AshleyAshbee Ashley Ashbee is a blogger, communications freelancer and a supporter of numerous social causes and independent artists. You can find her on Twitter @cartooninperson and on her blog Beyond Passing Time



A community is a group of people who connect with each other to provide support for a mutual interest or need. We all belong to many communities in our personal and professional lives.

They may relate to our challenges, activities or passions.

Some communities are easy to identify because they are concentrated geographically; their members wear visual cues like uniforms or jerseys or other reasons, but some communities require research to discover and connect with its members. The success of all communities depends on engagement of all or many of the parties.

Here are five tips for using social media to help you find your community and get the most out it.

1. Find out where your people hang out

When you post on social media, use popular relevant keywords so people searching for them in those platforms can discover you and benefit from your content. Many people and organizations will Follow or Like you and share insight on the content you share if it’s easy for them to find and hits them in the head or heart.

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2. Engage with the engaged

Look at the share icons of recent posts that relate to your community. Have a lot of people Tweeted them? Enter the URL of a post or relevant keywords into Twitter’s search field to see who is sharing them. Then respond to the Tweets that interest you by providing your insight. Google+ is also a great tool for discussion as you can join conversations with people who comment on posts and your contribution will be very visible.

3. Don’t ignore the little guy

Share great content by ordinary people in your community, not just popular posts by famous people and organizations. This provides a greater reach for content that might not receive it otherwise. Also, it’s a great opportunity to get to know the content creators personally, as many will be thrilled, even surprised, that you took the time to do this. It is easy to be invisible or forgotten in a crowd of dozens or even hundreds of others who are engaged with popular content.

4. Support others

Share content created by others in your community and use their social media handles to refer to them. This will notify these people that you have mentioned them and will help you build relationships. Also, when they reply to you or share your message, your handle and your engagement with others will be visible on their profiles.

5. Be personal, unique and genuine

Don’t be afraid to share a photo of yourself singing karaoke or write about your experience with an illness. When you relate the multiple facets of your character to your community’s common interest,  you will inspire its members and make them feel comfortable. They will identify with you and open up. Your personal storytelling will also give you some credibility by demonstrating that you live through the characteristics of the community and know the issues well.

Remember: your people are out there and they’ll like you; you just have to find them and help them find you. Just relax, be yourself and treat others how you’d like to be treated.