iStock_000025647042XSmallFlipping through a newspaper to find real estate listings is a thing of the past and successful real estate agents need to use social media and other online marketing tools to reach the more than 175 million Americans that use Facebook and other similar platforms. But REALTORS® need to also know how to use these social tools to reach out to a wide range of customers in an authentic, “non-salesy” way. Follow these tips to embrace the “friendships” made through social networks.

Reach out to people. Before trying to sell services through Facebook and Twitter, real estate agents should seek out those who are already looking for people like them. Stay on the look out all the time for people who may be looking to buy or sell a home.

When real estate agents contact others or promote via their Facebook page, it’s incredibly important to maintain an authentic persona. Keep the sales tactics at bay and try to keep a relationship with others that branches outside of the real estate realm. For example, share stories about local charities and events or engage connections through jokes or funny stories. Reaching out to others as a friend rather than an agent can help anyone build an online community.

Speaking of building a community, people love to engage through contests and raffles. Encouraging connections to join a conversation about local hot spots and community happenings will not only drive others to an agents Facebook page, but it can, over time, serve as a go-to portal for people who want to share or learn about a community.

Stories are great, but sharing videos and photos are better. Whether goofy, beautiful, inspiring or informational, photos and videos take sharing to a whole new level. At the same time, photos and videos are much more shareable than text.