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Welcome to Futureforth

We teach companies how to reach their people.

We are a social media strategy, digital marketing consultancy, and communications company based in Nashville. Our goal is to teach you inbound marketing, social media best practices, and everything you need to succeed with content marketing including your blog, email newsletter, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other favorite social networking platforms.

Don't have the time to produce content? We can help with that too.

The Futureforth Blog

Helpful tips and articles about social media strategy, content marketing, and business networking. 

Filtering by Category: Social Media Tips

5 Must-Know Blog Post Ideas For Your Business

Dave Delaney

When it comes to building our businesses online a blog is an essential tool. Your company blog earns organic (unpaid) traffic from search engines. You can use it to network with your customers, potential customers, employees, and industry peers. Blogging for business helps to promote your products, services, and culture. Consider your site as your brochure and your blog as your business' heart and soul.

The trouble with blogging for business is you can easily run out of ideas for new topics to write about. The following are five ideas (and a bonus item) for blog posts that will help inspire you to keep hitting the publish button.

1. Ask your customer service department for the most common questions they receive.

Your customer service department is on the front lines of your business. They are the first to receive and answers calls and emails from your customers. By asking them for the most common questions, you will be inspired to answer them in blog posts. Not only does this help you create new content, but your customer service team can then point customers to the blog post for further help.

2. Subscribe to industry blogs and trade journals. Write an opinion post about a new trend in your industry.

A quick Google search will help you discover industry specific publication websites. These sites typically have blogs of their own with an array of different content related to your field. Write a blog post sharing your opinion about a story. Be sure to link back to the original post. Bonus points if you take the time to include the author's Twitter handle, so they will see your post. I also recommend tagging the publication on Facebook when you share your blog post on your Facebook Page.

3. Feature your favorite customers or partners.

Use your blog post to shine the light on your biggest fans. Ask them for their own advice about using your products or services and include it in a blog post. Ask them for a photo and how they wish their name be credited in the post. Be sure to follow up and send them a link when the blog post is live, so they may promote it to their friends and colleagues too.

4. Search YouTube.

YouTube is still the second most popular search engine. Pop on and do a search for industry terms or experts. Watch a presentation or documentary video and share it in a blog post. Use the embed code from the video to display it within the post, so readers can click play and not leave your blog to view it. Don't forget to let the presenter or brands know you wrote about them on your blog.

5. The Mini Book Report

Be diligent about taking notes as you read your next non-fiction book. Write a mini book report blog post that includes the key things you learned reading it. Don't give everything away, but use the post to help promote the book. Link back to the author's page and be sure to let them know you wrote the blog post.

So often we rush from post to post without letting people know we wrote about them. Directly reaching out to a person featured in your blog post can lead to a new relationship. They may even share your blog post with their own friends, fans, and followers driving organic traffic back to your site.

According to Blogher, eighty-one percent of US online consumers trust information and advice from blogs. A study from InsideView found that business to business marketers who use blogs generate sixty-seven percent more leads than those that do not. If you aren't blogging yet, or if your blog has run out of juice, it's time to get it back up and running.

Something for you.

I have a five-step, super-secret blog strategy that I share with my clients. I've made it available to you here: supersecret.futureforth.com.

 

This article was originally published in The Tennessean Newspaper.

What You Need To Know About LinkedIn Recommendations

Dave Delaney

LinkedIn Recommendation Secrets

I recently received a LinkedIn message from a friend, who wanted to know how I have received 70 recommendations on LinkedIn. Recommendations are an essential part of your profile because would-be clients or employers want to learn more about you before working with you.

The following is my strategy for growing the number of LinkedIn recommendations on your profile.

When I complete a speaking event, training workshop or client engagement, I always ask for a LinkedIn recommendation. If you want to improve your LinkedIn profile, you must add recommendations. This is how I do it.

5 Steps to Rocking LinkedIn Recommendations

Step 1. Ask your client for a LinkedIn recommendation via email. Do so this way because not everyone uses LinkedIn regularly, so they may not see your request. Don't be presumptuous — ask them to do so only if they are totally satisfied with your work.

Step 2. When they agree to leave you one, request the recommendation using LinkedIn. Be sure to assign the recommendation request to the correct company where you currently work.

Step 3. Wait. Be patient. Give your client time to submit their recommendation. If you do not receive one in a couple of weeks, it is fine to follow up to remind them via email.

Step 4. When the recommendation has been submitted you can choose to make it appear on your profile. Be sure to activate the "Notify your network?" button, so the recommendation may appear on the feeds of your connections. Share this on your profile. You can also share a link to your recommendations by adding "#recommendations" to the url like: www.linkedin.com/in/davedelaney/#recommendations.

Step 5. Send a thank-you email. It takes time to think of kind words to compose. Be sure to thank your client. A written card is even better.

Bonus tip. If you have a testimonials page on your site, consider copying and pasting their recommendation to your page. Include their name, title, headshot and link it to their LinkedIn profile. You can see how I have done so here: futureforth.com/testimonials.

For every recommendation you receive, try to write two (or more) for people in your own network. Review your recent emails, messages, and social network interactions to find people whose work you respect. Whether you believe in karma or not, what goes around does come around. In networking it is always best to help others, so do so with a few LinkedIn recommendations today.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

Facebook: Secrets To Unlocking Its Search Potential

Dave Delaney

When it comes to searching the web, most of us start with Google. Savvy networking professionals know to broaden their search to LinkedIn, where they can discover whom they should connect with at any particular company (like Futureforth, you're following, right?). 

Did you know Facebook has it's own powerful search? The following are answers to popular questions on how to use Facebook's search.

How do I search my Facebook posts?

Have you ever wanted to go back to find that interesting article you shared on your Facebook profile? On desktop, select the upside-down triangle icon on the top right. Select "Activity Log." You can use the Activity Search engine, or you can scroll through your updates by date.

How can I find friends in a specific city?

Whenever I am traveling to speak at a conference, I use Facebook to recall who my friends are in that city. In the main Facebook search, enter: "my friends who live in NAMEOFCITY." I love to catch up in person with old friends this way.

How do I use Facebook to recall how I know someone?

Select the person's profile. Click the three dots on the top right side of their profile cover image (next to Message). Select "See Friendship." Facebook will generate a page with photos, videos and status updates you posted on each other's walls. If you haven't had many interactions, the page might be rather bare.

How can I find someone I know who works for a particular company?

LinkedIn is always the top destination to determine who you might know that works for a business. You also can use Facebook to find this out, which is helpful if you aren't connected to all of your Facebook friends on LinkedIn.

Search "my friends who work at COMPANYNAME." If the company has multiple locations, you can search "my friends who work at COMPANYNAME in CITYNAME."

How can I find my friends who like a page on Facebook?

Let's say you want to chat with friends who like a specific brand on Facebook. You can find them by searching "my friends who like BRANDPAGE." Inquire with your friends before you make the purchase. After all, what are friends for?

I'm thousands of miles from home and craving barbecue. How can I find a good restaurant on Facebook?

We all miss the taste of home when we're traveling. Hop on Facebook and search "barbecue restaurants in CITYNAME." You will even see the restaurants your friends have liked.

How do I clear my Facebook search history?

If you found what you were looking for and want to clear your searches, do the following. Go to your profile and select "Activity Log" (like you did to search your posts). On the left side you will see "Photos, Likes, Comments, More."

Select "More" and "Search." At the top right corner you will see "Clear Searches."

I hope these Facebook search tips will help you get more from your use of the gigantic social network. If you are seeking help with your business page or Facebook advertising, please reach contact us.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

6 Simple Steps to LinkedIn Promotion

Dave Delaney

I developed a content strategy for a client recently who was confused about how LinkedIn should be used. Many people create LinkedIn profiles and think of them only as online resumes. In addition to using LinkedIn as a powerful networking platform, it is also an excellent place to promote the blog content you create.

The following is a step-by-step guide to help you use LinkedIn to drive traffic back to your site.

Step 1. Write the blog post. Obviously, you need content to promote. Futureforth can help you develop this content if you don't already have it.

Step 2. Promote the blog post. When you have published the blog post on your blog, share a link on your LinkedIn profileTo do this, go to Home and select Update Status. Paste the link into the update box and wait for it to load. Be sure you have included an interesting image. Now, remove the link and write a brief update using the title of the blog post. You can also tag brands you mentioned in the article, so they will be aware of your post.

Step 3. Promote the blog post to groups. Take a moment to share the blog post with fellow members of groups you participate in. Don't spam groups with links to all of your posts. Only share content you feel the members of the group will benefit from.

Step 4. Publish your blog post to your LinkedIn company page. The followers of your company page will be notified that a new article has been added.

Step 5. Like the post. When you like the post on the company page, your connections are notified. This can pique their interest and have them click through to read what you liked.

Step 6. Re-publish the post as a Pulse article. Wait a week or longer to use LinkedIn's blogging platform, Pulse, to copy and paste the full blog post. At Futureforth, we help our clients optimize this content to help you achieve your goals. These goals can include growing your email newsletter, increasing free trials of your software and selling your products.

Following these steps will help you increase exposure for your original blog post. More qualified readers will lead to more conversions. While I have you thinking about your LinkedIn strategy, be sure to download our free LinkedIn profile optimization tips guide.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

My LinkedIn Tips on BBC

Dave Delaney

A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful conversation with BBC journalist, Alina Dizik. She reached out for my comments on the types of people you should avoid connecting with on LinkedIn. I believe she came across my presentation on The Worst LinkedIn Profile In The World

Her article, Why Less is Much, Much More on LinkedIn, is now available for your enjoyment. It also includes thoughtful quotes from Andy Headworth, the founder of Sirona Consulting, a social media recruitment firm, and Andrew Stephen, a marketing professor at Oxford University’s Said Business School.

Check out the full story on the bbc.com. If you have questions about LinkedIn for your business or career, please don't hesitate to contact me.

A Powerful Blog Idea For Your Business

Dave Delaney

Marketers can often be left overwhelmed, scratching their heads to come up with ideas for their business blog. If you own a community-based business, and you are not blogging about your local favorites, you are missing an opportunity.

I recently had the good fortune of speaking at a law firm conference. From that experience, I began working with several new clients. As I do with all of my clients, I conducted a thorough audit of what they are currently doing online for their businesses. I found one big thing in common - a lack of community content on their blogs.

Each client tends to blog about their areas of practice, rather than the communities they serve. I understand the value in industry specific blog posts that can help with business networking and search engine optimization, but it leaves out the clients.

This idea will drive traffic to your site, empower your employees, and support your local community. Are you ready?

You should allow your staff to contribute to your blog, give them a voice. You retain editorial control, while you encourage them to participate. Ask your staff what their favorite businesses are in their own neighborhoods. Have each contribute a blog post outlining their favorite restaurants, cafes, things to do for the family, live music venues, movie theaters, etc. Take it a step further and give the employee a gift certificate for one of their picks. Word will spread and other staff will want to contribute something.

Create a blog series of Nashville Neighborhood Favorites. Be sure each blog post links to the corresponding business, so readers can click to learn more. Include photos of the businesses and brief descriptions of each. The posts shouldn't be grocery lists, they should be succinct articles describing the best local shops. What makes them your favorite?

This is important. Once each blog post goes live, you need to notify the businesses that are featured. Don't assume they are tracking mentions of their brand.

You can probably find each company's Twitter profile from their website. Mention them in a tweet and link back to your blog post. Don't include all of their Twitter profiles in one tweet, break it up to several tweets and schedule them throughout the week.

Hi @XYZ, we included you in our favorite Germantown businesses. Check it out: LINK

Do the same by tagging the businesses in Facebook posts on your company page. By tagging them they will be aware they were featured as a favorite on your blog.

Here are a few great reasons why this strategy works:

  • You empower your employees.
  • You support your community.
  • You produce content on your blog consistently.
  • Your organic traffic can increase to your blog when someone is searching for "best coffee shop in Germantown".
  • The featured businesses will likely share your blog post with their friends, fans and followers, which will drive traffic back to your blog and increase awareness of your brand.

You don't have to be a law firm, any local business can benefit from creating staff neighborhood favorite blog posts. Give this method a try and let me know how it works for you. If you need more ideas for your company blog or social media strategy give me a shout.

Photo from Flickr by Christian Schnettelker.

The Worst LinkedIn Profile In The World [WEBINAR REPLAY]

Dave Delaney

I recently produced a brand new presentation about common LinkedIn mistakes. To have some fun with it, I created a fictitious character named Jerry Larry. The Worst LinkedIn Profile In The World showcases Jerry's terrible choices using the professional social network. 

My friends at Contactually presented the webinar last week. A number of you have asked for a replay, so here it is. Sit back, relax and take notes. Don't be a Larry!

My presentations are always more fun, live and in-person. I would love to come to your conference or company to present The Worst LinkedIn Profile In The World. Let's talk about it.

Avoid SEO Scams

Dave Delaney

My phone rang yesterday as I was working. I often ignore the phone while I’m working, unless it’s a client, friend or family member, but I decided to answer it. The scam was about to begin.

The recorded voice on the other end informed me that I needed to hold to speak to a representative about an important issue with my website. They had urgent information regarding my ranking on Google.

I smelled a swindle, but I decided to wait.

The representative joined me on the call moments later. “Bob” explained that his company helps businesses like mine appear on the first page of search engine results on Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and even Yelp.

If anyone promises you such a thing don’t walk away - run!

I played along. Bob explained that his company would create a website for me, basically a landing page.  They would make all of my social media profiles and link to them from said page. Then they would advertise for free for my site on social networks and across the web. In addition to this, they would create "lots of links back to my site."

“Search engines are a popularity contest. We win the contest.” - Bob.

When I asked if what they were doing is approved by Google, he stumbled around. He finally lied and said, “Yes”. He added that they guarantee my site would appear on the first page of search results.

The setup fee was $199 and monthly fee also $199. When I pushed back slightly, still playing dumb, he lowered the fees to $99 set up and $99 per month.

As we were speaking, I Googled his company. I found it pretty high in the results, but I also found terrible reviews on sites dedicated to revealing scams and rip-offs (also on the first page). When I mentioned my findings, he cursed and said that sometimes people get “pissed off”. Colorful language for a sales person, but I digress.

The BIG RED FLAG came when I asked for his full name. He refused to tell me his last name. I replied that I found it odd that he is a sales person, representing a company trying to sell me something, but refused to give me his name. He said he was not comfortable revealing his full name. He agreed, it did seem odd.

Odd because it is a scam.

Even if they could get me to the first page of Google, they would be doing so by tricking the search engines’ algorithm. Companies have been busted for doing this and have been penalized with "manual actions". Several years ago, JC Penny was famously penalized for 90 days, because of paid links to their site. Recently, Thumbtack was penalized because of unnatural links to their site.

The best way to get your site indexed higher in search results is to create content that is useful or entertaining, and use keywords and terms people are searching for. Inbound and outbound links will help within your content. Social media traffic plays an important role, as does how quickly your site loads, and how well it appears on mobile devices. Make sense, right?

SEO professionals can help you with your site too, but always check references and be sure they are following the rules stated by the search engine companies. I recommend you subscribe to sites like Moz.com and SearchEngineLand.com to learn more about search engine optimization.

It is unfortunate that so many people become victims to online scams. Always research a company before you do business with them. Ask the sales person for their full name. It is also a good idea to let those unknown calls go to voice mail to avoid the robocalls in the first place.

Want to know how not to break Google's rules? Check out the How to Avoid a Google Penalty infographic below from Quicksprout. 

How to Avoid a Google Penalty

Photo from Flickr by Shawan Zain. Infographic from Quicksprout.

 

 

Social Media Tips For Speakers

Dave Delaney

I am absolutely passionate about public speaking. I love the energy and feedback from the audience when I get to present. As I mentioned in a previous post, improv is a big reason why I love the stage — it's my happy place. The challenge for speakers is to find the next event. I struggle with this, too, but I have found social media to help in a great way.

I have noticed that while many keynote speakers excel on stage in front of an audience, they miss opportunities to use social media to market themselves. Speakers often don't have the time, resources or know-how to use social media and inbound marketing to promote their speaking.

Professional speakers need a solid online platform to point their audiences to, to promote their products and services and to share and find future speaking engagements. Social media and email marketing connects savvy speakers directly with their audiences long after their presentation has closed.

I recently sent a brief, unscientific survey to members of the National Speakers Association for their collective thoughts on how they use social media. The results revealed 78% use Facebook, 76% use Twitter, and 72% use YouTube. Interestingly, most feel unsatisfied with the results. I was also surprised to learn that only 72% use email marketing. In my opinion, email is the most important method because you own the list, unlike social networks that can flick a switch and suddenly lock you out.

The respondents from my survey shared their frustrations with using social media. The following are their main concerns and a few solutions that will help.

"It takes too much time."

Use Bufferapp.com to add a button in your browser, so you can quickly schedule any interesting articles online (including your own). You can also share your latest blog posts this way.

Use Twitter Advanced Search to search for terms like "call for speakers," and save the results. You can add a column with these results in Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to refer to frequently.

"Facebook ads don't work."

Creating a Facebook ad? Use your email newsletter subscriber list to create a Custom Audience. You can target your ad directly to the people you want to reach.

Instead of just Boosting a post on Facebook, target it specifically to a segment of people you want to reach. Be sure to include Facebook's tracking pixel on your site, so you can measure conversions.

"Too much noise and clutter."

Create Twitter and Facebook lists of people you want to stay in touch with. This helps you cut through the clutter. Use LinkedIn and Facebook Groups to keep in touch with peers.

"Things change too often."

Dealing with the pace of change is never easy. Social networks and related tools and services seem to change all the time. To stay on top of change, I recommend subscribing to sites like SocialMediaExaminer.com and Forbes.com/social-media.

Futureforth has recently started working with public speakers to help them with social media and inbound marketing. You can learn more at inboundspeakers.com.

Thank you to the following speakers for providing their insight: Linda Murray Bullard, John Morgan, Jason Luntz, John Haydon, Nicky Adinor, Richard Stiennon, Tod Maffin, Christopher Byrne, Jacqueline Wolven, Bill Cates, Brian Walter, Shep Hyken, Mark Davis, Monica Wofford, Scott Schwertly, Jan Freitag, Hugh Culver, and Dorie Clark.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.