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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: blogging

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.

Psst, Blog Strategy Ahead...

Dave Delaney

Super secret blogging strategy

Psst, want to hear a secret? I have come up with a blogging strategy for businesses who wish to connect with their local communities. This is a simple way you can use your blog to network with fellow small business owners. Using this technique will also promote your people, which is essential in employee retention and growing a sound company culture. 

How does this sound to you?

Are you ready to have my secret strategy revealed? There is no cost to you. All you need is about twenty minutes. You can watch this video during your lunch break, in fact, I encourage it because it will leave you hungry. Ok, enough teasing from me. 

Check out my super secret five-step blog strategy

When you use this, please leave a comment. I would love to hear how it works for you.

10 Expert Tips for Business Blogging Success

Dave Delaney

10 Business Blogging Tips

Using a blog can drive a considerable amount of traffic to your site, which can result in more revenue and a stronger bond with your customers and staff. A study by Hubspot found eighty-one percent of companies consider their blogs "useful," "important," or "critical" to their business.

Are you blogging for your business?

When I first connect with a new client, I conduct an extensive content marketing audit. One thing I often discover is a neglected company blog. There is nothing worse than a blog with the last post from months or even years ago. Excuses can vary from not having the resources or ideas, to not having the time to compose blog posts. In fact, we just launched a service to help you with original, optimized, blog content for your company blog.

If you are stuck with your blog, or you are seeking ways to improve it, don't miss this valuable advice. I reached out to several blogging experts to share their best tips for creating great content for your business blog.

10 Expert Tips for Business Blogging Success

1. Quantity over quality. That doesn't mean bad or unprofessional grammar. It means stop waiting for the perfect blog post. There is always something to write about: New hires, company culture, product details, upcoming events and conferences, executive team profiles ... I could go on and on. - John Ellis, @johnwellis.

2. Spend more time writing the headline than the post itself. - John Michael Morgan, @johnmorgan.

3. 80/20 Rule = spend 20% of your time creating the content and 80% of your time distributing it. - Bill Faeth, @bfaeth.

4. Dig deeper into a topic. Don't write the same My Topic 101 stuff as every other business blogger out there. Show yourself as the expert, not the person who skimmed a couple other blogs before writing your own article. - Erik Deckers, @edeckers.

5. Don't get too chummy. Find a tone somewhere between formal and conversational. - Angela Misri, @karmicangel.

6. Dedicate time each week to reviewing your existing blog content performance. Setup a monthly testing plan to ensure you are continually optimizing. - Suzanne Kline Coblentz, @scoblentz.

7. Ask your community for help with guest blogging. You get expertise from someone else and they do the writing for you! - Courtenay D. Rogers, @courtenayrogers.

8. Spellcheck and proofread (get capable help if needed). Just a few typos can ruin an otherwise excellent post and undermine your credibility with readers. - Hunter Boyle, @hunterboyle.

9. Never publish a piece of content you are not proud of. A blog post is often the starting point of the relationship with a potential customer. Put your best foot forward. - Ian Cleary, @IanCleary.

10. Don't know what to write about or think your business can't blog? Start with FAQs about your business and industry. Write a blog post to answer each of those questions. It's stuff your customers will value and it's the stuff your customer searches for on Google. - Liz Jostes, @LizJostes.

Your blog is the heart and soul of your business

Your company site is like a brochure, while your blog is the heart and soul of your business. Create content about your industry, your business, and your people. If you need assistance with content, let me know. We might have just the solution to help get your company blog started or resuscitated. Here are the details.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

How to Strategically Amplify Your Best Content

Dave Delaney

How to Strategically Amplify Your Best Content

Did you know that according to a study from Hubspot, companies that blog have 97 percent more inbound links? According to InsideView, B2B marketers who use blogs generate 67 percent more leads than those that do not. Thirty-three percent of B2B companies already have a blog; do you?

If you don't have a blog for your company yet, I can help you with this. If you do, but you are not satisfied with the results, I have some advice for you to amplify your best content.

We are all guilty of setting and forgetting. We publish our latest blog post, promote it across social media and email, and move on to what's next for tomorrow or next week. We tend to forget about what we have already published, and this is a bad move.

I always recommend publishing your content on your blog first, but there are platforms online where you should consider using the same content again.

The following are three platforms where you can take your best content from your blog and re-publish it for new audiences. This will increase traffic back to your site, improve engagement among your readers, and strengthen your company and personal brand.

3 Blog Publishing Alternatives

1. LinkedIn Pulse

Click to see live demo.

Click to see live demo.

LinkedIn Pulse is LinkedIn's blogging platform. It has an interface similar to most popular blogging software like WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and Squarespace. Take the post you have published on your blog and copy and paste it into LinkedIn Pulse.

Upload an image that makes the post jump out to LinkedIn users. Keep the subject line brief. Add links that go back to your site within the post, so readers can learn more about what you do. Add a byline about who you are at the end of each post, so readers can get to know you better. Don't forget to include a company link.

LinkedIn also provides a helpful analytics dashboard that reveals statistics about your posts, including demographics of your readers and the number of views your posts receive.

2. Medium

Click to see live demo.

Click to see live demo.

According to Quantcast, Medium.com reaches over 863,000 people in the U.S. monthly. Medium is a beautiful platform for authoring or sharing your most personal blog posts. It was created by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone with Jose Pino.

The interface is elegant and simple to use. One trick many users don't realize is you can add a link to an image. Insert an image, click it, and select Command+K on a Mac or Control+K on a PC. Like LinkedIn Pulse, when you copy and paste your blog post in Medium from your blog, be sure to test your links to ensure they work correctly.

Remember that Medium is a social network, too. You will get the most from it if you read and engage with other readers. It is not for promotional content, it is for personal blogging. Share stories about forming your company, or the obstacles you had as you raised capital.

3. Facebook Notes

Click to see live demo.

Click to see live demo.

The Facebook Notes area seemed like a long forgotten feature of Facebook. It was never clear how to use the simple text box. Last year, Facebook upgraded Notes to be a fully functional blogging platform.

You can use your personal profile to compose and publish a note, or publish the note to your company page. Just like Medium and LinkedIn Pulse, you can add vibrant images and links to make the content more appealing for your readers.

Before you hit publish on any of the above platforms, consider your audience. It may be suitable to tweak the copy of your original post to suit where you are publishing it. For example, if you are posting it on LinkedIn Pulse, perhaps you will want to link to your LinkedIn company page.

Try this today. Review your analytics and choose your most popular, evergreen content from your blog. Select one or all of the above platforms to re-publish the post. Google Analytics can help you determine what traffic the blog drives back to your company site. Use these platforms to amplify your original blog content. If you need help, let me know.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.

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.

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.

How to Set Up a WordPress Blog

Dave Delaney

WordPress 4.0 "Benny" was released yesterday. It's jam-packed with lots of new goodies for fellow bloggers. It still surprises me when my friends and clients are using older blogging platforms. I often get asked how to set up a self-hosted WordPress blog, so I created a free step-by-step guide for you. I recommend always going with a self-hosted WordPress blog (WordPress.org) over a blog hosted by WordPress (WordPress.com). The main reason is the amount of customization you can make to your self-hosted blog. This includes installing cool templates and plug-ins that improve how your blog functions. Here's a great infographic from wpbeginner.com to help you understand all of the differences.

Give the infographic a read and decide for yourself. My step-by-step guide includes a video to help you. I'll show you how to go from buying your domain name to publishing your first blog post. The best part is it should only take you ten minutes to get your blog up. Are you ready?

 

Self-hosted or hosted WordPress

Get started now. Follow my directions on how to set up a blog. Leave a comment if you're having trouble too.

Students Need Blogs

Dave Delaney

Students Need BlogsI stress that students need blogs when I speak at universities and colleges. It's crazy not to blog if you are a student. As a student, you are being fed information around areas that you are interested in for your careers. Blog it! Share it with the world. When you write a paper (after it has been graded), you should consider breaking it into multiple blog posts. Share what you have learned.

I recently wrote about how I created a blog to learn about Nashville's technology and marketing communities before I moved to the city. I considered it a fun research project.

I keep reading how it is harder than ever for graduate students to find jobs. This is a great reason why now is the time to establish yourself, not after you have graduated.

Start a blog. Write about what you learn. Recap interesting notes from classes. Interview fellow students, faculty and professionals. Include your contact information and resume too, so it is available.

What other ways can students market themselves early and build their networks?

Illustration from Flickr by: inju

Start a Blog to Know Before You Go

Dave Delaney

New Media Nashville Before I moved to Nashville, I created a blog called New Media Nashville. The purpose of blogging for me was to learn about the Nashville technology marketing landscape. We moved to Nashville in March, 2007, but I started the blog in January.

What better way to introduce yourself to a topic than to start a blog about it? From writing the blog, I quickly learned who I wanted to meet in Nashville.

How to Start a Blog

Starting a blog is easy today. I recommend using a free service like Wordpress or Blogger, or if you are sharing design-rich content try Tumblr. If you want to get serious about blogging, I highly recommend switching to a self-hosted Wordpress blog.

Bonus tip. You don't have to make your blog public if you are not ready to. Consider keeping it private first until you are comfortable with it.

Ready to start? Follow Darren Rowse's ProBlogger for great tips on blogging.

Share a link to your blog in the comments.