The digital age has massively changed marketing opportunities and methods beyond all recognition. The ubiquitous social media platforms that pervade all of our lives, either did not exist or were virtually unknown upstarts little more than a decade ago. YouTube itself was only founded in 2005, uploading their very first video in April that year, yet has exploded into the biggest single video sharing platform online with over 1 billion global users watching a billion hours worth of videos daily.
The idea behind is YouTube is simple really; pretty much anyone can sign up and post a video about almost any subject which anyone can watch. All individuals who produce their own original video work are known as content creators. Amongst the countless amateur videos, there has sprung a new generation of professionals who make successful livings from producing regular videos and hosting their own channels. These creators have built up fan bases in the tens of thousands up to several million regular followers, basically by being themselves, with the creative freedom to say and do what they like on whatever subject they are passionate about.
These people have become the new celebrity, holding sway with their audience because they are seen as approachable and relevant, hence the name influencers. Their rise has turned traditional methods of marketing and advertising upside down. Some demographics, particularly younger people, now spend more time watching YouTube than they do regular TV and are more likely to be fans of internet influencers instead of conventional celebrities.
With millions of engaged and passionate viewers on YouTube every hour, every alert marketer already knows it is the place to advertise and if you’re not, you’re gonna get left behind. But understanding how to successfully combine influencers and brand marketing is key to driving brand awareness and sales strategies to the next level.
Influencers vs Celebrities:
There is a caveat: if you are not already aware, YouTube influencers are not the same as celebrities for the purposes of marketing. Sure, the lines sometimes get a little blurry as plenty of these creators have become famous, but for marketing, the general distinction lies in the question; how did they build their fanbase? If it was through vlogging, blogging and internet presence, they are first and foremost an internet influencer. If they built their fanbase from other work first, often music, stage, TV and film, then they are celebrities, even if they later operate a significant online presence.
Not only that but what consumers expect of each differs. Celebrities are expected to stand out, be at the forefront of fashion, trends and provide a window into a stereotypically enviable or luxurious lifestyle that “ordinary” people dream of attaining. On the other hand, people want influencers to be humorous, friendly, even irreverent or rebellious and as relatable to their fans as their own friends, but people do not necessarily aspire to be like them.
The reason why the difference is important? When choosing a face to market your brand studies have shown that both influencers and celebrities bring different benefits to the table.
According to the Branded Video Study published in May 2017 by Nielsen/Carat/YouTube and described in detail here at Think with Google, it found that celebrities are better for driving recall (84% versus 73%), because of their memorable faces and personalities, they can make an associated brand more memorable.
The study found though that when it came to increasing brand familiarity where you want your target audience to get to know your product in detail or your brand values and ethics, influencers were four times more effective. This is likely due to influencers being perceived as independent, authentic, relatable and credible to their fans, leading to more trust in what they promote.
The research also found that both influencers and celebrities were equal drivers when it came to customers making buying decisions, or purchase intent. It also tested categories other than beauty and fashion and proved that collaborating with influencers is not just for these types of product, but they were among the first to successfully recognise and utilise the benefits. Even now, 86% of the top 200 watched beauty videos on YouTube are made by creators rather than the brands or business. Across a sample range of nine product categories, the research saw considerable increases in brand familiarity, understanding and recommendations from pairings with influencers.
What Will Suit Your Brand?
So the research suggests that this is a successful way to drive your brand awareness on YouTube but there is a whole lot more to consider first before you start messaging any creator who has large numbers of subscribers. Like any other type of advertising media, you still need to be clearly focused on your target audiences, the image and presentation of your brand, what you wish to achieve from your campaign and how – what type of collaboration is going to bring most fruition?
Traditionally, brands have partnered with celebrities by featuring them through conventional advertising media, endorsements, product placements or sponsorship. The same can be used for working with influencers, but there are now more opportunities available, from simpler forms such as your own adverts run on creator content or adverts featuring the influencer, through to far more in-depth integrations where the brand gives the influencer the lead over creating the content.
The study found these deeper collaborations very effective – but not every brand and advertiser is ready for this type of partnership. Influencers will have their own agendas too and will generally be careful about forming the right alliance for them. Many creators meanwhile may be unwilling to conform to overly rigid or demanding briefs. Often, the most successful advertising videos at this level are when the creator has been given full creative freedom by the brand, after all, it is the influencer who is the professional at producing videos and who has learnt what their fans want to see.
Research potential creators – who they are, what they do, how long they’ve been doing it, what they stand for, what their approach is and what their typical audience is like. You are looking to select and negotiate with the ones that fit best with your brand goals, influencers that will be enthused by your brand, understand your vision and willing to help conceive and collude on a campaign that aligns with the ethos of both sides. And to finish on an obvious point; you want to ensure their viewers correspond with your target audience.
Want to know more about using influencer marketing to reach the audiences that matter and take your brand to the next level? Talk to us now! Call us on 0161 468 2612 or click here to contact us online.