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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 Networking

Saving Twitter

Dave Delaney

If you missed the news, Twitter is reported to be testing a $99 subscription service. It’s not very pretty.

I’ve been an active Twitter user for over ten years. I’m even verified which makes me special (I joke). What got me into Twitter in the first place was the community. The community has dropped off considerably over the last several years. 

Anyone who follows the technology space knows that Twitter has had many ups and downs trying to find itself since its launch in 2006. Back then our biggest issue with Twitter was its ability to stay up. I immediately envision kittens with screwdrivers thinking about all of the down time. 

From Microblogging to Link Promoting

I liked the term “micro-blogging” because that defined what Twitter was. A place for people to share what’s on their minds - or what they were doing (or eating). It was more about connection, community, and writing than pushing links. 

And yes, I do this too. I’m guilty as well. I constantly share links to interesting articles and promote my own content. I do this more than I engage because the engagement has dropped off considerably since the good ole days. And now we are all fighting to be heard through the noise. I'm such a sellout, right? 

Every so often, I will ask a question on Twitter. I usually get one or two replies. When I ask the same question on my Facebook profile, I get many more replies. I’m in denial about this because I *want* Twitter to succeed. But without the engagement and with its wonky algorithm, its value as a social network has deeply diminished to me.

I still think there is value in connecting with specific people by mentioning them or writing directly to them. But the group chatter is more like the sound of a group of crickets now.

Twitter Link-Free Fridays

Here’s an idea. What if Twitter removed the ability to share links on Fridays? I bet this would substantially increase user engagement. Instead of having the ability to include a link, Twitter could prompt you to ask a question or share what you are doing. 

Or, as a test, Twitter could add an option to turn off tweets with links. A simple switch to remove any tweet with a link. They could then see how many people actually use it to gauge user’s interest. Not a bad idea!

Ah yes… users. Twitter sucks at interacting with their own users. This is something that has always irked me. Why not reach out and ask us?!

I would love to see Twitter become the social networking water cooler once again. The place to pop in and out of to send some messages and to share what’s on our minds. Twitter could return to the place where we keep in touch and meet new friends.

So the latest news? For $99 a month, Twitter will offer some accounts to promote up to ten tweets a day in addition to running month-long Promoted Account ads to increase followers. Sounds like a cash grab to me. More followers are lovely but I want quality over quantity. I'm over the vanity metrics anyway.

Meh, I would just like to see engagement return to what it was. And yes, I’m putting my own sentimentality ahead of my understanding that Twitter has investors to please. But if all of the tweets become link-bait ads… I’ll probably just return to Facebook for the conversation instead and I bet most people will too. And without users, the investors won't be pleased. 

10 Years on LinkedIn

Dave Delaney

10 years on LinkedIn

Did you know today is the iPhone's tenth birthday? I'm celebrating my own ten-year milestone today too. 10 years on Linkedin! It's not much of a celebration really, it's not like LinkedIn noticed. I have all of my first dates on my calendar to remind me. I will celebrate my first post on Facebook on January 22, and my first tweet on Twitter on February 18th (both were parenting related). Both dates will also be ten-year anniversaries. I wonder if Facebook or Twitter will remember.

My relationship with LinkedIn has been good. I had a wonderful time as a keynote speaker when LinkedIn had the LinkedIn Live Conference in Nashville. I also advised Refresh, a company that was later acquired by LinkedIn. Both are LinkedIn-related milestones I am proud of.

LinkedIn Recommendations and Profile Optimizations

One of my main uses of LinkedIn is to give and receive recommendations. I always ask for one from my speaking and consulting clients. This is how I have accrued nearly eighty recommendations over my ten years on the professional social network.

I believe recommendations are one of the most important parts of a profile because they add social proof. If you want to get more recommendations you should check out my article, What You Need To Know About LinkedIn Recommendations.

I also put together a guide to help you optimize your profile to get the most return from your time spend on LinkedIn. Download your copy of "10 LinkedIn Profile Optimization Tips" here.

How long have you been using LinkedIn? What do you enjoy most about it?

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.

Mine Old Messages For New Opportunities

Dave Delaney

Photo from wikimedia.org.

Photo from wikimedia.org.

Nurturing your network isn’t always easy because of limited time. Finding new business can also be challenging for the same reason. Believe it or not, you can achieve both by referring back to the conversations you have already started.

If you follow these simple steps, I bet you will rekindle old relationships and perhaps even find new customers and opportunities.

Email: We burn through so many emails in a day that it’s tough enough to keep up with new messages. However, if you set some time aside today to review older messages, you will find people you should check back in with. The best way to do this is to search for messages as far back in time as possible. You might want to set a goal of reviewing just a single month each day.

Text messages: I love scrolling way back to the earliest messages on my current iPhone. Scanning through these messages always gives me ideas on who I should follow up with.

Facebook Messenger: With over 900 million users (April 2016), this app is one that shouldn’t be ignored. It is likely you have used Messenger to communicate with your connections. Fire up the app and scroll through the messages to find people you should check back in with.

Twitter direct messages: DMs are the private tweets you have exchanged on Twitter. I am always reminded of people I need to follow up with when I review old direct messages.

LinkedIn messages: Go to www.linkedin.com/messaging/ and scroll through the messages you have exchanged with your LinkedIn connections. I did this as I was writing this article and found a speaking opportunity I need to follow up with.

Snapchat: According to Edison Research’s excellent Infinite Dial study, Snapchat is the second most powerful social platform in the United States. Snapchat has more users than Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn. The social network has grown as much in one year as Twitter has in four years combined.

Since Snapchat automatically deletes your previous chat messages (or “snaps”), reviewing the old ones is impossible. Instead, scroll through your friends, and send a new snap to those you haven’t heard from in a while. I recently started sending 10-second video note messages to friends I haven’t spoken to in ages. I heard back from one friend right away. We ended up hopping on the phone for over an hour and found an opportunity to do some work together.

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day. We are all busy people. If we take a moment to slow down and review the conversations we have had, we will find opportunities to help the people we are connected to.

Try some of these tips to follow up with the people in your life. Don’t forget to follow similar steps using your other favorite messaging apps like WhatsApp, WeChat and Skype.

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.

You are Tweeting to a Human

Dave Delaney

Starbucks tweet

Back in August 2009, I was on my way to Chris Pirillo's Gnomedex Conference in Seattle. There was a handful of conferences I got excited about and Chris' was one of them. Still sleepy, I picked up a coffee from Starbucks in the Nashville airport to wake myself up. 

I boarded my flight, found my seat, and relaxed as I sipped my morning java. A woman entered the plane and searched back and forth until she found her spot next to me. She smiled and I smiled as the captain came on the PA and said something inaudible. I reached the bottom of my coffee and took that last satisfying swig when horror occurred. 

My mouth was suddenly full of coffee grounds. In a split-second moment of disgust, I spurted it back out onto my hand and the cup. I don't think the woman noticed, but if she had, she probably would have handed me the barf bag. 

Naturally, I took to Twitter. 

Thanks for the mouthful of coffee grounds @starbucks! Ugh :(

The TwitPic link went to the photo you see at the top of this post. You couldn't attach media to your tweets back in 2009. Rest in piece, TwitPic. 

The next day I was wandering the conference center floor between speakers. Starbucks was a sponsor of Gnomedex, and I came across their space. They offered me a free coffee, so I happily accepted. When the gentleman was speaking with me, I decided to mention what had happened on the flight. I wasn't annoyed or upset, I thought it was a simple mistake that could have happened to anyone. No barista has x-ray vision.

When I began to tell the man what had happened, he put his hand on my shoulder and said, "I know, Dave. I saw your tweet. I'm @starbucks on Twitter."

I felt the heat of my face blushing hotter than the coffee cup in my hand. I apologized for the tweet. I should have known better because I too represented a brand on Twitter at the time. We both ended up having a laugh about it, but it served as a good reminder.

Behind every Twitter profile there is a person.

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.

5 Ways to Fix Your LinkedIn Profile

Dave Delaney

This is the perfect time of the year to get your LinkedIn profile up to date and looking good. You never know what opportunities you could be missing by having a poor profile. If your goals in 2016 include growing your business, finding a new job, changing careers, or building your professional network, you must ensure your LinkedIn profile is ready for prime time.

The following are five ways to improve your LinkedIn profile. 

1. Consider Search Engines and Add Keywords

Recruiters and HR managers don’t review physical resumes anymore. They use online services like LinkedIn to discover candidates. If your profile is missing the keywords and terms they are searching for, you won’t appear in the results. 

Photo by Olu Eletu.

Photo by Olu Eletu.

Your LinkedIn profile has space for up to 5,000 characters in your summary. Use those characters to ensure you include the keywords and terms recruiters and your customers are searching for.

Side note: Copy and paste bullets and other characters to improve the appearance of your profile from: copypastecharacter.com.

2. Skills / Endorsements

Review the Skills section of your profile. Your skills appear as endorsement suggestions to your connections. If you receive a strange endorsement for something you don’t do, that’s probably because it is listed in your skills. 

Keep your skills up to date and remove the ones that no longer apply to your career. Add up to fifty skills.

Side note: Be sure to use your top, most accurate, skills in your profile description. 

Bonus points: Review who has endorsed you for your top skills and reach out to them to say hello. 

3. Recommendations

Stop begging for recommendations and start writing them. Write a recommendation for the best people you work with. If you are a student, write a recommendation for a guest lecturer, faculty or team project partner. 

You will find that the more recommendations you provide, the more they will be reciprocated. 

Side note: You can add “#recommendations” to your profile link to send people directly to your recommendations section. Visit: http://linkedin.com/in/davedelaney/#recommendations for an example.

4. Presentations

Upload your best presentations to Slideshare (owned by LinkedIn) and link to them in your profile. The more visual the better. If you need help with designing your presentations, pick up a copy of Garr Reynold’s “Presentation Zen”.

Side note: Be sure your presentation has a call to action at the end of it. Include your contact information. 

5. Headshot

LinkedIn profiles with photos get eleven times more views. Use a professional looking photo that shows us who you are. Here are a few photo tips from LinkedIn:

  • Choose a photo that looks like you.
  • Make sure your face takes up at least 60% of the frame.
  • Choose the right expression.
  • Wear what you’d wear to work.
  • Choose a background that isn’t distracting.

Side note: Be consistent across social media by using the same photo. This helps visitors recognize you in their timelines and newsfeeds.

These are five quick things you can do to improve your LinkedIn profile to get found and network more effectively. Subscribe to my newsletter to be invited to my upcoming, free webinar, The Worst LinkedIn Profile In The World.  

The Secret Way to Get LinkedIn Connection Requests Accepted

Dave Delaney

Have you ever sent a connection request on LinkedIn and not had it accepted? Not being accepted can happen for a few reasons, like the person doesn't remember you or you're missing a profile photo. 

I am certain you frequently receive connection requests from strangers like I do. Your parents taught you not to talk to strangers, so it makes sense that you ignore the requests. I recently wrote a post about how I handle requests from people I don’t know. In this post, I will teach you how to send requests that get accepted.

If you want to have your connection request accepted, you need to consider a few things. The person may not use LinkedIn frequently, so sending the request through LinkedIn is often not the best first move.

I always email the contact before I send them the connection request. In the email, I remind him who I am and how we met. Perhaps we met at a networking mixer or a conference. I use his email from his business card, or I go to his site to find his contact information.

I write a follow-up email within 24 hours of the conference, so I am still fresh in people's minds. It doesn’t take long for people to forget who you are, unless you left an impressive impression.

In closing the message, I add that I am going to send him a connection request on LinkedIn. I explain that I am happy to provide him with an introduction to someone in my network should he need it. How’s that for value? Isn’t this better than just blindly sending a request to connect?

After I send the email, I send the connection request via LinkedIn. I always avoid sending the default connection request. I send a personal message and refer back to the email. I will write something like, “Hi John. It was a pleasure meeting you at XYZ Conference. Let’s connect on LinkedIn please. If I can provide you with an intro to one of my connections, let me know. Cheers, Dave. Futureforth.com

I always include my business URL in the signature on LinkedIn, so he can visit to learn more about my services.

LinkedIn: Now boasting more than 360 million users.

If John does not accept my request after a couple of weeks, I will reassess. I will ask myself why I wanted to connect in the first place. Obviously, networking is key with LinkedIn. John could provide me with an introduction to help my business or career. Perhaps John isn’t that active on LinkedIn. It’s OK, because I still have his email address and can follow up that way.

One of the best ways to grow and nurture your professional network is by using LinkedIn. Now boasting more than 360 million users and a new user every two seconds, it’s clear that LinkedIn really is the professional social network. It makes sense to do everything you can to get connection requests accepted, so you can grow your network.

Happy networking.

Photo from Flickr by Alessandro Valli liquene