok that still delivers a lot of value.
“By providing just little basics that we almost assume everyone knows, it really just shows your value as an agent in terms of knowledge base and experience base, but it also shows your potential clients, whether they’re buying or selling, that you are doing everything possible to stay relevant in the market and to make sure their listing will have the fullest reach they can,” Sutton said.
She added that answering frequently asked questions from clients in a quick 15- to 30-second TikTok is a great way to start creating content on the platform. And those short-form videos “perform really well” on the platform, she noted.
Fortunately for real estate agents, Sutton said that TikTok’s algorithm is “incredibly localized and really intricate, so people who are seeing your videos, they’re looking for content like that and they’re in your area.”
Featuring a mom and pop coffee shop in your market through a TikTok is a great example of taking the local approach, Sutton said. Oftentimes local businesses are likely to push your content out about them, too, which helps gain more views across different audiences.
It doesn’t have to be perfect — but it should be thoughtful
“Just like any other thing in life, practice makes perfect,” Sutton said, “and you’re only going to be better each time. There’s really no downside to it. If you get one lead or one listing from it, that video could be a $50,000 video that took you five minutes to make.”
Even though Sutton said a video doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be TikTok-worthy, she said agents shouldn’t just be pushing out any content for the sake of producing content.
“Imperfect videos are fine, but you want something that you really want to stand behind,” she noted. “You have to think, ‘What is the person who’s viewing this getting out of it?’ An imperfect video where you’re passionate and explaining something in detail is so much more powerful than just putting it out there for no reason.”
Post content regularly
Sutton explained that in TikTok, users can schedule content up to 14 days in advance. She doesn’t typically schedule videos that far in advance, but she said she does try to shoot several videos in one go so that she has them ready to be posted.
She noted that videos answering frequently asked questions from clients are easy to shoot in batches because they’re typically pretty straightforward answers and less intricate videos.
Choose a positive mindset
When putting themselves out there on TikTok, people tend to either have a preventative mindset or a positive mindset, Sutton said. People with a preventative mindset tend to generate obstacles for themselves to creating content to post on the platform because they’re afraid of negative reactions, but positive mindset individuals are just excited to share their ideas and don’t care so much about what other people think.
“First of all, no one cares,” Sutton said. “No one’s going to make fun of you, and if they’re going to say something snarky about it, let them … You’re just providing a service and you’re providing knowledge. So I would really be mindful going into it with, ‘How many doors can this open up for me? How many potential clients can see this?’ Even if it’s just bettering yourself and getting yourself more comfortable on camera, that can apply tenfold and that also gets you more press interviews.”
In the last year, Sutton said, she’s received about 20 pieces of press that were all organically generated because of the content she created.
“Second, just do it,” she advised. “What’s the worst that can happen?”
Edit videos in-app, unless they’re complicated
Generally speaking, Sutton advised that agents stick to editing and adding graphics to videos within the TikTok app itself because TikTok’s algorithm promotes these types of users more.
If it’s a more ambitious video with a number of videos spliced together or something similar, Sutton recommended Splice, which is an easy to use mobile video editing app that charges a modest monthly fee of $8.
Put QR codes on mailers
Just because an agent becomes TikTok-savvy doesn’t mean they have to necessarily give up on more old-school marketing formats altogether, Sutton said.
“Whenever people say, ‘What about mailers? What about cold calling?’ Why not both?” Sutton asked Kossev.
She suggested adding a QR code to hard mailers that links to a social media account or personal website.
“And QR codes are super easy to generate using an app, I think most of them are free,” Sutton said. “And then all of a sudden, that QR code can be a call to action, it can send it directly to your TikTok, it can send it to your email, your website, if you have one, really whatever you want it to be.”
Use screen recordings to save time posting to other platforms
Agents who want to repurpose their TikTok videos on other platforms like YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels can do so — without having to go through the editing process again — just by taking a simple screen recording, Sutton said.
“Whenever you go to post [the video], you’ll have the ability to add a title, which will be what’s on your profile that shows whatever the video’s about,” Sutton said. “If you click that, and then click the expand [button], you can screen record that video so that you don’t have to go back in and do all the editing or all the graphics again.”
Email Lillian Dickerson