YouTube influencers most-trusted by consumers – but young people increasingly purchasing via TikTok

International | Reports | Retail

Global influencer marketing specialists, TAKUMI, today published findings on the industry’s dynamics with a study of over 2,000 consumers, marketers and influencers across the UK, US, and Germany, on their perceptions of YouTube, TikTok and Instagram as influencer marketing channels.

The report ‘The realities of influencer marketing: TikTok and YouTube in focus’ is a sequel to TAKUMI’s 2019 whitepaper ‘Trust, transactions and trend-setters: the realities of influencer marketing’, and contrasts perceptions of influence, trust, authenticity and creativity..

A quarter of consumers credit YouTube influencers with purchases

In the last six months, over a quarter of consumers (27%) have been influenced to purchase a product or service by creators on YouTube, followed by 24% of consumers on Instagram and 15% on TikTok.

16-24 year olds are the most likely to have purchased as a result of TikTok influencers; 40% in Germany and 30% in UK, versus the US where surprisingly 35-44 year olds were most influenced (37%) to purchase by TikTok influencers. It’s an interesting sign that the platform can deliver ROI for brands beyond its core younger user demographic.

On YouTube and Instagram the demographics most likely to purchase were again younger in the UK and Germany (38% and 59% of 25-34 year olds on average respectively) versus the US (57% of 35-44 year olds on average).

Some consumers trust influencers more than friends

The data shows how trust is earned over time: consumers trust influencers on legacy platforms such as YouTube more (28%) than those on newer platforms such as Instagram (22%) and TikTok (15%).

That said, influencers on both YouTube and TikTok fared well versus more traditional celebrity brand endorsements. 37% of 16-44 year olds trust a YouTube influencer more than a high-profile figure or celebrity. Meanwhile on TikTok, almost a quarter (23%) of the same age group agreed they trust a TikTok influencer’s recommendation over a friends.

Consumers are increasingly trusting of influencers across the platform – 44% had “no concerns” about TikTok influencers, rising to 48% on YouTube, compared with 20% in 2019. However, ‘disingenuous endorsements’ and ‘the promotion of unrealistic or unsustainable lifestyle or body images’ remain consumers’ top concerns across UK, US and German markets showing the importance of authenticity and its impact on consumer trust.

Demonstrating ROI the top concern for marketers

Marketers’ trust in the various influencer marketing channels varies, with Instagram ranked first followed by YouTube and TikTok. A ‘lack of familiarity’ emerged as one of the top three concerns for marketers with TikTok, whereas 96% felt familiar with YouTube. That said, influencers’ ability to help ‘demonstrate ROI’ could improve marketers’ trust, which was identified as their top concern.

As with TAKUMI’s 2019 study, ‘creative control’ and ‘a clear brief’ remain influencers’ top priorities when working with brands and marketers.

Overall  influencers’ trust in brands to work fairly with them has seen a decline since 2019, falling from 64% to 58%.

Instagram aspirational, TikTok escapist, YouTube influential

Across all markets, consumers perceived Instagram as more aspirational, informative, and user-friendly than TikTok. In contrast, TikTok is considered more escapist, entertaining, and creative than Instagram, with three out of five (60%) marketers agreeing TikTok is the most creative channel and two thirds of marketers (68%) also considering TikTok the most entertaining channel.

Again, perceptions varied considerably across various demographics, however YouTube was consistently the highest ranked social media platform by consumers across all these characteristics. This includes a significant majority of marketers (72%) and consumers (55%) who agree YouTube is the most likely channel to lead to a purchase, followed by Instagram and TikTok.

Mary Keane-Dawson, Group CEO of TAKUMI said: “Since 2019 the influencer marketing industry has matured significantly, with consumer concerns lower than ever before, potentially accelerated by increased industry legislation and professionalisation. However, more remains to be done if influencers and marketers are to truly harness the potential of influencer marketing – and our research shows a multi-platform strategy is the best approach.

“Armed with the expert insight of influencers who are native to the different social platforms, brands can explore authentic and bespoke campaigns to engage different audiences. Being platform agnostic is a necessity, and also a huge opportunity for marketers to work with creative influencers who really understand how to engage people on each platform. A multi-platform strategy cannot be implemented with a one-size-fits-all approach. Successful brand and influencer partnerships harness co-creation, avoiding poor replications of the ‘same campaign’ across social media channels.

“Brands who can entertain and educate through influencers will capture the hearts, minds, and wallets of consumers versus traditional media. This will only grow as time goes by and trust is won.

“Influencer marketing in 2020 will continue to push boundaries, innovate and become a trusted awareness, engagement and sales attribution approach for brands.”

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