The BFG spin on all things digital,

social and creative – or otherwise blogworthy.

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.

Comments (0 )

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.

Comments (0 )

Are You Pushing Your Fans Away?

Posted by Kristen Powell on December 08, 2014

Facebook has been conducting an ongoing survey, and what many have known for a long time is now official — users want to see posts from friends and the Pages they care about, not promotional content. The survey did reveal one surprise, though, according to a recent Facebook for Business blog post: The posts people consider “too promotional” are actually coming from Pages they like and aren’t conventional ads at all.

So how do you know if you’re annoying your hard-earned brand fans? The survey listed three traits of too-promotional organic posts:

1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

It’s clear that brands need to offer fans engaging content relevant to their life, and Facebook is listening to its users. Starting in January, those Pages that only push products may pay a price — new volume and content controls will be put into place for promotional posts, and organic distribution could fall.

This is positive news for brands that know how to connect. As the “shouting” from ineffective ads falls away, the dynamic, engaging content will rise to the top, opening the door for brands to find more fans and create even more brand loyalists.

Want to engage your fans instead of peddling links? Contact to see what we’ve done for other brands and, more important, what we can do for yours.


Comments (0 )

Don’t Let Sloppy Retargeting Anger Your Consumer

Posted by Kristen Powell on November 25, 2014

As it turns out, many consumers don’t like when a product follows them from site to site merely because it was viewed once on Amazon. And thanks to a study published by InSkin Media and Rapp Media, we now know exactly how many. Exchange Wire reported that “only 10% of 1,600 20-60 year-olds are more likely to buy an item after being served multiple times with ads for products based on their prior surfing behavior.”

More important, seeing even a relevant ad after research is over is “15% more likely to discourage than encourage a purchase.” 

So how do you make sure your ad is there when your consumer is ready to buy — without turning them off?

Careful behavioral retargeting goes a long way toward making sure your customers are seeing the right ad at the right time. Serving retargeted ads on relevant and trusted websites makes consumers more likely to click as well.

To see how ads can engage consumers instead of turn them away from your brand, contact BFG at

Comments (0 )

Video Cameras Take Content Marketing from Extreme to Accessible

Posted by on November 20, 2014

What was once only a tool for extreme athletes has become a powerful source of content for any brand: GoPro cameras. These devices are used to show the point of view of a single subject, capturing a personal vantage point. This creates a more relatable type of story than you might find in a more professionally produced film that uses multiple angles and types of cameras or lenses.

The places these small cameras can go are as limitless as the applications for the device, but the focus is often singular and intimate. Because of this, each video has a powerful personal story. It’s an excellent way to dissolve the barrier between audience and content.

Brands are starting to utilize the cameras to portray their goods in real-life situations. By cutting from traditional angles to this fixed perspective, the audience is not simply a passive observer in these ads, but involved in what’s going on to create a stronger connection. This is accessibility on a grand scale, making the experiences relatable to anyone. It’s what makes the device so powerful.

What is most compelling to many brands is that any consumer can use these cameras; they are inexpensive, portable, and durable. Properly motivated, anyone can produce a video featuring any company’s products or services. It’s engaging, consumable content, the type of earned media that can help influence consideration.

And it’s not even just for people. With GoPro rolling out a mount for dogs, there’s a whole new species of content producers.


If you would like to learn more about how content marketing can help your business, contact BFG at

Comments (0 )