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Published July 25th 2022

The Complete Guide to YouTube Influencer Marketing

Every month, over 2.5 billion people use YouTube globally. YouTube influencer marketing is ideal for reaching the platform’s expansive audience and leveraging the long-tail value of its powerful search engine.

Looking to promote your brand through YouTube influencers? We’ve put together this definitive guide to YouTube influencer marketing, based on our years of experience working with the world’s largest video platform.

What is YouTube influencer marketing?

YouTube was one of the first social platforms to give rise to influencer marketing, as early as 2006. A few YouTube creators amassed an audience that rivaled television and attracted as much fame as traditional celebrities, and some of them have millions of followers. Savvy advertisers took notice and realized they could pay these early YouTubers to promote their products.

Since then, YouTube has given rise to a new generation of creative talent, and influencer marketing has exploded in popularity on the platform. Today, YouTube ranks just behind Facebook in terms of monthly active users (MAUs) and leads the way in video watch time across all social media platforms.

How can YouTube influencer marketing help you?

YouTube’s unique advantage over other social platforms is its long-form content. Social media is often about quick snippets and shareable, bite-sized content. YouTube, however, allows creators to upload videos up to 12 hours long.

As a marketer, you can use this extra time to showcase your products in detail. Influencer endorsements provide a great way to engage your target audience and attract prospective customers.

In fact, many businesses report an ROI of $5.78 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, and the influencer marketing industry today is estimated at $16.4 billion.

YouTube influencer marketing popular use cases

Now that we’ve covered the potential for YouTube influencer marketing, let’s look closer at the types of campaigns you can run with YouTubers.

Product introduction 

How might you gain consumer insights to inform product development and marketing strategy for a brand-new product or idea? Niche influencers have a huge potential impact on consumer behavior. Partnering with influential YouTubers to showcase new products can help brands gather much-needed insights to feed into their evolving product development cycle.

Top-of-mind awareness

Top-of-mind awareness means that your brand comes first to mind when consumers are thinking about a particular category of products or services. So these types of campaigns are designed to keep your brand and product in consumers’ memory. 

Maximize the brand’s reach

Hashtags have become an integral part of any brand’s marketing strategy. And YouTube influencers can help brands expand their visibility further by sharing and promoting branded hashtags. 

Sharing values

How can a brand connect with its target audience on a deeper level? YouTube influencers in your niche can help brands share behind-the-scenes content to give their audience a glimpse into the most valuable and relatable part of the brand story – the company’s mission and values, practices, and environment. This very personal, direct approach can help establish and strengthen relationships between new and existing customers and the brand. 

YouTube influencer marketing examples

Product integrations with influencers can range from a subtle mention (eg, “name-dropping” a brand in a video) to a direct sales pitch. Here are three of the most common YouTube influencer marketing formats:

Product placement

YouTube product placement occurs when an influencer integrates a brand or product into their standard programming. Beauty tutorials and recipe videos are famous for product placements. An influencer can film themselves demonstrating the latest makeup trend or cooking a new dish while being sure to mention the products they’re using. For best results, the influencer will be sure to link to all of the products in the video description.

Sometimes product placements are more overt. For example, an automotive technician might create an entire video focused on installing a branded automotive part as both a how-to video and a promotion of that product.

Product placements are the most natural form of influencer marketing, and these videos are more likely to attract viewers than interruptive ads.

Product reviews and feedback

Product reviews take many forms on YouTube. One of the most recognizable review formats is unboxing videos. In these videos, a YouTube influencer will open a package of products from a brand to examine the contents, providing real-time feedback throughout the video.

Other influencers will use a product over time, filming the results to give the audience insight into how well a product works.

Review videos are ideal for introducing a new product because they give the audience a comprehensive summary of the product’s pros and cons.

Product promotion

Product promotions are similar to traditional advertisements. The influencer will often use a script to promote a product to their audience, which may be delivered as a comedy sketch or a standard ad read.

In other cases, they may come in the form of sponsored content, where a video is “brought to you by Brand X.” Product promotion videos aim to create demand by applying marketing best practices while also leveraging the sway of an influencer.

4 tips for a successful YouTube marketing campaign

Here are four tips to help you create a successful YouTube marketing campaign.

1. Find the right influencers

Your YouTube influencer marketing campaign starts with finding the right influencer. Make sure to select an influencer who represents your brand values and reaches your ideal customer. For instance, if you are a camping equipment brand, you will want to engage influencers who promote an active outdoor lifestyle.

The influencer’s follower count shouldn’t be your only deciding factor. You’ll also want to examine the influencer’s average engagement rate and past branded content performance.

2. Compensate your influencers

YouTube influencers can generate a significant income from their videos, which for many may be a full-time career. In addition to advertising and subscription revenue on YouTube, many influencers will receive additional compensation from branded content sponsorships:

  • Monetary compensation is the fee an influencer charges to promote a brand in one or more videos.
  • Product gifting is a great way to encourage smaller influencers to use your products.
  • Affiliate marketing encourages influencers to promote your products using a customized affiliate link in exchange for a percentage of the profits.

Most influencer campaigns on YouTube are fee driven, given the time and cost involved for the influencer to create a sponsored video segment or dedicated piece of branded content. Expect to pay each influencer based on the number of followers they have, the type of promotion you’re requesting, and the time and work required to create the video. For example, YouTube creator MrBeast shared that his recent “Squid Game” video cost $3.5M to produce, which was funded by the video’s sponsor, Brawl Stars.

3. Give your influencers creative control

Creative freedom allows the influencers you work with to tailor the presentation of your brand to their followers. They know their audience best, so they can incorporate language that sounds natural, and produce a video that matches their style.

This level of artistic expression typically results in the best content and helps build trust with the influencer’s audience. As a result, your product integration will feel less like a sales pitch and more like your influencer’s other content – that their followers have grown to know and love.

4. Measure your results

You can only know if your influencer campaign is working by tracking your progress. So how do you measure success? The metrics you use will depend on your business objectives. For example, an e-commerce brand using influencer marketing will want to measure how much their sales increased as a result.

  • Here are some of the most useful YouTube influencer marketing metrics:
  • Video views and engagement (likes, comments, and shares)
  • Audience demographics (viewer location, age, and gender)
  • Website visitors referred by each influencer
  • Increase in your social followers and brand mentions
  • Conversion rate and new sales

The metrics you use will inform your influencer marketing strategy and help you continually optimize your campaign efforts.

Manage your influencer marketing campaign

With Influence, you can search for YouTube influencers, manage your influencer campaigns, and analyze the results in a centralized dashboard.

Looking to go beyond YouTube? Influence also supports TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch. 

Book a demo to see how we can transform your next YouTube influencer marketing campaign.

Key takeaways

  • As the world’s second-largest search engine after Google, YouTube videos have a much longer shelf life than content on feed-based social platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
  • Long-form videos on YouTube give your brand more time to demonstrate the value of your product.
  • Influencers are a great way to promote, review, and use your product in their videos to attract more customers.
  • You should use influencer marketing software to discover influencers, properly handle those relationships, and measure the progress of your influencer campaign.
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New: Brandwatch Influence

Manage all your influencer marketing in one place

Discover influencers, handle relationships, and manage campaigns — all in one end-to-end solution.

Falcon.io is now part of Brandwatch.
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Existing customer?Log in to access your existing Falcon products and data via the login menu on the top right of the page.New customer?You'll find the former Falcon products under 'Social Media Management' if you go to 'Our Suite' in the navigation.

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Brandwatch acquired Paladin in March 2022. It's now called Influence, which is part of Brandwatch's Social Media Management solution.Want to access your Paladin account?Use the login menu at the top right corner.