Updated October 15, 2019
If you’re looking for a good deal in influencer marketing, there’s one platform where you’ll find it: YouTube.
According to influencer marketing agency Mediakix, just 11 percent of marketers plan to spend most of their influencer money on the social video platform this year. Compare that to Instagram, where 69 percent of marketers will sink the majority of their influencer dollars.
But it isn’t just less competition that makes YouTube an attractive prospect for marketers. For one, YouTube’s monthly active user base is 1.9 million — nearly twice that of Instagram’s. What’s more, video content generates 12 times as many shares as images and text. Instagram now hosts video content, of course, but YouTube is exclusively a video platform.
Seeking Brand Alignment
As with any social media platform, though, YouTube influencing takes more than money. Get started by scouting for YouTube personalities who align with your brand:
1. Start with a site search.
If you’re on the hunt for a YouTube ambassador, chances are high that you already know the type of person you’re looking for. If you’re an investment broker, for instance, you might be seeking a day trader who’s made a fortune from his couch. For an outdoor brand, perhaps a professional climber or backpacker is a better choice.
If the first video you click isn’t what you expect, check the sidebar. YouTube’s recommendation algorithm is tuned to overrepresent popular videos, which point you to valuable influencers. Next, try pulling up YouTube in an incognito window: Because the platform takes the viewer’s search history into account, you’re likely to see videos with wider appeal when you remove your own preferences from the picture.
2. Ask top users who they watch.
Say you sell guitar accessories. Your users may rely on you for strings and tuners, but where do they learn new licks? Beginners might still use method books, but your more experienced users probably learn from other players online.
Send out a poll, perhaps with a small completion reward: Which YouTubers do they follow? What do they like about those channels? Have they seen other guitar products promoted on those channels? Tally up their responses, and reach out to two or three audience favorites who aren’t already pushing your competitors’ products.
3. Take advantage of free tools.
Why do the hard work of finding and vetting influencers when a free tool will tackle it for you? Start with GroupHigh’s monthly influencer lists. Although most of the freemium platform’s features require a paid subscription, GroupHigh publishes publicly available lists of top influencers in common verticals, such as food, tech, and sports.
To vet the influencers you find, turn to Skorr. Like the late Klout, Skorr assigns everyone on social media a score between 0 and 100, which describes how influential the person is online. Finally, get in touch using Hunter.io. Top YouTubers don’t have the time to read every comment they receive on every video; Hunter.io tracks down email addresses associated with a given domain, ensuring your proposal gets seen.
4. Check out YouTube’s own content.
Maintained by the YouTube team for its vloggers, the YouTube Creator blog contains a mix of platform updates and stories that spotlight prominent YouTubers. Search keywords associated with your industry to find influencers the platform considers star players. The YouTube Creators Twitter page is also a smart place to look.
Although it’s updated infrequently, the YouTube Trends blog contains gems as well. The latest post features channels in the sustainability space, subdivided into fashion, beauty, and living. And don’t forget YouTube’s official blog, which is geared toward a general audience, but still showcases influencers around timely topics like International Women’s Day.
5. Think about tone, quality, and character.
Before you fall in love with a YouTuber, take a hard look at what he or she posts. Watch at least five videos, preferably across topics and timeframes, and read the text below. Are the videos professionally filmed? Are the descriptions well-written and accurate?
Consider tone and character as well. If you’re a happy-go-lucky brand, don’t choose someone who writes angry rants on their blog. No matter what kind of brand you are, insist that the influencer follow the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines on sponsored social media content.
With marketers flocking to Instagram, YouTube influencers are ripe for the picking. Just be sure you’re thorough in your search: There’s no such thing as a good deal when it’s the wrong fit for your brand.