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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: Tips

20 Ways to Become a Better Writer

Dave Delaney

20 Ways to Become a Better Writer

In order to build and grow your brand you must create content that people can discover. It is this content that will tell the reader more about you, your products and your services. We write articles, proposals, blog posts, emails, Facebook updates, tweets and more every day. We are all writers. We just need to get better. 

I decided to re-read Ann Handley's wonderful book, "Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content." Whether you are a scribbler or a scribe, a poet or an editor, there is something in Handley's book for all. The following are quotes from her book that will leave you inspired and ready to improve your own writing. 

20 writing tips from Ann Handley's "Everybody Writes".

  1. Write with economy and style and honest empathy for your reader.
  2. If you stripped your branding from all your properties and lined up your words alongside a competitor's, would you recognize yourself? Would you stand out?
  3. Whenever possible, specify geranium instead of flower.
  4. Utility x Inspiration x Empathy = Quality Content.
  5. Writing is a habit, not an art. Set aside time each day when you're freshest.
  6. Put the needs of your audience first.
  7. Every bit of content you create should be to please the customer or prospect — not your boss or client.
  8. Start with empathy. Continue with utility. Improve with analytics. Optimize with love.
  9. The first words of every sentence should make a friendly first impression to encourage the reader to keep going.
  10. The primary idea — the important words — should be placed at the beginning.
  11.  Anything you write should always be aligned with a larger (business or marketing) goal — even an individual blog post.
  12. Reframe the idea to relate it to your readers.
  13. The more personal you are, the more universal you become.
  14. Write to one person.
  15. If you get stuck, think about what's sticking. Do you need more research? More examples? Another point?
  16. Good writing serves the reader, not the writer. It isn't self-indulgent. Good writing anticipates the questions that readers might have as they're reading a piece, and it answers them.
  17. Empathy for the customer experience should be at the root of all of your content.
  18. Start by getting to know your customers.
  19. No one will ever complain that you've made things too simple to understand.
  20. Don't tell me who you are — tell me why you matter to me.

Writing is a wonderful way to share what you know with important people around you. Become a better writer this year by reading Ann Handley's "Everybody Writes." I have already picked up a few new tips to use for my writing; I know you will, too.

And now I am off to the store to pick up some geraniums for my wife.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper

WARNING: Facebook Phishing Scam Ahead

Dave Delaney

facebook phishing scam

If you administer a Facebook page, I highly recommend you be leery of warnings allegedly sent from Facebook. I received this one today, it's the first one I have seen. Like most phishing scams, it looks pretty authentic. 

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 11.03.12 AM.png

The most important thing to look out for in these types of messages is the link. If it doesn't point to facebook.com/SOMETHINGHERE it is a scam. Links can also be sneaky because what appears to be facebook.com/SOMETHINGHERE could actually link elsewhere. By clicking the link and signing back in, you hand over your password to the scammer on the other end.   

phishing scams

As a reminder, phishing is the activity of defrauding an online account holder of financial information by posing as a legitimate company. You have likely seen these in your email inbox before. Never click the link.

Don't be a victim

No business should ever send you a message with a link to change your password or log in to your account. Google has many images of examples of phishing. Be aware and avoid these so you don't become a victim. 

An bonus tip is to have an additional administrator on your Facebook page. Should you ever get locked out of your account your colleague can login with his or her account to assist you.

Find this helpful? Please share it with your friends. 

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.

Stop Learning Start Doing

Dave Delaney

Photo by Alexander Solodukhin

Photo by Alexander Solodukhin

It's time to stop learning and start doing. This isn't to say that I am suggesting you stop seeking information that will make you smarter. What I am saying is you need to stop consuming so much information without acting upon it, even if it's completely unputdownable. 

In school, we read countless textbooks and participated in classes and guest lectures. We wrote reports and took tests on what was covered. These reports and tests were given to help us retain the information because it would force us to write about the topics.  

When we repeat the information, we remember what we learned. In fact, writing the information down can greatly improve how we preserve it in our heads. As Anthony Robbins says, "Repetition is the mother of skill."

We live hectic lives. We are constantly inundated with content online and across traditional media like; television, radio, books, newspapers, and magazines. The trouble is we consume so much, but we seldom stop to reflect upon what we have learned and how to apply it to our lives. 

Stop Learning and Start Doing

I was guilty of this. I would read an e-book and highlight sections I enjoyed, only to finish the book and move on to the next one. I would listen to informative podcasts when I drove, but when I reached my destination, the information had disappeared like the fuel in my engine. I would read many articles and blog posts on business topics, but they were history once I flipped to the next one. It finally struck me that I needed to use this information before it was gone forever. Taking notes and writing is key.

In early December, I started a new blog at DaveDelaney.me. I am blogging each day about the things I am reading, listening to, and lessons I have learned in my business and life. I did this as a way to force myself to take notes as I read and to return to those notes to compose the blog posts. I am doing the same as I listen to podcasts. I'm sharing the takeaways to help me remember the information. Plus, I get bonus points for helping (or, at least entertaining) my readers too.  

You don't have to start a blog. You can start a journal instead. Take notes on what you are reading, watching, and listening to. You will be amazed how you retain the information and start using it for your business and career.  

This post originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

The Worst LinkedIn Profile In The World [WEBINAR REPLAY]

Dave Delaney

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

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

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

7 Tips for Organizing Networking Events and Meet Ups

Dave Delaney

Nashcocktail Nashville MeetUp Mixer featured in the Tennessean

Have you ever wanted to organize your own event? Do you already run an event, but you are not satisfied with how it is going? This post is for you.

I will celebrate the fifth anniversary of my monthly networking event, Nashcocktail, next month. If you’re not familiar, Nashcocktail is a monthly networking mixer for social media enthusiasts and professionals in Nashville, Tennessee 

It all began after the first Social Media Day event. The organizers were not practitioners of social media, instead they were piggy backing off the popular day of celebration for social media pros. A few attendees and I agreed that we should be the ones hosting such an event because we work, live and breathe social media. As we were departing that evening, I came up with the idea. I bought the domain and announced Nashcocktail to my friends the following day.

We work, live and breathe social media

Nashcocktail hasn't been a smash hit every month though. Attendees always have a good time, but I have learned many lessons along the way.

Since July 2010, thousands of people have attended my monthly mixers. Relationships have been born at Nashcocktail that led to friendships, partnerships, jobs and more. The following are seven tips to help you make your event a success.

7 TIPS FOR EVENTS

1. Size matters. Choose a venue that isn’t so big that it looks empty and that’s not so small that the sound is too loud. I held Nashcocktail in a few venues where the sound was just too much. A few people were frustrated that they could not hear the person they were speaking with. Size really does matter.

2. Parking helps. If you can find a venue that has plenty of free parking, your attendees will be that much happier. If not, be sure to provide instructions on where they should park. If they drive around the venue a few times without success, they may end up driving home.

3. Intro circle. Allow your attendees to each take a moment to introduce who they are, what they do and what they hope to gain from attending the event. Point out that this is so people can connect with one another.

4. Highlight your sponsor. I always have my sponsor spend a couple of minutes explaining who they are and what they do. I also promote them like crazy across social media, on our site and in our email newsletters. We love our sponsors.

5. Take a picture, it’ll last longer. I snap plenty of photos at each event. I share them on the Facebook page, so attendees can return and check them out the next day. I always have the next month’s event ready, so they can RSVP while they are there.

6. What’s your name again? I stress that attendees must RSVP on our Facebook events. I do this so they can return and put a name to a face, in case they forgot to ask for a business card.

7. Encourage feedback. I always ask attendees and sponsors for feedback, so I can make the event better. I do a yearly survey to check in, too.

If you’re in Nashville (or visiting), you should join us at the next Nashcocktail. The event is always free to attend, so what have you got to lose? Visit Nashcocktail.com for details.

Do you have experience organizing events? Leave a comment with your own tip please. 

This article was originally posted in The Tennessean.

The Guide to Photo and Image Sizes on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and More [Infographic]

Dave Delaney

It's difficult to keep up with all of the different sizes of your social media images. Here is an up to date infographic of all of the sizes needed for you to create your social media presence. 

Included Social Media Cover Image Sizes: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, YouTube. 

I use Canva to create quick, custom graphics. If I need something more professional, I will use 99 Designs. They have a community of 942,732 designers, so you will get a design you’ll love — guaranteed. You can also tap your local creative community to find a graphic designer closer to home. 

Here are the social media cover photo dimensions

social-media-cover-photo-dimensions-1.png


How I'm Dealing With Email

Dave Delaney

My head has been spinning lately. I’ve been working my tail off, but often feel like I’m chasing it. I realize that social media and email can leave you feeling overwhelmed... it leaves me overwhelmed too. I've decided to spend the next couple of weeks retooling. I want to share my plan with you here. Are you in?

First up is email. It's a big distraction and cause of stress when I know my inbox is overflowing.

Here's my plan...

Try this for yourself and let me know how it goes.

‌• Check and reply to email twice a day on desktop. Once from 8 - 8:30 am and once from 5 - 5:30 pm. Go to bed each night knowing my email is in good shape. Dream of inbox Zzzzero.

‌• Use Contactually as my first stop to email people, so I can track my interactions better, keep in touch, and close more sales (my family needs to eat). There's a free trial here, I'm also an affiliate.

‌• Use Unroll.me to unsubscribe or create digests of the newsletters I have subscribed to (or have been subscribed to… I’m talking to you spammers).

‌• Check my email on mobile occasionally throughout the day when I am away from my office.

‌• Turn off (almost) all notifications on my iPhone. I kept some weather alerts, Sunrise calendar reminders, Phone, Waze for traffic alerts, and WhatsApp and Skype for calls from my family.

‌• Switch my phone to Do Not Disturb mode when I am replying to emails on my desktop. I will only receive calls from Heather or my parents during these times.

‌• Use Baydin's Boomerang to schedule emails to return to my inbox to remind me when a person hasn't replied. It's perfect for following up on proposals.

So this is my email plan moving forward. I hope it inspires you to get a better grasp on your inbox too. I'll be sharing my plans for social networks in upcoming messages first with my email newsletter subscribers.

What tips do you have for handling an unruly inbox? Leave a comment with your favorites please.

How To Handle LinkedIn Connection Requests From Strangers

Dave Delaney

To accept or not to accept, that is the question. Like all social networks, LinkedIn has it's fair share of scammers, spammers and spambots. It's easy to never accept connection requests from strangers, but you may be missing out on opportunities to connect with good people. When someone doesn't have a profile photo or they send the generic, default connection request, it's hard to know if they are worth connecting with right away. It takes too much time to click each profile and snoop around to decide if you should accept their request.

Here is how I handle LinkedIn connection requests from strangers

Step 1.

I send a standard reply to anyone I don't immediately recognize. This only gets a little embarrassing if I just met the person recently, this is seldom the case.

Sorry for not accepting your LinkedIn request yet. Please remind me where we met. My head is foggy today, not enough coffee yet.

Cheers, Dave

Looking for LinkedIn tips? Check out http://www.futureforth.com/blog

That's right, I plug my blog right there in my message. Why not?

Step 2.

LinkedIn Connection Requests from Strangers
LinkedIn Connection Requests from Strangers

I do this to the page of pending connection requests. Once I have done this I select to ignore all of the messages (tick box on the top right side). I skip the option to indicate why I'm ignoring them and move on to the next page of requests.

Step 3.

I eagerly connect with the people who write back. This is a little bit of a pain, because you have to return to their original connection request message. Search for their name in the LinkedIn Inbox and accept their original request.

You will find many won't reply, which means they were probably a spammer or spambot. Some will virtually slap you upside the head to remind you that you met them recently. Others will admit they don't know you personally, but wanted to connect for networking purposes or to pitch you their wares.

At the end of the day it's up to you how you handle connection requests.  I have found this method works well, because it starts a conversation that may otherwise not occur. Of course, you won't have this problem if you send a personal connection request in the first place. ;)

Whether online or offline, networking is about quality over quantity.

How do you handle requests from people you don't know on LinkedIn?

Custom LinkedIn Mobile Connection Requests, At Last!

Dave Delaney

How to send a custom LinkedIn connection request message on mobile.
How to send a custom LinkedIn connection request message on mobile.

LinkedIn drove me crazy for a long time. I hated the way you could not send a personalized connection request on their mobile apps. I have written here before about the importance of sending a personal message and being human on LinkedIn.

How to send a custom LinkedIn connection request message on mobile

I am happy to report that issue has been solved in the current version of the LinkedIn Connected application.

To send the message click the three dots on the top right corner of the person's profile. You'll be given an option to send a customized invite. You can also forward their profile if you choose.

This is your chance to send them a friendly reminder of where you met and what you talked about. Be specific, so they will remember who you are. Don't forget to include a call to action in the message. Schedule a coffee, lunch or a phone call.

LinkedIn Star List

In the latest update of the iOS app (Version 2.4), you can now add a star to contacts that matter most to you. LinkedIn will give you more opportunities to keep in touch. The app note mentions this feature may not be available straight away, but should be rolled out fully soon.