If there’s one thing that bloggers, marketers, and brands all seek on social media, the art of gaining visibility on social networks is likely one of their top priorities. Today, many of these entities are now seeking to find visibility on Google Plus, and just as other networks have algorithmic spam filters and guidelines they expect their users to follow, so does Google’s high flying social network. Unfortunately, many of these guidelines remain vaguely understood by the entire community’s vast user base, and its high time those users got the guidance they so deserve. Below I’ve outlined the potential social pitfalls of this network and how to avoid them. Not taking heed to this advice can cost you your visibility across the entire network, result in your account being suspended or completely terminated, and in some cases, the loss of access to all of Google’s products and services.
On the other hand, making use of these tips will increase your visibility, help you move along faster, building better relationships with the network's social largess, and keep you in good graces with Google and its ever growing interest based network.
The potential pitfalls:
1. Avoid Google’s Algorithmic Spam Filters:
One of the biggest mistakes I often see users making, especially ones who just recently joined the network, is the fact that many of them will just start making posts wildly across the network without actually engaging with anyone first. This is a huge mistake! The problem here is, since you’re new to the network, Google has yet to gauge whether or not you are a trusted individual or source of information. At this point their algorithms are looking for metrics of trust, and if you aren’t engaging with anyone, but rather dumping posts everywhere, their algorithmic filters will often flag your account to community owners and moderators as potentially being spam.
This is where the whole house of cards can quickly come tumbling down for you. When Google flags a suspicious post in communities, they put that post into a spam folder where the content in question then sits waiting to be reviewed by a community owner or moderator. If those moderators so happen to reject your post, delete it, or report you to Google further, you’re going to potentially lose all your visibility on the network itself! Especially if the community is well established and recognized as a trusted entity.
For content that is rejected and reported multiple times, Google’s algorithms will respond by taking away the account in question’s visibility across the entire network, and more often than not, they won't tell you about it either! This is how Google punishes those bad actors on its network. At this point, no one will be able to see your posts unless they actually view your social profile itself. This goes for brand pages as well. Oh, and those posts you made to public, yeah, those are gone from your followers home streams as well.
If you want to avoid this issue and you’re new to the network itself, save the posting for later, and instead join a few communities, get involved in active discussions, and make new connections with already trusted sources on the network. If Google’s algorithms see you are actively engaging with the rest of the network, and you’re making connections with trusted sources who are already established, this sends a good signal of trust to Google, ultimately helping to increase that much wanted visibility you were seeking.
2. Don’t Spam:
Many individuals will make the same post multiple times and to multiple communities, brand pages, etc. Bad idea! Not only will Google’s algorithms respond by flagging your account and its posts as spam, but many communities will respond by banning your account and reporting you to Google for spamming. Cheaters never prosper! When you do post, make each post only once, and only to one place. I can’t stress this enough! Brand new accounts, and profiles with little engagement or with few followers are the most likely to be flagged by these algorithms.
If people find your content compelling, they will share it and it will gain a lot more visibility. Even if you could get away with dumping the same posts everywhere (Trust me you won’t!), this doesn’t mean anyone cares for that content. It’s up to network users to gauge the value of your content. If people like what they see, they will engage with it in the form of shares, +1’s, and comments, effectively increasing that contents visibility to a wider audience, and raising your trust metrics with Google.
3. Don’t Go Crazy With Hashtags and Keywords:
Don’t bother keyword loading your posts, or dumping a million hash tags all over them. While you may think you’re being smart, Google isn’t that stupid. Google will respond in various ways to posts like this. In some cases they will respond by simply removing your visibility from home streams and communities, in others they will flag your posts to moderators, so don’t even bother trying. These tactics were dead on the web years before Google Plus ever arrived.
4. Read Community Guidelines:
Besides Google’s own guidelines and algorithms, the network itself, including communities, appear to have developed and adopted their own widely accepted “Code of Ethics”, that community moderators, managers, owners, and even Google Plus users themselves seem to expect fellow members to abide by. Here are the biggest pet peeves to annoy community moderators:
Always read the community guidelines for any community you plan to join before actively engaging and posting anything. Each community has its own set of guidelines, with many of those guidelines being widely accepted and implemented across many communities, and often the majority of the network itself.
For example, some communities don’t allow users to make posts with no descriptions, that are self promotional, consist of advertisements, that are centered around MLM programs, or post anything without engaging first, just to name a few. Again, each community has its own guidelines, and most take them seriously. Some communities are also more forgiving than others, and you can often contact a moderator, in which they may consider reinstating you, while other communities may not be so forgiving. In the case of our communities, we do our best to help people to understand why they were banned or their posts were removed, and often we do reinstate users. Others may not respond at all, so just be careful.
Some communities also have more obscure guidelines than others, such as the restriction of engagement to profiles with a face picture only, while not allowing brand pages to engage at all. Seems a little over the top, but I've actually seen this!
Don’t Make Off Topic Posts:
This is a big one! If you’re trying to find ways to piss off community moderators, this is the easiest way to do it. Often enough, people will join our social networking community and make posts centered on religious beliefs, their favorite sports, or some other unrelated subject. The question is what does religion and sports and have to do with social networking? Yep, exactly, nothing at all, banned on the spot!
At present, a community exists for almost every subject imaginable, so search for the right places to post your content, and leave irrelevance out of the equation. If you can’t find a suitable community to post your content, then be the first to create one centered upon your subject, a simple solution.
Don’t harass people:
While you may have gotten away with being a complete troll on Youtube or Facebook, the Google Plus community doesn’t take kindly to people who talk badly about the network or its members. Expect the network to respond negatively if you mistreat others. Avoid telling others what they should be allowed to share with their followers, as some individuals will get pissed off, as was recently the case with one subject (no names) who demanded that Google Plus members stop posting gifs altogether. The network members responded in mass by pinging him thousands of times, 24 hours a day with gifs, for days on end!
The better solution to dealing with content you don't care for is to only follow those who share content you do care for. Another option to stop unwanted sharing and notifications is to manage those notifications from your account settings by clicking on your profile picture, account, edit settings, and then making changes to the section labeled, "Who can interact with you and your posts." From this section you can set who exactly has the ability to message you, comment on your posts, share posts with you, or contact you. If you choose "Custom", you can select only certain circles as those who have the ability to interact with you, while blocking out all the noise.
Broadcasting is for radio stations, not social media! If you're just posting in communities and running, you will be entirely ignored. People gain visibility on social media by building new connections and engaging with others. As people get to know you, they will pay more attention to you, since you are paying attention to them. Think about it, who's the most likely to engage with your content, someone you don't know or someone you've previously engaged with? Not rocket science here.
The other issue to consider here is, you want to stay in good graces not just with Google, but with those communities you seek to be involved with. The average moderator can't stand when someone posts and run, so don't do it! The last thing you need is a moderator reporting your post after Google already flagged it themselves. What comes next is Google Jail! At this point the trust factor is out the window, and it could be really difficult to get back in good standing again.
If anything, try to embrace moderators and make friends with them. After all, their jobs are lot harder than they appear to be on the surface. Respect given is respect earned. Some communities, including ours, will often give a little boost to those who engage often, add value to discussions, and keep a good track record of staying in the good graces of our guidelines.
What to do when things go wrong:
Sometimes people get banned from communities, or their posts removed for various reasons, yet people aren't always sure why. Often community moderators will take action without telling a user why. The reason is some communities can have literally hundreds of posts flagged as spam in just a single day! In this case it's not always possible to notify every single member why an action was taken.
In this case, don't get mad, just keep your cool and make the wise choice to ask a moderator for help. You'd be surprised, more often than not they will! We've had people in our communities rant expletives at our moderators which just make things a lot worse than they already are. While I can't speak for other communities, our moderators are instructed to help explain why an account was banned, a post was removed, and to help resolve issues with individuals when a request for help has been initiated. Often enough we end up unbanning people, as we don't want to ban anyone.
Don't Make it all About You:
If there's one thing the majority of people on Google Plus can't stand, it's the self infatuated! From day one of my joining the network, one of the first things I noticed was the overwhelming disgust for those who do nothing but post self promotional content that's centered purely on themselves. If your entire purpose is just to focus on you, you'll get nowhere fast on Google Plus.
Understand the purpose of Social Networking:
The whole purpose of social media is to be "Social", and social networks were created for this very reason. Unfortunately, not everyone gets this. If every post you make or message you send to others is nothing more than an advertisement, there's probably no room for you on Google Plus, or any network for that matter. So get involved with discussions, make new friends, and grow your dreams! That's what being social on the web is all about. All being said, communities are a place for discussion, and its only proper social etiquette to get familiar with a community and its members before jumping up and posting repeatedly.
In the end, I hope everyone makes use of this guidance, it will make your stay on Google's network a lot more inviting, and you'll avoid Google's dreaded G+ Jail.
Connect with us in the Strategic Social Networking Community, where you can learn more strategies to grow your presence on Google Plus!