Maybe you have already heard of TikTok, and perhaps you have also heard of the new video format on YouTube called YouTube Shorts that aims to take on TikTok.

But how to use them, and which of the two is better? And more importantly, which are more suitable for real estate marketing?

I will answer these questions in this article.

You will learn what TikTok and YouTube Shorts are, important statistics, marketing key performance indicators, which type of content marketing is working on each platform, and how you can advertise on both.

I will give you the pros and cons and compare them directly to make your own decision.

But a minor spoiler right at the beginning: to me, there is only one winner at the moment when it comes to real estate marketing (it’s YouTube Shorts).

But that’s just me.

So please, keep reading.


What Is TikTok?

It is not associated with the Spanish Netflix comedy called Toc Toc.

In this comedy, many people with psychological issues and mental health conditions have to wait in a doctor’s office, trying to get along with each other for the time being.

Although some videos you may find on TikTok may indicate that psychological help wouldn’t necessarily be a bad idea.

Some say that TikTok is the fastest-growing social media network so far, which is somewhat true when observing the growth over the last few years.

By the way, its original name is actually Douyin.

Why does this rare name sound a bit Chinese? 

That’s because it is Chinese and is known under that name in China.

TikTok is just the international version of Douyin and was launched in September 2017 for iOS and Android.

But this date didn’t make it available worldwide just yet, only after they merged with the Chinese social media service, on August 2nd, 2018. 

So the latter is the date when it really became available.

So it’s a Chinese video-sharing social networking service, and ByteDance owns it.

Suppose you happen to have watched some of the TikTok videos there.

In that case, you might have already noticed that they have a maximum duration of 60 seconds, and the minimum duration is 3 seconds.

The content you will find is dance, comedy, and education-based short-form videos.

TikTok Features

Now that we have established what TikTok is, you might want to know what you can do with it, hence its features.

As already mentioned, you can create videos for a maximum length of 60 seconds and share them. 

This is different from the social media service with whom they merged; it has a broader range, and not only lip-syncing videos can be published there.

It provides users with a large selection of different song and sound snippets. 

Additionally, you can add special filters and effects. Videos created on a smartphone can also be directly added.

In September 2020, TikTok included a feature called “reactions.” 

You can record and share reactions to a particular video with this feature.

To better control screen time, a digital well-being feature was added. Once users spend over two hours on the app, they receive an alert.

TikTok has added eight additional features focused on user protection and security over time.

The Eight Further TikTok Features

Screen Time Management: This feature allows users to configure their maximum daily screen time limit. 

You can select whether you want to spend 40, 60, 90, or 120 minutes daily on TikTok. 

Once users surpass this limit, they need to enter a password.

1) In-App Suicide Prevention: 

As it seems, some TikTok users became suicidal in the past.

An in-app suicide resource page was implemented that provides users with key contacts and tips to counter these problems.

2) Age Gate: 

I found this one a bit doubtful because only users above 13 are allowed to log in and create a TikTok Account. 

According to TikTok, this prevents underage users from using the platform.

3) Restricted Mode: 

This feature is designed to restrict minors on TikTok with an optional account setting. 

The display of content that might not be appropriate for minors will be limited. It is also protected by a password that is valid for 30 days.

If you want to consume unfiltered content in this mode, entering a password will be required.

This feature might be obsolete if they increased the minimum age for users to create new accounts in the first place (just an idea).

4) Comment Filter: 

Some people like to give nasty comments; the comment filter is the countermeasure. 

Users can predefine particular words that need to be filtered out in the comments section. The list can be modified anytime afterward.

5) In-app Reporting: 

If and when users find unacceptable content or behavior, it can be reported in real-time to TikTok.

6) Risk Warning Tag:

Videos that may be inappropriate or contain “risks” for certain users are tagged.

7) Family Pairing:

As parents, you can link and unlink TikTok accounts, so you can configure several privacy and safety settings for your teen’s account. 

Once this feature is active, you will control the abovementioned features, such as screen time management, direct message settings, and restricted mode. 

The TikTok Statistics & Demographics

TikTok currently has 800 Million monthly active users (source) and a total number of downloads of 1.65 billion (source). 

In the U.S., the number of monthly active users is 26.5 million (source).

It is primarily downloaded in India, followed by a significant difference in download numbers in the United States (source).

It has 1 billion video views per day, and 60% of users are aged between 16 and 24 (source), over 50% are aged between 18 and 34, and 25% are aged between 45 and 64.

Interestingly, 37% of Americans have never heard of TikTok. Only 5% plan to use it, and almost half are not interested (49%) (source).

Regarding gender, 63.4% of users are female (source).

Another interesting statistic shows that 37% of users have an annual income of more than $100,000, and 30% have an annual income of $40,000 or less (source).


Should You Use TikTok for Real Estate?

To answer this question, we first need to look into the most active demographic (hence buying and selling houses/properties) on the real estate market.

Which demographics are the largest when it comes to real estate transactions?

In this, this, and this article, I concluded that millennials and baby boomers have the largest share concerning real estate transactions when it comes to buying and selling homes. 

So let’s get back to the TikTok demographics I mentioned initially. 

The critical part to remember from this section is that 60% of users are between 16 and 24, over 50% are between 18 and 34, and 25% are between 45 and 64.

So, in the 50% demographic, besides many Generation Zs (usually not ready to buy or sell a home), you will also find many millennials. In the 25% demographic, you will also find baby boomers.

We also can keep in mind that according to the statistics above, 37% of users have an annual income of more than $100,000. 

Generation Z wouldn’t usually qualify as potential home buyers because they are not quite ready yet economically. 

But on TikTok, you might even have the chance to find some affluent ones. 

I wouldn’t go all-in on that, though, regarding advertising. 

I believe the millennial group and baby boomers should be the first focus.

So the short answer is yes. 

You may try it, provided you can target a fair share of millennials and some baby boomers.

Or, if you want to play the long game and target potential future home buyers, Gen-Z is another approach.


How to Use TikTok for Real Estate

From a content marketing perspective, gaining followers organically on TikTok is quite interesting compared to YouTube.

First, you need to know that the main page on TikTok is the “For You” page. It’s similar to a newsfeed, and TikTok curates personalized content for every user.

You can find different recommendations based on your behavior on TikTok. This is primarily viral content. 

When it comes to turning a video viral, the playing field is a bit more level than YouTube.

The chances are generally higher to get millions of views, even if your account has only a few or even zero followers.

The downside is that you won’t have good chances to drive traffic to your real estate website because you can’t include links in video captions.

Only certain users can add a link to their bio. 

But you can link to other social media accounts, such as Instagram.

On the other hand, this is possible with YouTube Shorts.

You need to mention your business name in the videos and motivate viewers to search for you on Google or other search engines and find your website directly.


What Content Works on TikTok?

The content type that works on TikTok is probably another challenge in real estate. 

On TikTok, everything is about trends when it comes to content. 

The videos that perform best are often ones that are a variation of an existing trend.

These are the common trends on TikTok:

  • dance routine videos
  • animals
  • lip syncs
  • beauty transitions
  • comedy moments
  • pranks
  • fitness workouts and tips
  • camera hacks
  • challenges

The most successful ones often have in common that they are basic and fun.

Videos should also use trending sounds and hashtags to be discovered better.

So if you are a real estate agent and wouldn’t mind creating 80% of content consisting of lip-synching, having fun and dancing, and 20% of the time featuring some listings, you might want to give it a try. 

There is a real estate agent that managed to do that. Her name is Jennifer Brough from Jennifer Homes Realty, and she managed to build a large following on TikTok. 

In the same article, also another real estate agent is mentioned.

This other realtor had an interesting argument that a large part of the demographic is still too young to buy a home. 

To him, it is a long game, and you can already build a following of future buyers.

According to this article, the type of real estate content you can post on TikTok is: 

  • Behind-the-scenes footage
  • Teasers and snippets of longer videos about different property listings
  • Aligning real estate topics with trending hashtags and creating videos with the hashtag in mind
  • Playful videos with kids and pets


The 6 Different TikTok Ad Types

1) In-Feed Video Ads

These are ads displayed in the user’s newsfeed (the For You page) and are short-form videos. 

They blend into the feed since they look almost like normal TikTok videos.

In in-feed ads, you can include several call-to-actions; the maximum video length should be between 9 and 15 seconds.

The potential issue with this ad type is that it can be easily skipped or scrolled past. 

So you will need to grab the attention of people who usually don’t have a long attention span (e.g., millennials, Generation z).

This makes it even a bit more complicated.

Like any other TikTok video, your in-feed ad can be liked, shared, and interacted with.

Costs for TikTok In-Feed Video Ads

In-Feed Video Ads is the ad type where you will have the most control because you can set your budget and schedule. 

The current minimum campaign budget is $500, and the minimum ad group daily budget is $20. (source)


2) TikTok Brand Takeover Ads

When you open your TikTok app, an ad is immediately displayed. That’s a Brand Takeover Ad.

This ad usually displays a full-screen video targeted to a predefined audience. It can also be displayed on the For You page as a static image, GIF, or video. 

They can link to a landing page or a Hashtag Challenge (source).

Suppose you want to increase brand awareness and generate direct sales (more relevant for e-commerce, and not the case for large products, such as properties). In that case, this is the ad you want to go with.

Costs for TikTok Brand Takeover Ads

Prices for the Brand Takeover Ads period range between $50,000 and $100,000 per day.

This might be an option if you are a larger real estate company with a much higher advertising budget (source).

3) TikTok TopView Ads

This type of ad is similar to Brand Takeover ads. 

But they are less aggressive in contrast to them and aren’t displayed as soon as a user opens the app. 

You can also change a Brand Takeover Ad into a TopView Ad.

They instead display as an in-feed post after the first 3 seconds and appear on the For You page.

Costs for TikTok TopView Ads

The costs are similar to Brand Takeover Ads. For 7.4 million impressions, you can expect to pay $65,000 per day. (source)


4) TikTok Branded Hashtag Challenge

With TikTok Branded Hashtag Challenge Ads, you enter the premium ad level on TikTok. 

You will know what I mean once I tell you what it costs.

A campaign like that creates a particular hashtag where users can create comedy challenges or bespoke dances.

It’s kind of a call-to-action campaign that takes six days.

When you select Branded Hashtag Challenge Ads, it’s an ad package because it includes Brand Takeover Ads.

Costs of TikTok Branded Challenge Ads

The flat fee per six days for this type of campaign is $150,000. 

And if you want to promote it, you will need an additional amount of between $100,000 and $200,000 (source).

5) TikTok Branded Effects Ads

With this type of TikTok ad, you can add 2D animated lenses to your views, and they can be triggered via face and hand movements.

Who’s creating these lenses? It’s TikTok’s in-house creative team.

Costs for TikTok Branded Effects Ads

For 30 days, you can expect to pay $45,000.


6) TikTok Influencer Ads/ Brand and Creator Collaborations

This ad campaign can be created on the “Creator Marketplace,” where brands meet creators, and both can collaborate.

There are four different creator packages for these ad types:

The Mid-tier package

This package lets you collaborate with five creators/influencers with less than a million followers.

You can expect to pay $12,000 for this package.


The Top-tier Package

This is basically the same package as the Mid-tier package, and the only difference is that the five influencers will have between one and five million followers.

Here, you can expect to pay $35,000 for the package.


The Value Hybrid Package

Cost-wise, this package is between the Top-tier package and the Mid-tier package. 

You will get two top-tier creators/influencers and three mid-tier creators/influencers advertising for you for that.

Expect to pay $20,000 for this package.


The Premium Hybrid Package

If you select this package, a mix of creators/influencers will advertise for you.

It will be one VIP Creator with over 500 followers, two top-tier creators/influencers, and two mid-tier creators/influencers.

This package will cost you $30,000. (source)


TikTok Advertising Costs & Conversion Rates

how to use tiktok in real estate

Overall, it’s slightly more challenging to find clear information about TikTok’s Ad cost structure to have a baseline to estimate the overall performance of this platform. 

According to this source and based on a budget of $50,000 spent in the United States, TikTok ads can generate 155% more clicks while costing 36% less compared to Facebook and Instagram.

You pay $0.19 per click (CPC), which is higher than Facebook and Instagram ads.

TikTok doesn’t charge on a per-click basis, such as Google AdWords. 

Their pricing is on a cost-per-mill impression basis (CPM), roughly $1.82 (source). 

This sounds quite positive; however, the barriers to entry are higher than on Facebook Ads or Google Ads platforms. 

You will need a reasonably high advertising budget to achieve the above costs per click from the start.

For example, the cheapest option is the In-Feed Video ads with a minimum daily budget of $20.

So, it’s not very friendly for real estate advertisers who need to start out with a small budget and test and optimize their way up to higher budgets once a successful campaign converts well.


My Little Workaround and Ninja Trick for the Higher TikTok Starter Costs

My idea for a workaround for advertising starters with a lower budget would be to first test video ads on the Facebook Ads platform, targeting only mobile users. 

My longer article about real estate marketing on Facebook might be helpful in this context. 

This Facebook ad’s testing can be done with a lower budget than TikTok ads.

You then optimize the Facebook campaign until it converts well and is successful. Then you can pass this proven campaign on to TikTok. 

You will risk slightly fewer advertising dollars at the beginning than starting with TikTok.


TikTok Ads Conversion Rates

Hard data based on the experience of various TikTok advertisers are hard to come by regarding conversion rates.

The only metric is TikTok engagement rates, which are 29% (source).

The problem with engagements is that they don’t correlate with conversions. 

The engagement rate metric only tracks how a particular audience is involved with the content and measures things like comments, shares, and “likes.”

I don’t know about you, but I have never met someone who could pay the bills with likes or comments. 

I am interested in what TikTok can do in terms of lead generation. 

So what can we do? 

We can only assume or estimate a conversion rate based on longer, existing advertising platforms dealing with video ads. 

Which are the largest ones in this context? Exactly, YouTube Ads and Facebook Video Ads.

The conversion rate of YouTube is 0.5% (source).

Generally, the conversion rate in real estate for Facebook Ads is 10.68% (source). 

Considering this conversion rate is increased by 20-30% using video ads (source), we can assume a Facebook video ad conversion rate for real estate of between 12.8% and 13.8%.

Let’s take the average between YouTube and Facebook Video ads to have some conservative numbers, which is 6.65%.

This is the number we should also apply to TikTok Ads. 


A TikTok Costs per Acquisition (CPA) Estimation

Now that we have established some baseline numbers to estimate the performance, we can estimate the costs per acquisition.

We will need the average CPM and the conversion rate of TikTok, which is $1.82 and 6.65%.

To get a bit more exact, we can include the average click-through rate between 1% and 3% (source). Let’s make it an average of 2%.

So the impression-to-lead conversion rate would be 6.65% x 2%, which is 0.133%.

Now we can calculate how many impressions you will need to buy to get one lead.

We divide one by 0.133%, which is 751.8, 75.18% of 1,000 impressions.

And 75.18% from $1.82 (what you pay per thousand impressions) is $1.37.

So, according to this estimated calculation, you would pay $1.37 per acquisition. 

This is pretty low compared to other CPAs I mentioned in my real estate prospecting article.

But I have to remind you again that while the CPA metric is better than the conversion rate metric, it won’t tell you much about the lead quality you get. 

You might get cheap leads, but will they buy or sell real estate? 

This will all depend on your audience targeting, your ad copy, and your offer.

9 TikTok Real Estate Influencers

You may wonder how other realtors and real estate pros use TikTok.

Therefore I added an overview table below with a link to their accounts and a short description of their type of content to provide additional inspiration.

TikTok Real Esttate AccountTikTok Real Estate Content
Tatiana LondonoTatiana Londono, a Montreal-based real estate expert, shares valuable insights and tips on TikTok. As a real estate agent, she offers unique perspectives, with content ranging from investment advice to avoiding sketchy agents, making her a standout Real Estate TikToker.
Enes YilmazerEnes Yilmazer, a Los Angeles real estate agent/developer, showcases California's ultra-luxury properties (worth $250 million+) on his videos. He offers an exclusive glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the super-rich and his content has transformed him from a regular realtor to a celebrity home seller.
Jen CrouseJen Crouse leverages TikTok's spirit, offering humorous yet informative real estate content. Her videos debunk myths about being a realtor and interpret realtor-talk, providing a fun and enlightening perspective on the real estate industry.
Listings By The PortfolioThis TikTok acount offers virtual tours of stunning, luxury properties worldwide, all boasting exquisite views and priced above $1M. It's a must-follow for aficionados of grand architecture and opulent living.
ChrisChris provides a mix of amusing and informative content on real estate, including home-buying tips, discussions on property prices in Des Moines, and the pitfalls of saving 20% for a down payment. His unique approach, including "realtor therapy," offers valuable insights.
Mari Juliette Real EstateAt 28, CEO and real estate agent Mari Juliette shares virtual open houses, realtor tips, investment and marketing advice, and insights into the realtor profession. As an Airbnb expert, she provides valuable ROI maximization tips, with her content particularly inspiring for women entrepreneurs.
Byron LazineByron Lazine, entrepreneur, real estate broker, and podcaster, co-founded BAM and hosts several podcasts. On TikTok, he shares interview highlights, marketing insights, and motivational talks. His content covers interviews, entrepreneurship, real estate tips, and wealth growth through real estate investment.
Heider Real EstatetDaniel Heider, a top-producing young luxury real estate agent leverages TikTok for marketing. His videos blend drone and interior footage to showcase luxury properties. While his content captivates viewers, it also generates new leads, proving that TikTok can be a powerful tool in luxury real estate marketing.
Anya EttingerAnya Etinger, a Toronto-based realtor, tailors her content for Gen Z and Millennials, primarily first-time buyers. Her blend of educational and entertaining TikTok content is authentic and resonates with her audience. She also shares real-life challenges in real estate, offering valuable insights and tips for young buyers.


Pros and Cons of TikTok for Your Real Estate Business

Good opportunities to acquire future Gen-Z property buyersOnly 25% of users are aged between 45 and 64
Quickly growing user base (right now 800 Million Active Users WorldWide)49% of Americans are not interested in using it
Higher chances of getting millions of views even with a few followersA smaller audience share is in the age group where they can do a real estate transaction today
$0.19 cost per click (CPC) (slightly lower than on YouTube)No easy direct linking possibility to your real estate website
Estimated conversion rate (CVR) of 6.65% (likely higher than on YouTube)Music, entertainment and trend-based video content preferred (not ideal for real estate)
Estimated costs per lead or costs per acquisition (CPA) of $1.37Minimum advertising budget for cheapest Ad type is $500 (less beginner friendly than YouTube)
Ad spend can get up to $350,000 with more expensive ad types
Less ad spend control than on YouTube
A lower number (37% ) of users than on YouTube have an annual income of more than $100,000
The different ad types and packages are a bit confusing.


The TikTok Alternative for Real Estate: YouTube Shorts

YouTube Shorts was launched in September 2020 and wants to attack TikTok since the future of TikTok stands on shaky ground in the U.S. 

And as you can read in my statistics part about TikTok, almost half (49%) are not interested in using it.

Besides that, some security concerns for the U.S. were already mentioned in various articles, such as this onethis one, and this one.

Like with TikTok on YouTube Shorts, you can upload only vertical videos with a maximum length of 60 seconds. 

You will need to include the hashtag “Shorts” in the title or description for YouTube to recognize it as such and make the algorithm do its magic.

The advantage is that besides displaying these videos in your channel, they will be highlighted in a different section on the homepage Shorts shelf of YouTube.

In the YouTube app on your smartphone, you can find a short-form video creation tool that allows you to create videos up to 15 seconds long. 

There, you can also capture multiple clips.

The advantage of getting into YouTube Shorts from a content marketing perspective is that the algorithm will likely help you gain reach and rankings faster.

This will increase your number of subscribers more than conventional YouTube videos would.

It also includes several creative features, such as:

  • Speed control to increase or slow down the recording speed
  • Adding free-to-use songs
  • A countdown timer to stop the recording automatically once the maximum time is reached

YouTube Shorts doesn’t suddenly have another target audience because it’s about Shorts. 

So you will also deal with the YouTube audience, where the following statistics apply:

  • 2 billion active monthly users (source)
  • 30 million active daily users (source)
  • 1 billion mobile views per day (source)
  • 77% of users between the age of 15 and 25 in the U.S. use YouTube (source).
  • 73% of U.S. adults use it (source).
  • Also, 77% of users between the age of 26 and 35 (younger millennials) in the U.S. use YouTube (source).
  • 37% of users between 18 and 34 binge-watch YouTube daily (source).
  • 51% of users over 75 watch videos on YouTube (source).
  • 90% of U.S.-based users between 18 and 44 use YouTube (source).
  • 83% of YouTube users have an annual household income of less than $30,000 (source).
  • 89% of YouTube users have a yearly household income of over $100,000 (source).

As of now (2023), no valuable YouTube Shorts-specific statistics are available yet.

So we still need to apply the general YouTube statistics to Shorts users.

Knowing about the TikTok statistics and that YouTube wants to attack TikTok, you can assume that you will likely attract a larger share of the younger demographics on YouTube.

I will leave you with a comparison table below to summarize the differences between TikTok and YouTube Shorts.

YouTube (Shorts)TikTok
2 billion active monthly users worldwide800 million active users worldwide
77% of users between the age of 15 and 25 in the U.S.60% of users aged between 16 and 24
77% of users between the age of 26 and 35 in the U.S.50% of users aged between 18 and 34 (Gen-Z and a share of younger millennials)
90% of U.S. based users between the age of 18 and 4425% of users are aged between 45 and 64 (some Baby Boomers)
51% of users over the age of 75 watch videos on YouTube.49% of Americans are not interested in using it.
37% of users aged between 18 and 34 binge-watch YouTube daily.63.4% of users are female.
89% of users have an annual income of more than $100,000.37% of users have an annual income of more than $100,000.
83% of users have an annual income of less than $30,000.30% have an annual income of $40,000 or less.
The YouTube algorithm will likely help you gain reach and rankings faster and increase your number of subscribers because Shorts is still fairly new.Higher chances of getting millions of views even with a few followers
You can easily link YouTube Shorts to your real estate website.No easy direct linking possibility to your real estate website
More variety of content, including education-based possible for ShortsMusic, entertainment and trend-based video content preferred
You can start with a daily budget of just $2.The minimum advertising budget for the cheapest ad type is $500.
More control over your daily ad spendAd spend can get up to $350,000 with more expensive ad types.
Cost per click is between $0.10 and $0.30 .$0.19 cost per click (CPC)
The average conversion rate (CVR) on YouTube is 6.65%.Estimated conversion rate (CVR) of 6.65%
Estimated cost per lead or cost per acquisition (CPA) is $40Estimated costs per lead or costs per acquisition (CPA) of $1.37


Is TikTok or YouTube Shorts Better for Real Estate Marketing?

Taking a hard look at the pro and con tables, you will realize that the pro column of YouTube shorts is much longer than the short column compared to the TikTok pro and con overview.

While TikTok seems tempting regarding conversion rates or costs per click, the starters’ expensiveness is the main point of worry.

Another one is that 49% of Americans don’t plan on using it in the future.

YouTube still has way more users from America.

TikTok is often sold as the platform where many Generation Z people hang out and affluent ones.

Still, if you look closely at the YouTube demographics, there are even more on YouTube.

The same is true for baby boomers and millennials in the age groups doing real estate transactions.

With YouTube Shorts, you might have an excellent opportunity to gain organic reach faster than conventional YouTube videos.

Then there is a moral question you may have to consider.

As you learned, TikTok originates from China.

And there is a Chinese version of TikTok, and the one the West gets hooked on has many more addictive elements. 

For instance, while Western users under 14 may have unlimited screen time using it even in restrooms, in China, the usage time is 40 minutes daily for this age group.

You can read up on more differences in an article from the New York Post.

So the question is also whether you want to feed this Western TikTok version.

Ending this article, I think the winner is YouTube Shorts, but this concept still needs to prove how well it will perform soon since it’s still in the beginning stages.

This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.

Tobias Schnellbacher