Kelly Kautz

The blog of Kelly Kautz, a copywriter and content strategist based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

In Praise of Pausing

I've been working on a memoir for about two years now, with lots of starts and stops. I've thrown out hundreds of pages.


Ramping Up, Then Slowing Down

This year I worked with a mentor, Wendy Dale, to finally get the right structure in place. I read Save the Cat! by screenwriter Blake Snyder. I outlined the dramatic arc of every book I read and studied its strengths and weaknesses. I began to understand what makes a story come together. 

In spring I finished a chapter-by-chapter outline of my memoir. Then I got pregnant and completely shut down. Between the constant morning sickness and the mental fog, I couldn't imagine writing anything. I played computer games. I watched TV. I steeped in boredom. 

My Second Wind

About a month ago, I got a second wind. I decided to finish the rough draft of the new outline before the baby comes in late January. Since then I've been writing a thousand words a day and a chapter a week. I've never been more productive. 

I realize now that I needed that break between the writing and intensive study to let all the new knowledge sink in. They way compost needs time to break down so it can support new growth. 

Stopping vs. Pausing

In addition to writing, I'm also taking an online essay-writing class taught by Amy Paturel. Each Wednesday she sends out a quote to discuss. This week she sent one from Stephen King's book, On Writing

“Stopping a piece of work just because it’s hard, emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

I've always had mixed feelings about stopping. I feel guilty whenever I miss a day of writing. I worry that I'll die in a car crash and never get to accomplish my dream, because I was too busy watching "Teen Mom" and playing Minecraft. But I also believe in honoring life's ebbs and flows.

Cheryl Strayed wrote something in her advice column, "Dear Sugar," that has always resonated with me: 

"When I was done writing it, I understood that things happened just as they were meant to. That I couldn't have written my book before I did. I simply wasn't capable of doing so, either as a writer or a person. ... I had to write a lot of sentences that never miraculously formed a novel. I had to read voraciously and compose exhaustive entries in my journals. I had to waste time and grieve my mother and come to terms with my childhood .... and grow up." 

When should you take Stephen King's advice, and when should you look to Cheryl Strayed for permission to let the work progress as it will? 

I think it comes down to self-knowledge. Are you stopping out of fear and avoidance? If so, examine that and then get back to work. You feel bad now, but you'll feel better when you've broken through and returned to the page. 

Or do you need a pause, because you're tired and depleted and you need time to reflect and refill the well? 

Sometimes it's hard for me to tell the difference between stopping and pausing. But this time, I know I made the right decision. I'm glad I paused. Because the wind in my hair has never felt better. 

Richard Wright on Telling the Truth

“I have found that to tell the truth is the hardest thing on earth. Harder than fighting in a war, harder than taking part in a revolution.
“If you try it, you will find that at times sweat will break upon you. You will find that even if you succeed in discounting the attitudes of others to you and your life, you must wrestle with yourself most of all. Fight with yourself. Because there will surge up in you a strong desire to alter facts, to dress up your feelings.
“You’ll find that there are many things you don’t want to admit about yourself and others.
“As your record shapes itself, an awed wonder haunts you. And yet there is no more exciting an adventure than trying to be honest in this way. The clean, strong feeling that sweeps you when you’ve done it makes you know that.”

How to Make a Social Media Marketing Plan

You want to create a social media marketing plan, but you’re not sure where to begin. As a content strategist, I’ve helped create social media marketing plans for Fortune 500 companies and solo entrepreneurs. Here’s how I do it, broken down into six steps.

Image courtesy of Yoel Ben-Avraham

Image courtesy of Yoel Ben-Avraham

1. Take inventory.

Start creating your social media marketing plan by asking yourself how much time and money you can reasonably devote to social media marketing each day.

How much time do you need to spend? It depends on three things:

  • Your business size
  • Your budget
  • Your goals

If you’re a solo entrepreneur who just wants to expand her reach, you may not need to spend more than 10 minutes a day on social media marketing. If you’re a business such as The Hershey Company with dozens of brands, you’re going to an entire team of social media marketers in place.

Also ask yourself how much social media knowledge you have. Then factor in time and costs for necessary training. This can be as simple as downloading a few free eBooks, or as complicated as taking a week-long social media workshop.

2. Start listening.

Before you start planning what to post, check out social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to see what your customers are already talking about. This is also a good time to find out which of your competitors are online, what kind of content they’re posting, and how often they're posting it.

A good way to monitor the social media chatter—and find influencers in your market—is to perform a keyword search in directories such as WeFollow or Klout. What topics generate the most conversation? What topics go ignored? Jot down any trends you notice. They’ll come in handy when you’re crafting your own content.

3. Choose your social media platforms & monitoring tools.

Image courtesy of Doug Ray

Image courtesy of Doug Ray

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, oh my! Which ones should you choose? You may want to pick one social media platform to start, then move into others when you feel more comfortable. Or you may want to create social media marketing plans for all three, plus a few niche sites.

Picking Your Social Media Platforms

Research social media platforms to see which best suits your needs, your audience and your resources.

It's OK to experiment. Test out a few platforms if you're curious. Just clean up after yourself. If you decide one social media platform doesn't work for you, don't abandon the account. Delete it or state your intentions and give users a way to find you in other places.

Monitoring Your Social Media Platforms

Next, decide how you’ll monitor each social media account. Will you set your Facebook profile to email you when someone posts on your page, or will you check in manually? If you check in manually, how often will you do it?

You can often set your phone or internet browser to alert you whenever someone sends a reply or a direct message. Experiment with the settings to see which work best for you.

You can also monitor your social media accounts using Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Sprout Social, or any of the new social media monitoring tools that keep popping up around the web. These tools can come with a steep learning curve, so don't commit to one unless you're confident it will save time in the long run.

4. Craft your content.

Now figure out what you’re going to post on each social media account and when. If you don't have a brand already in place, you might need to ask yourself:

  • What subjects will I cover?
  • What kind of voice, personality and tone will I use?
  • How will my tone differ from that of the competition?
  • How often will I post promotional content?
  • How will I balance my self-promotion with other types of content?
  • How will I engage with other users and encourage conversation?

The timing of your posts can greatly impact the effectiveness of your social media marketing. As you post social media content, you may want to try different times of day and different days of the week to see which ones generate the most responses.

You may also want to make a list of potential sources to pull information from for when you’re having a slow week. (I list mine in Feedly.)

5. Plan your social media responses.

Brainstorm all the possible situations that could happen on your social media accounts. Perhaps someone posts a legitimate complaint to your Twitter profile. How will you reply?

Maybe someone uses your Facebook page to promote his own business, or post obscene photos. What will you leave up? What will you delete?

When mapping out scenarios, remember to account for the good things, too. What if someone posts a compliment? Will you respond? Can you leverage that positive feedback in future marketing efforts?

It helps to have a response mapped out for every situation, especially if you’re responsible for the social media marketing of a large company or group. That way, you don’t have to worry about making the wrong move in the heat of the moment.

6. Evolve Your Social Media Plan.

Eventually something will happen that doesn’t have a planned response. Monitor your results, and adapt your social media plan as needed. You might need to adjust your messaging. You might want to consider paid promotion of your social media posts.

You might hire an assistant, and need to create an appendix to the social media plan that spells out who’s responsible for doing what. By getting everything in writing, you have a living document to guide your efforts—now and in the future.

Have you created a social media marketing plan for your small business? What have you learned along the way? Let me know in the comments section.

And now that you've read about how to do social media marketing the right way, enjoy some schadenfreude over these epic Twitter fails.