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



I am a very active social media user. I use it as a tool to promote many causes and artists I care about. I also use it to keep up-to-date on current events, technology, music and more.

Unfortunately, many common activities I see on social media are really not social at all. They aren’t even human. This often makes it hard for me to discover more great new things and people in my niche. It breaks my heart to see so many individuals and organizations hurt or hinder their relationships or potential ones by spamming, not saying thank you, gloating about accomplishments and compliments and not supporting others in their communities.

What am I talking about?

Stuff like this:

I don’t understand this type of behavior. Most of us know that it would be really rude, ineffective and narcissistic to enter a party and throw our business cards at people without even getting to know them first, to announce that we’re amazing and that people should watch our video, buy our product, etc. For some reason, many people think it’s a good idea to do this kind of thing online.

Humans crave personalized connections. We want information that is relevant to us. We want to interact with other humans who share, not sell. We want people who listen, not just talk. We want people who will talk with us, not at us, about what we’re mutually passionate about. We want to know that people do things because they care about us and not just to get something in return. We want gratitude when we support them. We want to belong to a community.

The first step to being a human online is to figure out who your community is and where to find them. This means research. Get to know people. Follow people/businesses you care about and say hello. Browse their profiles to see who they are talking with and connect with them. Join and initiate conversations. Read, watch and listen to what interests you and share it.

Help people discover you the way you discovered them. When you share others’ links or quotes or your own, whether it’s with everyone or mentioning specific people, use keywords and hashtags your target community members will search for. Look up the usernames of articles you’d like to share and mention them when you share. But never just inject keywords/hashtags. Look them up to make sure others in your niche are using them. Then integrate these keywords and hashtags into relevant, insightful discussion.

Also, only promote yourself in 10-20% of your social media output. The rest of the time, you should be supporting others and your community in general.

As you build relationships with people on social media with whom you share similar interests, many will become interested in you organically. In other words, they’ll figure out that you’re awesome on their own and you won’t even have to pitch to them. But if you do want to pitch your product, build a relationship first and tailor your pitch to the person’s background and interests. Introduce yourself.

When you do all of these things, the world opens up to you. You’ll meet people you never would have met if you didn’t use social media and learn things and participate in activities you never would have been able to without it. You’ll find that you belong to a community much bigger than yourself.

Your human, social, community oriented approach to social media will convert to sales, signed petitions, video views — whatever your goals are. Taking this kind of care will reach many more people than broadcasting how awesome you are. Remember: If you act like a human, you will reach other humans.