From Twitter to Instagram, marketers have plenty of networks to tap into when launching influencer marketing campaigns. One of the biggest ones is YouTube, which attracts roughly two billion monthly active users. Its base of active users is second only to Facebook. So, if you don’t currently use the video-sharing site for marketing purposes, now is the time to start.

The COVID-19 lockdown will likely boost YouTube’s importance to marketers. IZEA surveyed 949 Americans and found that 66 percent of them expect their social media usage to increase during the coronavirus pandemic. Sixty-four percent said they expect their YouTube usage to increase. This might not come as a surprise. As local, state and government officials warn citizens to stay home to reduce spreading the virus, more people are spending time surfing the Web.

So, what steps can you take to ensure your YouTube influencer marketing efforts reach consumers during this lockdown and beyond? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Pick the Ideal Partner

It might seem obvious, but it’s hard to overstate the importance of having specific marketing goals in mind. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want to draw attention to specific products or services or raise brand awareness in general?
  • Do I want to generate a certain amount of leads or sales, and how will I keep track of these factors? 
  • How much am I willing to spend on the campaign?
  • What specific demographics do I want to reach?
  • How long do I want the campaign to last? 

The answers you come up with will help your campaign in several ways. First, they help you determine which influencers and what kinds of content you should rely on. They also help you measure your progress throughout the campaign as well as measure your level of success when the campaign is over.

Set Your Goals

Finding the right influencer match for your brand is arguably the most important step in the process, and there are lots of factors to consider. Here are a few details to hone in on during your search for a partner.

The influencer’s niche should align with your brand’s niche. 

This ensures the influencer is an expert when it comes to your industry, or at least a trusted voice in the field. If you’re marketing for a business that specializes in cookware, consider collaborating with someone who creates cooking tutorials. Marketing for a local gym? A fitness coach could be a credible and charismatic partner for your brand. 

In addition to niche, the influencer should have a similar voice and target audience as your brand. If you’re marketing for a family-friendly business, a vlogger who relies on crass humor is probably an unsuitable partner. 

The influencer’s reach and engagement should fit your campaign goals. 

Working with a popular YouTuber might seem like an obvious strategy. After all, the bigger a YouTuber’s audience, the more people will see that YouTuber’s endorsements of your brand. However, the level of audience engagement a content creator can generate is also important. Engagement encompasses subscriber interactions, such as comments, likes and shares. 

When it comes to reach and engagement, you might have to prioritize one over the other. As a YouTuber’s audience size increases, their engagement level drops. 

The influencer’s cost per video should fit within your budget.

If you’re working with a tight budget, keep your eyes open for content creators with small audiences. A YouTuber’s subscriber count will likely affect how much they charge per video. The length and complexity of a video might also increase a content creator’s price. Some YouTubers charge based on how many views a video receives, rather than by subscriber count. 

The influencer should care about your brand and products. 

Audiences are savvy enough to recognize a hollow endorsement. With that in mind, only partner with YouTubers who have a genuine appreciation for your products and services. Content creators who are excited about your brand might even decide to stick around for a long-term partnership.

Focus on Authentic and Useful Content

If you’re working with an experienced content creator, they’ll probably have plenty of content suggestions to make for your campaign. They likely have a keen understanding of what kind of content their audience enjoys and responds to. 

It doesn’t hurt to have a few content ideas of your own. As you brainstorm, ask yourself, “What type of content will be both authentic and useful to viewers?”

Look to other successful campaigns for some guidance. Consider the popularity of unboxing videos on YouTube. In this content format, an influencer unpacks and examines the product, giving potential consumers a better understanding of what you’re offering. You could also take a cue from traditional ads and create a vlog-style advertisement, in which the influencer is making good use of your product. 

Even if you’re offering ideas, don’t forget to let the content creator ultimately take control. Remember that they’re the creative force behind the channel.

Keep SEO in Mind

Online marketers know the importance of search engine optimization (SEO), and you’ll want to keep those practices in mind during YouTube influencer campaigns. A little time spent researching popular keywords can go a long way when it comes to boosting content visibility. Include those keywords in video descriptions and video tags.

When it comes to titling the content, feel free to offer suggestions, but defer to the YouTuber’s opinion. They can develop a title that fits in with the rest of their content, which helps maintain authenticity. In some cases, the content creator might even opt to leave the name of your brand or product out of the video title. That might seem odd, but, again, trust the YouTuber’s judgment.

Measure Your Performance

Throughout the campaign and at its conclusion, you’ll want to assess whether you’ve achieved your objectives. If the video received plenty of views, it might be safe to assume the content helped increase brand or product awareness. View count isn’t the only metric that matters though, especially if you’ve set more specific goals. 

Use a tracking link in the video description to direct viewers to your brand’s website, and then assess how much traffic the video actually generated. If you want to determine the video’s effect on sales, ask the influencer to include a coupon code within the content. When consumers who watched the video attempt to make a sale on your product page, they’ll input the trackable code. These are just a few of many ways to evaluate the content’s impact. 

Build on your successes and learn from your mistakes. If your YouTube influencer marketing strategy didn’t yield the results you wanted, reconsider your approach. You might need to adjust the content format or maybe even try collaborating with different influencers who are a better match for your brand.

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