When discussing the marketing efforts of the reverse mortgage industry and large organizations including American Advisors Group (AAG), it’s common for lenders, originators and brokers to use traditional forms of media including television and radio. It’s also common for these industry players to ensure that an online presence through a company or individual website is easily-accessible for more tech-savvy seniors or members of a prospective borrower’s family to see.
Less common is any reverse mortgage industry interaction with a social media platform primarily used by members of “Generation Z,” typically born between the 1990s and 2010s. However, through the sponsorship of a popular senior influencer active on the platform and her efforts to educate people of all ages about vocabulary, industry-leading reverse mortgage lender AAG has extended its reach to this unlikely place.
Bev Mahone, a former journalist-turned-author with a focus on the baby boomer generation, is also a podcast host discussing issues important to the baby boomer demographic. After being introduced to TikTok by her grandson, her daily posts highlighting different words and their meanings took off in popularity and has led to the creation of a “vocabulary challenge” with a prize sponsored by AAG.
RMD recently sat down with Mahone to discuss her vocabulary challenge and her partnership with AAG, and how the lender has assisted and sponsored her efforts.
Connecting with AAG, providing information directly to seniors
In terms of the first interactions Mahone had with AAG, she describes how she and her husband had explored whether or not a reverse mortgage was right for them. Though they ultimately decided not to move forward, the audience Mahone had developed got the lender’s attention as providing a direct opportunity to engage with the senior demographic.
“Well, I have been working with baby boomers since the mid-90s and early-2000s,” Mahone tells RMD in an interview. “I have a platform with podcasts and websites, and baby boomers come [to those places] to get information. Because of my background as a journalist, I could offer information that they couldn’t just get from a regular blogger. Or, if they wanted information and they didn’t always want to watch the news, I created another platform that they could use.”
The direct connection Mahone developed with fellow seniors seemed like something that AAG could find value in, she explains of her thinking.
“I thought that if [AAG] could realize that I have this audience and am an influencer, then perhaps this is something that they would want to engage in so that they could reach an even greater and more diverse audience,” she says.
Being a member of the generation that the lender typically targets most right now, Mahone says she understands what often drives retirement conversations among her peers. Providing another avenue that is outside of normal channels had potential, she says.
“We don’t know because we don’t know,” she says. “And if we’re not in circles where people are talking about reverse mortgages or talking about retirement strategies, we don’t know what’s available to us, and I do believe that’s across the board. I don’t think it’s limited to just African American Baby Boomers or Asian American baby boomers. So I thought that because I do have a diverse audience, that would be a great way to disseminate that information to them.”
She was right. AAG engaged in a partnership with her soon afterward, which has taken on several forms including AAG personnel coming on to one of her shows to discuss the reverse mortgage product generally, up through the aforementioned sponsorship of the vocabulary challenge fueled by the following she has cultivated through TikTok.
Bringing reverse mortgage reach to TikTok
Mahone’s desire to create senior-oriented content largely came from a perception that members of her generation needed more specifically-tailored content to engage with, which led to the creation of her first online radio show using longtime platform BlogTalkRadio. That eventually developed into a more modern and recognizable podcast format, which then allowed her to branch out into video creation on sites like Vimeo and YouTube.
Having been in the middle of writing a book, she was advised that creating such material could be an effective promotional tool, and she has created content for online platforms aimed at seniors ever since. She was introduced to TikTok by her 15-year old grandson, which led to the creation of a regular series of postings aiming to teach people of all ages about different words in the English language.
TikTok is a short-form, video-based social media network that is defined by users sharing clips running anywhere from 15 seconds up to three minutes, and typically features jokes, stunts or other kinds of entertainment. According to research by digital marketing agency Omnicore, around half of TikTok’s global audience is under the age of 34, while 32.5% of its U.S.-based users are between the ages of 10 and 19 according to Statista. Recent 2021 Pew Research data suggests that TikTok could be growing more popular with older audiences, with 14% of 50–64-year-olds and 4% of those at or over the age of 65 reporting they have used the platform.
All of that to say that the platform may not be bursting with seniors to target for a reverse mortgage, but involvement by AAG became a reality through Mahone’s “vocabulary challenge.” After being encouraged by her grandson to create a “word of the day,” Mahone’s TikTok profile took off and has amassed over 574,000 followers and over 3 million “likes” to date. The thought of creating a “vocabulary challenge” as a competition came to Mahone one night during a dream, she says, and the scale of such an undertaking helped her realize that this is something that could really take off with the proper support. That’s when she reached out to AAG, who have supplied a $500 grand prize to the ultimate winner. Obviously, the monetary prize is a motivating factor for participants, but there could be more to it, Mahone says.
“Every time I am doing the vocabulary challenge with AAG as a sponsor constantly being mentioned, if they only got 1% of [my followers] from TikTok, and the same thing on Twitter, that [will lead to exposure],” she says.
Emerging social media platforms like TikTok have certainly not been a major focus of reverse mortgage industry marketing efforts recently. Bev Mahone may be a bit ahead of the curve in this regard, but introducing these audiences to the product category could be beneficial, she explains.
“That’s the value that I believe I give to AAG because they’re getting this tremendous exposure on different platforms because they can’t be everywhere all the time,” she says. “So, I’m just like that one little arm of them that helps them to spread their message.”
Visit Bev Mahone’s TikTok profile to see her “word of the day” posts, and for more details on the vocabulary challenge.