For all the hype around TikTok, Twitch, and Instagram, YouTube remains a robust platform for influencer marketing. Additionally, recent feature updates on YouTube signal a new era for creators who want to cross-platform with other social channels and grow their audience online.
“YouTube seems to be aiming even higher — at the biggest screen in the home. But Shorts, its short-form video format launched in 2020, adds a new dimension to its increasingly TV-centric strategy.” — eMarketer, 2021
Google owns YouTube, and as such, YouTube enjoys impeccable integrations with everyday applications, including Chrome browser, Android devices, and Google.com itself. This connectivity gives creators access to broader audiences across millions of lifestyle and professional niches.
And because YouTube is the second-largest search engine online, creators enjoy more options for content discovery. Brands that partner authentically with YouTubers can increase their awareness, as well as grow their communities.
“Influencer marketing is the most effective way to build a valuable brand — IF it’s done well. What’s the secret? Trust. When people trust someone’s endorsement of your brand, when they can sense the relationship is real, they believe it — and they’ll buy.” — GRIN, Authentic Influencer Marketing
Traditionally, YouTube has been the primary place to find long-form, horizontally-formatted videos for free entertainment. As a result, brands that want to leverage long-form video campaigns consistently see the strongest ROI from YouTube. For other video styles and categories, YouTube has several challengers.
Since launching in 2005, the platform has grown to include more streaming options, such as vertical short-form videos, live events, paid TV subscriptions, and more. Not only have these features granted YouTubers more creative outlets, but they also put YouTube in direct competition with other video platforms.
Comparing traditional YouTube & Twitch
While Twitch does allow creators to upload premade videos, the platform focuses almost exclusively on live streaming. Conversely, YouTube Live is a streaming feature that supports its primary deliverable, long-form video.
That said, cross over between these two platforms is growing, and each competes with the other within their respective niches (live stream and long-form video uploads).
Twitch maintains the larger streaming audience making up the majority of its 140 million active monthly users. YouTube enjoys over 2 billion active monthly users, most of whom enjoy the traditional, uploaded long-form video.
Comparing traditional YouTube & IGTV
Instagram is an exclusively vertical media platform, which signals its aim to serve smartphone users. IG’s long-form video post, IGTV, maintains the vertical view, and while many creators choose to upload horizontal videos onto IGTV, vertical-view videos provide the best user experience.
By contrast, YouTube continues to cater its main content style to large TV screens. But the platform does support mobile devices and vertically-formatted videos.
Comparing YouTube Shorts, TikTok, & IG Reels
YouTube Shorts released in the United States this year, which is why there is not much information available on its adoption and performance. But it’s clear that YouTube hopes to challenge TikTok with its own version of short-form, vertical-view videos.
TikTok recently extended its video time limit to three minutes. And while three minutes is still considered short-form by most, TikTok clearly wants a piece of the long-form game that YouTube currently dominates.
Long before Shorts, Instagram launched its own short-form, vertical video post — IG Reels. However, Reels retains its 30-second limit while Shorts allows videos up to one minute long.
Considering the high volume of IG Reels and TikTok creator crossover, it’s likely that many creators will expand onto YouTube Shorts to test the waters. If Shorts grows more popular in the coming months and years, then short-form videographers are surely to expand to Shorts, Reels, TikTok, or all three.
YouTube is the longstanding “go to” for learning how to do things — change the oil, cook a meal, learn a software platform, etc. But YouTube is also a favorite entertainment medium for viewers of all ages.
When searching for the right influencers, it’s a good idea to figure out which type of video you’d like to feature your brand. Among the most popular YouTube creator categories are:
- Comedy/skits/musical parodies
- Full tutorials
- Product reviews & unboxing videos
- Live streams
When choosing a creator, be sure to examine their video comments, creator replies, tone, and voice. Each of these things will help you determine audience alignment and brand compatibility. Remember, it’s not enough just to find a good YouTuber — you want to find the perfect fit that will endear audiences to your brand.
Before you begin prospecting, you need to define what success looks like for your campaign. What do you want your creators to do for your brand?
The answer to this question reveals your marketing goals. While it’s good to have more than one marketing objective for each campaign, it’s best to narrow them down into 2–3 at the most. For example, common YouTube influencer campaign goals are:
- Increased web traffic
- User-generated content
- Social followers
Once you identify your goals, you can break each goal into one or more key performance indicators (KPIs). You can then assign creator performance metrics to each KPI to track ROI during and after your campaign.
It’s no secret that YouTube creators are typically more expensive than creators on other platforms. The reason for this is that high-performing YouTubers must possess strong video shooting and editing skills.
Videographers on other channels can take advantage of in-app editing tools. But YouTube has very few of those tools (with the exception of Shorts). To succeed on YouTube, creators must be more proficient with cameras and professional editing software.
That said, YouTube campaigns are often highly lucrative. When you find that great brand-influencer fit on YouTube, the returns are worth the investment.
The center of gravity for YouTube is its collection of long-from videos with a horizontal view. When you’re just getting started on YouTube, you’re going to get best results by focusing your campaigns on long-form, horizontal content.
That said, experimentation is the bread-and-butter of good marketing. So once you have a solid foundation of traditional influencer-generated content, you can branch out into some of the other video types, such as Shorts and Live streaming campaigns.
Once you and your influencer agree to terms, you’ll want to put those terms into writing, as well as spell out your campaign guidelines.
Most campaign briefs include the following information:
- Agreed upon compensation, gifts, etc.
- Campaign timeline
- Video style & type
- Best practices for integrating product/message into content
- Key details (sale promotions, contest rules, keywords, etc.)
Your campaign brief should function as the “go to” resource for your influencers before and during your campaign. While you shouldn’t make your YouTubers feel micromanaged, informing them on goals, KPIs, and best practices will empower your creators to achieve maximum results.
It’s important that you know when your influencers contribute to your campaign’s success. Some of the best ways to track performance include:
- Affiliate links
- Discount codes
One of the benefits of YouTube is that you can include hyperlinks in video descriptions and comments. That’s why YouTube influencers often do a great job of generating website traffic for their brand partners.
When it comes to video descriptions, search engine optimization can help your influencer content attract more views and interactions.
Most YouTubers understand basic video SEO. But to ensure success, it’s always a good idea to provide your creators with keywords and a few phrase suggestions in your campaign brief.
As YouTuber followers engage your influencer’s content, you can answer questions, ask questions, or offer guidance to consumers in the comments.
That said, remember that the creator is the expert on their audience. You should consult your influencers about the best way to interact with followers during a campaign. Ideally, your influencer knows your product well enough to answer most questions, but if you engage comments well, you will attract followers to your own page.
High-performing influencer videos will make incredible paid ads. Reusing your influencer content in this way will save you production costs, in addition to increasing the ad’s performance.
If you intend to build a library of YouTube influencer content, be sure that you’ve properly agreed to content permissions with that influencer. Content usage rights is a standard piece in a creator contract, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Video isn’t just popular on YouTube, it is one of the best performing post types across every social media platform. If you want to send your creator content to multiple platforms, be sure to use the proper dimensions.
By taking optimal dimensions into account, you can provide the best possible user experience across every platform you use.
YouTube creators generate some of the most lucrative campaign returns in all of influencer marketing. By mastering YouTube creator collaborations, you will surely take your program to the next level.
Recruiting top-performing YouTube creators has never been so easy. Use GRIN to find your brand champions.