According to the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in media – television, radio, newspapers, etc. – is on the decline, with 52% of people surveyed placing total trust in media in 2014, as compared to 57% in 2013. This decrease in trust in media is global, with nearly 80% of countries reporting that their current level of trust in media is less than it was a year ago. However, the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer also shows that 47% of people surveyed trust social media when they are searching for breaking news and business information. And, when it comes to who people trust, over 60% of those surveyed indicated that peers were a trusted source of information.

So, what does this mean for you as a real estate broker or agent? More and more people are turning to social media – particularly Facebook – to find relevant news and information. In fact, an increasing number of people are skipping traditional search engines like Google and going straight to social media to search for information and to learn more about products and services. People are also relying on friends and family for brand recommendations, with 86 percent of consumers reporting that friends and family have the most impact on their buying decisions. That means every fan or follower you have on social media is a gateway to a new network of potential clients.

According to recent research, social media is a better source of recommendations than email and among the many social media channels, people who are shopping for products or services trust Facebook the most (68%), followed by Pinterest (56%), YouTube (51%) and Twitter (41%). If you want to focus your social media efforts on one channel, then Facebook is still the place to be.

Now, you might be wondering how to build client trust through social media. Unlike traditional marketing or advertising, social media gives you a chance to interact directly and immediately with your existing and potential clients. Here are three ways you can begin to build a trusting fan base on Facebook:

1. Communicate Thought Leadership

A common pitfall for brokers and agents is overloading their Facebook pages with listings poorly disguised as “opportunities.” This type of social spamming leads to loss of credibility with a social audience. To build trust, you need to provide value. This value can take many forms – such as real estate tips, community news or client satisfaction survey – and it should always be shared with the intention of teaching, entertaining, sparking discussions or getting honest feedback. When you share valuable information, you establish yourself as a real estate thought leader and also increase the likelihood that people will share your posts with others.

2. Be Responsive and Responsible

Your clients want to know that you’re available if they have questions or concerns. The immediacy of social media creates a great opportunity for you to provide the level of service your clients expect – and to do it in front of an audience. Asks questions and encourage feedback. If one of your fans shares your post, be sure to thank that person for helping you spread the word. The more you interact with your fans and followers, the better they get to know you, especially if you share news and information that shows you’re an involved member of the community who cares about a lot more than just selling houses.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Have a Little Fun

As we said before, the value of the information you share on social media can take many forms. Sharing a great joke, a motivational quote or a cute picture can be just as valuable as sharing an article how to renovate a kitchen on a budget. Giving people a sneak peek into who you are as a person adds depth to the social media conversation so clients start to view you as a friend, not just a broker or agent.

Just as it takes time to build trust in person, building trust in social media doesn’t happen overnight. So, be patient and be consistent. Over time, the effort you invest in social media will pay off in the form of stronger client relationships, word-of-mouth referrals and even sales.