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Top YouTube influencers in the UK and how to work with them

Top YouTube influencers in the UK and how to work with them

Influencer marketing is a really effective method for marketers to not only create brand awareness but to also generate conversions and sales. An omnichannel approach to influencer marketing is key, as different platforms enable different levels of engagement and will reach different audience groups. For each channel, it’s important to work with the right influencers, so in this article, I’ll take a look at some of the top YouTube influencers in the UK and how to work with them. 

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Why influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is becoming a go-to method in the marketer’s tool belt. According to a recent survey by Influencer Marketing Hub and CreatorIQ, the estimated market size for influencer marketing increased from $6.6bn in 2019 to $9.7bn in 2020, with 66% of respondents stating they intended to increase their spend on this area of marketing in 2020.

Influencer marketing, if done the right way, is a great way to tap into a ready-made community of loyal followers. By carefully selecting the right creators to work with - those who reflect your brand message and who have an authentic connection with their audience - you’ll see the trust in the creator transfer to your brand. As we highlighted in our Brand Love Story 2020 report, creating these kinds of community connections through influencers is a great way to generate brand love, helping businesses thrive in the long-term.

Why YouTube over other social media platforms?

An omnichannel approach - i.e., using multiple or all social media platforms - is the ideal method to use for influencer marketing, as each platform has different advantages depending on your aims. Whilst the majority of marketers focus on Instagram and Facebook for their campaigns, according to Influencer Marketing Hub, YouTube is still one of the most used social media platforms and therefore, has plenty of potential when it comes to brand reach. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw search results and usage of YouTube and Facebook increase dramatically in March 2020, however, of the two, only YouTube maintained this level of popularity into April and beyond. This indicates that video is one of the most popular forms of content to consume.

This is particularly true in the UK where a recent Ofcom survey revealed that YouTube viewing by all UK adults has increased by 6 minutes a day since 2017. Of the total 4.5 hours of video content watched each day by 16-34 year-olds, YouTube comes in as the second largest channel after live TV, with 64 minutes watched. For the youngest age group in this bracket, 16-24, this goes up to 73 minutes. For brands targeting this demographic, it’s clear that working with YouTube influencers is going to get eyeballs on your content.

Pie Chart showing breakdown of types of video content consumers in UK

Another area where YouTube trumps platforms such as Instagram, is the ability to backlink to external sites. With Instagram, the only opportunity to link to an external site is either through Instagram Stories - which are temporary - or through the biography in the user’s profile. With that in mind, Instagram is better used for short term, one-off campaigns. Likewise with Facebook, the nature of the platform being an amalgamation of news, commentary and content, meaning it’s best used for short term campaigns, as content becomes less visible over time.

YouTube is slightly different. As we highlighted in our recent study of social media audience trends, YouTube is essentially three major channels rolled into one - a video platform, a social network, and a search engine. Content can be found easily at any time with a simple search around key topics. With YouTube, backlinks can be included in the description of each individual video, which can stay on a creator’s profile for as long as the video exists there. If the content produced is of high quality, and evergreen in theme, the videos created by an influencer for your brand can continue to generate engagement, and potentially even sales, over the long-term. In this case, it’s best to develop a long-term relationship with the influencer, rather than just a one-off campaign engagement, and consider the longevity of the content you’re asking them to produce.

There are a number of newer players in the video-based social media landscape, such as TikTok and Twitch, that are also worth looking into, particularly if your target demographic is a younger audience. According to a recent study by global influencer marketing specialists, TAKUMI, 30% of UK 16-24 year olds were likely to have purchased a product as a result of TikTok influencers. However, YouTube overall remains the more influential platform when it comes to consumer decision making, with 27% of all consumers having been influenced to purchase a product on YouTube, vs 15% on TikTok. This shows that the legacy brands still garner more trust at the moment, making YouTube a safer investment.

Graph showing search volumes of different social networks during early stages of pandemic

Social network search volume usage statistics by daily searches, by individual networks. The pandemic period is noted by the grey reference band.

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Where to find YouTube influencers

To create a successful influencer marketing campaign, it’s essential that you find the right influencer to work with. To start with, you need to determine the goals of your campaign; is it to increase brand awareness? To improve brand image? To drive conversions? Your answer to this will determine the type of influencer to reach out to.

If it’s to increase brand awareness, you might prefer to work with celebrity or macro influencers, who have massive reach and can get your brand in front of a lot of people. If your aim is to drive conversions, however, you might prefer to work with micro influencers. These creators don’t have as many followers, however those that do follow them are highly engaged, and are therefore more likely to act on any recommendations given by the influencer.

Table showing engagement rates of different types of influencers on different social media channels

To find YouTube influencers that meet the criteria, there are a couple of ways to go about this. You can either work with agencies who are experts in influencer marketing, and will have a number of YouTube influencers on their books already. They will know which influencers will promote your brand most effectively, and will have experience of what sort of content will work best for your campaign objectives, how to get the most out of influencers, etc.

If you want to do the work yourself, there are a number of tools, such as Talkwalker, who can help you to identify influencers that are already engaging with your brand, or who already address topics that reflect your brand messaging. Once you’ve identified them, it’s a case of reaching out to them manually and starting a conversation. You can learn more about how to identify influencers and create a successful influencer marketing campaign on our blog.

Screenshot of Talkwalker Analytics influencers

Using Talkwalker analytics you can discover potential influencers for your brand

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How to work with YouTube influencers

Once you have identified your influencers and reached out to them, it’s now time to build the relationship. As mentioned before, there are a couple of approaches to take. You can either engage with influencers for one-off campaigns - a product launch, or a brand awareness piece. For these types of campaigns, Instagram or Facebook might be better platforms for the reasons outlined above. Alternatively, you can build a long-term relationship based around ongoing content creation and activities. For these types of campaigns, YouTube can be a great platform.

Most influencer marketing experts agree that the more freedom and flexibility you can give an influencer to create the content on behalf of your brand, the more success you’ll have. In allowing this, the content they’ll produce will seem more authentic and resonate more with the audience. In addition to this, digital marketing specialists CEEK Marketing, suggest involving the influencer in the planning process from the start. They know their audience the best and will know what sort of content will encourage engagement. They also suggest considering the value an influencer brings beyond the engagement of the initial campaign. If you work with influencers to create evergreen content, the ROI will be much higher than a one-off, time sensitive video.

When it comes to paying influencers, again there are a number of ways to go. You can look at a flat fee for the content they agree to post, a cost-per-click or cost-per-conversion approach, or an exchange for free products. How you plan to work with your influencers - whether it’s a one-off campaign or a long-term arrangement - will play a factor in determining the best approach to remuneration. However you decide to proceed, it’s always best to agree this with the influencer at the start and make it clear what each party expects from the arrangements. This will avoid potentially souring the relationship later on.

How to measure the success of your influencer marketing campaign

Working with an influencer is an investment, so to make sure it’s worth it, it’s essential to measure the success of the campaign you run with them. There are three key points to measure in order to assess ROI:

  • Pre-campaign: Before you start working with an influencer, understand how your current marketing approach is working and set some benchmarks to measure against and some realistic KPIs to aim for.

  • During the campaign: Depending on the type of influencer you’re working with, it’s unlikely that you will see massive changes overnight. Track how the campaign is performing against your key KPIs, and tweak the campaign as necessary if your target audience isn’t responding in the way you expected.

  • Post-campaign: Here you need to take all the metrics you chose to track and compare it with the original benchmarks and KPIs you set. Only in doing this will you see whether the campaign has worked.

If the campaign doesn’t meet your KPIs, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t work with that influencer again. You need to assess what aspect of the campaign didn’t work - perhaps it was the content itself, or the timing of the campaign. Perhaps the influencer you chose didn’t work for this campaign, but might be suitable for a different one. This period of reflection post-campaign will help you to gather learnings to improve on future ones.

Measuring your campaign is essential to improve your influencer marketing strategy in the future. You can see how this translates in real life in our recent case study with cosmetics brand L’Occitane and marketing agency Hivency when they used micro influencers in a new product launch.

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UK YouTube influencers by category

Now to the top YouTube influencers in the UK. This list is divided into the main content categories that are most popular on YouTube. Each category includes a selection of celebrity, macro and micro influencers, to give you ideas depending on the campaign you’re running. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so feel free to download the UK influencer directory for more ideas.

Fashion, lifestyle and beauty

This is quite a broad category, but so often the lines between them blur. There are many beauty influencers who include content about their diet and lifestyle, and fashion influencers who include content about their home renovations, etc. This is why I’ve included them in one category.

Here is my selection of top UK fashion, lifestyle and beauty influencers:

Fashion and lifestyle YouTuber Patricia Bright

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Sports and fitness

As we’ve seen during COVID-19, there’s been an uptick in the number of people looking for ways to keep fit whilst either being in lockdown or having to social distance. And with major professional sports matches being cancelled during the lockdown, people were looking for other ways to enjoy their favourite sports. This created plenty of opportunities for YouTube influencers to step in and fill the void.

Professional freeride mountain biker and former FMB world champion, Sam Pilgrim

Here is my selection of top UK sports and fitness influencers:

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Gaming is no longer a niche category limited only to serious players, instead it’s a fast growing sector with games such as Fortnite breaking into mainstream culture. In fact, two out of the five YouTube channels with the most subscribers worldwide are gaming-related.

Gamer, rapper, actor and boxer - KSI

Here is my selection of top UK gaming influencers:

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According to Google, tech shoppers who use online video to inform their decision-making spend 21% more on tech devices than shoppers who don’t use online video. There are a plethora of tech YouTubers out there who focus on offering product reviews of the latest tech. Here is my selection of top UK tech influencers:

Tech reviewer, Tom Honeyands is TheTechChap

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Entertainment/ Comedy

According to Google statistics, watch time for comedy videos has grown 60% in the last year, and there are plenty of influencers that fit into this category.

Entertainment and lifestyle youtuber, Saffron Barker

Here is my selection of top UK entertainment and comedy influencers:

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Whilst the travel sector has been hard hit in recent months and is likely to face some challenges ahead, many travel influencers have adapted well to the situation, producing alternative content based on their travel restrictions.

World traveller and blogger, Louis John Cole, is FunForLouis

Here is my selection of top UK travel influencers:

This is just a selection of some of the top YouTube influencers in the UK at the moment, and hopefully the tips I’ve shared on how to identify and work with them has inspired you to consider incorporating influencer marketing campaigns into your marketing strategy, if you aren’t already. To get a head start on identifying the most relevant influencers for your brand, don’t forget to download my free UK influencers directory.

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