Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Every year the marketing industry goes through new buzzwords. The most recent, influencer marketing, will soon be joined by a new buzzword: digital video.

Brands are starting to realise that eyeballs aren’t as important as engagement, and the best way to engage someone is through the recommendation of a person they trust. Enter influencer marketing.

Brands that are using influencer marketing are now starting to ask where consumers are, and so are making the shift to digital video – specifically making the move towards YouTube, the second-largest search engine in the world.

For their part, consumers are excited by the option of “content on demand” that they can consume and engage with, and this content is widely available to them. As digital video continues to dominate media consumption (stats estimate that about 80% of media consumption in 2018 will be through digital video) brands have to be smart about how to engage their current and future consumers, who are making the move away from traditional to digital – and more specifically, to digital video.

What’s the secret of engaging influencers on YouTube for maximum benefit for your brand or company? Here are my top five tips.

One: Authenticity is the priority

YouTube is not like TV, where users easily click out if they don’t like something. Consumers watch particular celebs on YouTube because they are authentic and build a relationship with their subscribers. Allow the YouTuber the opportunity to guide you when developing content – it’s in your best interest at the end of the day.

The big take-out:

Content marketing, influencers and digital video will dominate 2018.

Two: It’s not a 30-second ad

YouTube is brilliant because it allows you to engage directly through videos using clickable icons and comments. The way you format the content needs to be relooked to suit the platform. It’s not just a media player that you post video on, hoping people will find it. With the help of data analytics, it needs to be used to its full potential.

Three: Numbers can be deceiving

Don’t just look at a YouTuber’s subscriber base or take one particular viral video as your reason to engage with said YouTuber. Ask the influencer (or YouTube partner manager) to send you the demographics of his or her channel, and really zone in on the demographic and influencer, which will be a large of part of achieving your return on investment.

Four: Think collaboration

Brands regularly approach us to do influencer work with our YouTubers, but often it’s just to promote a single product. I always suggest that brands think of creative (and fun) ways to get creators to collaborate or play a game that’s engaging and exciting for them and their viewers. By cross-pollinating, you gain credibility and place your brand in good standing with the millennial market, which loves to see subscribed channels meeting other YouTubers and collaborating.

Five: Forget viral

Viral is so last century! YouTube’s algorithms are moving away from viral content and rewarding longer viewing time, which they call “watch time”. Viral content is a phenomenon – you can set the stage but you cannot force a standing ovation. Focus your efforts on engaging content and get the viewer to appreciate your brand by the value you have added to his or her life.

The world of digital is exciting. Nobody is forced to watch anything. Brands need to shift their attention towards engaging content that viewers simply cannot help but want to watch.

• Danilo Acquisto is CEO of Special Effects Media SA.