The Hello Bar is a simple notification bar that engages users and communicates a call to action.

David Masters

LegoAs solopreneurs, authors, bloggers, artists, designers and freelancers, we use Facebook because we are creators. With our whole bodies and minds, we have taken a stance of imagination. Making new things is embedded into our lives, it’s who we are. We eat, sleep and breathe our work.

To go on creating, we must earn bread from our work. To feed ourselves, we must sell our creations. That means promoting what we do.

We log on with gratitude to the free tools today’s world offers for anyone who has something to share. Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Pinterest are a godsend.

We log on social media to market our work, to sell what we have created, to promote who we are and what we do.

Yet too often, logging into social networks, we become rabid marketers. We become hawkers of our wares, shouting about what we do to anyone who passes by. Instead of being creators, we become the online equivalent of telesales operatives.

The work is horrible, soul destroying, and our only morsels of hope come when occasionally, somebody (out of pity or loneliness) stops to listen.

How long can we continue like this? Burn out stalks behind us, threatening not only our marketing efforts, but our very creativity, the reason we logged onto Facebook in the first place.

What if I offered you a different way?

This way’s simple, and if you can’t do it right now, you can imagine it.

Watch a child at play with a box of Lego.

With Lego bricks and a healthy dose of imagination, anything is possible.

You have that healthy dose of imagination. You know what it means to take the raw materials of your craft – your pen and paper, your paints and canvas, your wet clay – with all the possibilities and limitations they offer, and turn them into something great.

If I handed you a box of Lego bricks right now, you’d create something wonderful.

Why do we drop our creativity when it comes to Facebook and think it’s all about following “the rules of social media marketing and engagement”, whatever they are?

Sure, there are things other people have found to work. But copycats seldom prosper. The more everyone does the same thing, the more bland and insipid it becomes.

Scrap the rulebook. Rip it to shreds.

Release your imagination onto Facebook. Facebook is like Lego. With all its inherent possibilities and limitations, it provides you with the opportunity to create something wonderful.

With Facebook and a healthy dose of imagination, anything is possible.

Facebook provides the raw materials – a Page, hundreds of apps, billions of potential fans. You provide the magic.

When Facebook becomes part of your art, it goes from being soul-destroying to soul-nurturing. You win.

When Facebook becomes part of your art, you create something your fans want to talk about and play with. They win.

Facebook is like Lego. Colorful. Painful if ignored and trodden on. Brimming with possibility if you’ll only give yourself the chance to play.

Go on. Go create something you’re proud of.

That’s what art, Lego and Facebook are all about.

DA Secret 1All of us writers want our books to sell millions of copies.

But most authors make a horrible mistake on Twitter that scares away readers.

Is this you?

Your Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

The mistake begins when you finish your book and upload it to Amazon. You wait, with baited breath, for the inevitable. The world will recognize your genius, and a flood of sales will start pouring in.

Three months later, you’ve sold two copies. One of them, you bought for yourself, for the pride of seeing your name on your Kindle. The other, you’re pretty sure it was your mom, though she denies it.

You swallow your pride and realize the sad truth that your book won’t sell itself. However genius or magical the story, it’s not genius or magical enough to make copies of your book walk off Amazon’s bookshelves and onto Kindles all around the world.

What’s the mistake? Nothing really, at least, not yet.

So far, you’re doing pretty good. You made the small mistake of having too much faith in your book, but in the scheme of things, it’s easily sorted. You need to work on your marketing, and you’ve realized that. You’re on the right track.

It’s now that the mistake really begins.

DA Secret 2You’ve heard how you can reach out to hundreds, thousands or millions of people on social media. And it’s free to use! What’s not to like? You sign up for a Twitter account, follow a few tweeple, and bingo, you’re ready to tweet.

You let it rip.

“Check out my book! http://amazon.com/mywork ofstaggeringbeautyandgenius”

Immediately, you check your Amazon stats, watching for an hour, waiting for the sales to roll in.

Nothing happens.

You shrug, go to bed, and check your sales the next morning.

Still nothing. Maybe no one heard the first time. You’ve watched TV. You know the tricks of marketers. If you really want people to listen, you have to repeat yourself. So you send out the tweet again:

“Check out my book! http://amazon.com/myworkofstaggeringbeautyandgenius”

Hold it right there, cowboy.

You just pulled the trigger with your gun in your pocket. That pain in your foot? It’s a bullet. Not smart. Not smart at all.

While you’re tying up your bandage, let’s talk about what went wrong.

First, your tweet is terrible. Worse than terrible. It’s atrocious. It doesn’t say what your book is about. It doesn’t give potential readers a reason to buy. And by not using hashtags or buzzwords, you’re making it incredibly difficult for anyone to find you on Twitter.

But none of that is the real problem.

The real problem is that you ignored the dumb-ass, counter-intuitive secret to promoting your book on Twitter.

Maybe you ignored it because you didn’t know it. Or maybe you ignored it because it seemed dumb-ass.

How you hobbling along there?

The Dumb-Ass Secret (That Works) For Using Twitter To Promote Your Book

Are you ready for this? It really is stupid, and I’m sure you’ll hate it.

Okay, here goes.

The dumb-ass secret to promoting your book on Twitter is:

Don’t tweet about your book.

Shouting about yourself and your achievements (which is exactly what you’re doing when you tweet about your book) is the fastest, easiest and laziest way to get ignored on Twitter.

Essentially, you’re saying “I’m a pompous, self-centered, arrogant, vain twit with nothing better to talk about than me and my staggering work of genius”.

Are you beginning to see the flaw in this strategy?

DA Secret 3Twitter is a conversation. Think of it like a cocktail party, or a networking event. If you want a good chat, and if you want people to think of you as interesting, the last thing you should do is go in and talk about yourself. No, no, no. Instead, you take an interest in other people.

You build up a following of fans on Twitter not by shouting about your book, but by being an interesting, engaged person, who shares fun stuff and is interested in other people.

That way, some of the people who’ve come to know and like you will want to know more about you. They’ll check out your Twitter bio (where you link to your website, where you link to your books), and will maybe buy a copy.

Twitter is all about sales and marketing, but it’s not about selling. No, cowboy.

Oh, and sorry about that hole in your foot. Maybe as you’re limping around you can ingrain the dumb-ass secret in your mind.

Need one last reminder?

Don’t tweet about your book!

Got it?

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Want to know more about marketing your books using Twitter? Check out the Social Caffeine ebook, 10 Commandments for Authors on Twitter. Download your copy from Amazon here. Amazon UK users: get your copy here.

Google Plus AuthorshipSearch is changing. Google is penalizing cheap SEO tricks and making search increasingly intelligent and relevant.

What does this mean for content creators and marketers who want a first page rank on Google search results?

Mainly, it means creating quality content that your readers love. Instead of creating content aimed at search bots, create it for human beings.

It also means using the in-house tools Google provides to influence search. The key tool here is Google Plus, and central to using Google Plus effectively is Google Authorship.

In this article, I give you an overview of Google Authorship, including what it is, how it influences search rankings, and how to set up Google Authorship for your content.

What is Google Authorship?

If you use Google for search, chances are you’re aware of Google authorship. It’s where alongside a search result, for example an article on social media marketing. the author’s name and picture of the article show up. Here’s an example of a search for “Social Media Marketing”. The fifth result, a Forbes article, includes Authorship.

Social Media Marketing SearchSocial Media Marketing Search

Social Media Marketing Search

SocialSearch

Having Google Authorship on your content is great because it:

  • Gets your picture and name into search results, boosting your visibility, authenticity, and authority. This is ideal for thought leaders, authors, public speakers, and anyone looking to establish a name for themselves.
  • Shows searchers how many circles you are in, providing social proof and demonstrating your credibility
  • Allows searchers to click on your name or photo to find out more about you. They can visit your Google+ profile, check out your other articles, or add you to their Google+ circles.
  • Helps your content rank higher in search results. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt confessed as much in an interview with Techcrunch in February 2013.

How to Use Google Authorship to Boost Your Search Rankings

Google is notoriously cagey on how it ranks search results. As such, it hasn’t revealed how it uses Authorship to rank search results (and probably never will).

That said, it’s easy enough to make an educated guess.

Google knows a ton of information about you. Google follows almost everything you online, and the information it gleans from your online activity can help it establish your expertise.

The following seems particularly relevant in how Google will rank your authority as an author:

  • The articles you write, how much they’re reach, linked to and shared on social media
  • Your social media connections, particularly your circles on Google Plus

In addition, Google is aware of:

  • Your search activity, and the articles you read through search.
  • Your Google Plus comments and votes.
  • Your activity and standing in Google Plus Communities.
  • The comments you leave on blog posts, especially through Google’s comment service partners, Disqus and OpenID.
  • The YouTube videos you’ve watched and liked.
  • The documents in your Google Drive.
  • Your GMail contacts, and the content of your emails.
  • Any Blogger blogs you write without claiming authorship for them.
  • How you use the Google Play store (if you have an Android phone or tablet).

Google can use all this information to put together a picture of your knowledge and expertise, which in turn can influence how it ranks your content in search results.

So, are you getting to grips with just how powerful the changes to search will be as Authorship becomes more prevalent?

As with all changes to how Google ranks search results, being early to the game is a big advantage. Why not set up authorship for your articles today? Here’s how.

How to Set Up Google Authorship

First, you need a Google Plus profile. Chances are you have one already, but if not, go set one up.

Second, you need to let Google Plus know which blogs and websites you create content for. You do this on your profile in the “Contributor to” section.

Finally, you need to link your blogs and websites back to your Google Plus profile. There are two ways of doing this. Option 1 is to provide Google Plus with an official email address from your blog or website (e.g. yourname:@yourblog.com). Option 2 is to link to your Google+ profile from your webpage, using html code. Google provides full instructions for both options.

That’s it, you’re done!

It can take a couple of days for your name to start appearing in search results once authorship is set up.

So, go ahead and set up authorship for your content today.

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To learn more about engaging on Google+, check out the Social Caffeine ebook, 10 Commandments for Authors on Google+. Get your copy from Amazon here. Amazon UK users: get your copy here.