The Incredible Rise of Stories

Stories have taken over the content strategies of many advertisers. Here is an overview of the situation.

More than 500 million accounts use the Instagram Stories every day and 300 million do so with Facebook and Messenger Stories.

Is your brand present in this format? Does it reach its audiences on the different platforms that offer this type of tactic?

More and more studies and analyses are being published on the successes that many have seen through Facebook’s Stories platform.

AdWeek recently posted an interesting guide on the format, a guide that presents many practical examples from brands such as Marks & Spencer, HelloFresh, OpenTable and Coca-Cola.

It includes guidelines on Stories’ performance factors such as the use of vertical format, rhythm, sound, sequences and playfulness.

The article is sponsored by Facebook, and written by Kay Hsu, Global Director Instagram Creative Shop, so of course it leans towards all the positive aspects of Stories, but it contains excellent examples from which your brand can benefit.

If you would like to explore the potential of the Stories for your brand, let us know and schedule a free consultation with our experts at Toast today.

How National Geographic reached 100 million followers on Instagram

The brand gives credit to its 130+ photographers, to whom it has given full control of its Instagram account.

Have you ever heard of a “takeover” of a brand’s social network account? It is a practice where a brand gives control of one or more of its accounts for a day, a week or even a month to a well-known individual, an influencer or even another brand.

The idea is that this new person will give a different vibe to the account during this period because of the content they will be posting and thus will not only attract a new audience to the brand, but also create renewed engagement from its existing audience.

But how about giving control of your Instagram account to more than 100 highly creative brains at the same time?

This is what National Geographic has been doing with its @natgeo account for a long time, giving control to its photographers, allowing them to publish directly on the platform.

The advantage is there for photographers, as Aaron Huey, who has been contributing to the account since 2012, says:

“You can spend a year and a half publishing eight, ten or twelve photos, but during the same period on Instagram, you can tell 30, 40 or 50 stories.”

And this approach not only highlights National Geographic’s photographers, it also generates revenue given the size of the audience.

The photo you see at the top of this article is from a collaboration with Samsung where the captions accompanying the photos mentioned the fact that they were taken with a Samsung mobile device, while retaining the importance of the story being told.

This is what made the @natgeo account the first account of a brand to reach 100M followers on Instagram.

This article published in AdWeek gives a lot of details on the brand’s approach and thinking in this context, an excellent example from which your brand could perhaps be inspired? (you will notice that you must be registered with AdWeek to view it, but it’s free, don’t worry!)



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Photo by @katieorlinsky // Captured #withGalaxy S9+, produced with @samsungmobileusa using Pro Mode ISO 50 at 1/2449th f 2.4 // Flying through the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes in Katmai National Park, Alaska. Along with a group of scientists and park rangers led by archeologist Laura Stelson, we followed in the footsteps of botanist Robert F. Griggs who led multiple National Geographic Society expeditions in the early twentieth century to explore the region and study the aftermath of the 1912 Katmai Volcanic eruption. The Nova Rupta volcano displaced the area’s mainly Alutiiq indigenous population, filling their surroundings with ash flow we can still see today. Meanwhile the eruption decimated massive swaths of land, including what Griggs named the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, ”The whole valley as far as the eye could reach was full of hundreds, no thousands—literally, tens of thousands—of smokes curling up from its fissured floor,” he described. After nearly two weeks hiking hundreds of miles, climbing up mountains, wading through rivers and sleeping uncomfortably close to Grizzly bears, we finally reached the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.

A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo) on



If you would like to explore the Instagram potential of your brand a little more, contact us and let us know about your current projects and we could help you in your efforts to implement a new dimension to your content strategy.

The 5-second rule for videos

You’ve probably heard it before: when it comes to social media, a video’s first 5 to 15 seconds are critical. This brief window is known as the hook or tease.

Every platform has its own criteria for what counts as a video view. In a recent blog post, Buffer published an interesting infographic on video metrics. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter consider a view to be a mere three seconds. View counts don’t necessarily reflect how well a video is performing, however—except maybe with YouTube, where views are based on a strict 30 second minimum. Then there’s advertising, where engaging the viewer for more than five seconds is key.

It’s clear that on any platform, especially in the case of auto-play videos, the first few moments are vital to grabbing your viewers’ attention—even more so given that Canadians have an average attention span of just eight seconds. To complicate matters further, auto-play videos now tend to be muted by default. This means that all-important hook needs to be just as effective without sound.



  • Your audience should be hooked by the first thing they see.
  • Address your audience directly by asking a question or sparking their curiosity.
  • Use teasers to show entertaining moments from the rest of the video.



  1. According to a Facebook study, the first three seconds of a video can determine up to 47 per cent of its value, while the first 10 can determine up to 74 per cent (
  2. Using the word you nearly doubles your chances of snagging a video view. The more you address your viewers in the opening 30 seconds, the more likely they will be to stick around.
  3. Include captions and make sure your video can be viewed without sound.
  4. Avoid using logos in your hook. According to YouTube’s Creator Playbook, five seconds of branding and packaging in the body of the video is all you need. Opening logos may heighten brand awareness, but they end up detracting from your message.






The Instragram Mafia

Instagram influencers are stuck in a business atmosphere that is not always as transparent and real as it looks like.

To discover the most beautiful places on the planet, you can turn to Instagram and be assured that you will find breathtaking landscapes, while being secretly filled with envy for those photographers and bloggers that scour the planet all year long.

But not everything is as beautiful as one would make you believe.

In a universe where we hope our content, our product, our brand are seen by the largest audience possible, we sometimes turn to these influencers that seem to obtain such a unique level of engagement that could only be beneficial to the promotion of what we have to offer.

And this is where the Instagram “game” starts. Accounts that have tens (or hundreds) of thousand of followers, that get thousands of likes per publication. What part of this engagement is real and really has value?

Does this Instagram account really work at adding and creating the most beautiful photos possible, to allow its followers to discover unique places or do they make sure they work on their “numbers”, their statistics, so they can generate revenue?

Sara Melotti, a blogger and photographer that has just over 30,000 followers recently raised a large flag about certain tactics used by influencers like her.

  • engagement automation;
  • non-creative choice of places she has visited;
  • random engagement;
  • use of collective accounts;
  • buying followers, likes, shares;
  • etc.

«I am ashamed of everything I have done in the past 6 months,» mentions Sara Melotti.

Instagram is a great tool in the content marketer’s arsenal. It is a platform that allows the distribution and the promotion of content, creating engagement and amplification for your brand. It also gives you access to a large number of influencers that can help your brand reach an ever-growing audience, something you might not have access to on a daily basis.

But things are never perfect, and by reading the Business Insider article I am recommending (and you can also read Sara Melotti’s full article on her blog), you will discover what you should ask, watch out for, avoid, when you interact with Instagram influencers.

16 Video Marketing Benchmarks

Statistics to help you get a better understanding of the power of video marketing.

Vidyard, a video management platform, has just released their 2017 Video in Business Benchmarks report.

It contains invaluable information on the power and impact video can have on your audience.

They summed up some of the key points in an infographic (you can access it by clicking the button below), but here are 2 that I found particularly interesting:

  1. 56% of the videos published in the last year were less than 2-minutes long
  2. The average video retains 37% of viewers to the last second

Now remember that from what we can gather from their methodology, this is a report that focuses on videos that are published/embedded on your site. It does not cover social videos or videos published on a more global platform (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.).

Nonetheless, this is a very interesting report and if you are into video and/or marketing, it is a great read.

Confessions of an Instagram Influencer

A Bloomberg journalist gave himself 30 days to become an Instagram influencer.

The world of influencers is exploding.

Agencies, agents, groups, companies are born each month, all dedicated to the phenomenon of influencers, and they are wildly encouraged by the appetite of brands and marketers.

You have half-a-million followers on Instagram, YouTube or Facebook? You can monetize this situation by accepting offers that you will receive from brands wanting to get themselves known and shown.

The model is a good one. Someone builds an audience with their talent, their photos, their content and an advertiser wants to reach that same audience, so why not combine the two and make a deal?

But, as you will discover reading this article, an entire industry was created around this and not everything is as authentic as some would want you to believe, or at least not everything is the fruit of a single person’s efforts.

I am suggesting this article today not to try and make you believe that all influencer marketing is tainted by this, but to allow you to know this industry a little better.

At Toast, we swim in influencer marketing (we actually have announcements lined up for 2017, that’s a scoop!). As an example, we work with Jimmy Sévigny, who can reach about 2M people each week with his posts on Facebook, thanks to his 230k fans. These are opportunities for brands and marketers to be able to reach a niche and engaged community (because it really is a community). As audience builders, our objective at Toast is to maintain the authenticity of this community, while growing it around Jimmy’s content and business objectives.

The Bloomberg article concentrates on Instagram influencers, but this same reality can be applied to Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat or any other social network where someone can build a decent audience.

I invite you to take a cup of coffee, or tea, or any other warm beverage for that matter, sit down and dive into the world of influencers.

Video marketing + social platforms = ♥

We’ve seen the future. And it has a lot of short branded videos published on social platforms.

You’ve seen those Tasty videos right? Its Facebook page currently has over 60M likes and it is growing at an astounding rate. Why? Because its content is short, catchy, useful, and every interaction an individual has with a Facebook post the page does is seen by an ever-wider network of his or her friends.

At Toast, we produce a lot of these short-form videos for brands and clients (L’Oréal, Bell Media, etc) and we can see how they remain the perfect form for getting genuine engagement on social platforms these days. Email me if you would like to know more about costs and opportunities for your brand.

Compared to YouTube, where to get real additional reach a person needs to actually share a video so that it can get a lift in views, on Facebook a simple interaction has the potential to reach hundreds of additional eyeballs.

This is an example of the power marketers are seeing with branded videos on social platforms. The tools at their disposal are getting more powerful every month.

When you start combining the organic potential of social platforms with the possibilities of paid reach, you really have a mean, powerful machine in your hands.

And this is why there currently is a shift between video platforms and social platforms as to which is preferred for publishing video content. According to a Trusted Media Brands study, 65% of marketers think social platforms are the most important media for digital video campaigns.

So keep that YouTube page fed and alive, but make sure you are also publishing natively on social platforms. This is where the action is happening, and your potential of reach is highest.

The article I am recommending this week was published over at Clickz and sums up the key takeaways from the TMB study titled “The Future of Digital Video”, which you can also download if you follow links in the article.

Video Marketing: 6 scientific reasons

The reasons that demonstrate the efficacy of video marketing are multiple, and scientific.

The key in content marketing, notably video marketing, and audience creation is the memorability of what you create and publish. As the main objective is not to sell immediately, it is essential that the message that you want to bring to the consumer be built so that it is memorized, with the objective that he or she takes action on it in the future.

Multiple research papers are currently being published around the subject of content memorability. How can we optimize the creation and publication of content so that it has the biggest impact possible on our audience?

Carmen Simon, author of “Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions” (an essential read on the subject!), has developed a framework that allows you to evaluate how many elements that favour content memorability are present in your content, and if it is possible to add even more.

And video in all this?

The different channels at your disposal for the publication, deployment and amplification of your content each have their advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will focus on the scientific advantages of video.

In a recent article published over at DemoDuck, 6 scientific reasons that explain the efficacy of video were presented and vulgarized:

  1. Memory storage: visual elements are stored in the “long term” part of your memory, which means they have better chances of being memorized for a longer period of time.
  2. Processing speed: according to certain studies, the brain can process visual content 60,000 times faster than text. This means it is possible to integrate a more complex message in less time thanks to video.
  3. Processing location: visual content is encoded in the medial temporal lobe. Interesting fact, this is the region that also processes emotions. This is why it is frequent that an emotion be attached to the memory of an image or a video, making it even more memorable.
  4. Connectivity: 40% of the nerve fibres of the brain are connected to the retina. This creates a great transmission channel for the treatment of images and video.
  5. Visual learning: this same connectivity is an important factor in the fact that 90% of the information that is sent to the brain is visual, making it a big reason why 65% of the population consider preferring images to text.
  6. Focus: video has this capacity, if it is well produced and clear, to grab the attention of the person watching it. You might have noticed that it is harder to disturb someone watching a video than someone reading a text.

These are 6 very simple reasons (too simple?), but they give an excellent idea of the breadth of power video marketing has.

We have touched on scientific factors, in the wide sense of it, of the impact that video can have, but without considering how your offer, your product or your brand could be integrated in it. We have actually, here at Toast, recently had great discussions with Guillaume Fortin of Neurometric on the factors of attentional gain, interest and disturbance in the integration of advertisers in video content. This will most surely be the object of a future article.