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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 Tag: Tennessean

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.

Three Services to Help Manage Your Time

Dave Delaney

If you run a small business you know how difficult it can be to keep up. Heck, even if you run a large business or work for one, keeping up can be challenging. The following are three services I use to keep my head from spinning off my neck. Combined, they help me manage my email, calendar and time. They will help you, too.

How to manage your time

1. Outlook

Wow, Outlook has come a long way. This slick app from your friends at Microsoft is the best email app I have found. It has many bells and whistles, but the killer feature for me is the ability to schedule messages to return to my inbox later.

Let's say I get an email today from someone who doesn't need a reply until next week. I simply slide the message to the right to schedule it to return. The default options are: in a few hours; this evening; tomorrow morning; choose a time.

This helps me keep my sanity and my inbox manageable. We all forget to reply to messages from time to time. Outlook reminds me, which is crucial when running your own business.

You can download it for free from your favorite app store. Plus, it works with all email clients.

2. Sunrise

Sunrise is a mobile and desktop application that manages my calendar. When someone wants to have a meeting with me, I open the Sunrise app on my iPhone (available for Android too) and select several dates using their creative keyboard tool. It temporarily turns your keyboard into your calendar.

I simply tap onto several blocks of time in the calendar that I am available. This instantly creates a link that I can include in a text message or email reply.

The recipient clicks the link and is presented with the times I am available. They click the time that works for them, and it is magically booked. I get an email confirmation that the meeting has been set.

You can download this free app from www.sunrise.am

3. Calendly

I reserve chunks of time each week for my coaching clients and for informational coffee chats. I use Calendly to block these times on my calendar.

When you configure Calendly, you tell it when you are available. It syncs with your calendar, so if something else comes up, the time is no longer available. I have a couple of different Calendly calendars, so I send the correct link to my clients, so they can click it to see my calendar and to select a time that is most suitable for them.

When they book a time, I get an email notification. I then use Outlook to set that email to return to my inbox closer to our meeting time, so I can prepare and be ready for our call or coffee.

While Sunrise is better for on-the-fly scheduling, Calendly syncs with my calendar to show people when I am available on certain days. All I need to do is send them the specific link to my calendar and they can go ahead and book what works best for them.

You can set up your account at Calendly.com.

These three services help keep my busy life sane. The more time I save, the more I can focus it on serving my clients and preparing for new speaking engagements. I hope these help you, too.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper. Photo by By Rodion Kutsaev from Unsplash.

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.

Forks in the Road

Dave Delaney

Fork in the RoadI had an inspiring conversation with best-selling author, consultant and speaker, C.C. Chapman, on New Business Networking Radio recently. C.C. explained that he went through a period over the summer where he had to decide what was next for his career. He had hit a fork in the road. This has happened to me before and it probably has for you. We’ll reach more forks as we move through our careers. Nobody has the same job for their whole career anymore. It is paramount to have a strong network to rely on during these transitional times.

Close members of your network like family, friends and mentors will provide you with honest feedback on what they think you should do next. Professional peers in your network will offer their advice if you ask for it. Admitting your vulnerabilities is a good way to open yourself to new relationships and to reignite stagnate ones. People want to help you.

[Tweet "A strong network will support you."]

C.C. relied on the advice of his friends and family to help push him into his new direction of launching his conscience-based consultancy, Never Enough Days.

During our conversation, C.C. spoke about ways he keeps in touch with the people in his network. I still haven’t found the perfect solution for balancing so many relationships, but there are ways you can do it better. Here are a few.

Allocate time each day to focus on your personal and professional relationships. Networking should be an essential part of your business. C.C. shared some ways he keeps in touch and I have discovered a couple of tools to help me do this too.

Conspire is a free email service that helps you keep up with your contacts. It sends a digest email to you with a mini-report of your communications. The report includes sections like your Top Contacts, people you email frequently and what your response rate is to those emails. I especially appreciate the Losing Touch section, which reveals several people you have not exchanged emails with in many days. It determines this based on how many exchanges you had previously.

Contacually is a service that you can organize the members of your network into individual buckets. For example, a new business lead goes into my New Business bucket. The bucket is set up to automatically remind me to follow up after 10 days. You can also add tags to each person. For example, C.C. specializes in helping non-profits and NGOs, so I have tagged him with each term. When a member of my network is seeking a specialist in non-profits, I can easily find C.C. and make the introduction. Full disclosure, I’m also a Contactually partner, because I find the service so invaluable.

LinkedIn Connected is an app that gives you a daily update of news from your contacts. The app reveals birthdays, job promotions and career changes. C.C. told me he uses this app to reach out and send messages to his network to congratulate them on new jobs.

On Facebook, rather than post yet another Happy Birthday message on his friend’s walls. C.C. sends them a private message using Facebook Messenger and starts a conversation. The Messenger app now allows you to record audio too, so you could even sing "Happy Birthday", if it doesn’t frighten your friends too much. I don’t think C.C. has tried this yet. I’ll let you know if he sings to me on my birthday in April.

If you have arrived at that fork in the road you should take time to reach out and chat with close members of your network. Like C.C., ultimately the decision is yours to make and you will need to have a conversation with yourself. The guidance and feedback you receive from your network will likely point you in the right direction. Take a moment to reach out to your network today to see if they may need your help. Networking goes both ways.

Listen to my interview with C.C. Chapman. His insight and stories will help inspire and inform you as you reach your next fork.

http://traffic.libsyn.com/nbnradio/NBN37.mp3

How to Say Thank You

Dave Delaney

I picked up my kids from school the other day and decided to play one of my favorite artists, Taj Mahal, as we drove home. Taj does a beautiful cover of William Bell's classic, "You Don't Miss Your Water ('Til Your Well Runs Dry"). The song was nearly over when my nine-year old son asked me about the lyrics. I explained that the meaning of the song is about not appreciating what you have until it is gone. We talked about it more, and I explained that it's about being thankful. Here we are quickly approaching Thanksgiving, what a perfect time to stop and give thanks to the people in our networks.

Spend 10 minutes a day thanking someone
Spend 10 minutes a day thanking someone

As a keynote speaker, author, consultant and dad, I feel like I'm running a mile a minute most days. I'm scrambling to complete client work, prepare presentations, record and edit interviews for my podcast, write and research new articles, reply to emails, and remember to pick up my kids from school. All of the work we do each day can make it easy to forget to stop and be thankful for the people in our lives.

Here's a challenge for you, I'm doing this too. Go ahead and book ten minutes on your calendar each day leading up to Thanksgiving to write a Thank You message to someone in your network. Try to do one person a day, but by all means, write more if you can find the time.

Who Should You Follow Up With?

Begin by reviewing your calendar so far this year. Flip back to January and review who you met with and what the outcome was. I bet you can easily find people you can thank who took the time to meet with you or to speak with you over the phone.

Next, look through your text messages on your phone. Who did you exchange messages with several months ago?

On Facebook, review the private messages you have exchanged on Messenger. Scroll back to the start of the year. Take a look at your direct messages on Twitter from months ago. Who should you follow up with?

Give Thanks

There are several ways you can give thanks to the people who helped you this year. The easiest way is to send them an email to say Thank You. You can also pick up the phone and call them directly. Bonus points for taking the time to send them an actual Thank You card.

Here are some more ideas to take giving thanks a step further.

  • Surprise someone with an Amazon gift card. The news designs and options are perfect for quick gifts.
  • Do you have a photo of you and your colleague? Send them a Thank You postcard using Postagram. Just write a brief thank you message and upload your photo. Postagram will do the rest for just $.99.
  • If your contact uses Pinterest or Amazon you may discover they have a wish list. I've snooped this way and picked out the perfect Thank You gifts for people who have helped me. They are always elated when the product arrives with a brief thank you note from me.
  • You can support local businesses (I'm in Nashville) by using Batch Nashville (affiliate) to send wonderful and affordable gift baskets of local products like coffee, biscuit mix, and chocolate. Yum!

Beyond Gifts

Regardless of whether you send a gift or not, I hope you take my challenge. I hope you stop for a moment and consider who has helped you this year. Do something nice for the people in your network, provide an introduction, write a LinkedIn recommendation, send a thank you note, pick up the phone and call. Set some time on your calendar to do this now, you will be thankful you did.

Thank YOU for reading and sharing this post. Take the 10 minute giving thanks challenge.

This post originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

A Terrible LinkedIn Mistake

Dave Delaney

LinkedIn Live There is a terrible misunderstanding some company managers and owners are making about LinkedIn. The problem isn't with the social network specifically, but rather, it is a problem with their misunderstanding of what LinkedIn is and how it works. I was reminded of this misconception recently, which sparked the idea of writing this article for you and hopefully said managers.

I recently had the great honor of being the keynote speaker at the LinkedIn Live Conference in Nashville. Brian Huddleston and his team at the Nashville Technology Council (NTC) did an amazing job bringing together a group of 250 people to learn from LinkedIn pros like, Matthew Hall, John Maddox, James Soto and Jennifer Way. Renee McAllister, LinkedIn's Senior Marketing Manager, also shared the stage and presented eye-opening statistics about the impressive growth of "the professional social network".

The NTC was kind enough to organize a post conference social hour, so attendees could mingle and continue networking. It was during this event that I was reminded of the misunderstanding that is causing frustration, lost business, and poor morale.

Banned from LinkedIn

A gentleman pulled me aside at the mixer and confided in me. He explained that all of the information he received about LinkedIn from the talented speakers was great, but he couldn't use any of it. I inquired why this was and he explained. This story isn't a new one, and it continues to happen across many firms.

It turned out his manager had banned his staff from using LinkedIn. Why? The manager feared that his team members were using it to look for new jobs! It was the manager's own ignorance that created a massive obstacle for his company's sales, marketing and human resources departments.

LinkedIn MistakeWhat Managers Need to Understand

While LinkedIn certainly can be a great place to spend time when you are seeking employment, it is also an essential tool for human resources, sales and marketing departments. The following are a few examples of how these departments can benefit from using LinkedIn:

Human Resources use LinkedIn to research job candidates. They review their profiles to see if they are qualified for their open positions. In addition to this, they review candidate's recommendations to see what their previous employers, customers, and associates have written. Human resources can advertise their open positions using LinkedIn to receive applications and fill vacant positions faster.

Sales teams use LinkedIn to research leads before they make their initial calls. They use LinkedIn to find connections to people they seek to meet to request introductions. When they have a meeting set up, they use LinkedIn to learn more about the potential customer. Information about where they went to school, organizations they belong to, and articles they have shared or written, help sales learn about leads to make their sales pitches more personal and successful.

Marketers use LinkedIn to set up their company and showcase pages. They use these sections to promote new blog content, products and services. They belong to industry-related groups and use their time to grow and nurture their professional networks. They can also assist with the aforementioned departments in developing and executing strategies to optimize their efforts.

These are just a few examples of how each department use LinkedIn. If a manager is so concerned that his or her staff is using it to seek new employment, perhaps they should consider why this would be and address it.

In chapter four of my book, New Business Networking, I write at length about ways you can use LinkedIn to improve your professional networking efforts. I even include my own similar example of dealing with an ill-informed manager. You can learn more about LinkedIn from my blog posts on the subject.

During LinkedIn Live, I learned that LinkedIn now has more than 313 million members in over 200 countries and territories. Professionals are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two new members per second!  These are sure signs that the professional social network is invaluable to its users. Smart management - take notice.

[Tweet "LinkedIn has more than 313 million members in over 200 countries and territories."]

[Tweet "More than two new LinkedIn users join every second!"]

Say Hello to Ello

Dave Delaney

ElloThe Anti-Facebook

Tired of Facebook? Overwhelmed with Twitter? Still not convinced about Google Plus? Say hello to the latest social network, Ello.

I received an invitation to join Ello a few days ago. Right now, it is still invite only. However, each user receives five invitations to send to friends. When I have more, I'll be sharing them with NBN Club members. I know you're wondering what Ello is and how it's different, let me explain.

Ello calls itself a simple, beautiful, ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers. According to an article on Betabeat, Ello requests for invites has jumped from 4,000 per hour to 31,000. It seems everyone wants to get in and look around.

I have been inundated with email notifications of friends joining and leaving me messages since I created my profile. These are sent via email, because the hot, new social network has no mobile apps - yet. This seems like a major oversight given over seventy-three percent of Facebook's daily users use it via mobile. Seventy-five percent of Twitter users do the same. It's strange that Ello would launch without an app. Yes, it's still in beta, but Gmail was in beta for years. Beta is no excuse.

On other social networks you are the product that’s bought and sold

New users are flocking to the social network to see what the buzz is about. The lure of being an ad-free social network is especially appealing to those sick of Facebook's tireless monetization methods. Ello's own manifesto includes the reminder that on other social networks you are the product that’s bought and sold. Yes, they even have a manifesto.

I like how clean the interface is. One person mentioned it reminded her a little of Craigslist. It was also noted how much it resembles early Twitter and Tumblr. Its user interface is simple and mysteriously black and white. The only color can be found in the photos and animated GIFs users share, along with their profile and header images. Even the logo is a plain black circle with a smile. It is missing its eyes, perhaps to indicate that we are free to do as we wish, Ello is not watching.

Some users complain that they can't find their friends. This is a good point. There is no friend-finding feature like you are accustomed to on other social networks and apps. You can't connect it to Twitter, or Facebook, or your email contacts to find friends to connect with. I have found the greatest way to connect is to share my Ello URL across other social networks and hope friends click.

Founder, Paul Budnitz, calls Ello the "anti-Facebook". Anti, because you can be anonymous, which was a big draw for many people in the LGBT community early on. It's also appealing to drag performers and other artists who wish to be known by their stage names. Facebook only allows users to use their real names. Gone are the days of anonymity across the Internet. Ello is here to bring it back if users wish.

Ello reminds me of Twitter back in 2007 and 2008, when alternatives like Jaiku, Pownce, and Plurk existed. The thing that made Twitter really take off was its open API. Developers raced to create gorgeous applications that made Twitter even better. I use the analogy of a pile of clay. Anyone could sit and mold it into different shapes, but it was the developers who created beautiful works of art. As years went on, Twitter changed its policies and access to its API, which was frowned upon by the very community who helped make it what it is today.

Ello has already received some controversy of its own as it was shrouded with suspicion when Andy Baio, an early user, noted its $435,000 funding from a venture capitalist firm. VCs invest money into tech start-ups, so they can cash out later. If Ello isn't selling our information or showering us with advertisements, how will they make money? Some users have asked why Ello wasn't created using Patreon or Kickstarter instead.

Ello does say that they have premium, paid, features, which will begin to roll out in the future. The hope is they will be able to continue funding the site by selling these features to users. This isn't too far fetched, I have read many times that peers using Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus would gladly pay a user fee if it meant they were no longer faced with advertisements and privacy concerns.

Are you ready for a new social network? Are you already using Ello? Give it a whirl and let me know what you think. You can find me at ello.co/davedelaney.

Please leave a comment here with your Ello URL, so I can be sure to friend you.

10 Ways to Cure the Blog Idea Blues

Dave Delaney

10 Blog IdeasHave you ever been stuck scratching your head, trying to think of something to write about for your company blog? I have. I used to write five posts a week when I ran social for a local consumer electronics company. In this post, I will share some ideas that will help you go from staring blankly at your keyboard to hitting the publish button on a new blog post. Don't have a blog yet? I can help you with that. I hope you find this post helpful if you have a business (or personal) blog. If you don't, this may spark some ideas on what you can write about if you decide to start one. Blogging is a fantastic way to drive traffic to your site, build brand awareness among potential customers, improve your place in search engines, and to be a part of a community.

Is this helpful?

Before you publish your blog post, always ask yourself, "Is this helpful?" Will someone find your blog post useful or entertaining? If the answer is no, then reconsider how you can change it so it is.

You always want to include a call to action (CTA). What do you want the reader to do when they reach the end of the post? CTAs include: sharing an internal link to a related post on your site, providing an external link to another blog post elsewhere on the web, asking for a comment to create some discourse from your readers, asking for a social share, or linking to a different section of your site like a contact or product page.

10 Blog Topic Ideas

  1. Consider the questions you get about your products or services. Talk to your customer service and sales team and ask for common questions they receive. I often get asked how to create a blog. That question inspired me to write a tutorial on how to set one up (I even included a video).


  1. Use the Flipboard app and connect it with your Twitter followers and Facebook friends. What content are they sharing? Does it spark any ideas for you to write your own take on a subject? Follow topics your customers will be interested in too. You will also find ideas on sites like Reddit, BuzzSumo, and Buffer.


  1. Give your staff a say. There's nothing wrong with a CEO's blog, but if the blog is about the company, why not give the company a voice? Invite your staff to contribute their own posts. You can set them up as contributors, so you can review posts before you publish them.


  1. Write a book review. If you have read a book recently that is connected to your business, share your thoughts on your blog. Not only will this help your readers, but it will also be greatly appreciated by the author. Don't forget to find them on Twitter and send them a link to your review.


  1. If you frequently use Twitter, look at how your tweets are performing using Twitter's analytics. In it you can see which links get the most clicks. For example, if you shared an article on how to make a great cup of coffee, and it received lots of clicks, consider writing your own post about the coffee you love at your office.


  1. Use your blog to showcase your employees or customers. Tell their story. You can do this by interviewing them, or writing stories about their milestones. Be sure to share something valuable with your readers, like a lesson they learned or an obstacle they had to overcome.


  1. Interview industry leaders. Most people don't mind being sent a few questions to answer for a blog post. Keep the number of questions brief, so you don't overwhelm and scare off your guest. Let them know when you need the answers back, so they will know there is a deadline.


  1. Look at your competitors. Never rip off what your competitors are doing, but be inspired by what is resonating with their readers. Don't be discouraged by their success, use it to carefully craft your own content.


  1. Review your analytics. Log in to Google Analytics and take a look at which previous blog posts have performed the best on your blog. Consider new ideas you can write based on those topics. Perhaps you can take an essay post and re-write it as a list article.


  1. Create a giveaway. Giveaways are a fun way to engage with your customers and give them something of value in return. If you have questions about best practices, please contact me. I have plenty of experience in running online sweepstakes.


That's ten ideas you can use to spark ideas and to write compelling blog content. Let me know which you use and how they helped. I always love to hear from you, leave me a comment below. Don't forget to check out my free blogging tutorial if you want to get started today. Happy blogging.

Everything You Need to Know About Hashtags

Dave Delaney

How to use hashtags Can we talk about hashtags for a couple of minutes? Hashtags are the words and terms you see used across social networks that begin with the pound or hash sign #.

The purpose of hashtags is to create a clickable link to follow a threaded conversation around a topic. They also are used when searching social networks, so you can track such things as conferences and sporting events.

The hashtag concept originally was conceived by Chris Messina in August 2007 for tracking conversations on Twitter. This was before Twitter had search functionality and before threaded tweets or cool third-party services like Storify were around.

These days, people are screwing up hashtag usage big time. For example, hashtags don't work on LinkedIn, yet I keep seeing them being used there. They do work on Facebook, barely, since it's mainly social media marketers who use them and not everyday users.

Lazy Marketers

Part of the problem is lazy marketers who are posting their tweets directly to other social networks through such services as Hootsuite and Buffer (this is user error). This even gets more confusing when users share replies and retweets from Twitter on other sites, such as Facebook. But I digress ...

I'm also seeing people use multiple hashtags on #every #single #word in their tweets. This is pointless, because who will click these links? What is this accomplishing?

Losing Clicks

Here's another important point about hashtags. If you are promoting a link to your latest blog post or a helpful article, using a hashtag will give the recipient an extra thing to click — which may end up losing them.

The hashtag may pique more interest than the link itself. If users click it, they will be served a page of results from other people using the hashtag. Why give them another place to go when you want them to go to your site to read your amazing blog post?

If you're on Twitter discussing a popular topic, you can use that hashtag to let others know you are talking about it. For example, during the Nashville flood, we used #nashvilleflood. Ideally, the hashtag may become so popular that it trends and is noticed by large media outlets and thousands of people.

As I write this, people are using #SaveOurTigers to raise awareness about World Tiger Day. Who doesn't want to save tigers, right?

Hashtags also can be used for a bit of fun, like the popular #1letterwrongmovie: Jurassic Pork, Pilates of the Caribbean, Toys N the Hood and Perminator come to mind as examples. Hashtags are also popular on Instagram, so users can search for photos of specific topics, events and destinations.

Conferences, Use Hashtags!

I recently presented in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, at an amazing music and social media conference called MoSo. The organizers chose the #moso2014 hashtag, so attendees and organizers could track discussions about the conference. I take it a step further and use my tweets with the hashtag to create Twitter Lists. More on that here.

Go easy on the hashtags. Think about how you're using them. Are people going to click the hashtag? Do they even need to? Are they going to find your tweet or photo because you used the hashtag? These are important questions to consider.

I work with my clients to help them understand how best to use social media for marketing. Leave a comment with a question or get in touch.

 

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.

What to Do with Piles of Business Cards

Dave Delaney

Business Card Pile by Christopher Penn
Business Card Pile by Christopher Penn

Every so often, I like to surprise my newsletter subscribers with some free advice on a question they have. I recently sent an email that simply asked for a business challenge each subscriber faced. I received loads of replies with questions related to my areas of expertise like social media strategy, content marketing, and business networking.

One question that stood out was specifically about networking from Paul Schatzkin. Paul asked me what to do with the stack of business cards, which had accumulated over the past year on his desk. He joked that most of the cards were received from the “ritual card swap” at events. His problem is that he doesn’t recall many of the people. What should he do with these cards?

Prevent Business Card Pile Up

This happens to most of us from time to time, especially when we return home from a large conference where we meet many people. The best way to prevent this from happening in the first place is to follow these steps:

  • When you receive a business card, find a quiet moment to write a note on the back of the card about the person. Be sure to include how you should follow up.
  • When you return home or to your hotel room, scan the business cards using the free Evernote app. Send a LinkedIn connection request automatically (unfortunately, this defaults to the generic connection request message.) Add private notes about the person, like how you can help them and what you spoke about.
  • Send a follow up email. Determine how you can bring value. Why not share a link to a story you were speaking about at the event? How about scheduling a coffee or lunch? It’s good to add a note that you sent them a LinkedIn connection request, and you are happy to provide an introduction to someone in your network should they need it.

Now back to Paul’s pickle. I still believe there is value in growing your network using the cards you received, even if you don’t remember the person or where you met. In this case, I would scan each card and connect on LinkedIn using the aforementioned Evernote app.

How to Deal with the Pile of Business Cards

Your LinkedIn connection request may jar their memory. They may remember you and help you to connect the dots. If they don't remember you and ask how you met, it's time to be honest and tell them you don't recall. You can politely explain that you received their business card, but you have attended so many conferences recently that you're not certain which one you met at. Now would be a good time to ask them if they attended one of the events you attended.

I love email, because you have a record of your communication, whether it's the immediate follow up, or the humble reminder of how you met. I recommend using a service like Contactually to keep your connections in check. It automatically tracts your contacts in your email and reminds you when you should follow up. You can also use Baydin's Boomerang to set a reminder date for this too.

Now that you have the pile of business cards scanned in Evernote and connected on LinkedIn, you can decide whether to store them in a box or recycle them back to mother nature. The next time you're doing the ritual card swap, be sure to add the step of following up as soon as possible. This will make things much easier on you and your connections stronger. Thanks for the great question, Paul.

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This article originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.