How to avoid being seen as a spammer
Google+ gives us so many tools and ways to communicate, it means there are also many ways we can trip up and annoy the people we are trying to reach.
One more thing I would add to the list below is unsolicited events invitations.
h/t Peggy K
Originally shared by John Skeats
Mistakes to Avoid When Promoting Anything on Google
People who are excited about causes, religious beliefs, their blogs, communities, businesses, or whatever often make serious mistakes that have exactly the opposite effects from what they are trying to achieve. Making those mistakes drive people away from you. They can result in being your being flagged as spammer and even having your profile or page suspended by Google+.
Promotional posts of any kind can violate rule #7 of the Google+ User Content and Conduct Policy (http://www.google.com/+/policy/content.html), which states: Do not spam, including sending unwanted promotional or commercial content, or unwanted or mass solicitation. The word “unwanted” there is key. You are violating the rule if you share a promotional post in a manner that it is delivered to people who do not want to receive it. It does not matter what the subject matter is. For example, a perfectly wonderful religious post becomes spam when the post is delivered to people who do not welcome such posts — and if a sufficient number of people report such a post as spam, Google will treat the person who shared it as a spammer.
Some of the most common ways people get into trouble are:
— Sharing in a manner that triggers unwanted notifications
— Sharing the same or substantially similar content too frequently
— Sharing to too many communities
— Sharing too frequently in a single community
— Sharing posts that violate community rules
— Sharing “link-litter” posts
— Using too many hashtags
— Adding a promotional signature block to your posts and comments
— Asking for followers
— Inviting people to communities
— Sharing religious posts
The remainder of this post consists of discussions about each item in the above list. Note to bloggers: Pay especial attention to the second and sixth items.
Sharing in a manner that triggers unwanted notifications
People generally want to make their own decisions about who they receive notifications from. Google+ offers very effective means for people to control notifications. Still there are two mistakes that people make very frequently that get them reported for unwanted notifications:
— If you add Extended circles, Your circles, or the names of specific circles when sharing a post with Public, some of the people in the groups you added are likely to receive unwanted notifications. Avoid this by removing all other groups from the To: field when sharing with Public. Your posts will still be visible to the same audience and will appear in the Home streams for the same people either way, but removing the groups prevents unwanted notifications. Note that it would be okay to add a circle if all of the people in it asked you to be notified of your posts.
— If you select the Also send email when sharing a post with Extended circles, Your circles, or specific circles, some of the people in those groups are likely to receive unwanted notifications. Avoid this by never using that option unless 100% of the people in the groups have asked you to send them email notifications.
I mentioned in both of the cases above that it is okay if people asked you to notify them. That does not mean it is okay to notify them and offer the option to be removed. You are spamming if you add them and only remove them upon request. You are not spamming if you offer them the option to receive notifications and only add people who ask to be added.
Sharing the same or substantially similar content too frequently
Sharing the identical post or a post with very similar content repeatedly with the same audience will get you into trouble. That can include posts with minimally different content in the posts themselves and the same link. It can also include posts that are minimally different and have closely related links (e.g., different posts in the same blog). A key way of avoiding this type of problem is to share a variety of posts. Bloggers who share a variety of Google+ posts in addition to their blog posts are less likely to encounter problems than bloggers who share only their blog posts on Google+.
Sharing to too many communities
Google considers sharing the same or substantially similar posts to multiple communities in a relatively short period of time to be a form of spamming. The Google+ spam filters detect this and flag all instances of the posts. They are put into queues in the communities for the moderators to approve or reject. Posts are not visible to other community members while the posts are in the moderation queue. To avoid this, I recommend never sharing similar material to more than three communities within about a two-hour period.
Sharing too frequently in a single community
No one likes seeing a community stream that is dominated by one individual. I recommend never sharing more than one or two posts in the same community without their being sufficient time for a significant number of other people’s posts to appear between yours. Also be aware that some communities have strict limits on the number of posts you may share per day.
Sharing posts that violate community rules
The owners of the communities set the rules for their communities. The only restriction is that the rules for a community cannot override the Google+ User Content and Conduct Policy (referenced above). Many — perhaps most — communities do not allow promotional posts of any form. It is extremely important to read and follow the rules for each community before posting in it. Otherwise moderators will remove your posts as spam. Google treats people who demonstrate a pattern of having their posts removed from communities to be spammers because their posts are clearly being shared in a manner that is unwanted in the context where they are being shared.
Sharing “link-litter” posts
Posts that contain little or no meaningful content other than a link are much more likely to be treated as spam than posts that introduce the link with a discussion about the content of the target of the link. Note that simply copying the title of the website or blog post, or adding a one-liner saying something along the lines of the information being important does not a change a post from being link litter. As an aside, studies have shown that the click-through rate on links is dramatically higher when the posts themselves offer readers value than on link-litter posts and posts that simply encourage the reader to go to the target links.
Using too many hashtags
We have not seen concrete evidence that Google has a quota on the number of hashtags you can use in a post, however there is no question that posts that are overwhelmed by hashtags in the content itself — which is completely unnecessary since Google+ allows virtually unlimited length posts — or in long lists at the end look spammy. Remember that spam is defined by the eye of the beholder. If the recipients think your posts look like spam, they are spam.
Adding a promotional signature block to your posts and comments
Many people like to add the equivalent of an email signature section with promotional messages and links to their posts and comments on other people’s posts. The Google+ spam filters will quickly detect that and start treating you as a spammer. It is fine, of course, to add links where it is appropriate to the context of the post or comment, but adding a standard signature block with links will get you in trouble.
Asking for followers
Asking people to circle your profile or follow your page is not well received on Google+. People will take those actions if you give them value and engage with them. They are much more likely to view you as a spammer if you ask them to circle your profile or follow your page.
Inviting people to communities
Unwanted community invitations are an extremely annoying form of spam. Many community owners or people excited about particular communities want to invite the world to join them. Resist that temptation! In invitation to a community is implicitly promotional, and community invitations trigger notifications. Therefore, invitations sent to anyone who does not want them meet Google’s definition of spam. Share invitations only with people you believe to have an interest in a specific community — and personalize those invitations by adding meaningful content about why you believe they might be interested in the communities. Without that personalization, the posts look like a form of link litter.
Sharing religious posts
Religious posts do not implicitly violate any rules. I call them out separately because they present their own pitfalls. Recipients of religious posts who are not of the same persuasion generally see the posts as promoting religions or specific religious beliefs — and many people do not welcome such posts. That means religious posts fulfill all of Google’s conditions defining spam if the posts are delivered to people who do not want to receive them. I am not saying there is anything wrong with sharing posts about your beliefs. I am merely encouraging people who want to do so to realize that it is very easy to cross the line and become a spammer.