We all use social networks to share funny photos, cool videos, personal thoughts and opinions. For years, we have decided, on our own, which status updates on Facebook to “like” and which posts to “retweet” on Twitter. It is why many of us use social networks, to have the right to choose which content interests us the most. We have never needed to be told what to do on social sites before, so why is it that many feel it is necessary to tell us what actions we should be doing now?

If you are a regular user of social networks than you most likely know what I am referring to, the “Please “like” my status update, Share this image if you like puppies, and Please retweet” posts, seen all too often on just about every social networking site. This new way of sharing content has indeed caught people’s attention, but not in a good way.

When other users see your account show up in their newsfeeds, whether it is on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, you want them to engage with you because they choose to and not because you have repeatedly asked them to or made them feel guilty if they don’t. We don’t constantly tell the same people to follow us on Twitter or to leave specific comments on our Facebook Wall, because it would simply turn people away and this same idea applies to when users ask for “likes” and shares.

When posting to your social sites it is important that each piece of content you share has a purpose and it should not be to just ask those who see it, to “like” and “reshare” it. You should post content that you enjoy; think is funny, and interesting. Those who agree with you will automatically share and “like” your posts simply because they like it too. You may also have to work for the “like”. Put some thought into the content you share, by adding a clever title or relevant picture to your posts. Even if you feel as though these methods work, the important question to ask yourself is, is it working for the right reasons?

For instance, think of each social network as a neighborhood. If you went to each neighbor and asked for them to “like” the hamburgers you cook at the yearly neighborhood block party they just might do it, but I’m pretty sure you would not be asked to cook hamburgers the following year. However, if you were to choose a burger recipe that you enjoy to use and share at the party or find out what others like with their hamburgers, you will attract and engage those that you really want to connect with because it is based on something real; a common interest. Social networks are really no different. There is no point in using any social site if you are not looking to create and build authentic relationships. Getting “likes” and shares because you requested them, does not mean you have made any true connections.

In being yourself, you will connect with those who are willing to connect with you, that is, if you use social networks for sharing and not telling. Overtime, you will create online communities through your different social sites that have similar interests to yours and will be surrounded by people who want to be a part of your network, all without having to ask a single person to perform an action of like, share or retweet, which I might add, they already know they have the option to do.

Social sites are about finding and discovering people with whom you are able to be social and engaging with online. You should strive, work hard, and connect with people that like you because they like you and not because you had to ask them to, it really is that simple.

[Photo via: Meme Generator]