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March Madness: 3 tips for social media success

Posted by admin on March 11, 2016

Conversations about the “first four in and first four out” have started dominating the sports world, and that can only mean one thing – March Madness is here.

With the arrival of the 21-day, 67-game NCAA college basketball tournament, brands and advertisers alike are gearing up to make sure their brands and clients are ready to take advantage of one of the largest (and longest) cultural events that takes place each year.

While the NCAA represents amateur athletics, March Madness is big business. In fact, according to Kantar Media, the NCAA’s post-season tournament generated $1.13 billion in ad revenue during the 2014 tournament. That ranks just second to the NFL’s post-season playoffs, which came in at $1.23 billion over only 11 games – yes, that includes the Super Bowl.

With Turner Sports and CBS Sports taking the lead in broadcasting all 67 games via cable and streaming on, every moment in every game becomes an opportunity for brands to take advantage of trending conversations. However, unlike the Super Bowl, GRAMMYs, or Oscars, March Madness spans 21 days, seven rounds (from First Four to the NCAA Championship Game) and 14 cities – for real-time marketing, that’s a challenge.

In order to leverage the conversations around March Madness and generate brand awareness on social media, the biggest question a brand needs to ask is: “Is March Madness relevant to my brand?” If it is not, go ahead and kick back and watch the drama unfold. If it is relevant to your brand and your audience, here are some tips for being successful on social media for your brands come tournament time.

1. Become a sponsor or don’t say, “March Madness.”

The biggest rule for brands to know going into the NCAA tournament is that the terms “March Madness” and “Final Four” are copyrighted by the NCAA and enforced heavily – especially in regard to advertisers. Brands pay to the tune of $35 million per year for the privilege of aligning themselves with the NCAA. Therefore, if your brand is not a corporate sponsor, you cannot mention “March Madness” or “Final Four” in any advertisements.

Don’t worry, however, there are other ways.

2. Develop a tournament-themed campaign based on consumer insights.

According to Fortune, the value of decreased worker productivity during March Madness is estimated to be upwards of $1.2 billion. Playing off this, Buffalo Wild Wings created a series of March Madness ads around excuses for getting out of work.

Additionally, Bud Light continued its #UpForWhatever campaign, based around consumer insights and learnings, for NCAA tournament viewing parties and tweeted out this image during the Elite Eight.

All of these tweets and campaigns were highly successful because of insights and relevancy to the topic – all without using the terms March Madness or Final Four.

3. Be ready for the moment.

Real-time marketing during March Madness can be a challenge. Having an always-on strategy is great, but for 21 straight days, the NCAA is a different beast. While it is a challenge for social media marketers to be ready at a moment’s notice, last-second buzzer beaters, Cinderella stories and bracket-busting upsets create opportunities that real-time marketers dream of. These are just some examples of brands that were ready to go after some crazy moments during the last few tournaments.

However your brand decides to attack the tournament, be relevant, be ready and be sure to avoid the term “March Madness.”

By Cory Brinson, Associate Director – Social Media

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Does Your Brand Have a Winning Social Media Strategy for the Oscars? The envelope pleaseā€¦

Posted by Blanche Sullivan on February 26, 2016

The Academy Awards remains one of the top live TV events of the year; it’s one of the few remaining tentpole cultural events on the modern broadcast calendar. With the average cost of a 30-second spot in this year’s telecast running around a cool $2 million+*, it’s no surprise that brands are thirsty for any opportunity to reach Oscars viewers (all 37 million of them, at least in 2015) at a fraction of the cost.

But a problem arises when brands are, as the millennials say, too thirsty. Brands that, 364 days of the year, have little discernible affiliation with film, pop culture commentary, celebrity, beauty, fashion (pick any topic relevant to the Oscars experience), suddenly have something to say on the matter. For just one day, as the real-time marketing siren song goes, your brand could be Oreo. But at what cost? The cost is 364 days of brand planning, positioning, strategy, messaging; and, in a worst case scenario, the brand’s actual customers.

Not to say that there aren’t ways to make event-centric content (and even commentary!) work for a brand. Perhaps these ways just seem less sexy, less tantalizingly risky than a war room locked and loaded for the timeliest tweet, ‘gram, or Snap story during a high-stakes event, such as the Oscars. They involve not simply target consumer research, but trendspotting, conversational forecasting, channel listening, monitoring and planning to lay the groundwork for “a big idea.” This is on top of alignment with higher-level mandatories, such as brand voice, tone and personality.

One might call all these factors at play the critical elements of social brand strategy. And much like an overall brand strategy, social marketing for these real-time events should never be a one-size-fits-all approach.

Brands will do well to pay attention to what’s currently happening with Oscars chatter, rather than creating content in a conference room vacuum, or relying on off-the-cuff brand chatter to meet goals (the tail wagging the dog, when it comes to strategic planning).

Here are some areas of consideration for the 2016 Oscars, when it comes to building out real-time social media plan for your brand:

There’s Gold in Them (Lesser-Known Hashtag) Hills

Do your research to find hashtags and conversations – beyond the obvious #Oscars2016 or #AcademyAwards. In the week leading up to the Oscars, #MillennialOscarsCategories was pre-show popcorn-passing for many Twitter users. Do some digging (and listening) to see what conversations matter to your audience, your target and your brand.

Be an Active, Mindful Participant

Consumer brands: Take notice of the conversation around you. With big controversies, such as #OscarsSoWhite and a call for a boycott of this year’s show, the conversation has the potential to shift quickly. Avoid looking uninformed or self-serving by not wading into potentially dangerous waters.

Cross the Platform Bridge

While “live-tweeting” is a commonly used buzz phrase, the idea of timely content is channel-agnostic. If your audience is most active on Instagram, build creative that resonates with them there! Don’t marry yourself to Twitter if your brand isn’t ready to take that leap for the long haul.

Even if your brand doesn’t have an Oscars plan, make sure you’ve got community management in place to engage with your community, should they mention you directly. Be clever, if that’s your brand, and be in-the-moment, while being mindful. That’s what authentic social engagement is all about, whether it’s Oscars season or just a day in the life of your brand.

– Emily Grim, Sr. Digital Strategist, BFG Communications

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Back to the Future

Posted by Bfgcom on October 21, 2015

Billion-dollar film franchise inspired Lexus’ hoverboard and many other cool inventions

The Back to the Future film franchise, which has grossed nearly a billion dollars in box office receipts worldwide, kicked off with its first film in 1985. The sequel, Back to the Future: Part II, was released in 1989 and featured Oct. 21, 2015 as the date when the film’s lead character, Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, blasted off into a high-tech future via his flying, time–traveling DeLorean.

However, the film’s impact on pop culture has been far more reaching than any dollar amount. In addition to inspiring the world to officially recognize Oct. 21, 2015 as “Back to the Future Day,” BTTF has inspired many of the coolest products, from sneakers to automobiles, to hit the market.

One of the products that has kept the Internet buzzing is a hoverboard creation powered by engineers at Lexus. The hoverboard uses liquid nitrogen-cooled superconductors and magnets to hover. And yes, it actually works.
[Click here to check out a Fox News video that explains science behind the Lexus hoverboard.]

"At Lexus, we constantly challenge ourselves and our partners to push the boundaries of what is possible,” said Mark Templin, executive vice president, Lexus International. “That determination, combined with our passion and expertise for design and innovation, is what led us to take on the hoverboard project. It’s the perfect example of the amazing things that can be achieved when you combine technology, design and imagination.”

Unfortunately for early adopters, Lexus has no current plans to sell the boards. The Toyota-made board was created strictly for the brand’s Amazing in Motion Campaign.
In addition to Lexus’ model, the Hendo and Omni are touted as promising hoverboards that actually work.

The Lexus not-for-sale invention made us think of a few other gadgets that don’t fully exist, but would be super cool if they were available.

Self-driving cars: Audi, BMW, Google, Mercedes and Tesla have released, or are planning to release, autonomous vehicles or self-driving features. The hard part isn’t creating a car that can drive sans human interaction. Current safety technology has proven that automobiles can park, stop and keep pace with traffic without the driver. The difficult part of the deal is cities creating highways that are advanced enough for the autonomous cars to drive on. According to a Business Insider report, an estimated 10 million self-driving cars will be on the road by 2020.

Futuristic fuel: Inspired by Back to the Future, Toyota has plans to turn trash, a significant source of biogas, into fuel. [Check out the video describing the science behind Toyota’s “Fueled by the Future” initiative].

The rolling bench: A little under a decade ago, Sungwoo Park unveiled one of the biggest no-brainer products in years. The rolling bench features a handle on the side that allows users to rotate the seat to expose the dry/clean side of a bench. This design should be in every park in the world.

GPS shoes: Most people have access to GPS, whether it’s in their cars, phones or even watches. Why not cut out the middleman and put them in your shoes? Dominic Wilcox did exactly that with his 2012 invention. The GPS shoes look normal at first glance, but the LED lights under the dots in the toe box of each shoe are functional in that one points in the right direction while the other gauges progress. When wearing these, the trick would be not looking down at your feet while walking. Accidents happen that way.

Self-lacing shoes: On October 21, 2015, Nike announced that it is going to begin producing self-lacing shoes, like those featured in Back to the Future: Part II, and plans to send Michael J. Fox its first pair.

The neuralizer: Since we’re wishing gadgets from films were real, wouldn’t it be cool if the neuralizer from the Men in Black franchise actually existed? There are a plethora of everyday situations that this thing would come in handy for: speeding tickets, coming home way too late, saying the wrong thing to your spouse, etc. One flick of a button, and all is forgotten.

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Brands Sliding Into Your DMs

Posted by on April 30, 2015

“Communicating with people you may or may not know in real life just got easier,” says Twitter Senior Software Engineer Nhu Vuong’s blog post announcing the most substantial change yet to Twitter's direct messaging system. On April 20th the company revealed that its platform now allows users to accept Direct Messages (DMs) from any other user.

Before this change, users had to follow each other in order to swap DMs. The presumption was that people who want to privately communicate already know each other well enough to exchange follows, which makes sense given that Twitter is infamous for being home to a burgeoning number of Internet trolls.

A recent example is the Gamergate scandal that occurred in 2014. Several female figures of the online game culture were relentlessly harassed and threatened by users who never faced any consequences from Twitter or the law. Twitter’s CEO Dick Costolo knows that this has been an area of failure, even admitting in an internal memo, “We suck at dealing with abuse…We lose core user after core user by not addressing simple trolling issues that they face every day.”

So why, then, is the company making it seemingly easier for trolls to get their kicks? Before answering that, let’s be fair and make it clear that this is an optional feature that users need to change manually.

To give Twitter even more credit, you can also block any user who abuses the new feature and harasses you.  Twitter is also flagging redundant messages sent to multiple people as “spam activity” and locking DMs for users who spam others.

Although these are appropriate actions to take, the truth is that it may not be enough. Twitter hasn’t addressed a way to identify users who create multiple accounts for harassment or spam, which makes locking a single account useless. It also hasn’t addressed the fact that this feature is simply unwanted by the majority of the community.

The reasons behind the change, however, are simple. Twitter is a public company beholden to many people, and competitors such as WhatsApp and Facebook already allow unsolicited private communication. Obviously the platform wants to stay relevant, and the most powerful users on Twitter represent some of its shareholders’ favorites: brands.

Until April 20th, we needed to follow our followers in order to communicate with them. Now all comments, complaints and questions can take place out of the public eye, and the exchange of personal information is much easier (think about all of those “surprise and delights”).

However, many users in the tech and media industries have already speculated that this change will increase abuse through DMs. Several have noted that Costolo has not yet enabled the feature.

Finally, an item that we feel warrants the most consideration but is something that no one has talked about in coverage we’ve seen is that people outside our industry will inevitably find out why their DMs have been changed. Will they not care that the reason a stranger is harassing them from dozens of accounts is because every would-be Walmart wants to ease customer service through theirs? Doubtful.

Unless you’re a brand that is completely inundated with @-mentions, it’s not too difficult to navigate responses on Twitter. We can un-follow the user we’re helping after their concerns have been resolved, and no one has to opt-in to what is potentially a negative experience using the network.

This should be a feature made available only to brands. That way, we aren’t viewed as the faceless entities that gave the community the choice to make itself vulnerable to harassment, and everyone wins.

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300 Million Reasons to Be on Instagram

Posted by mholliday on December 11, 2014



Instagram announced that it now boasts 300 million users, with more than 70 million images and videos shared each day. The platform also announced a more vigilant attempt to eliminate spam accounts, supported by a new verification system for celebrities and brands. Verifications will be handed out to a select few partners beginning this month, with the likelihood that this will become universally available early in 2015.

What Instagram did not specify was whether or not the 300 million referred to overall registered accounts or Monthly Active Users (MAUs), a more accurate number when considering the popularity of a platform. Twitter, for example, noted in its Q3 earnings report that the platform has 284 million MAUs. If Instagram’s numbers do hold true for MAUs, it would put the platform ahead of Twitter, for the time being.

It would not be a stretch to consider Instagram a more popular platform than Twitter, even if the numbers don’t pan out. We are consistently seeing a migration of key demographics moving from the traditional powerhouses like Twitter and Facebook to newer platforms, and Instagram has both the appeal of simplicity and the safety net of being owned and operated by Facebook.

That’s not to say Facebook and Twitter are losing. We are merely seeing a segmentation of how people use those platforms. They are no longer everything to everyone. Twitter, for example, has a firm foothold on the TV-viewing market, so much so that it is now a key indicator for Nielsen ratings.

What this announcement from Instagram does tell us is that our observations on platform segmentation are correct, and tactics for the various platforms should be based on the audiences that gravitate to them. It also validates all those brands and celebrities already there, though Instagram has long been considered a must-have for many when building a digital marketing plan.

If you are interested in exploring new platforms, or would like to know what the next Instagram might be, contact BFG Communications to find out what makes the most sense for your brand.

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