Matt Lionetti and Tyler Whitman, of The Agency, and Sarah Desamours, of Douglas Elliman, shared their strategies for authenticity on social media with attendees at Inman Connect New York on Wednesday.

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In today’s digital age, someone might feel they “know” a person before ever meeting them in person.

What’s the key? Creating authentic digital content, agents said during a panel at Inman Connect New York on Wednesday called “The Anti-Trend: Using the Power of Authenticity to Stay Relevant to Your Clients When They Need You Most,” moderated by Giselle Ugarte, of the Talent Brokerage.

Giselle Ugarte

But finding one’s voice in digital marketing on social media and elsewhere is easier said than done.

Matt Lionetti, of The Agency and co-host of the Over Ask podcast, said it took him about three years to figure out what style of digital marketing and what online persona he wanted to adopt.

“I didn’t know what to be,” Lionetti said. “I was trying to be what people wanted me to be.”

Ultimately, he realized that short, comedic videos were his niche, and those started to catch on.

Sarah Desamours, of Douglas Elliman, started by having separate social media pages for her personal life and professional life but quickly realized that when she just stuck with business on her professional page, there was very little engagement.

Sarah Desamours

“Then just for fun, I would put one personal thing [on my business Instagram] and the engagement went up a lot,” Desamours said.

But when she started to experiment by adding a little bit more of her personal life on her business Instagram, she said, “I got judgment for it” from other agents in the industry.

But Desamours stuck with her instincts, and since she has started being more open about her personal life online, she has gained more engagement and more clients.

Tyler Whitman, of The Agency and star of Million Dollar Listing New York, said he accidentally learned how much authenticity could have an impact on his social media engagement.

“I documented my weight loss journey,” Whitman explained, noting that he was an early adopter of Instagram. “I did that over the course of like six months and during that time, I realized that was an actual [media] strategy.”

Tyler Whitman

Tyler Whitman

“I was always honest and I learned that that ended up making me more relatable,” he continued. Over the course of those six months, he said he went from roughly 200 to 12,000 followers.

At the time, other real estate agents told Whitman, “This is career suicide,” he said. “Meanwhile, I was getting tons of engagement and tons of referrals.”

That attraction is what eventually helped him get on Million Dollar Listing New York.

For Desmours, sharing “the ugly” parts of her life on social media actually may have saved her life, she said.

“I live in Miami and I share my lifestyle,” Desamours said. “But I also shared when I was going through health issues. I got rashes all over my body and I couldn’t figure out what it was and I shared it on [Instagram] Stories.”

Desamours talked to her doctor about it and ended up having surgery, saying the warnings of her followers “basically saved my life.”

“People really related to that, and it opened up a lot of referrals for me,” she added.

Matt Lionetti

At the end of the day, the panelists said agents should strive to post about things they’re good at to which other people can relate.

“It doesn’t have to be comedy, it doesn’t have to be creativity, it has to be you,” Lionetti said.

“When you share your stories, I think that’s what everyone can relate to,” Whitman added. “It just keeps it a much more organic connection.”

And those stories don’t have to be perfect or scripted, Desamours noted.

“You don’t have to go out of your way and do a scripted thing,” she said.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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