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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: Instagram

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.

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 to get email notifications from activity on your page and your competitors.

Step 3. Instagram.

Go to 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 and 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 and

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.

Visualize 2013

Dave Delaney

Visualize 2013This is the time of year we all slow down and reflect upon the last twelve months. What were our accomplishments in 2013? What were our goals? Where did we go? Who did we meet? I like to review my calendar to see the people I met in the year (thar be treasures). I re-read my blog posts and I also love to get geeky by visualizing the data I created on popular social networks. Each of the following free services will create short, entertaining videos and maps to summarize 2013. I expect the results of each one will surprise and delight you. Here are five ways to visualize 2013. 

1. is a personal website service. They have been catching plenty of popularity lately by providing Twitter users with a short, personalized video summary of 2013. Mine included my most popular photos, terms, videos, people I interacted with most, when I tweeted, and my most popular tweet of the year. You can see my Vizify video here: 

2. is a third-party service used to manage your Instagram account. I love the way they provide you with visual analytics that even Instagram doesn't give you. This year they provided users with a short video summary of your most popular photos and videos. Visit the site, and click Snapshots at the top of the page. Choose the 2013 Best Moments on Instagram video option, and send it to your email. You will receive a 15 second video soon after, which you can upload and share on Instagram. Check out my video here:

3. Google+ surprised me with a great collection of photos and videos in a thirty second video summary. You need to have auto upload activated on your Google+ account to find this video. I use auto upload as an additional way to privately back-up my photos - just in case. You can never have too many backups of your family photos and important documents.

4. LinkedIn Maps is not so much a yearly summary as it is a clever way to visualize your professional network. Visit and follow the simple steps to get a colorful overview of your business network. 

5. Let's not forget the almighty Facebook. Facebook also compiled a year in review page dedicated to your most popular posts from 2013. It's a good way to look back and reflect upon milestones and events that occurred this year. You'll find your Year in Review at:

In my book, New Business Networking, I urge my readers to start a blog. If you have a personal or company blog, consider the results from these visualizations as great content. You may choose to share the video or map in a blog post, or perhaps the results will spark ideas for a new blog post. Playing with each service gave me the idea for the article you are reading right now.

Happy New Year.

This article, It's easy to look at past year, originally appeared in the Tennessean.