Weird Words: 2017’s top five office discombobulators

Here at HN we’re passionate about clarity in our B2B copywriting services, but we’re also big fans of a peculiar word every now and then.

Now, if you enjoyed our top five Christmas weird words, then we have a treat for you — five more weird and wonderful words. This time around they all have business applications, but if you manage to weave any of these into your next meeting, we’ll be seriously impressed!

5. Eventuate

Number 5 on our list is ‘eventuate’. It sounds like one of those words that’s just been made up by some self-made business guru, and therein may lie its downfall — using it may make you look like one of those people who says ‘paradigm’ a lot, and that’s not good.
Definition — ‘Eventuate’ is a verb meaning to result in [something].
Origin — It’s a combination of the Latin words ‘eventus’ (event) and ‘actuare’ (carry out), and it originated in the US. The Oxford Dictionary states, rather wearily we think, “still regarded as an Americanism, though it has been employed by good writers in England.”
How you might use it — “Our Christmas campaign was a rousing success, and it should eventuate in us all getting bonuses this year.”
HN Weirdness Rating — 4/10

4. Asseverate

We particularly like this one because it sounds like a cruel and unusual medieval punishment, but is actually quite positive. Lots of potential for fun, then.
Definition — ‘Asseverate’, another verb, means to solemnly affirm [something]… to avouch or assert.
Origin — It comes from the Latin ‘assevērāre’ (to assert seriously).
How you might use it — There are plenty of ways you can use this in a business context but you can have particular fun with it if you work in HR or management: sit the employee down, fix them in your gaze and say, “We’ve been reviewing your performance this year and we can asseverate… that you’re employee of the year! Congrats!!”
HN Weirdness Rating — 6/10

3. Transpicuous

If there’s one thing we love at HN as much as words, it’s an example of delicious irony and this is a case in point because…
Definition — When applied to language, ‘transpicuous’ means plain, clear in meaning.
Origin — This word is also derived from Latin (we’re seeing a pattern here), from ‘transpicĕre’, which means to look or see through.
How you might use it — How about, “There’s a conspicuous lack of clarity in this social media strategy; I think we need to consult HN! They’re good at making things transpicuous.
HN Weirdness Rating — 7.5/10

2. Foofaraw

We’re comfortably into weirdness territory with this one, and the great thing is, however you think it’s spelled is probably correct. The OED lists no fewer than 25 different variations, so you can really unleash your creativity here.
Definition — ‘Foofaraw’ works as a noun or an adjective, referring to something that is fussy or flashy, or much ado about nothing.
Origin — With multiple origins, ‘foofaraw’ borrows from the French ‘fanfaron’ and the Spanish ‘fanfarrón’ (both meaning braggart (n) or boastful/swaggering (adj)), and had life breathed into it by our US cousins once more.
How you might use it — Lean back in your chair, suck the air through your teeth and assert (asseverate?), “If we managed to cut the foofaraw in this meeting, you never know what might eventuate…we could actually get somewhere!” Note: The mere use of the word ‘foofaraw’ is likely to result in foofaraw.
HN Weirdness Rating — 9/10

1. Footle

Well, the looks I’m getting from the rest of the office suggest I should probably make myself busy elsewhere. So this will be our last weird and wonderful word… for now.
Definition — Does it mean futile perhaps? Or is it more like pootle? Well the answer is yes… to both. ‘Footle’ means to act or talk foolishly; to waste time.
Origin — The origin isn’t clear on this one but it’s very similar to, and possibly derived from, the Scottish/Irish word ‘footer’, which means to busy oneself in an aimless, ineffectual or clumsy manner.
How you might use it — “Why don’t you stop footling around with that blog post and make the tea?” That never happens at HN HQ of course…
HN Weirdness Rating — 10/10

We hope you liked our choice of weird words; why not share some of your favourites?

And if you’d like some help cutting through the foofaraw and making your marketing content more transpicuous, you can always give us a call on 01628 622187.

Ones to watch: HN’s 2017 B2B Marketing Predictions

With some pretty major predictions having been rather wide of the mark in 2016, you’d be forgiven for viewing prediction-based articles with a bit of scepticism. But you can’t stay ahead of the curve unless you’re looking forward. So let’s look at some of the trends that we think could shape B2B marketing activities in 2017.

Prediction 1:  360° video takes off

A lot of what’s currently touted as ‘VR’ is — at least outside the video game world — more accurately 360° video.

Nonetheless, it’s been an exciting development in 2016, being used in medicine and even to retell the story of the crucifixion. Facebook and YouTube have already integrated 360° video into their platforms. And 360° video ads and other marketing are surely not far behind. Visit Austria’s collection of videos demonstrate perfectly how 360° video encourages viewers to spend more time with the content you create.

Part of what makes 360° video so exciting is that its design is ‘mobile first’. Viewers can survey the panorama by turning and tilting their mobile phone. 80% of internet users own a smartphone, making the need for mobilised content more pressing than ever, and 360° video could be a powerful way to stand out from the crowd.

It also provides some of the immersive experience of more complex VR technology, without the price. So B2B content marketers can use it to bring content to life, especially dense and hard-to-visualise content.

For example, you could create a 360° video that places the viewer at the heart of a computer network during a cyber-attack. Or to liven up a virtual tour inside a data centre.

Prediction 2: Live video enhances corporate events

There’s something about the immediacy and unpredictability of live content that engages people much more than if it were recorded. With tools such as Facebook Live and Periscope growing in use, this is a trend to watch out for in the 2017 B2B marketing world.

Tools such as these could be used to livestream corporate conferences and events, allowing people all around the globe to tune in from the comfort of their office chairs.

Savvy marketers can also encourage delegates, speakers and employees at their events to generate their own live video content to share with their networks, increasing reach and engagement beyond those who follow your corporate social channels.

Prediction 3: White papers become mobile-friendly

Increasingly, your target business audiences will be accessing your social media channels (Twitter, LinkedIn et al) through their mobile phones. So have you thought about what happens when, for example, they click on a tweet promoting your white paper (a piece you’ve invested a lot of time and effort in), and find themselves having to download and read a PDF — on their mobile?

This is not an effective way of engaging and starting a conversation: the traditional white paper format just isn’t designed for the mobile channel. Which is why we think that condensing white papers into a mobile-friendly format could be a big thing this year.

The idea is to take ‘flat’ long-form content (your white paper) and create a teaser or trailer with mobile-friendly screens, designed for scrolling and swiping and using video or animations to bring it to life. Unlike infographics, which aren’t always easy to view on mobile devices, the ‘mobile white paper’ would be designed specifically to work on a mobile screen, giving the user a slick experience that adds to the overall power of the piece.

Where the full paper (in PDF form) would cause them to disengage, the shorter, mobile-friendly version would keep them interested and give them handy options for accessing the full paper once they’re using a more appropriate device (or have access to a printer).

Look out for a further blog on this topic, which will more fully explore why we think there’s a gap here that needs to be filled.

And with those predictions laid down, may we wish you a prosperous, exciting and fulfilling 2017.

Overcoming barriers to social media

It’s no surprise that we’re big on B2B here at HN. But we’ve always maintained that the one thing that underpins all our communications is that Holy Grail of marketing: H2H, or human-to-human interaction.

It’s also no coincidence that the rise of social media has corresponded with this more personal way of doing business, but it hasn’t escaped our attention that not everyone ‘does’ social. So what are the barriers to social media and how can you go about breaking them down?

1: Time

Quite possibly one of the greatest barriers to social media — and the reason many companies turn to us — is time. Particularly when business is good, social media can seem like an unnecessary distraction. We all know about the dangers of neglecting our human relationships though, and it’s no different in business.

Look at tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite to speed up the process of scheduling and posting, and Feedly and Curata to access quality content quickly.

2: Inspiration

Hand in hand with lack of time goes lack of inspiration. It can be hard to be creative, witty and social every day.

The scheduling and curation tools mentioned above will help — you can create a bucket of great content when the ideas are flowing. You can then drip-feed it out over the following days, weeks and months as you see fit.

Websites like Days of the Year offer a more useful, if quirky, source of inspiration — we’re particularly amused by the upcoming ‘No Beard Day’!

3: Culture

Number three on the list — and possibly the hardest to overcome — is culture.

We often hear that “this company will never be social”, but, when you look at the figures, it soon becomes apparent that social media can help you:

  • drive website traffic and sales
  • slash lead-generation costs
  • provide great insights into your audience

This is where you need to educate and motivate your workforce. You could even gamify the process, creating internal leaderboards for those who are most socially active.

Want to read more about the inherent value of social media to your content strategy? Why not check out our article on why social posts are such a vital part of content success. Or, if you want to carry on the conversation feel free to share your thoughts, questions and tips in the comments section below, or tell us about it on Twitter or LinkedIn.




Social Posts – When do you write yours?

In a recent post, we posed a question: when should you think about a hashtag campaign? If you didn’t catch that Take5, then I’ll summarise the answer for you: hashtags should be generated at the beginning of the asset creation process, when you’re in full creative flow.

But what about the social posts that support that same asset? They’re essential to the success of your content, so when should you create those?


At HN, we reckon the answer is that it should be done alongside the asset itself.

All too often, the tweets, LinkedIn updates and Pins that support an asset will be written in isolation of that asset, in some cases months after it was actually created. But research has indicated that as many as 75% of B2B buyers, and 84% of C-levels, use social to research purchase decisions.

Against those kinds of numbers, making sure that you’re embedding social activity in your content creation is a necessity.


By creating social posts at the same time as an asset, you’ll find that the quality of your posts, and the time taken to make them, should both improve for a couple of reasons:

  1. The writer’s head will still be ‘in’ the project, so they won’t have to waste time skim-reading (or watching, if it’s a video) the asset again to get the gist of it.
  2. The key messages that you want the asset to convey will still be fresh in the writer’s head, so they can ensure that the social posts also cover those key points, instead of having to try and remember (or guess, if the asset was written by someone else) what those key messages were when they come back to create the social posts later.

Of course, you may need other posts to support your assets later – perhaps linking to a different campaign, or a seasonal event. But if you start embedding the creation of a set of social posts in the content creation process, you’ll find that you can quickly increase the power of your social posting – and potentially save yourself some effort, too.

What do you think? Is social activity fully embedded in your content creation activities? Let us know on Twitter or LinkedIn – we’d love to hear from you.

Twitter direct message character limit – to 140 characters and beyond

We recently published a Take5 detailing a major change to Twitter’s direct message capability – namely that you can now send users a direct message people without you both having to follow each other. Almost before the keyboard had cooled down from writing that post , though, Twitter announced another change to direct messaging: the 140 character limit has been changed for direct messages, to 10,000 characters (or roughly 2,000 words, assuming each word has on average 5 characters in it). So to answer a question that we suspect many of you are wondering…

Does it matter?

As we mentioned in our last Take5 on this subject, the changes Twitter is making don’t mean that marketers can now use Twitter as a sort of EDM platform: it’s bad etiquette, for a start, and in any case since the user has to opt into the change your prospective audience may not be very large. So in that sense, the length of the DM could be said to matter very little.

However, we also mentioned that the changes do make Twitter a potentially powerful platform for supporting your customers – and this latest change only adds to that potential. With the ability to write longer and fuller messages than before, you can provide your customers with far more constructive help via Twitter – potentially answering their enquiry in its entirety without having to move the conversation to another platform. It’s also far easier for customers who receive great service to tweet their good experience to their followers, which can only be a good thing. One piece of advice – if you do start receiving customer enquiries through Twitter, it might be a good idea to periodically request your Twitter archive (under ‘settings’) so that you have a record of what’s been said.

What do you think?

What do you think of all the changes coming to Twitter? Have you taken advantage of them yet? Let us know in the comments section – or on Twitter – and have your say.

Changes to Twitter direct messaging – marketing gold?

In case you haven’t heard, there are some pretty big changes being made to the Twitter direct message (DM) functionality. The one we feel that’s caused the most excitement in the marketing world is that users can now opt to receive DMs from anyone, regardless of whether they’ve followed them or not. But does the change live up to the hype?

The opportunity
People have been talking about Twitter’s potential as a customer service tool for a long time now, and this new feature makes the platform an even handier way for customers to get in touch with you.

For example – I needed to change an Easyjet flight, and after a lengthy and unsuccessful interaction with their phone system, I tweeted them – and got a response back almost immediately:

Easyjet DM invite

The update meant that we could have a private conversation via Twitter, which resolved my issue far faster than calling them would have (the flight was moved with no problem, you’ll be glad to hear). One could just as easily have a similar conversation about technical configurations for a technology solution, or to book an engineer in to visit a customer site.

The risk
Some marketers might be tempted to try and use this new feature as an alternative to email marketing – after all, if anyone can reach you, then you can also reach them, right?

Not so fast. Firstly, there’s no data on how many users have opted in to this new feature – so there’s no guarantee that such a campaign would be successful. Secondly, remember that people have opted in to your email list – but they haven’t opted to receive DMs from you. If you start flooding people’s inboxes with sales messages, you’ll soon find yourself losing favour with your audience. Best to keep that sort of content for your email campaign, and focus on Twitter’s new features as a way to enhance your customer service.

What do you think? Do you see value in the new Twitter DM features? Let us know on Twitter or LinkedIn – or leave us a comment on the blog.

Twitter’s comment feature: now available in a tool near you

What’s the feature?
You may have seen it advertised on the web, or even used it yourself recently. When, on Twitter, you click the ‘retweet’ option, you’re now given the opportunity to add a comment.

Twitter comment - no text

You can add your thoughts on the tweet…

Twitter comment - with text
… and post them alongside the original tweet:

Twitter comment - posted

As one might expect, this feature is also available in Tweetdeck (since it’s owned by Twitter). Simply press the retweet button…

Tweetdeck - retweet button

… choose the ‘Quote Tweet’ option…

Tweetdeck - comment

… and add your comment.

Tweetdeck - post

A powerful feature…
This is a great feature for businesses because it means you can do much more with the tweet you want to share with your group. Quoting a tweet takes up fewer characters than retweeting it (just 22 characters), giving you more space to add your thoughts and context to the tweet and adding more value to your audience.

… now available in Hootsuite
The first thing we thought when we saw this feature (apart from ‘wow!’) was ‘does this work with Hootsuite?’ This is because at HN we use Hootsuite as well as Tweetdeck for scheduling our social media posts, and those of our clients. Though initial enquiries seemed unpromising…

Hootsuite convo

… our vote on Hootsuite’s ‘features we’d like to see’ page must have made a difference, because now you can! When you click the ‘retweet’ button as normal, you now get a third ‘quote’ option:

Hootsuite quote button

If you click it, a link appears in the tweet box:

Hootsuite quote text
Just add your comment to it and post or schedule as you would normally. Simple!

Have you used the ‘tweet with comment’ feature? Can you use it in your social media tools? Let us know on Twitter, LinkedIn, or by commenting on our blog.

Hashtags: more than just an afterthought

Here’s a question for you: when you’re creating social media content to support an asset, when do you create the hashtags? All too often, we see people doing it once the asset’s been finalised, and the whole social media post becomes a sort of bolt-on to the piece itself.

In our experience, the best success comes when the hashtags are created at the very beginning of the creative process – often at the same time as you’re brainstorming the piece. At this point, everyone’s thoughts are (or should be) tuned to what the customer wants to hear – what messages will resonate with them, drive them, and inspire them to hear what you’ve got to say.

Contrast that with the end of the creative process, where thoughts are more likely turned towards getting the asset finished, and (depending on how long the asset has taken to create) people’s creativity may be ebbing.

When it comes to creating a hashtag – which needs to move your audience to engage with and share your content – which of those two environments would you rather be in?

The hashtag you choose to support an asset shouldn’t just be catchy; it has to relate to the same customer needs that are driving that asset’s creation. Think of it almost like a campaign driver; a word or phrase that evokes the emotion, or the attitude, you want the asset to foster in your audience. By planning your social activity at the same time as your asset creation, you’ll not only come up with a better hashtag – you might find yourself discovering a whole social campaign theme that you wouldn’t have thought of if you were just bashing off a few tweets or Facebook posts once the asset was finished.

How do you create hashtags for your assets? We’d love to know. Leave us a comment, or get in touch on Twitter and LinkedIn, to let us know.

Should you respond to favourites on Twitter?

Simple enough question: should you respond to favourites on Twitter? We took this question to a LinkedIn forum, and the conversation it spawned was fascinating.

Some people were completely in favour of responding to a favourite:



They make a good point – after all, social media is designed to spawn conversations, so when someone alights on one of your posts, why not say hello and thank them for their time?

Other respondents, however, were not in favour:



Now, although we feel that a simple ‘thank you for favouriting our tweet’ shouldn’t ruffle any feathers or come across as over-eager, we can see their point that responding to a favourite with a gushing invitation to connect further would be a little disconcerting. So…

Our conclusion
We have to side with the commenters who said that it depended on the context of the favourite.



Though social media is all about engagement, there will be times when responding to your favourites would be impractical (if you have hundreds, for example) or feel very forced. At the same time, if the person was someone we really wanted to connect with, we might go further than a simple ‘thank you’ and work to cultivate the relationship.

What do you think? Should a company or an individual respond to favourites or retweets on Twitter? Have your say in the comments section or on Twitter or LinkedIn.