Virtually every company knows that it needs Facebook and Twitter to reach its customers. Across more than 2,000 businesses analyzed by Yes Lifecycle Marketing, 80 percent used Facebook and 82 percent were active on Twitter.

But brands have overlooked two other invaluable social platforms: Instagram and YouTube. Among those same businesses, just 60 percent engaged customers on YouTube, while a paltry 23 percent used Instagram.

Those numbers might make sense if YouTube and Instagram weren’t popular among consumers. But Instagram—brands’ least used channel—boasts 400 million monthly active users. Twitter—companies’ favorite social channel—reported only 301 million during the first quarter of 2016.

What’s more, research shows that visual content receives far more social shares than other content. So if you’re among the 59 percent of marketers planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets this year, why not use it to find your voice on Instagram and YouTube?


Instagram enables influencers to captivate audiences with photos and videos of your products in action, and its user base is expected to grow 15.1 percent this year, trouncing the sector’s overall 3.1 percent growth rate. Nearly three-quarters of Instagrammers are between 15 and 35, making the platform especially powerful among millennials.

Marketers: If you’re ready to get active on Instagram, start searching for influencers who can present audiences with an unfiltered look at your company. Here’s what to look for:

  • A strong aesthetic: Instagram is an incredibly visual platform, so seek influencers who distinguish themselves with artistic content. For example, an influencer whose feed consists primarily of monochromatic shots probably isn’t right for a brand promoting a new collection of bright, flashy activewear.
  • Interactivity: Followers feel connected to their favorite Instagram personalities, so look for those who take the time to build communities and respond to comments and questions. Audience engagement indicates that an influencer cares about creating content that resonates with his or her followers.
  • Authenticity: Overedited and overfiltered Instagram photos can turn off users thirsting for authenticity. Whether it’s a not-so-glamorous behind-the-scenes shot or an emotional caption, playful and honest posts help influencers truly connect with their audiences.
  • The proper niche: Each Instagram influencer has a unique following, and Instagram’s recent algorithmic shift means that content is no longer ordered chronologically, but by its relevance to users. Make the most of this shift by ensuring that influencers’ identities align well with your brand’s target audience. If you’re a men’s fashion brand, for instance, then fashion blogger probably isn’t the right fit for you. British model, however, might be.
  • Consistent engagement: Some marketers assume that reach is the most important metric for their influencers. The more people who see the post, the better, right? While television personality has 60 percent greater reach than video influencer, Helbig’s content has 721 percent greater engagement than Ripa’s.


Of all these platforms, YouTube’s content has the longest shelf life, meaning that influencers’ videos continue to receive new views and shares for months. YouTube’s longer videos also help influencers facilitate deeper engagement, and YouTube’s new 360-degree live streaming presents new opportunities for influencers to host live brand-boosting events online. Here’s how brands can choose YouTubers who will make them social movie stars:

  • An original voice: Nothing’s more boring than a video devoid of personality or humor, so evaluate YouTube influencers first and foremost on their unique style and sense of humor. Successful YouTube personalities like Jenna Marbles gain their followings because audiences connect with fun, authentic content.
  • Regular postings: Many YouTubers like to binge-watch content from their favorite personalities, so don’t expect influencers who post videos once a month to command much attention. If audiences are to stick around, then YouTube influencers must churn out fun, exciting videos at least once per week.
  • High production quality: Nobody wants to watch a video with muddled audio, inadequate lighting or unstable video. YouTube influencers needn’t be professional videographers, but they should be able to produce content that’s pleasant to watch.
  • Brand relevance: Influencers’ niches matter on Instagram, but perhaps even more so on YouTube. Good luck getting YouTubers interested in culinary content, for example, to watch a video from a fashion influencer. Instead, look to one of YouTube’s many popular cooking influencers—perhaps My Drunk Kitchen or Cooking With Dog.

YouTube and Instagram are incredibly popular among consumers, but they’re still being discovered by brands. Tap into customers on social media’s most visual platforms by contacting influencers who’ve already captured the ears and eyes of their viewers. With their help, your brand will be consumers’ favorite star in no time.