Facebook fan leader boards and “Fan of the Week” kudos

I know I should be discussing the proofing process at Outskirts Press, and I will get back to that next week, but in celebration of our passing 5,000 fans on our Outskirts Press Facebook Page, I wanted to mention some of the new apps we added to not only encourage more participation from our FB friends, but to give them recognition for that participation, as well.  Of course, anything that I discuss regarding Facebook is a little up in the air, since apparently, the Fan Pages on Facebook will be changing to a new design on March 30.   But if the “Preview” is to be believed, this new design will incorporate the oft-debated “Timeline” design that Facebook unveiled for the Personal pages a little while ago.  This re-design shouldn’t affect what we’re doing with our Fan Recognition Programs, which I’ll discuss now:

The first is a “Fan of the Week” award, which will publicly recognize a random fan of our Facebook page for participation on our wall — which gives public kudos to fans who have actively engaged in liking something, commenting on something, or posting something.  Each week, a new Fan will be chosen, recognized on our wall, and will be featured on a new Fan of the Week page on our Facebook Page, with his/her user profile “up in lights.”  The purpose, of course, is to encourage other fans/friends to participate, so they will become the next Fan of the Week. The more you participate, the greater your chances to be chosen as the Fan of the Week.

To that end, we also launched a Top Fans app, which goes one step further.  Every Sunday we will recognize the top weekly fans who are responsible for the most likes, the most comments, and the most posts.  The top 5 fans in each category will be listed on a new Top Fans leader-board page, along with a 4th category, recognizing the fans who have accumulated the most “points” overall (with certain engagements — likes, comments, posts — earning a certain number of points).

And in the coming months we will be launching our Facebook Publishing Awards, where certain milestones our authors reach in the publishing and marketing process are automatically broadcast to all their Facebook friends.   People closely watching my personal FB page may have noticed the first such Award come across my newsfeed a couple of weeks ago.  This will be a great way for us to help our authors better establish and earn the public recognition they deserve for their impressive accomplishment — successfully publishing and marketing a great looking, high-quality book!

And if there’s any doubt that all this “stuff” I’m talking about in regard to Facebook (including the tactics I covered yesterday) contribute to significant increases in social media “reach,” one need only look at this recent graphic generated by Facebook Insights for our Facebook Page:

 

 

 

How to Increase Facebook Fans (Likes)

Before I proceed with the production/proofing process series of posts, I’d like to take a moment to congratulate David Olson of Albuquerque, NM, who was the winner of a free Barnes & Noble NOOK in our random drawing on the Outskirts Press blog.   This was the way we celebrated reaching 5,000 fans on our self publishing Facebook page. And that gives me a reason to really quickly offer 3 steps on increasing YOUR Facebook fan base.

1. Create a Welcome Page that motivates visitors to your page to “Like” you by offering exclusive deals, promotions, events, information, etc. I’ve posted about how to do that here.

2. Engage your community with quotes, quizzes, polls, information, content, and rapid, helpful answers to their questions.  Yes, this is the time consuming part, and usually the step that either makes or breaks this 3-step plan.  In the case of Outskirts Press, we are fortunate to have a LOT of content to share on Facebook, so it’s more a matter of logistically and efficiently sharing it, rather than having to create it.  In our case we share writing and inspirational quotes twice a week (Monday and Friday), “Awesome Covers of the Week” on Wednesday and Saturday, “In Author’s Words” (inspiring and motivational comments and testimonials from our published authors) on Tuesday and Thursday.  This is in addition to the daily doses of information about publishing, “self publishing and book marketing” that is shared via RSS from our blog and the periodic polls and quizzes we hold to further engage our community.  Plus, with nearly every comment or question, we attempt to respond informatively, helpfully, positively, and with encouragement and professionalism.  I.e., this step isn’t “easy.”

3. Give things away.  This is actually a combination of #1 and #2 in addition to its own step.  You can promote what you’re giving away on your Welcome Page that you create; you can constantly mention it among the tactics you are taking in step #2 (particularly when you have a winner); and you can create a poll for what should be the next prize that is given away, which, in theory, should prevent those who joined solely for the award from “unliking” you once they realize they didn’t win.  And that takes us to our NOOK winner, which we announced this morning on our Outskirts Press blog.

Facebook landing page

I know I promised to talk about how to create a Facebook landing page, and I will, although that topic will probably have to wait until January. Because tomorrow’s posting is going to be a follow-up to the recent posting regarding Hootsuite and Google + pages for business and then for the next two weeks I’m going to do a series about the funniest contractual clauses I’ve read in other self-publishing agreements. Seemed like a good Christmas series of postings…

But, speaking of Christmas and of the Facebook landing pages topic that I’m pushing to January, I thought I would at least share our current Facebook landing page for Outskirts Press. Hey, you too can be eligible to win an Amazon Kindle, and perhaps even a Barnes & Noble Nook or an iPad 2.  Here’s what our landing page looks like (well, without the actual “Like” button, which is where Facebook comes in when you visit our page.)

 

How to automate social media postings for Facebook, Google+ Pages, and more

Yesterday I finished the blog series about creating a Google+ page for business by suggesting that with this post, today, I would share a method to automate posts to Google+. And before I do that, let me dispel the notion that “automating” posts is any sort of “click it and forget it” type of thing.  The task (yes, it’s a task) of “automating” your social media presence still requires a fair amount of work. For instance, for the purposes of maintaining our growing social network communities for Outskirts Press, we use the following “automation” and tracking tools: TweetDeck, HooteSuite, Klout, Ping, Rooster, and FTTT.  And to give you a visual representation of what all that involves, here’s a screen shot of JUST our HootSuite dashboard:

Scary, yes? Helpful? You bet!  In this particular screen shot, if you squint closely, you may notice that we are able to monitor 5 social media “streams” simultaneously, plus we’re able to post directly to our Facebook page, keep track of retweets from Twitter, and even schedule posts in advance on a few of our networks all at once. Unfortunately, no single application that I’ve been able to find has access to ALL the social media networks that we use, which is why we have several (and of course, that sometimes causes scheduling conflicts where several of us at Outskirts Press may inadvertently schedule various posts too close to one another).   And up until very recently, NONE of them automated posts to Google+ Pages (simply because Google+ Pages are so new).  But within the last couple of weeks, the API was opened up to six applications, including Hootsuite.

Sounds too good to be true?  The ability to automate posts and content to our new Google+ Page using an application we were already familiar with and using heavily? Well, right now, it IS too good to be true.   Development of new functionality like this takes time and even though Hootsuite has the Google API available, they don’ t yet have anything operational on their dashboard. Instead, they direct you toward a “landing page” requiring you to “apply” for the benefit of having Google+ added to your dashboard.  Here’s a link to the application.

So until it is officially added to Hootsuite — or to the others, which are: Buddy Media, Context Optional, Hearsay Social, Involver, and Vitrue– this is the procedure for putting the steps into place to be able to automate your Google+ pages as easily as your other social channels.  Of course, you might get hit up by some marketing emails from Hootsuite or even sales calls, so… just sayin’.

I’ve applied and will keep you posted…

Speaking of landing pages, today also marks the beginning of our  new Facebook landing page to encourage more “Likes” to build our Facebook community, which surpassed 3,000 this week.  And I’ll discuss all the fun details involved in creating and implementing Facebook landing pages next…

Marketing on Facebook with the Photo Viewer Photo Strip – Part 4

So you want to use the photo strip on the top of your Facebook Fan page to advertise a service or product, but you do not want to diminish the aesthetic nature of the thumbnail images themselves? This series of blog postings over the past few days have discussed that very goal. Yesterday’s posting revealed the dimensions of the image to create in order to

  • maximize the potential of the large image
  • optimize the location and size of the thumbnail image
  • allocate a portion of the large image for branding and marketing purposes that don’t interfere with the thumbnail

When following the specifications, you can turn this template:

Into this branded image with a call to action in the Photo Viewer:

And still keep the thumbnail image looking precisely like you want:

In thumbnail form, it just shows the Diamond, like we want. However, when someone clicks on the Diamond for a closer look, the full image appears, providing a URL to order, a summary of some of the package’s benefits, our Outskirts Press logo, and instructions for a call to action to click on a link to go directly to the order page.

See how it works and looks on our Facebook page by clicking here.

Advertising on Facebook with the Photoviewer – Part 3

Once you realize that the thumbnail image shown along the top photo strip row of the Facebook fan page is not identical to the larger image viewed when clicking on the thumbnail, a world of potential marketing and promotional opportunities presents itself.  The trick is to make the photo strip image look pleasing AND to make the resulting larger image effective at whatever your goal is. In our case, we wanted the larger image to brand our company, Outskirts Press, and we wanted to offer some information about each package, along with a URL for purchase.

To accomplish all these goals, you have to know the image dimensions for the optimal large image and the dimensions for the interior space pre-determined by Facebook as the thumbnail portion. This is a little tricky because the larger image is optimal when it is square and the thumbnail image is optimal when it is rectangular.  Complicating matters further is the fact that Facebook doesn’t take the precise CENTER of the larger image to generate the thumbnail image; it skews high.

Your full image should be 720 pixels wide by 720 pixels high at 72 dpi.  The image for your thumbnail should fall into a space that is 535 pixels wide by 375 pixels high at 72 dpi.  This “thumbnail” graphic should not be centered, but rather off-set 90 pixels from the top and 93 pixels from either edge.   This leaves you with 255 pixels below the thumbnail image for marketing/promotional purposes — content that will ONLY be seen in the larger view.  Use the bottom 190 pixels for optimal visuals, although you should also leave a blank strip approximatley 25 pixels high along the very bottom because this is where Facebook is going to add its “Like/Comment/Tag Photo” overlay boxes, and you don’t want that stuff interfering with your image.

Was that too confusing?  Perhaps a graphic will help. If you follow the directions above, you’re left with a template that looks roughly like this:

Tomorrow we’ll see what our new “Diamond” package graphic looks like once we follow this template…

How to market on Facebook with the Photo strip – Part 2

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that the Facebook photo strip along the top of business fan pages offers a good branding opportunity and can also be used to effectively market or promote a product or service.  Up until recently, we at Outskirts Press were only using the photo strips for the first part of that equation — branding.  And we were losing the opportunity to market or promote when someone clicked on the image for a closer look.

Realizing the potential for what can be done with these images required first realizing that Facebook doesn’t “thumbnail” images in the traditional way.  Typically, when an image is “thumbnailed” (meaning, made smaller), the thumbnail image is an exact duplicate of the “larger” image, just at a reduced size.   But Facebook does something different, as seen by their use of the Profile Picture along the left-hand column, which also contains the square “avatar” picture.  In other words, the Thumbnail for the Profile picture is NOT an exact duplicate of the image, but rather a pre-defined section of the larger image.

The Photo strip images work the same way.  The thumbnail images shown along the top of the fan page are pre-determined sections of the larger version of the image that is viewed when the thumbnail is clicked.  In fact, when an image is created correctly, the same image can be both a successful, “clean” thumbnail image AND a more promotional image.

For instance, with our 5 package graphics, I wanted to maintain the look and feel of the 5 gemstones in a row (shown below)…

… and at the same time, I wanted the user to see a more branded graphic for each package when viewing the larger image. I even wanted to include a “call to action.”  All it took was determining the optimal image specs for both the “large” version of the graphic and the “thumbnail” portion of the same graphic.

And I’ll reveal what those settings are tomorrow…