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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: Twitter

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. 

Disrupt or Be Disrupted

Dave Delaney

I have been working in social media marketing for more than ten years. I have worked in marketing, promotions and communications for nearly twenty. When I learn new things about this industry, I can’t help but be inspired and excited.

This week, I had the good fortune of being invited as an attendee of a digital marketing conference in Nashville. Sprinklr, a social media management platform, held it’s first conference, Digital Transformation Summit (#unenterprise on Twitter).

95% of CEOs think going digital is critical, but only 25% have a digital strategy.

The lineup of impressive speakers included smart people like Cisco’s John Chambers, Altimeter’s Charlene Li, Twitter’s Chris Moody, and Sprinklr’s Ragy Thomas and Carlos Dominguez. There were also many breakout sessions with speakers from a wide variety of large brands and agencies. I loved the networking too but I'm partial to that.

I learned new things like, ninety-five percent of CEOs think going digital is critical, but only twenty-five percent actually have a digital strategy. That’s shocking to hear but also not a surprise based on my own experiences with many of my clients.

As a business leader, the important thing is to be constantly changing to grow your company. Technology adoption takes time it requires an evolution of both tool capabilities and human processes to be successful.

I learned that we should focus a little less on measuring what we have and instead concentrate on measuring what we need. I was also reminded that while content is king, context should be queen. As marketers we all need to stop and ask ourselves why we are creating a particular piece of content like a blog post or video.

"If you stay in silos and don’t disrupt yourself; you will be Ubered."

Another important takeaway from the summit is to consider how silos in your company can effect employee moral and customer outreach. I heard everything from tips on tearing down the silos to finding ways to at least build windows within those silos to improve communication.

John Chambers from Cisco was probably the most empowering of the speakers I saw. He said, “If you stay in silos and don’t disrupt yourself; you will be ubered.” That was the first time I had heard someone use Uber as a verb. It was a sobering realization for many of the attendees I spoke with after his impressive presentation.

It is essential to consider how your business is disrupting your industry. John Chambers said, “disrupt or be disrupted.” He told the audience that change makes us all uncomfortable, but not changing has much graver consequences. If you won’t make a bet on the future of your company, you have already determined your future.

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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.

How to Kill Conference Hashtag Spam

Dave Delaney

How to stop conference Twitter spam
How to stop conference Twitter spam

I saw a tweet the other morning from Jeff Gothelf, who was expressing disappointment from hashtag spam occurring at UX Camp CPH. I sympathized with him and his fellow conference attendees. As speaker, I know how annoying this can be.

Here’s how I cut out (most) of the spambots when following a hashtag at a conference.

How to stop conference Twitter hash tag spam.
How to stop conference Twitter hash tag spam.

Go to Twitter’s Advanced Search. Search for the hashtag, but be sure to include the location of where the conference is taking place. Save the search, so you can easily return to it.

This will greatly reduce what you see from the spambots. It’s not a perfect solution, but it will help you enjoy Twitter more during a conference.

You can learn the basics on hashtags here.

[Tweet "Hashtag spam sucks."]

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.

The best time to tweet

Dave Delaney

Photo by petradrHave you ever asked, "What is the best time to tweet?" There are many studies (some better than others) that suggest the best times and days for you to use Twitter. Some studies suggest weekdays over weekends. Some suggest morning over night. Some studies are presented in an easy to read infographic, to entice you to share with your followers. If only you knew what the best time to share it really is.

Here are some simple ways to determine when YOUR followers are online most. The first tip is to stop tweeting and think about it for a moment. Who are your followers? Where are your followers geographically? What do they do for a living?

Tweeting in the middle of the night may not make sense if your followers are all tucked-in counting sheep. Tweeting during lunch may make great sense if that is the time your followers are most likely to be using Twitter. Do they take some down time during their lunch breaks?

Your gut, Tweriod, and Buffer

It is always best to put yourself in the shoes of your followers. Consider when it is likely best to reach them based on where they live and what they do for a living. Follow this up by using a service to see if you are right, you probably are.

Tweriod is a free service you can use to determine when your followers are online most. You give it access to your Twitter profile, and after a little time it will reveal what the best times and days are to reach the most amount of people. It actually measures your followers. Run this yourself to see if your assumptions are correct.

Buffer is one of my favorite services. I use it to schedule some tweets throughout the week. It provides users with analytics, so they can see which tweets are performing best. Buffer provides you with several times it thinks you may get the best response, but there's a secret to perfecting this.

You can give Tweriod access to automatically adjust your Buffer schedule based on the best times it determines. Both service are free, so you should give them a test drive to see what you think.

I have written here before about scheduling tweets. Always be on the look out for replies, retweets, and favorites. Don't schedule something and ignore the response. Be active and ready to reply to the questions and comments you receive.

I use the analogy of a cocktail party when I provide social media training to my clients. Picture yourself standing in a crowded room of people networking. Would you approach a small group and ask them a question, only to walk away as they begin to reply to you? I should hope not.

Be present and ready to reply

The same can be said for communicating on social media. Be present and ready to reply. Always keep this in your mind when you schedule tweets, updates, and posts. It's rude to ask a question and walk away.

The best time of the day to tweet is when your followers are online most. Tweriod can help you determine this, and Buffer can help you remember when to reach the most amount of people at the most opportune times. Remember to go with your gut too. You know your followers better than anyone else.

Photo by petradr.

This article, “The Best Time to Tweet“, originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.

A Must See Twitter Magic Trick!

Dave Delaney

Do you believe in magic? How about magical recommendations of cool people to follow and Twitter hashtags to check out? Sounds magical, right? Okay, maybe not exactly magical, but it's still pretty neat. A few months ago the talented folks at Twitter created an account called MagicRecs. All you have to do is follow it and you will receive occasional recommendations as direct messages. It's a fantastic way to find new people to follow on Twitter.

@MagicRecs

In the above example, you see that @AnnaWhiteArtist was just followed by a few of my friends. This made me click through to check out Anna White to learn more about her. Her Twitter bio link is to her Etsy store where she creates custom portraits on old book pages. Clever!

Twitter Magic Recs

In this example, I can see friends were tweeting about the IBM Connect Conference (wish I had been at that one). By clicking the link in the tweet, I can see search results of everyone tweeting the #IBMconnect hashtag. Cool, eh?

You can interact with @MagicRecs by sending it custom commands too.

  • “Hi”, “hello”, or “hey” will prompt @MagicRecs to respond with a greeting.
  • “Help” will return a DM list of available actions.
  • “Tweets on/off” to turn on or off recommendations for Tweets it thinks you may find interesting.
  • “Users on/off” will enable or disable @MagicRecs from sending you recommendations of users it thinks you will enjoy following.
  • “Good” tells @MagicRecs that you like the recommendations it’s sending.
  • “Bad” tells @MagicRecs that you do not enjoy your personalized recommendations.

I am surprised to see that only 49,000 of Twitter's 645,750,000 users are following MagicRecs. Are you?