Boosting Your Marketing Using YouTube Influencers

The digital migration away from traditional media has fractured marketing channels by dividing consumers’ attention across a plethora of platforms, but has also created new opportunities.

Screen-time is up but tolerance for overt advertisements has plummeted, so it’s critical for companies to find the right forum and optimal format to promote their brands. Integration with YouTube influencers may just be that sweet spot.

With over two billion monthly videos, YouTube is the second most-visited site on the web. Harnessing that raw reach and refining it through the targeted, personal approach of popular influencers is a powerful strategy to find your audience and engage them.

Identifying an appropriate influencer takes more finesse than a simple ad buy, so let’s explore the strengths and nuances of this emerging marketing approach: why your brand should be on YouTube, how you should partner with an influencer, and methods to monitor effectiveness.

Advantages of YouTube exposure

Amongst premier social media marketing platforms, YouTube is one of the most popular and the best-positioned for accessing diverse demographics while fostering deeper engagement. 

Built on the back of Google’s ad engine, YouTube can micro-target its audience as necessary, but its broader appeal is universal. Where Facebook is more adult-oriented and TikTok towards adolescents, YouTube’s user base spans entire generations: 74% of adults, 77% of teens/young adults, and 80% of children log on regularly.

Unlike Instagrammers who may quickly scroll through static images and muted clips, YouTubers flock to a swipe-free platform ready to digest whole videos. This is a medium that fosters greater retention, conveys more information, and goes beyond building brand awareness to aptly demonstrate products in use.

YouTube supplies a broad audience and an ideal format for marketing, but to really engage a cynical audience ready to skip simple ads, you’ll need authentic appeal and a messenger they trust.

That’s where influencers come in.

The influence of influencers

Successful influencers inhabit the improbable nexus of entertainment, authenticity, commercialism. Major brands make heavy use of influencers in their marketing campaigns because they  have earned the trust and affection of a devoted audience that turns to them for info, trends, and truth. 

Partnering with that kind of personality can convey the same appeal and loyalty to your brand. Unlike celebrity spokespersons reading scripted pitches, influencers are more relatable. They interact with their followers, know what their audience wants, and supply customized content that’s organic and personal. This fosters a connection. 

Not surprisingly, studies have found that YouTube content creators are among the most trusted by consumers for recommending products or services. Combining a powerful platform with a personal messenger presents phenomenal marketing potential, but to optimize the connection and best leverage the opportunity, it’s essential to team with a fitting partner.

Finding the right influencer

An influencer’s power comes from the connection they’ve forged with their followers. Any promotion that violates trust, feels disingenuous, or targets the wrong audience will only undermine their value while wasting your time and investment.

With this in mind, don’t just look for an influencer who’s popular, but also an influencer with whom you can be popular. The spectrum of influencer personalities is as broad as the products they promote, from original icons who hyped music and video games, to sophisticated marketers who made the acceptance of cryptocurrency mainstream with the general public over the last year.

As long as you find a simpatico connection, research suggests that effective influencer partnering leads to lifts in brand metrics, from familiarity to affinity to recommendations for most any type of product promoted.

There are a number of ways to find a great match between your brand and a creator. Perhaps you’ve come across a compatible voice while surfing the site, or have an existing relationship with a talent agency. But the most efficient way to narrow the search is through a reputable database that tracks influencers and can filter them by audience, engagement, and niche.

Naturally, cost will play a part in the process. Influencers are categorized by tiers reflecting the size of their base audience, and their fees escalate accordingly. From “nano-creators” who might net 10,000 views up to “elites” who start at 1 million (with “micro”, “mid” and “macro levels between), the exposure and expense can vary greatly.

Once you have a few candidates, it’s time to do your homework. Make certain that a creator’s style, voice, and approach mesh with the message you’re trying to send and that their values won’t be problematic to your image. 

Click deep into their catalog, examine their other partnerships, and assess the demographics and location of their subscribers. Once you get a feel for their approach, imagine your product in one of their posts, and how the match might play out on screen.

Rather than simply counting followers (which can be exaggerated) or overall views (which can be inflated by sporadic viral hits), you should check for consistent viewing numbers, robust engagement (likes and comments), and post regularity (at least 1 or 2 each week, which is crucial to keeping algorithms happy).

Hiring an influencer

Connecting a company’s brand to an online personality can present an unusual pairing. Structuring the arrangement can be equally unorthodox, as you seek a union between corporate and what’s quirky.

Ideally you want to keep the relationship as clear and professional as possible on the business side while leaving the creator artistically unencumbered so that their talents can be put to good use. The best practices always include the mutual identification of clear expectations.

Define the parameters of acceptable brand depiction, specify the number/length/frequency of videos to be posted, and discuss whether campaigns will involve specific content (challenges, tutorials, reviews, unboxing, demonstrations) or cross-platform promotion.

Then, outline the goals of the promotion (subscribers, sales, clicks, viral mentions) and be certain to address who holds the rights for repurposing and outside usage.

You will also need to establish the basis for payment, including the expected number of sponsored posts, the hours involved, number of views, and click-through rates to your website. For sponsored posts, social media influencers will usually charge $100 to $200 per post to start, with fees increasing to several thousand per post for professional influencers who are in higher demand.

It may be tempting to interfere or micromanage aspects of the campaign, but when advertisers get heavy-handed, influencer engagement drops precipitously. You should certainly retain the right of approval over the final product, but remember that you partnered with the influencer precisely to tap into the vibe that gained them a following and to generate promotional material that doesn’t feel like traditional advertising.

Monitoring results

Tracking results with any digital marketing is a tricky pursuit, and perhaps even more so with influencer campaigns. Remember, when you employ unconventional means, you end up with unconventional metrics.

YouTube videos have embedded code that will allow you to monitor circulation, while certain other measurables will be readily apparent. Link-directed calls-to-action (visits, subscriptions, sales, and downloads) are easily tracked, and raw engagement with the post will be displayed in plain sight. All of these numbers should be tracked and verified by third-party monitors, especially where payment is dependent upon performance.

Other goals (such as brand awareness, indirect sales, reputational improvement, and earned media value) may be less visible, but over time will make themselves known in your public profile and bottom line.

Conclusion

Ubiquitous reach with an ability to laser-focus attention on targeted slices of the population makes YouTube an obvious choice for advertisers seeking optimal ROI, while the human appeal and trusted persuasion of social media influencers make them the ideal conduit for authentic marketing messages.

Combining these traits, YouTube influencer campaigns seem like a no-brainer for brands seeking greater awareness, relevance, and social reach among certain demographics – but it’s not that simple.

If you’re careful selecting the right influencer and diligent about tracking-and-tweaking the parameters of your campaign, then you might just end up conveying a deeper message to your audience through an approach that delivers engagement far beyond simple views – and at a fraction of conventional advertising prices.