What is Link Litter? And How to Avoid It.

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Google+ is a moving target of ideas, communication and sharing. As the platform builds and grows, the active plussers have taken strong moves towards best practices and are creating guidelines with terminology to fit the evolving social mediums.

One new term I learned this week from Shawn Welch via Evo Terra is link litter. I believe that Evo, who manages several Google+ communities, may have coined this phrase.

What is link litterWhat is link litter? 

Dropping a link with no explanation or text. Just the title of the article and the link.

Why is link litter bad?

It doesn’t encourage engagement or gather interest. The link is dropped and bam just sits there gathering dust.

From Evo’s Digital Publishing Communities guidelines, “No link litter. If you’ve found an interesting article that you think the community needs to see, please share it! But we want to know why you think it’s share worthy. Not all of us have the time or inclination to click through and see if it means anything to us personally. So write a paragraph or two (yes, a paragraph, not sentence) that summarizes why your were intrigued.”

This got me thinking about why it’s even necessary to ask people not to do this. I believe it’s because on Twitter, you have only 140 characters to communication your message and people make a quick judgment to read or click through. On Google+ and Facebook, you have more characters to make your case: Google+ limit is 100,000 characters per post and Facebook is 64,206 characters. Consider where you are sharing your content before sharing an article. Link litterers are either being lazy or spamming.

More here: Social media post length? Use the proper size for the win.

With a longer post style comes more expectations from your audience. They want to know why they should leave Google+ or Facebook to read the post. This is true of creating interest for all your social media posts, not just in communities. I see many posts with this link litter style with no +1, no comments and certainly no sharing. Sharing style needs to be adjusted for this longer form of communication especially on Google+ where people are in communities to have deeper conversations and learn.

A thought from Mark Traphagen from Google+ about the difference between link litter and spam: “spam is any link posted to a community that is obviously irrelevant to that community and is posted with only some commercial intent. Link dumping is posting a link which may be relevant, but adding nothing to it – either a comment to help us understand its importance or a question to get discussion going.”

Shawn Welch did a wonderful job of bringing this style into the APE Community for writers.  When he has a long post, he writes everything he wants to say, with links and then at the bottom of the post, he adds a TL;DR short summary. TL;DR means too long, didn’t read and signals to the people who may not have read the whole post to the main point that he was making in his post.

Using this longer form of post style in communities and on regular posts builds interest as well as reaches the people who want to stay on the platform giving them the option of going to read more at the website linked in the post.

Here’s an example of a post that created with the long style post The Self-Publishing Revolution, I opened with the title, an un-shortened link, a brief description, a few points, a quote and some hashtags with a full size photo. This received +27, six shares and four comments.


The bottom line is, if you are taking the time to share something, take the time to post it properly. Don’t just drop link litter, it causes people to tune out and ignore your post. It can also get you banned from communities. Think about why you want people to read it and give them a taste of the post. Build interest and create the opportunity for people to discuss your post on it’s own.

From Lynette Young on her G+ post sharing this article “Digital communications isn’t about dumping content to get hits, it’s about presenting content to entice readers to value what you share.”

Provide value with your content and you’ll see that people will be interested in talking about it. Give it a try!

Ryan Hanley created a video called How to NOT be a Spammer on Google+ as well.

More tips here: Five Easy Steps to Make the Perfect Google+Post

Article by Peg Fitzpatrick

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Writer & Social media strategist
Co-author of The Art and Science of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users with Guy Kawasaki. Social media is my passion. And my job. I'm here sharing my professional experience working day to day in the trenches of social media, marketing, and blogging. I work with global brands and leaders in the social media sphere every day. I've spearheaded successful social-media campaigns for Motorola, Audi, Google, and Virgin as well as having been a brand ambassador for Kimpton Hotels. I work with the best brands and make them even better! I'll share tips and tricks, provide positive inspiration and answer social media questions through the content that I create and curate. What sets me apart? I'm an innovative idea girl that follows through and gets the job done. Social media is my career, not just a hobby.

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