Get ready for TikTok, Reels, and other short-video apps

Short video apps are all the craze, taking the world by storm. Is your brand ready?

At this point, there are good chances you’ve heard of TikTok, a Chinese-based app that has been downloaded 1.5 billion times outside of its domestic market (as of early 2020).


Apps like TikTok are basically video-sharing social networks that are used to create short lip-sync, comedy and talent videos. These videos can run from 3 seconds all the way up to 60 seconds, depending on the platform. Users select a soundtrack (a music clip, the sound from another video on the platform, or recorded sound, for example). This is why you’ll often see dozens, if not hundreds of videos that use the exact same soundtrack, but are “re-enacted” by other users, in their own way (a choreography or specific dance moves are good examples).


But it is not the only app that was born in the Chinese market off the buzz around creating short-video content that can be easily produced and then shared.


Kwai is hot in Brazil, VMate is hot in India and Likee is hot in Russia and Southeast Asia.


Brands are starting to take notice and many have started producing for the platform.


Publishing content on TikTok and similar platforms require having specific narratives, an approach that is different from what a brand might by publishing elsewhere. Your Facebook or Instagram story is a great start, but it might not be exactly what the user base is looking for when spending time on TikTok.


So how should your brand evaluate if there is potential for it on this new venture? First, create yourself an account and spend 5 minutes every day watching what is being published, which memes or challenges or type of videos seem to work well. Follow some brands and look at what they are doing.


These platforms are mostly relevant for consumer goods brands, but there will be other categories that can make their way into it.


If you want to learn more about the sector of short video apps, be sure to take some time to read Wency Chen’s in-depth article on the current state of the various networks being created, including Facebook’s second test in the category with Reels in Brazil (after Lasso failed to make a dent in 2018).


But one thing is sure, create an account on TikTok, spend some time looking at where teens and younger generations are spending a large amount of time. This will allow you to have a better view of what could be possible for your brand.

Would you like to dive deeper into TikTok and short-video apps with us? Contact an expert at Toast and schedule a consultation with our experts today.

YouTuber? New past-time for celebrities?

More and more celebrities are turning to YouTube and generating sizeable audiences.

Audiences on YouTube keep growing.

The reach of the platform is near ubiquitous and has now become the second most popular search engine.

Users from all generations are turning to it to watch content that fit their niche interests, content you would never have been able to see on any other large media organization’s channels.

And celebrities are turning to it and building a “side hustle,” building an owned audience for themselves (although we could debate if an audience you create on YouTube really is YOUR owned audience or if it is still rented eyeballs from a platform).

A Hollywood Reporter article dives deep into this last trend, with examples Zac Efron, Jason Momoa, Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez.

It explains how some of them are currently bridging the gap between a traditional Hollywood star and a digital star.

This is the type of content your brand’s videos will be compared side-by-side with, more and more. How is your brand reacting to this? Could this have a potential impact on your YouTube video strategy?

If you would like to discuss your YouTube video strategy let us know and schedule a consultation with our experts at Toast today.

Influencer marketing? Amplifier marketing.

The influence of influencers is being questioned. We should be talking about amplifier marketing instead.

In the past year, many articles have been written on the question of the real power of influence of influencers as they are called in our industry. What power do they really have? Can they effectively change and influence consumer behaviour?

They have an undeniable content creation capacity. Expertise in it even, for many.

But do they have influence?

One thing is certain, they have reach.

Their number of subscribers reflects a very real potential for reach.

There are and always will be some extreme stories, but take as an example this influencer, Arii, whose Instagram subscriber base was over 2 million and who was unable to sell 36 t-shirts to start a new clothing line. The reach of her announcement, her invitation to her subscribers, was there, but true influence was not. (She has since deactivated her Instagram account.)

Obviously, this type of story goes beyond what I describe above in a somewhat overly simplistic way and I invite you to read more about this particular case, but should we continue to talk about influence marketing?

Let’s talk about amplifier marketing instead.

Marketing based on the potential reach.

An excellent article by Gareth Davies supports this point exactly. A piece that I enjoyed from beginning to end because it sets the stage for what I believe is essential in our industry: a re-examination of the perception of the potential of influencers in the broad sense.

Their reach is large and essential for a significant number of advertisers.

It is on this notion of reach that we must focus.

For several months now, the industry has been at a turning point on influencer marketing. What if we were to move towards an amplifier marketing perspective instead?

Would you like to discuss amplifier marketing for your brand? Let us know and schedule a consultation with our experts at Toast today.

Why Influencer Marketing is Like a One Night Stand

The influencer marketing industry is one of the most exciting strategies being used by brands to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of next-gen consumers — especially for premium story-driven content.

Influencer marketing has the opportunity to go beyond just an integration, paid post, or showcasing how much the creators love weight loss tea and protein powder — even though they most likely don’t. That’s not influencer marketing. That’s just brand marketers being lazy and paying for crappy content that turn consumers off.

I’m talking about creators creating premium story-driven content where creators (influencers) co-develop and co-produce social content, documentaries, shows, webisodes, real-time content at events, and other types of content where the creator can activate their large community to engage with your brand over and over again.

I consider “Influencer Marketing” a sub-category of “Content Marketing” — at the end of the day, it’s content, about a brand, powered by a creator with an engaged audience.

Done right — it works perfectly. Done wrong, it’s a disaster.

The Problem

Because influencer marketing is still in its early days (in its current form), it’s still the wild, wild, west. It seems like every Tom, Dick, and Harry is an “influencer marketing” expert and there are new agencies that match influencers and brands opening up faster than the corner Starbucks.

Brand Marketers are Obsessed with Creators

For brands, the creators that power the influencer marketing industry are the new black.

They fond how good their content is, their follower count, the engagement numbers, and some even consider if it’s a good brand match.

I’ve actually seen marketers pick out influencers solely based on recommendations from their kids because they or both want to meet the person.

Sometimes, brands even shell out thousands of dollars to influencers who aren’t even real people (problem #99 in the industry).

A Very Short Honeymoon Period

Here’s a common scenario:

A brand and influencer match based on…well like I just said…

A deal is made or maybe not.

The first call was great.

The second even better.

Ohh, maybe even a meeting. It’s a first date!

And everyone gets really excited and shares their creative ideas.

And then it quickly goes downhill.

Reality sets in.

It’s not that everyone doesn’t want to work together — everyone wants it to be a success — but before you know it, there are way too many people involved. Hell, even Bob the security guard is in on the action.

The creative is made, but it’s a mess and no one is happy, and everyone is pointing fingers.

End of scene.

Most of the time, the influencer marketing campaign is like a never ending orgy gone wrong — everyone wants in on it, not everyone delivers what they promised, and everyone questions their decisions after.

In this case, the brand has a one-night stand with the creator.

Sending them on a walk of shame, never to be seen again.

Let’s go back to something I said before:

“Content Marketing is Like a First Date. If all you do is Talk About Yourself, There Won’t be a Second One.”

Think about that. Influencer Marketing works in a similar way.

Like any great relationship, you have to put in work. Brands need to stop having one night stands with creators and build long-term relationships with clearly defined boundaries.

The Solution: The Old School Hollywood Development Deal

I spent over 15 years in Hollywood producing premium branded content, webisodes, and live programming for Disney/ABC, Showtime, DIRECTV, and others, so it’s a strategy based on the old studio model.

Find talent you like, make a long-term development deal, build a relationship, co-develop, produce, and build a long-lasting mutually beneficial relationship. Groundbreaking, I know, but I deployed this very same strategy when I founded the Marriott Content Studio and it worked wonders with creators like Taryn Southern, Bill Rancic, Casey Neistat, Jacks Gap, Shira Lazar, Fun For Louis and many others.

I want to reiterate that this approach works for brands interested in fostering long-term relationships with creators to produce premium story-driven creative and content.

This does not work for an integration, feature my product on Instagram, etc types of engagements. While those can work, it’s not my cup of tea, and your customers will appreciate consistency.

The Process

  1. Spend time researching creators. Don’t just randomly pick creators based off on popularity, their numbers, or because someone told you to. Referrals are great, but do your own research and make sure they align with your brand and goals.
  2. Once you put together a mix of influencers that could work, find out who represents them — meaning their agent or manager — not some middleman. You want the least amount of people involved in the conversation. Trust me. Most established creators who are creating premium content are represented by talent agencies like CAA, UTA, IMG, and others or they have managers. Most of them have contact info somewhere on one of their social media accounts. Don’t forget YouTube. Do not go thru other people. I once had eight different people tell me they “represented” a big influencer. Fortunately, I knew their real agent, and made a direct call. Do your homework.
  3. Develop a content plan that goes beyond the initial engagement. Don’t think of the creator like a one night stand. Develop multiple types of content that they can produce over a period of time — from six months to a year.
  4. Make an introduction to their representative and set a call. Do not share your life story, the entire vision, a budget, etc or anything else in an email. A short and sweet note indicating who you are, what brand you are with, the genre of creative, potential dates, creative format, and leave it at that. Lastly, this is very important — make sure you say you want an ongoing relationship and want to discuss an overall development deal.
  5. If all goes well, you’ll score a call with the creator and have an opportunity to talk or meet further to discuss. Leave the money/budget part to the business side of the house. This is for you, the agents, manager, lawyers to discuss.
  6. Based on your “first date” — both the brand and creator will determine if they are a match. If all goes well, have them visit your brand HQ, experience the brand, and get to know each other before diving into an overall deal.

Deal Terms

Every deal is different and the terms can get complex at this point, but hopefully I’ve provided enough insight to start thinking about your next influencer marketing campaign a little different.

When I negotiated deals and setup overall development deals with creators of all kinds, I always remembered one thing — it’s a long tail game.

One last note: I called the creators, creators, not influencers. Yes, they influence a community, but they do a lot more. In many ways, they are the new studio, the new network, a new form of creators. They bring the 3C’s I talk about all the time: Content, Community, and Commerce — all in one package.

Creators beware though, the brand community is small, and brands want to work with professionals who show up, deliver, and build relationships, too. Just don’t show up and collect your paycheck. It works both ways, and as they say, karma is a bitch.

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.

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.

YouTubers and TV getting closer in 2016

The world’s most widely watched factual show to be hosted by a YouTuber.

Have you heard of BBC’s automotive show “Top Gear”? It started in 1977, but really took off following a 2002 relaunch and I’ve personally tried to watch it as often as possible myself in the past few years. It has been extremely successful and popular, but suffered various issues in the past few months, which resulted in the departure of its three hosts (who will be creating an independent spin-off on Amazon, a move I will have to cover soon too).

The hosts that will replace the trio were announced in the past months but one stands out, announced just before Christmas: Chris Harris.

Heard about him? Maybe not, but that’s not because he hasn’t travelled the road. He is a successful YouTuber and journalist who has been covering the auto industry for many years now.

But if you look at him, you’ll see he is not your usual millennial YouTuber. He’s a Gen X, and much of his audience are Gen X and Y.

And that is what interested the BBC.

In the past years, there has been a massive shift in how traditional media sees online reach and online stars.

In today’s article, Juan Bruce takes a look at what this new appointment means, how it is a testament to how the media industry is shaping up.

“Welcome to 2016, where online following and social media community may just be the key to helping traditional formats and entertainment companies stay relevant.”

High-earning YouTubers are protecting their own brands

High-earning YouTubers are making their money off branded content, but they remain very cautious.

Forbes added YouTubers to its list of top earners in various industries this year (alongside sports, business, actors, etc.). The analysis brought forward a key finding: subscriber count and views don’t seem to matter that much towards the amount of money they make.

Swedish gamer PewDieDie tops the list with $12 million (pre-tax) earned in the year ending June 2015 (he has 40 million subscribers). Not bad for a guy who “didn’t know you could make money out of it” (his words).

But what is interesting is when you start noticing YouTubers like Rhett and Link who, ranked in fifth place, with $4.5 million earned while millennial favorite Tyler Oakley, whose channel has about 500 million views (about the same as Rhett and Link), didn’t make the list.

The reason? A lot of the income these YouTubers make comes not from YouTube ads revenue share, but rather from branded content opportunities. This means that yes, you can make money from millions of views, but the real bucks comes from brands willing to create content directly with these stars.

But this comes with a risk for popular YouTubers.

If a YouTuber, who is speaking directly to his or her audience, starts sounding like an ad, there’ll be a strong backlash from that same audience (something PewDieDie experienced earlier this year when news came out about how much money he makes).

These smart young (for the most part) stars are very cautious in how they are willing to work with brands. They want to make money but not at the expense of alienating their audience with too much product placement or endorsement.

As interest and investments rise in the YouTube sector, brands will have to accept that YouTubers will not do anything for a quick buck, far from it.

Today’s article comes from StreamDaily, who does a nice analysis of Forbes’ Top10. A worthy read in a media world living a major shift in how it works and invests.

Why web-based properties are the future of TV

It’s clear there are things these properties do differently from TV.

Last week, we shot the first (of many we hope) one-hour TV special of a web-based series we produce, Miss Chic Tonique.

A property that was born on the web, which had garnered great success, and was now ready for TV.

For us at Toast, this represents the future of TV. Properties that live on multiple platforms, including television, but whose value doesn’t depend on television ratings.

This property started out as two friends who blogged passionately. Then it became this great web-based youth series. And now it has its own one-hour TV Christmas special.

What happened here? Let’s see.

Today’s article dives into these types of properties. And what is different from their traditional-TV counterparts.

We agree with the experts interviewed in the article on 5 key points that differentiate the two:

  1. Production values have skyrocketed (but budgets haven’t)
  2. Bringing awareness to monetization issues
  3. Built-in audiences create word-of-mouth hype
  4. Riskier content without the cable label
  5. Everyone wants everyone else to succeed

I especially like #1, #3 and #4.

I invite you to read the article, it goes into detail about each factor and also cites many current examples of such properties.

Don’t be arrogant. Respect YouTubers.

Successful YouTubers aren’t individuals just looking for a big check.

Do you know Jérôme Jarre?

He is basically a social media celebrity that has millions of followers on various platforms (Vine, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, etc.).

He embodies the kind of guy brands are looking for when they want to reach an existing audience of millennials.

They are also the kind of people brands think they can buy with a big check. Well, in fact, they sometimes don’t care much about the guy (or the girl), they want to buy an audience.

What marketers don’t realize is that this person’s audience was built around a certain type of content, a certain tone, an approach. You can’t just barge in and try to talk to them through those existing channels and think they’ll listen to you.

They might well start leaving, and fast, and that is something any successful YouTuber will tell you. And they don’t want to risk alienating an audience they built through hard work.

Today, I am not sharing an article, I am sharing a YouTube video, by Jérôme Jarre. It is a video he made following and offer he received from an ad agency. A 1-million dollar offer, nothing less.


You see, he knows that even if you attach a seven-figure check to an audience, it doesn’t mean you can own that audience.

This is also something a francophone YouTuber from Montreal recently told me:

“I won’t accept a deal that tells me what to say to my audience. I know them and know how to speak to them, with them. I will only take deals that I know can fit the tone and approach I have had with them for so long. And even then, I will not be bought, it needs to be a product or brand I truly love and embrace.”

Although Jarre’s 1-million dollar video hasn’t been “verified” and corroborated, the points he brings forward remain.

A social media celebrity has built his/her audience through hard work. As a brand, don’t think they are on the market to sell it to anyone.

Don’t be arrogant. Respect them.