Watch Out For Advertising Rules
Your use of social media to attract the public to use your real estate brokerage services is considered advertising by the Texas Real Estate Commission. Generally, TREC rules require that advertising must not be misleading and that ads include the license holder’s name and the license holder’s broker’s name. TREC also requires certain disclosure forms be on or linked from a social media profile.
Advertising rules in the REALTOR® Code of Ethics also require that advertising present a true picture, reflect the license holder’s status as a real estate professional, and that ads do not discriminate in any way based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
Fair housing laws also prohibit ads that discriminate based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status, or disability.
Advertising your brokerage services on social media in a manner that includes you selecting or targeting a specific audience presents a risk of violating the Code of Ethics and fair housing laws.
While the above general caveats may help REALTORS® understand how some advertising rules apply to social media activities, if you are using social media to attract clients and the public to use your real estate brokerage services, you should review all applicable advertising rules and discuss with your broker.
REALTORS® can find a list of advertising FAQs at texasrealestate.com/faq and can talk to a Texas REALTORS® attorney about advertising rules by calling the Legal Hotline at 800-873-9155. Though hotline attorneys cannot review or approve specific ads, they can answer questions about advertising rules.
Some REALTORS® are using the fun video-sharing app to promote themselves and gain clients.
For most people, TikTok is a mindless diversion to enjoy during down time. However, some REALTORS® have found success using TikTok while on the clock. By sharing real estate advice or funny content based on the industry, these members have reached potential clients and expanded their business with the app. Here’s some input on using TikTok from those who’ve benefitted from this tool.
What inspired you to begin using TikTok to market your business?
Natalie Benavides, marketing coordinator at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Stovall, REALTORS® in Abilene, was eager to embrace the new social media platform taking the world by storm. Although she was initially hesitant about what her broker and agents might think, Benavides was met with enthusiasm when she suggested the marketing idea. “To my absolute surprise, the staff and agents in our office began discovering TikTok and watching it on their own,” says Benavides. “I gladly jumped in to help and pitched the idea to our broker of adding a company TikTok, and we were making videos the next day!”
Miriah Zuniga, with Premier Realty in Corsicana, saw TikTok as a great opportunity to promote her business. “When the app came out, I saw how quickly videos can take off and how it wasn’t just all dancing on there but comedy and education as well,” Zuniga says. She was also inspired by videos she viewed of people asking questions about real estate. Zuniga realized she could use this platform to market her business and attract potential clients.
What do you find to be the most successful techniques when using the app?
There are many ways to boost your videos on TikTok to attract more views and followers. Benavides suggests posting videos at peak social media times, which she says for her are around 11 a.m. and just before 5 p.m. She also says that being familiar with trends on the app, especially trending sounds, is crucial to getting more recognition and engagement. “Sounds are always changing, so if you have an idea that goes with a particular sound today, you better get a video out soon before it’s forgotten and not trending,” she says. It’s also important to share the links from your videos across other social media networks, so it brings people to your TikTok account. While she acknowledges not every video will be a hit, Benavides notes that these tips have helped her build her audience on the platform.
How has using TikTok impacted your business?
Lori Silva, with Vive Realty in Houston, says that the app has helped her connect with potential clients in the Houston area and across the country. Zuniga has received business and had clients reach out to her because they saw her videos on TikTok. “Every week I’ll have a lead come through my CRM and say, ‘I’ve watched your videos on TikTok and want to know if you’ll be my agent,’ ” Zuniga says. “I have videos I’ve posted six months back still getting traction, bringing leads to my website and new clients.”
How is using this app different from other social media marketing?
While TikTok has aspects similar to other social media platforms, some characteristics set it apart. Morad Fiki, with Keller Williams Platinum in Houston, says that the atmosphere of the platform is more relaxed and lighthearted compared to other marketing platforms. “TikTok really allows the creator a more authentic outlet to be creative and genuine,” says Fiki.
What do you enjoy about using this app in your work?
Zuniga appreciates the simplicity and connectivity of the app in her outreach. “I enjoy the ability to reach others all around the whole world with a single video, which over time has made people feel they truly know me and see the value I provide. That has turned into business time and time again,” she says. For Benavides, TikTok adds a great deal of fun to her professional life and workplace. She, like Zuniga, also likes how the app fosters connectedness, not only online but among her colleagues too. “It is an absolute blast to get to come to work and have a meeting scheduled to discuss TikTok ideas. We are an office full of people of many different ages but can all come together and talk TikTok and real estate,” Benavides says. “We all have so much to learn from each other and have many stories and experiences to share. It is never boring!”
What are some challenges you face on TikTok?
Fiki says that it can be difficult to pinpoint which videos will get the most engagement. It’s not always easy to determine what kind of content to create that people will enjoy and share. He also says the unpredictability of going viral is a bit of a challenge. Zuniga points out that while TikTok as an app isn’t difficult to grasp, it does require an effort to find success by regularly posting content. “It has to be in your schedule. You have to have a plan, and you have to be consistent for it to work,” she says.
Would you recommend other REALTORS® use TikTok for their business? Why or why not?
Silva highly recommends the app to other REALTORS®. She notes that TikTok allows the content creator to “promote themselves and showcase what there is to offer for the next potential client.” Benavides also advises REALTORS® to put themselves out there and use TikTok to advertise their business. “Join the conversation. Share the stories that made you laugh; share the ones that made you scared,” Benavides says. “Whether you are trying to promote your personal brand or your company’s, there is a whole community of TikTok users out there ready to find your content.”