Brands are increasingly turning to influencer marketing to better target consumers, and the channel is likely to gain further momentum in the year ahead. A recent study by Schlesinger Associates found that 84% of marketing professionals will launch at least one influencer marketing campaign in the next 12 months, and 81% of marketers who had previously executed influencer marketing campaigns agreed influencer engagement is highly effective.
YouTube has become a particularly popular social media channel for influencer marketing, given its diverse creator base and dynamic content. And for teen and young adult consumers in particular, it is especially effective. In its annual survey, Variety found teens’ emotional attachment to YouTube stars is as much as seven times greater than that toward a traditional celebrity. Additionally, YouTube stars are considered 17 times more engaging than mainstream stars.
With the continued rise of ad blocking technology, brands need to get more creative to reach their target consumers, and distributing influencer marketing content via social media channels like YouTube is proving to be an effective way to do this. However, working with influencers and navigating the distribution of that content can be complex and time-consuming and can leave brands feeling frustrated and disillusioned. Before you get started, consider these five tips for working with YouTube creators:
1. Allocate budget: Trying out influencer marketing and working with YouTube creators with bits of leftover budget isn’t going to work. Devote a distinct line item in your budget for influencer marketing, because frankly, this channel is no longer just about “awareness.” It drives real, meaningful results and is worthy of taking budget from display/retargeted advertising, especially given that channel is becoming obsolete thanks to ad blocking technology.
2. Be open-minded: Brands rarely know which YouTube creators are best for them right off the bat. They often approach influencer marketing with a general idea of who their ideal influencer is, but later learn the influencer may be a good fit for the brand, but their audience isn’t (or vice versa). My best advice is to think outside the box and be willing to work with YouTube creators who may not be an obvious fit for your brand. For example, beauty brands don’t always need to go with the obvious choice of a beauty content creator. We’ve seen great success when beauty brands are paired with YouTube musicians or when automotive brands partner with beauty bloggers to promote the hottest car color trends. Don’t limit yourself to the obvious creators.
3. Relinquish (some) control: Influencers are influencers for a reason. They’re highly creative personalities, and they have a lot of relevant ideas for their audience. Provide YouTube creators with general guidelines so they know what you’re looking for; however, let them take ownership and drive the content production. Your YouTube campaign will be far more authentic, unique, and effective as a result, and you won’t run the risk of producing content that’s overly scripted or commercial.
4. Pay fairly: Most YouTube creators use tools like Social BlueBook to calculate the price they should charge for their services (taking into account their subscriber count, engagement rates, and average views per video), so it’s crucial to pay them fairly and competitively. If you’re looking to reduce costs somewhere, don’t be tempted to lowball YouTube creators. Instead, consider producing a video that promotes a group of associated products versus one that only promotes your product.
5. Track strategically: Influencers with large subscriber numbers are great if you’re looking for a lot of impressions; however, smaller, up-and-coming influencers can have much more engaged audiences, generate just as much buzz, and are often much more affordable. For example, perhaps a YouTube creator only has 25,000 subscribers, but they’re consistently getting upwards of 30,000 views to their channel. Given these consistently high view rates, it’s likely their subscriber count will start growing quickly. It’s worth giving this creator a chance and getting in early before their fees skyrocket. On a related note, be sure to track your campaign’s engagement rather than just your view rates. The number of likes, comments, clicks, and conversions are what really determines the success of a YouTube campaign.
While working with YouTube creators may appear daunting at first, it’s well worth the effort and investment. Just remember to think creatively when choosing influencers to work with, and give those influencers the freedom to produce truly personal and engaging content. Perhaps most importantly, though, don’t automatically assume influencer marketing won’t work for your brand. It works for almost everyone, and chances are, your competitors are already reaping the benefits.
See what the Twitterverse is saying about online video: