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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.

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The Futureforth Blog

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

Filtering by Tag: listening

They are talking about you!

Dave Delaney

One of the most important parts of a successful social media strategy is the act of listening. If you spend the bulk of your time churning out content and not listening, it could all be in vain. Like business "networking", social "networking" works best when you communicate well with others. Listening and responding is crucial. The following are five, free, simple steps using search to enhance your social listening skills. Are you sitting at your computer? Do you have a cup of hot coffee within reach? Take note of these steps and repeat them once or twice a day to be sure you hear what your friends, fans and followers are saying.

5 Steps To Listen To Social Media Better

Step 1. Twitter.

Use the search feature, and search for your brand name (a brand name could be your company name, a product, or even your personal name). You can also use Advanced Search to search for full terms like your full name. If you just search for "Mary" you'll find a lot of mentions. Search for "Mary Clarke" and you may find tweets with that exact phrase. You may also choose to search for misspellings of your name. Be sure to save your searches.

Each morning check your replies and direct messages (DMs). Refer to your saved searches for mentions you may not be aware of. If you use a social media dashboard service like, Hootsuite (free 30 day trial - affiliate link), you can add a column of each of your saved searches for quick and easy reference.

Step 2. Facebook.

Log in to Facebook (admit it, you were already logged in before you went for that coffee, weren't you?). Visit your page, and note the red notification icon on the top of the page. Click this to see your recent page activity, new likes, comments and such. Don't forget to respond to people interacting with your page.

Set up email notifications for your page by clicking Edit Page, Edit Settings, and Notifications, and select your email address. You can also use a free service like HyperAlerts.no to get email notifications from activity on your page and your competitors.

Step 3. Instagram.

Go to statigr.am and log in with your Instagram account info. Search for your brand name and see what comes up. Like the photos you find, leave a comment, and follow the photographers. Consider sharing the photos across your social profiles. Remember to never use a screen capture or download of images without permission from the owner.

Step 4. YouTube.

Search YouTube for your brand name. Has anyone featured your brand in a video? Like the videos, leave a comment, subscribe to the channel, and consider sharing the video on your blog. Be sure to let them know that you shared their video on your company blog if you choose to. They will be happy to hear it and may promote this to their own networks.

Step 5. Email.

Use Google.com/alerts and Talkwalker.com to set up a search of your brand name. You can set the frequency and fine tune the searches to optimize these services. Once set up, you will receive email updates with links to new mentions of your brand. Search engines are brilliant listening tools. Use them to your advantage. You can also subscribe to additional searches on socialmention.com and mention.net.

Listening is just as important as creating content.

Listening is just as important as creating content and conversations in the first place. Be present and timely and watch those search results carefully. Depending on your brand, you may find yourself on other popular social networks like Pinterest, Vine and Flickr.

Get in the habit of starting your days reviewing saved searches or creating new ones. You will be glad that you did. Now get back to that coffee. It's getting cold.

Photo by  Cyco GoOz

The article, They are talking about you online, originally appeared in the Tennessean.

Break the Ice and Listen Better

Dave Delaney

Photo by Jay MorrisonThe following is my second article on business networking in the Tennessean newspaper. You can find the original published on September 12th on their site. Thanks for reading this and sharing it with your friends. I enjoyed a mixer event this week put on by NAMA, the Nashville Chapter of the North American Marketing Association. (Full disclosure: I am a board member.) The event was a fun opportunity to mix with marketers from the Greater Nashville area. It also inspired this article.

I am often intrigued by listening to the conversations occurring around me at different events. Small talk is not as easy in practice as you may think.

Here are two words you should focus on before your next networking event: FORD and LISTEN.

F.O.R.D.

FORD is an acronym that stands for family, occupation, recreation and dreams. If you are looking for an ice-breaker, look no further than these four words. Choose one to ask someone about and it will surely lead you into an interesting conversation.

L.I.S.T.E.N.

The second acronym is LISTEN. This stands for look interested, involve yourself by responding, stay on target, test your understanding, evaluate the message and neutralize the feelings.

When you ask the person you meet a question, you must look interested in their reply. Look them in their eyes (don’t stare) and truly listen to what they are telling you. Involve yourself by smiling, nodding and responding. Add short interjections such as “I see,” “go on” and “interesting.” Add a follow-up question such as, “What did you do next?” or “How did that make you feel?”

Stay on target by not allowing yourself to be distracted during a conversation. Do this by picturing the speaker as the only person in the room. Do your best not to look away, at your watch or phone, or over their shoulder as they are speaking to you.

Test your understanding by repeating what the person has told you in a conversational manner: “So what you are saying is,” and “So if I understand correctly you are ...” These are helpful phrases to begin with.

Evaluate what the person has said. Take a moment to consider the information you have received. Think about how you can follow up to assist this person.

Can you make an introduction for them to one of your LinkedIn contacts? Should you email them tomorrow to invite them for a coffee so you can learn more about their needs?

It can happen. We can meet someone who rubs us the wrong way. Perhaps they have given you incorrect information that you know to be untrue. Neutralize your feelings. Don’t put them on the spot by correcting them. This can make the person uncomfortable. Instead, you can thank them for their time, shake their hand and move on to a new conversation.

Networking shouldn’t feel like work. By asking great conversation-starting questions and listening effectively, you will become a better networker. I go into great detail about these topics and more in my book, New Business Networking, but I hope this article leaves you inspired to attend a local event and meet new people soon.

The final note I want to leave you with is to remember to follow up. You should always send an email to tell the person you enjoyed meeting them. Consider the next step in the email, is there a way you can help them? You should also include a LinkedIn connection request to grow your professional network.

More on LinkedIn here. Now get out there and meet some people.

How do you break the ice when you meet new people?

Photo by Jay Morrison


The article, "Make the most of your next mixer", originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.

You Talk Too Much

Dave Delaney

Photo from Flickr by: library_mistressI use to talk too much about myself. My wife would nudge me or give me a "shut up, Dave" look. Sometimes I still find myself doing this, usually when she's not around. It reminds me of the classic RUN DMC song. What I have learned is that asking open-ended questions is always the way to go when meeting new people. Avoid Yes or No questions to allow the conversation to blossom.

Listen. I can't stress this enough. Listen, and perhaps you will learn how you can help them with a problem or task. More on that here.

If you can help then and there, great! If not, make a note on the person's business card. Be sure to follow up with the assistance they are seeking.

I get asked for Linkedin introductions all of the time. This is a great way to help connect your network.

Always look for ways to help people. Can I help you?

Photo from Flickr by: library_mistress

5 Ways to Listen Better

Dave Delaney

Author Julian Treasure spoke at TEDGlobal in 2011 about ways to listen better. He emphasized that we are losing our listening. "We spend roughly 60 percent of our communication time listening, but we’re not very good at it. We retain just 25 percent of what we hear."

We are doing ourselves and our friends, family and colleagues a disservice by not listening well. Consider Treasure's suggestions the next time you are speaking with someone.

Take the next 7 minutes to watch (and listen to) his presentation, 5 Ways to Listen Better. I have summarized his tips below, but I recommend watching the video to truly grasp his message.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSohjlYQI2A

  1. Silence. 3 minutes a day. Use this to reset your ears.
  2. The Mixer. Note how many individual channels of sound you hear in your environment.
  3. Savoring. Enjoy mundane sounds.
  4. Listening Positions. Positions include active, passive, reductive, expansive, critical, empathetic, and many more.
  5. R.A.S.A. Receive. Appreciate. Summarize. Ask.

Are you a good listener?