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.

Subtitles: old technology, new uses

Our video content consumption habits have brought up the importance and relevance of closed captioning.

Before Facebook started autoplaying video content without sound in its newsfeed a few years ago, we talked very little about closed captioning.

However, since then, all video projects we produce for our clients are systematically subtitled to allow viewing without sound, as very often these videos are viewed ad hoc in a Facebook, Instagram or other social media newsfeed.

We are a generation of content consumers for whom subtitles are no longer a tool for people with hearing disabilities, but a tool that allows us to view more content in more diverse contexts than before.

No headphones and in a crowded bus? No problem. Insomnia and a sleeping loved one? No problem.

Netflix has also played its part in this movement!

We now very regularly listen to Scandinavian series with the original soundtrack, thanks to closed captions, and many even listen to series and feature films in their own language with the subtitles. Why? Because it ensures that nothing is missed.

Jason Kottke recently asked himself the question, wanting to know what makes subtitles so popular these days. A Twitter discussion ensued and excellent points were raised by other users, which he references in his article.

If captioning is part of your life (personal or professional), I invite you to read Jason’s article, and also Lance Ulanoff’s that he mentions at the very end (where it talks about ADHD in particular). Very interesting!

Happy subtitling.

Facebook and YouTube’s mysterious interest in old TV series and films

In the past year, YouTube and Facebook have obtained the rights to distribute old movies and TV series. Here’s why.

The subject is relevant to both those in the media industry and those on the content marketing side of the fence.

Do you remember YouTube Red (circa 2015), now known as YouTube Premium? Have you spent time in the Facebook Watch tab since its launch?

Well, if the answers are no to any of these questions, you are not alone and the two giants are currently trying different tactics to attract their users to these platforms and for which they want to promote original series and feature films (à-la-Netflix).

One of these tactics is to obtain the rights of old popular properties that are not currently available elsewhere (Prime, Netflix, Apple, etc.).

Think Rocky, Terminator, Legally Blonde, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.

The idea? Attract audiences with these properties in order to “push” original productions after they’ve watched an episode or a film (much like the major American broadcasters do to build awareness for a new series).

Simon Owens wrote an excellent article on the subject, taking the analysis a little further and giving different details on the current situation for Facebook Watch and YouTube Premium.

I will let you read it and explore what might be relevant in this for the specific context of your brand.

An analysis of 5,860,631,392 articles shared on Facebook

What are the attributes of articles that generate the most social shares on Facebook?

Those of you who know me know that I am a computer engineer (I’m not a practitioner, however!).

So the geek in me is attracted to numbers, systems and analysis.

Neil Patel, who owns the “Ubersuggest” tool, also appreciates this type of content and has used the data collected through their tool to analyze the attributes of 5,860,631,392 articles shared on Facebook over time in 64 languages.

In an article published on his platform, he highlights some of the elements that seem, depending on how many times they are shared, to encourage readers to share what they have read and seen.

Here are some interesting elements:

  • How-To’s are the most popular;
  • Articles with a 7-word title generate a higher level of sharing than any other length;
  • The more images an article contains, the more it will be shared;
  • Your “list” type content should have as many elements as possible;
  • Articles between 5,000 and 10,000 words are the most shared.

Other statistics are taken from their data, including the emotion of the article, news versus evergreen, and a few others.

I will let you take the time to read the article, and feel free if you would like to discuss any of it, or even ask us to do a similar analysis, an audit, of your own content, we are never very far.

YouTube about to pass Facebook

How is your video strategy?

If I asked you that question today, what would you say?

Do you produce as much video content as you would like? Does the one you produce give you convincing results? Do you feel that the distribution and deployment of it is being done optimally?

These are all questions that marketing and media executives ask themselves every day. And the importance we must attach to the distribution of our video content is not slowing down.

It is now clear, Facebook is experiencing a slowdown. Engagement rates have changed significantly over the past year, and the strategies to adopt on this platform are constantly evolving and traffic is on the decline.

On the flip side, at YouTube, everything is fine. The platform is experiencing renewed, albeit modest, growth. In fact, it is about to become the second most visited site in the United States in a few months, surpassing Facebook!

That’s not nothing.

The Facebook locomotive is slowing down and YouTube, the platform of choice for video content consumption, is gaining speed.

Even if the most recent data reveals that it is photography and images that generate the greatest engagement (and not video), your video strategy must be clear and effective.

This Hubspot article gives you a clear picture of the current situation between Facebook and YouTube, but also step back and ask yourself about your own video distribution strategy.

Are the right tools and best practices in place? Is what you anticipate this year in terms of production optimal according to the available budgets?

We can assist you in these evaluations for the implementation of an effective video strategy. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

To combat Facebook’s algorithm, brands can turn to TV

What if television broadcasters’ audiences could be a solution to Facebook algorithm’s changes?

So at this point in time, I guess you’ve all had that internal meeting about how you would deal with all those changes Facebook has announced for its algorithm.

ListenFrist recently released its State of Social TV report, which analyzes how social media users engage with television broadcasters’ social properties.

It tracks engagement across multiple social networks, while also analyzing what types of content generate the most engagement (oh and by the way, Google+ still isn’t doing so well).

The solution? There is no recipe to generate engagement and listening to your audience remains by far the best way.

What the report outlines is that brands that partnered with TV broadcasters saw a great increase in overall engagement compared to posts published on their own social properties. This means that there is true value in branded content as partnership between a broadcaster and a brand.

My 2 favourite takeaways from the report (also from the article):

  • TV social branded content is highly effective: Social branded content published by TV pages outperformed non-branded content by an average 42% in 2017, and generated 9x more engagement than what an advertiser generated on its own page.
  • Decline in Facebook organic reach does not mean less people see content from media properties: While Facebook organic reach declined by 40% in 2017, the number of people who saw a TV post organically declined by only 13%, meaning TV posts reached audiences beyond a TV page’s fan base.

I invite you to read MarTechSeries’ article on the subject, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you would like to discuss this further.

Crafting the perfect social video

Hootsuite shares 4 ingredients that make the perfect recipe for your social videos.

Social videos are all the rage.

Social videos are videos that are produced and aimed at generating engagement and viewership on social media.

But there are tweaks that you can use to make them perform even better.

Hootsuite’s Kaylynn Chong recently shared 4 key ingredients that will make a difference in the results and ROI you will get from videos that you share on social media:

  • They are short and sweet: Nearly two thirds of consumers prefer video under 60 seconds according to an Animoto study.
  • They are optimized for specific platforms and devices : Mobile first, sound-off, square? You need to think about these things.
  • They include descriptive text or subtitles : Going back to that sound-off issue mentioned above, you need to consider subtitles and visual descriptive text.
  • They have a clear call to action : You’re not producing video just for fun. You are actually tying it to a business objective. People should know what you want them to do after watching your video.

The article points to many great resources, so you can spend some time reading it, but if you have extra time on your hands (sure you do!), take the time to click on the links to do a deeper dive into social videos.

Facebook is coming to your television

Facebook is going all-in with video in 2017.

Last night, it was the first time a production from a streaming producer (Amazon in this case) was nominated for an Oscar.

And it won’t be the last.

Facebook is the next group who is making a big push for television and video entertainment. 2017 will be the year of video for them, and longer video at that.

They want you to spend even more time on the platform and are building products that will allow publishers to easily produce and monetize long video content. Tools like midroll ads, ad breaks and such will allow publishers to get an incentive into producing longer form content that engages and retains audiences.

This is what’s coming in 2017 for them (at least what we know now):

  • An Amazon TV and Apple TV app
  • Original content (now this could be interesting!)
  • Midroll ads
  • Ad breaks
  • Better video recommendations

With all this in the pipeline, we’re pretty sure to be seeing a lot of changes in our newsfeed in the coming months. To read more about it, I suggest you read the Digiday article that dives deeper into the opportunities for buyers into all these projects.

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.

Facebook and video: changes in the news feed

Longer videos will have more weight in Facebook’s news feed algorithm

Facebook’s news feed algorithm, much like Google’s search algorithm, is a well-kept corporate secret. But once in a while, both corporations reveal certain changes they are bringing to their respective platforms.

Facebook announced it was making a change in the way the importance of the completion rate is considered for longer form videos.

In the past, from what we understand, view rate (the percentage of a video that is viewed) allowed the algorithm to establish if you would be seeing more (or less) videos of the same type.

From now on, as reported in an AdWeek article, the duration of a video will also have an impact on the algorithm.

This means that longer form videos that have a high completion rate will be favoured and should see an increase in distribution, while shorter videos might see a slight dip (it is not known what constitutes long-form video vs short form).

But rest assured, the importance remains in the creation and distribution of video content that is relevant and that is of the proper duration for the story you have to tell. Facebook’s objective is not to entice you to produce longer content, but rather to say that the way engagement with longer form content is analyzed must be different than the way it is for shorter form content.

At Toast, we regularly test the impact of the duration of videos we publish on Facebook. We recently completed a campaign for a client in which we had 640 different creatives with variations in ad copy, call-to-action, but mainly we were testing different durations of video ad content (15 seconds, 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes). In this specific case, it’s the longer form videos that generated the most engagement (clicks, watch time, etc.). Do not hesitate to contact me to gravel@gotoast.ca if you’d like to know more about our tests.

If this subject really interests you, I also recommend you read the article published over at AdWeek on these new changes in Facebook’s algorithm. An interesting read.