2019 is shaping up to be a big year for influencer marketing—ad spend is ramping up, and 65% of marketers plan to increase their budgets for 2019. As a growing number of companies invest in influencer marketing, marketers tend to ask a familiar set of questions. How do you find the right influencers, publish successful sponsored content, and measure the ROI of your campaigns?
Before answering any of those questions, marketers need to determine which social media channels are best for their influencer marketing strategy. This can be difficult to decide because social media platforms—and the influencers they host—are constantly evolving. Every year, social networks add new features, introduce new content formats, and either grow, lose, or shift their audience. These fluctuations are hard to keep track of, and they inevitably have implications for influencer marketing.
As we kick off 2019, let’s dig into the most important features and considerations when selecting the right social media channels for influencer marketing.
One place to begin is to look at what channels other marketers are focused on this year. According to our 2019 Influencer Marketing Survey, the top five most strategically important social media channels for influencer marketing are:
The significance of Instagram comes as no surprise after its massive user growth led the platform to 1 billion users in 2018. YouTube comes in second on the list and remains a strategically important channel to 70% of marketers this year.
When it comes to budget allocation, 69% of marketers plan to spend the most on Instagram in 2019, followed by YouTube (11%) and Blogs (7%). This suggests that Instagram is not only strategically important but will also be attracting a lot of sponsorship dollars this year.
Five least important social media channels for influencer marketing:
Snapchat has struggled to catch up on influencer marketing for several years now due to a variety of early feature limitations. Although Snapchat moved to resolve these problems last year, it seems most marketers (62%) see Snapchat as a low priority for influencer marketing.
LinkedIn, a largely professional B2B channel is also ranked lower in importance for influencer marketing, followed by Twitch. In the case of Twitch, this ranking is likely due to the platform’s nascency—large brands have started experimenting with Twitch sponsorships, but the fast-growing livestreaming platform has yet to become accessible to the average marketer.
While it’s helpful to know what social media channels other marketers are choosing for their influencer marketing campaigns, your priorities will inevitably differ depending on your own goals.
It’s important to consider all elements of your campaign—and how they align with a given platform—when selecting the best social media channels for your campaign. Each channel offers a unique audience, a different concentration of influencers, and its own core benefits when it comes to influencer marketing.
Features & Benefits
An Instagram post entails photo(s) or video(s) with a descriptive caption that appears in followers’ Instagram feeds. Posts enable influencers to position your product in a visually striking way, and tell a story or offer a discount code in the description. Instagram Stories are interactive snapshots that depict a “moment in time” through either a video or sequence of photos. Stories can also include a link through the “Swipe Up” feature, unlike Posts.
YouTube is frequented by a range of demographics, namely people aged 18-34.
Features & Benefits
YouTube specializes in the long-form video format, where influencers can enjoy a sponsored experience, demonstrate how a product works, or incorporate a brand creatively into their storyline to raise awareness. Creators can also embed links in their video description, making YouTube an effective platform for conversion-based campaigns as well.
Blogs generally provide access to a slightly older demographic of 25-49-year-olds.
Features & Benefits
Blogs allow for more detailed, narrative, and long-form storytelling. Blogs are a great channel for promoting products or services that require in-depth explanation (for example, through a detailed review of a big-ticket item such as a mattress), or for giving richer context about unique aspects of your brand mission. Successful sponsored blog posts can also build organic search traffic over time.
With over 2.2 billion users, Facebook has the widest reach of any channel. Due to its massive audience size, Facebook reaches nearly all age demographics, although younger audiences (such as Gen Z) are beginning to move away from the platform in favor of Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch.
Features & Benefits
Many large influencers use Facebook as a second channel, rather than their primary platform. That being said, it can be a valuable channel for amplifying an influencer campaign. Facebook Live videos are watched 3x longer than standard videos and can be used by top influencers to reach their fans in a raw, unedited way.
This livestreaming platform is still focused largely on Millennial gamers, but is expanding to other interests and age groups. It has over 15 million viewers, who spend over double the amount of time (95 minutes per day) on Twitch compared to any other social media channel.
Features & Benefits
With such an attentive audience and thousands of influencers, Twitch has immense potential for influencer marketing. While sponsorships are largely driven by gaming companies, non-gaming brands have also begun dabbling in campaigns.
Every social media channel has one or more formats for delivering your sponsored content, but which medium is the best way to frame your product or service?
Once you determine what you want to say, the next question is how to best deliver your message. Here are several of the most popular types of influencer marketing formats, by channel:
According to our survey, the top five most effective content formats for influencer marketing are:
Instagram Posts are popular due to their combination of popularity and accessibility. A sponsored Instagram Post is easily consumed in users’ Instagram feeds, and a single photo can be produced fairly easily without a lot of overhead.
Marketers today also love video formats for influencer marketing—Instagram Stories, YouTube Videos, and Instagram Videos. Instagram Stories, in particular, exploded in 2018, reaching over 500 million users in January 2019. Analysts suggest that this more raw and “off-the-cuff” content is even more engaging to audiences than carefully manicured posts, and may overtake feed-based sharing in the near future.
Of course, the latest buzzworthy formats aren’t necessarily the “best” for every campaign. Formats such as YouTube Videos, Blog Posts, and Facebook Posts may not rank #1 to all marketers, but they still offer significant cultural clout and can help you reach a range of different audiences. In many cases, there are multiple formats that can successfully promote your product or service.
For example, a cosmetics brand might sponsor an Instagram post where a model shares a visually pleasing close-up of herself wearing their makeup. The company could also partner with YouTube influencers for hands-on make-up tutorials, or a product unboxing of their latest eyeshadow palette (with a link to the product in their video description). They might also partner with a Millennial mommy blogger who tells a story about rediscovering her love of makeup and reclaiming her own self-image after a year putting her newborn first.
The reality is, every company needs to consider a multitude of factors when planning their influencer marketing campaign: who their target audience is, what their goals are, and the best mediums to achieve them. Each social media platform offers a unique blend of demographics, content formats, and influencers to help marketers accomplish these goals, and in many cases, the perfect “mix” is only discovered through plenty of testing.