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Influencer Marketing: Instagram vs. YouTube

31 October 2018
Influencers filming an unboxing | Influencer Marketing: Instagram vs. YouTube | Neon

Facebook has long been hailed as the internet’s most influential platform.

In fact, one in ten people say they wouldn’t buy products online without consulting Facebook first. However, as the platform continues to come under scrutiny from marketers and advertisers alike – firstly in regards to how it handles data (i.e. the Cambridge Analytica incident) and secondly because of the recent inflation of video metrics – it’s unsurprising that more attention is being turned to the likes of Instagram and YouTube – two extremely visual platforms that offer a wealth of options when it comes to influencer marketing.

Instagram and YouTube have both thrived in the influencer marketing sphere because they offer a view into other people’s lives. Following your favourite personalities on Instagram and YouTube usually means you can see what they eat, what they’re wearing, what their homes look like, every day.

Whether it’s an Instagram carousel image of their interior design or a YouTube unboxing video of their latest shopping haul, the ‘fly on the wall’ effect makes it seem like you know these personalities.

For these reasons, both Instagram and YouTube make well-founded social channels to put an influencer marketing strategy into play – but what is the difference between Instagram influencers and YouTube influencers, and which one will be right for you?

Instagram Influencers

With over 500 million users daily, Instagram is one of the biggest social channels, jam-packed with celebrities and influencers alike. In the early days, influencers only really had to be good at taking aesthetically-pleasing imagery, as the network thrived on filters and camera angles. Now, there are a number of different features that influencers must keep up with, including Instagram Stories, which has 250 million daily active users.

It’s still incredibly important for Instagram influencers to have a knack at taking impressive imagery, though. 91% of Instagram posts are photos, so Insta influencers need to find a way to stand out. This includes also utilising some of Instagram’s features, such as Boomerang, which acts as more of a ‘gif’ than a video.

On the surface, Instagram might seem quite vain. People are drawn in by attractive images of products and glamorous lives. As long as the influencer has an attractive looking account, they usually don’t need to show much personality. This, however, has been challenged with the introduction of Instagram Stories – a direct competitor to Snapchat.

Instagram Stories allows users to post a video or image that’ll last 24 hours. This content is fully customisable with Snapchat-esque filters and stickers, and there’s functionality that allows for polls and rating systems.

Over 300 million Instagram users interact with Stories, with 59% of Stories posts leading to a shoppable page. With this in mind, Instagram Stories are integral to influencers; but will require some personality in front of the camera as many users expect stripped-down, natural and conversational videos.

TL;DR when seeking out Instagram influencers, aim for someone who has consistently nice images and videos, and who’s personal aesthetic won’t look out of place with the product you’re marketing. Asking an influencer to post a picture of a cleaning product amidst 1,000 images of make-up products isn’t the way to go.

YouTube Influencers

For YouTube influencers, it’s probably less about the aesthetic. Sure, it’s nice to have a customised backdrop, but YouTube thrives on personalities. Truly successful YouTube influencers come off natural on camera, with relatable and likeable personalities. YouTube has, in some studies, been cited as the second most influential platform for purchase decisions, with 18% of consumers consulting YouTube videos before they spend.

YouTube subscribers can be fickle, and unless the influencer is uploading a regular stream of quality videos, they’ll likely drop off and look elsewhere for their video content.

Consistency is key when it comes to YouTube, so when seeking out an influencer to collaborate with, be sure to pay attention to their publishing schedule.
24.6% of survey respondents indicated that they prefer using YouTube to engage with sponsored content, probably because it’s easy to be drawn in by the influencer in the video, unlike Instagram, which requires images to be tagged appropriately if they’re sponsored content.

TL;DR when seeking out a YouTube influencer to work with, be sure to find someone who’s likeable, has personality and who your consumers will relate to and trust. Find an influencer who has a consistent publishing schedule, so their subscribers know when to expect a video.

Where possible, try and situate your product naturally into a video. Rather than paying a lump-sum for a 3-minute video about how good your t-shirts are, request that the product is simply featured in the next “My Top 5 Summer Looks” video to appear more authentic.


Both Instagram and YouTube influencers need to be authentic, visually pleasing, original and consistent. Instagram influencers need to be reliable on delivering natural yet likeable images and short videos in order to gain success, whereas YouTubers need to be chatty and relatable when discussing a product or offer.

Before delving into Instagram or YouTube influencer marketing, consider which would show-off your business best: a series of still images, or a more long-form video piece on YouTube? Usually, influencers are popular cross-platform, so working on both Instagram and YouTube marketing can be complimentary for your business and give you the best of both worlds.

Still need a hand with influencer marketing? Download our FREE guide here to get all the information you need or give us a call to discuss your influencer options!

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