Social Media Branding

All this week I’m discussing the New & Improved Outskirts Press, which began on August 1 with the unveiling of our new RWD website for new authors (see below), new packages for everyone, and new inclusions with all new services (like more free galley revision rounds, more free image insertions, Publishing Tip Sheets, the Book Marketing RoadMap, and a responsive Author Webpage for every new author).


I’ll discuss all the new packages and new inclusions, beginning with the One-Click for Non-Fiction Suite tomorrow, but in the meantime, this new branding effort extends past our own website at and incorporates all our social media channels and platforms, all of which are available @outskirtspress on their respective sites, with the exception of the Outskirts Press blog, which is at  And, the exception of Google+, which for some reason insists on making their naming convention different from everyone else by adding a + sign.


In case the message isn’t clear, we passionately believe your book matters, and we’ll make it your way at Outskirts Press.

We still have Pinterest and Instagram to go. But as they say… Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Stay tuned!


Self Publishing Branding on Social Media Channels

On this blog I have often discussed the topic of marketing & branding, particularly as it applies to self publishing and social media (sites like Facebook and YouTube, etc.).  In fact, in some specific posts in the past, I displayed graphics presenting the way in which Outskirts Press brands itself on multiple social media channels in an effort to market our brand consistently.  Previously, these graphics featured the tagline: Write Anything, Publish Everything, Market Everywhere along with three individuals in the act of writing, publishing, and marketing, respectively.

As is so often the case, Facebook and YouTube then decided to change their “look” once again. And at roughly the same time, Outskirts Press added Pinterest to our list of active social media channels.  Plus, we wanted to concentrate more specifically on the monthly promotions and discounts we offer.  Self Publishing is becoming more competitive than ever before, and even though Top Consumer Reviews has rated Outskirts Press the #1 self-publishing company (more on that in the near future), we still have to compete aggressively for those authors who shop based solely on price (rather than high quality and service).

So our promotions became the focal point of our branding considerations. And we wanted to continue to carry that branding & marketing across our growing family of social media sites which now includes Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, YouTube, various blogs, Google Plus, and Pinterest.

Like everything, branding and promotion begins on our own website, where we hold the most control over look and functionality. So here is an example of how a monthly promotion appears on our home page:

Self publishing branding at Outskirts Press
Self Publishing Branding at Outskirts Press

Facebook was next.  We wanted to utilize the “Cover” graphic Facebook allocates for branding purposes to visually connect the same promotion, while still simultaneously mentioning other monthly events occurring on our Facebook page AND continuing to remind new visitors to “Like” us:

Self publishing branding on Facebook
Self Publishing branding on Facebook

Since Facebook superimposes a square Avatar graphic in the lower left-hand corner of the Cover Graphic, our Facebook graphic also attempts to incorporate that into the overall design aesthetic by using a “lifestyle” image of people engaged in the act of reading and/or writing (typically with large smiles on their faces).  Facebook Terms of Service prevent us from placing our actual URL in this cover graphic (although if you look around at other Facebook pages, there are plenty of companies doing it anyway), so we simply say “Visit our website for details” and then include a link to our site in the “About” box directly below the Avatar graphic.

This “Visit our Website” wording is also helpful on YouTube, which also superimposes a URL over whatever Cover Graphic you upload.  YouTube’s Channel lay-out changed recently by “borrowing” the same “Cover Graphic” concept from Facebook.  In their case, however, the cover graphic specifications are more demanding because YouTube accounts for various platforms, resolutions, and even high-retina displays like the iPad 2+.    All of this falls under the realm of “Responsive Website Design” which, if I find time, I will begin to blog about more in the future as Outskirts Press begins to make that design transition for all our online properties. But, in the meantime, just know that creating the cover graphic for YouTube requires an initially HUGE graphic that is then dynamically cropped to appear correctly on multiple devices.  Easier said than done, but we ultimately end up with this.

Self publishing branding on YouTube
Self Publishing Branding on YouTube

You can see that the actual “content” of the graphic is respectively small in this sample due to the requirements of the Responsive Website Design specifications for this graphic. In other words, this graphic has to look just as good on an iPhone being held vertically, which decreases the width of this graphic substantially.

Next comes Linked-In, which fortunately, doesn’t yet concern itself with Responsive Website Design specifications for its uploads (although I imagine that is simply a matter of time), so we’re safe uploading a fairly cut-n-dry image of a set height and width:

Self publishing branding on Linked-In
Self Publishing Branding on Linked-In

Pinterest is next, and given the constraints set out by their “Boards” we’re unable to use optimal graphics for the Board page, leaving us with this:

Self publishing branding on Pinterest
Self Publishing Branding on Pinterest

That leaves three other self publishing social media channels for Outskirts Press:  Twitter,  Self-Publishing News, and Google +.   They don’t fall so easily into the above branding category, so I’ll discuss them next time…

Automating Google + Postings – Follow-up

In this previous post about automating social media content, particularly as it applies to the new Google + pages for business, I indicated that I “requested” such automation from HootSuite and I would keep you posted.   The short version is, it’s not widely available yet. Here’s the email I received from HootSuite in response to my request. I think I mentioned that I fully expected to get some sort of sales pitch, which I did, although a subtle one referring to their Pro Plan along with a promotion code for their University isn’t evasive at all. Thumbs up, Hootsuite.

Hello Brent,

Recently you applied for access to Google+ Pages in the HootSuite dashboard. We want to thank you for taking the time to fill out our form and appreciate your patience as we roll out this new tool.

As this is a limited release, access is limited to HootSuite Enterprise clients at this time. However, we look forward to expanding the offering in the near future.

In the meanwhile, we’ve prepared a special coupon to say “Thanks” – Please redeem this coupon for a free month of HootSuite University, our professional certification program to help you learn advanced tips and techniques for using social media in general, and HootSuite specifically.


Not a HootSuite Pro user yet? Visit and sign up for a 30-day free trial of HootSuite Pro featuring unlimited social network profiles and much more.

If you’d like to learn more about HootSuite Enterprise, we encourage you to request a demo to learn how our leading security, team workflow and engagement tools can help your business.

Also, we appreciate your feature requests and encourage you to contribute your ideas to the feedback forum.

With Thanks,

The HootSuite Team

Google Plus and Facebook

This week’s series of post involves Google+, setting up a personal account and using Google+ business pages for your company’s promotional efforts. Yesterday’s post focused on setting up a personal Google+ account and finished with clicking the Join button. Once you’ve joined Google+, you see this screen: 

Google+ wants to find people to add to your account for you.  I’m probably not the first to suggest this, but allow me to suggest to Google clearly, visually, what this screen should look like to actually be useful both for the user, and for Google in their effort to compete with Facebook:

Yes, Google+ would be much better if it could automatically populate friends/associates from Facebook accounts. But, of course, that’s the rub, isn’t it?  Facebook doesn’t allow Google to aggregate or spider its content (that’s part of the reason Google had to invent its own social network).  You might say Facebook has created its own, largest competitor.  And, in reality, the fact that content on Facebook doesn’t translate to SEO (search engine optimization) but content on Google+ does will mean that businesses may find more and more reason to spend their time on Google+.

But, that’s in the future. Now, there’s no denying that Google+ has its work cut out for it, and this first screen on Google+ is one example of the hill it has to climb.   

… stay tuned…

Google Plus For Business – Part One

Google launched Google+ in June 2011, which Mark Zuckerberg described as Google “… trying to build their own little version of Facebook.”  He’s right. If you look at Google+ you immediately see the similarities, so much so I’d be surprised if Facebook lawyers weren’t contemplating a suit. But that’s a posting for a different blog.  This one involves using Google Plus for business.

Of course, up until November,  you couldn’t use Google+ for business, not really. But in early November, Google+ launched business pages for their new social networking site, so now’s the time to write about how to set-up and use Google+ (Google Plus) for business.

First, you need to create a Google+ account at

Doing this requires you have your own Google account, which perhaps you have already set-up for Google Alerts, or many of the other services Google offers.   Enter your first name, last name, gender, and year of birth. All self-explanatory. Then upload a photograph, and if you’re an author, I would recommend uploading the same professional image you use on the back of your book and for all your book marketing efforts. 

So far, this is basically the same as Facebook in that I created a “personal profile” on Facebook prior to creating a Facebook Page for Outskirts Press.  Their close association has always prevented me from truly using Facebook (even my personal profile) for much other than business. This is the reason my photograph on my personal Facebook page is the round OP Logo.  Kind of defeating, I know, but it is what it is….    So now that I’m starting with Google+, I’m going to see if it is feasible to separate business from pleasure, so to speak — after all, that is one of the “benefits” Google+ claims over Facebook; we’ll see if it’s true.  To that end, I’ve  uploaded my professional head-shot into my personal Google + account.  As you do this, you may or may not have the same considerations.

The next check-box question requests your permission to “personalize” the web for you.  This is Google’s way of asking if they can use your personal information to tailor advertisements to you.  Their description of this functionality is purposefully vague on its real purpose, but that’s no surprise.  Who’s going to answer “Yes” to “Send me lots of ads” but saying “Yes” to “You’ll get to see everything your friends recommend that you might also enjoy” is a lot easier to swallow.   Here’s the disclaimer language on Google’s help page regarding this check-box:  When you click the +1 button, you’re explicitly signaling interest in displaying, sharing, or recommending specific online content, including ads.

Of course, one might argue that disabling that check-box removes half the point of social networking, and that’s true, so what you do with this check box is up to you.

Then you click join… and come back tomorrow for what happens next…