Christina KettmanChristina Kettman is the author of The Social Media Cookbook: Strategic Marketing Recipes for Small Business Success and the Marketing Staircase blog. She has more than two decades of marketing expertise under her belt, and has worked with heavy-hitting brands and companies like LizardTech, Microsoft, and HTC. Christina helps develop focused marketing campaigns and effective messaging for businesses that are working to expand their presence online.

Christina Kettman talks about her cookbook-style concept, shares tips for social media marketing, and more in this Author Q&A.

What inspired you to write The Social Media Cookbook?

As a small business marketing consultant, I was inspired by my clients to write a book that would serve as an easy and simple go-to guide for small business owners who manage their own social media accounts. In a way, my clients helped me write the book because the more I answered their questions, the more the book took shape.

How did you come up with the cookbook concept?

In my free time, I enjoy cooking and baking. One of my favorite things about cooking is that you can take a recipe and, with some tweaks, customize it to fit your own taste. I think many social media experts take a cooking approach to their marketing (whether they realize it or not); they learn the trends and tactics from others and then create a plan and strategy that fits their tastes. The Social Media Cookbook is that theory brought to life for small businesses.

What was your process for writing it? Getting it published?

Like most people, I am busy with a family and my own clients, and so I found that I had to be strict about adding several hours of writing time into each week. I wrote the entire book freehand because that is how I write my best, and, as a result, the book was written in parts whenever I could squeak in the time–including dance class waiting areas, my kids’ sporting events, and many, many writing sessions in coffee shops. I also made time for “staycations,” where I’d go to a hotel room and just crank out writing and rewriting for hours.

For publishing, I really had to learn first-hand the process of hiring and coordinating with a designer, structural editor, and copy editor to get all my ideas into a published book form. I was lucky enough to work with professionals who could point me in the right direction, and slowly, I learned the ins and outs of self-publishing.

What was your favorite part of writing the book? The greatest challenge?

My favorite part was the research. I really enjoyed the process of researching strategies, tools, and approaches and organizing those lessons learned and plans onto paper. The greatest challenge was all the re-writing! This was my first book, and I was surprised at how much re-writing of chapters was necessary to turn all the content into a cohesive book form.

The Social Media CookbookCan you share three simple social media tips?

  1. Set goals and objectives to drive your activities on social media and make sure all your activities are contributing to those goals.
  2. Every month, take the time to make a content plan that dictates your upcoming social media activity, so that when you get busy with running your business, you have a go-to plan, and your social media doesn’t get forgotten or postponed.
  3. Keep an eye on your metrics to make sure the content you share is resonating with your target audience. Social media is crowded these days! By watching your analytics, you can see what people are responding to and what is falling flat.

What are some of the biggest challenges small businesses face when it comes to social media, and how can they fix them?

I think that keeping up with the many changes and trends in social media is difficult for most business owners and solopreneurs. For example, in the time I wrote my book, two entire social media platforms went out of business, and most of the others had significant changes! Find a good source for staying on top of the changes that affect your platforms. Small businesses should not change their strategy every time Facebook makes a change, but they should be aware of the opportunities so they can implement new tactics.

Advice for non-fiction book writers?

I found focusing on my ideal reader to be the key to writing my book. I recommend finding a distinctive group of people in your target market who would be willing to be your beta readers and you go through the writing process. I did this with my book, and it was always interesting to learn what sections of the book they needed more information on, versus where I was providing too much explanation.
Advice for those who plan to self-publish?

Learn as much as you can from other writers and self-publishers as you get started. I often laugh that I learned so much in the process of writing a book that I could write a book about it! If you are new to self-publishing, it’s great to dig through the pages of KDP and CreateSpace tools before you get started so you know what to expect.

In terms of the process, find your expert sources and stay on top of their advice. I listened to a podcast called Zero to Book by Pamela Wilson and Jeff Goins that I enjoyed, and also read and re-read Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes book.

What do you know now that you wish you knew before writing this book?

I wish I had understood more about the mechanics of getting a book to its final format on Kindle. Since my book is in color and has many graphics, I didn’t have as many options for e-reader publishing as I would have liked. I was much more focused on the actual writing of the book than the self-publishing, so I ended up on a steep learning curve.

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