In the last one year as Instagram started cracking down on fake followers and marketing bots in an effort to make the platform more focused on friends, cracks have started appearing in a happy relationship. Some have started to move on to YouTube, a much tougher platform to crack.
Social media Influencers are “people-like-us” who Instagram post, tweet, Snapchat or Facebook about everything from fashion to beauty, from travel to luxury hotels, from yoga to fitness. Top marketers are of the opinion that consumers are more likely to make a purchase decision based on influencers because of authenticity and affinity.
Tanish Sharma, a food Influencer with 69,800 followers on Instagram started becoming active on YouTube only 3 months back. He has only 173 subscribers but he is happy to have taken the step.
“Audiences on YouTube spare more time while Instagram users mostly scroll and like. It is 5-10 minutes versus 5-10 seconds. Even though it is more difficult to grow on YouTube, the followers are more loyal,” said Sharma. “(Engagement on) Instagram reach has decreased. There is no guarantee about what will work, it is trial and error. There is a general consensus that people are done with Instagram.”
In November, Instagram took a step to cut down on third-party apps that were used to grow following of Influencers on the platform. The platform and its Influencers lost some credibility over the last several months when stories about bots and fake engagement came out. However, its strategy to prioritize friends by changing algorithms is in the works for a longer period of time.
“Platforms have been reducing the organic reach of brands, influencers. The reach has dipped to 10%, for the rest you have pay to promote your post,” said Suneil Chawla, Influencer.in, which connects brands to influencers. “Instagram is still no. 1 as it’s easier to create images and stories vs. videos, but YouTube is quickly catching up as the next platform for influencers and for some, it’s already the main platform.”
Instagram declined to comment.
To be sure, the number of Instagram users and Influencers continue to grow as more people from smaller towns get onto the platform. India has the second largest userbase for Instagram with 71 million users as on October, according to data portal Statista.
However, it is not an easy gig anymore.
“I have diversified to YouTube because I am trying to do a lot more with videos. YouTube is a preferred platform for videos. IGTV has a completely different format and it is not easy to shoot videos vertically,” said Siddhartha Joshi, a travel Influencer, who has 64,300 followers on Instagram.
For some, diversification is a business decision more than anything else as Influencer marketing generally goes hand in hand in with social media and content marketing. Brand deals demand a social media package – a mix of Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.
“Influencers are diversifying. Instagram and YouTube have different kind of audiences. Many prefer to watch videos than scroll. Why to lose that kind of reach… and brands who want to reach them?” said Nitibha Kaul, a fashion Influencer.
Digital marketers claim YouTube, a product of Google, has an advantage of visibility in search results.
“Instagram does not want it to be a distribution platform but be a ‘friends’ platform. Established Instagrammers are becoming YouTubers. YouTube as a product of Google gets more visibility on the search engine,” said Amit Mondal, Pulpkey, an Influencer marketing platform.
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