Today, many of the world’s top influencers reside on two primary platforms: Instagram and YouTube. With over 1 billion users and 1 billion hours of content watched each day, YouTube is one of the largest social media platforms in existence. Instagram is another dominant force in the social sphere, boasting 800 million users.
Both of the video-centric social networks have incredible value and offer distinct advantages and disadvantages to brands. From features, to formats, to demographics, to user behavior, the list of things to consider when designing a campaign for either platform can be nuanced and complex. Below, we compare Instagrammers to YouTubers in order to help marketers choose between the two types of prominent influencers.
Instagram offers two publishing channels to their users: A content feed with photos and videos, as well as a video Stories feature.
Stories have become incredibly popular on Instagram, eclipsing the Snapchat feature it borrowed from. These videos are limited to 15 seconds each but can be stitched together in sequences. Clickable links can be included in Stories, allowing influencers and businesses to direct traffic to desired websites.
Instagrammers commonly develop content around niche interests and have followings hungry for their information and insights. Popular Instagrammers specialize in categories such as fitness, fashion, lifestyle, and travel, providing their followers with trusted advice in their respective categories.
Instagram’s traditional content feed, as well as the Stories feature, are highly interactive. The biggest influencers receive tens or hundreds of thousands of likes and comments on a daily basis.
YouTube is a video-only platform that specializes in both short and long-form content. Verified YouTubers can upload videos up to 12 hours long, but most stay well below the limit, typically posting videos between 4 and 10 minutes. Like many Instagrammers, popular YouTubers produce content for specific categories, including beauty, family, tech and travel vlogging, as well as gaming and other highly-trafficked areas of interest.
YouTube also has a Live video option, allowing audiences a more intimate and immediate connection to their favorite YouTubers. Some YouTubers have leveraged the feature to hold “talk shows” and other more formal videocasts.
YouTube offers a variety of engagement tools that allow creators to embed clickable links throughout their videos. YouTubers’ videos are easily searchable by title or keyword on the platform, as well as within the video library on their individual channels.
Comments on popular YouTube videos often extend beyond simple likes and dislikes, turning into long, multi-user discussion threads.
Brands can work with Instagrammers directly to create content through any of the platform’s mediums i.e. feed photo and video posts, carousels, Stories, and Live Stories. Sponsored influencer posts can be used for a wide array of purposes, such as raising brand awareness or promoting a specific product or service.
Instagram influencers often use calls to action (CTAs) in the captions of their sponsored photos and videos to encourage user participation. Instagram doesn’t allow for links in normal post descriptions, so influencers often include them within their profiles, offering verbal and text cues such as “link in bio.” Influencers also commonly use brand tags and hashtags to add cohesion to sponsored campaigns.
In sponsored Instagram Stories, account and hashtag links can be overlaid on top of the content. Additionally, business accounts, which are available to all users and commonly used by influencers, provide the option to offer a swipe-up CTA (such as “See More” or “Shop Now”) that directs viewers to a clickable URL.
Per FTC regulations, sponsored posts must be disclosed through specific hashtags such as #ad or #sponsored. Moreover, Instagram’s new paid partnership feature offers businesses and influencers an additional way to be transparent with followers about their relationships and the nature of posts.
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The long form nature of YouTube videos provides brands with extensive opportunities to promote their messages and products. Sponsored YouTube videos typically integrate a brand’s messaging and products into an influencer’s regular content. Some videos, such as in-depth product reviews, are solely dedicated to promoting a brand or product.
YouTube influencers often mention the sponsoring brand through text overlays, verbal shoutouts, the description box, or a combination of the three. Additionally, many YouTubers utilize CTAs in their videos that point to links in their descriptions.
The FTC requires that written disclosures be included in sponsored video posts on YouTube, and additional verbal disclosures are recommended. YouTube’s new paid promotion tag is another way to let viewers know about a sponsored video, but doesn’t satisfy FTC guidelines.
When selecting an influencer marketing platform, there is no “right” or superior choice. In order to make a decision, a brand should first outline its marketing goals, and then look at the demographics, platforms, and influencers that will help it achieve those goals.
For every campaign, the optimal platform depends on the type of message a business wishes to share, as well as the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are vital to its success. Working with a qualified influencer marketing agency to help advise and guide KPIs and campaigns can help businesses achieve their influencer marketing goals, maximize their return on investment (ROI), and properly select between Instagrammers vs. YouTubers.