As Instagram has grown to become a community of more than 1 billion monthly active users, the mobile network has helped many social media influencers increase their online presence on its own platform and beyond. Instagram’s community-oriented features enhance discoverability and engagement, giving influencers a perfect platform to connect with audiences.
Instagram’s Discover tab allows users to find new people and content through a visual gallery of curated recommendations.
Categories such as “For You,” “Fitness,” “Humor,” “Style,” and more offer funneled search options that allow users to narrow in on the type of profiles and content that’s important to them.
Instagram not only allows users to follow people and brands, but also gives users the power to follow specific hashtags as well.
The ability to tag users within comments increases virality, while replying within compartmentalized comment cascades makes engagement quick and easy.
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Tapping into a broad and engaged audience, Instagram influencers (Instagrammers) are able to build a diverse and loyal group of followers inside of a single channel. However, most Instagrammers look to maintain a presence on a range of social media platforms, including streaming video giant, YouTube. There, influencers can leverage a different user base and platform functions to increase followers, content offerings, and monetization.
Though Instagram celebrated 1 billion monthly users earlier this year, YouTube hit that mark back in 2013. As of May 2018, YouTube’s user base has almost doubled at 1.8 billion users. Besides sheer size, YouTube is both web and mobile-friendly, making the platform easy to access regardless of the device used. YouTube is also an international phenomenon, available in 88 countries and servicing 76 different languages.
Being the world’s largest online video streaming site, YouTube has a deep pipeline of content categories, attracting a range of mainstream and niche audiences. From how-to and product reviews, to vlogs and gaming, to comedy and educational videos, YouTube attracts more 18-49 year-olds than any cable channel in the United States.
While Instagram recently launched IGTV, a platform allowing users to upload content up to one-hour in length, YouTube has been dominating the long-form space for more than a decade. Moreover, YouTube still offers a higher maximum, accepting videos up to 12 hours in length for verified accounts. This range allows YouTubers in popular areas such as gaming, DIY, ASMR, and others to produce content at the lengths they and their viewers prefer. Not to mention, the frequency of which YouTubers upload video content is often less than the typical daily Instagram posts, due to the need for more prep time for video production.
Instagram has been an amazing platform for influencers, but YouTube attracts creators with a variety of native and influencer-friendly monetization options. Despite pushback from the creator community over its “Adpocalypse” controversies, the platform gives approved YouTubers the power to monetize their content through Google AdSense, Super Chats and Subscriptions, merchandising, as well as via partnerships around product placement, affiliate links, and brand sponsorship.
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Alex Lange is a model and social media influencer who rose to fame on Instagram and later became a member of YouTube star Jake Paul’s “Team 10.” Lange, who left the ranks of Team 10 last year has an impressive 2.5 million followers on Instagram and 583k subscribers on YouTube.
From world champion kayaker to world renowned photographer, Ben Brown has 709,000 Instagram followers and 719,000 YouTube subscribers. A self-proclaimed YouTuber, Brown makes his living as an influencer, selling his own prints and t-shirts, as well as collaborating with various brands.
Another original member of Team 10 who later left the collective, Los Angeles-based Instagrammer and YouTuber, Alissa Violet, has enjoyed huge success on both social platforms, Boasting a massive 8.5 million followers on Instagram and 3.5 million subscribers on YouTube, Violet is a model and content creator represented by Next Models.
Over the past few years, Instagram has introduced several new video features to expand offerings and thwart competitors. Launched in 2016, Instagram Stories quickly exceeded the popularity of the Snapchat feature it borrowed from. Later adding Highlights and Archives to Stories, Instagram has given the feature more utility and longevity.
When Instagram announced long-form channel IGTV back in June, it became clear that the platform was looking to extend its business to the realm of YouTube. In kind, YouTube has answered with their own Stories feature.
However, as the two platforms battle it out for the future of online video, technical features alone won’t determine which platform ultimately captures more users. Creator monetization options will also come into play, incentivizing influencers and other video creators to upload their content to the platform that rewards them best. As has been demonstrated before, where the influencers go, the users will follow.
At least in the case of Instagram-born YouTube stars like Mr Ben Brown and Alissa Violet, it appears that many influencers are willing to leverage both platforms in order to tap into a variety of niche audiences. Many YouTubers built their careers via initial Instagram success, but it will be interesting to watch the dynamic between two major social media players as both tools help content creators amass followings and jumpstart careers.