The short-form video platform has soared in popularity over the past few years to about 800 million active users worldwide, and is now being increasingly used in a professional capacity.
Videos with #mortgage have garnered nearly 400 million views globally, and multiple mortgage-specific accounts have popped up in the US, Canada and UK.
One of the benefits cited by users of the platform is the blend of comedic and informative content.
Michael Isherwood, who runs the pfsmortgages account in the UK, said: “The funny ones are the ones that take off and do really well, the ones where I am poking fun at underwriters or client interactions. They grow your profile, and then informative ones where you pick a category like self-employed is where you can really add value.”
Isherwood joined the platform in March after seeing similar accounts taking off in the US. He initially was going to use it to get more users to his YouTube channel and now has just shy of 50,000 followers.
“The engagement is really good. The amount of people you get even when you have a video that doesn’t do very well is great,” he said.
Isherwood said that the TikTok Live function, where he hosts Q&A sessions, mixed with people sending messages and leaving comments allowed him to interact and engage with users.
This was echoed by Joe Bartlett, otherwise known as The Homebuyer Coach, who has around 44,000 followers and first posted at the end of last year as his business pipeline started to shrink during the lockdown.
He said: “It has completely transformed the way I work. The connections I started to form with my followers helped me gain an understanding that most of these people are right at the beginning of their journey, and what they need most is guidance and education.”
Rosalia Lazarra, who started her own financial services-specific social media consultancy last year, said that TikTok was a great tool as it does not require a studio, editing apps or a fancy set-up, with posting and editing all done in the app. She added that it encouraged people to be concise due to the time limit.
Karla Edwards, The Protection Parent with 10,200 followers, added that there was a real mix of people enquiring and that it was not necessarily young millennials.
“There is a perception that this is just for younger people and that is not the case. I have posted things and got messages from a whole range of people who say that this fresh and new and exciting,” she said.
Building a brand
Isherwood did say that the platform can still be “very hit and miss”, as some videos that you would expect to do well may not perform as expected, while shorter, off-the-cuff trend videos can get upwards of 150,000 views.
Isherwood also noted that getting business from TikTok would take time and effort to grow a following, but it was still a relatively new territory for brokers and not as saturated as other social media platforms like Facebook.
Bartlett added: “It has been a massive learning curve, and I now have a process in place to help buyers from start to finish.”
He continued: “The tips to building a good following are to be consistent with your videos and to engage with your audience. When I was starting to get a little bit too much on my plate, I found it difficult to maintain a constant level of content and communication and I could notice the repercussions or this immediately.”
Edwards said: “It is definitely great for me in terms of getting leads but it isn’t something happens overnight. It takes three or four months for people to clock you.”
She reiterated that it was important to be authentic and get comfortable with using the app first, which she said could be challenging.
“You need to pick something that you are comfortable doing first and then keep within that and get used to the app. You can see a mile off if someone is doing something they are not comfortable with.”
Isherwood said: “I’ve been keeping an eye on the competition, and it has gone from half a dozen mortgage advisers I have been able to find to treble that already. I know it is coming but I’m hoping that because I have built up enough of a following I don’t have to worry about competition,” he said.
Bartlett said: “Overall, TikTok has been a huge benefit to my business and has opened up the door to many new opportunities and potential partnerships that initially wouldn’t have been possible. Mortgages now are only a small percentage of my future plans.
He added: “Times are changing! So even if it isn’t making yourself look silly on camera – there are many things that can be done to modernise mortgage advice.”
Lazarra said that social media would become more and more important for brokers, adding that this realisation had been more acute during the pandemic.
“Brokers have realised that they haven’t seen anyone for a really long time. They have also seen their competitors up their game, so now some people think that they are really behind and they need to catch-up.”