YouTube influencers most likely to spur purchasing decisions, but TikTok a growing force

YouTube is the social media platform where influencers are most likely to encourage consumer purchasing decisions, although TikTok is increasinly influential among young people, new research suggests.

YouTube influencers most likely to spur purchasing decisions, but TikTok a growing force

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

The research, for influencer marketing platform Takumi, surveyed 2,000 consumers, marketers and influencers across the UK, US, and Germany.

It found 16-24 year-olds are the most likely to have purchased as a result of TikTok influencers; 40 per cent in Germany and 30 per cent in the UK. The situation was a bit different in the US, however, where 35-44 year-olds were most influenced (37 per cent) to purchase by TikTok influencers.

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

The data also suggests trust is earned over time: consumers trust influencers on 'legacy' platforms such as YouTube more (28 per cent) than those on newer platforms such as Instagram (22 per cent) and TikTok (15 per cent).

However, influencers on both YouTube and TikTok fared well versus more traditional celebrity brand endorsements; 37 per cent of 16-44 year-olds trust a YouTube influencer more than a high-profile figure or celebrity.

In addition, on TikTok, 23 per cent of the same age group agreed they trust a TikTok influencer’s recommendation over a friend’s.

Consumers are increasingly trusting of influencers across the platform - 44 per cent had “no concerns” about TikTok influencers, rising to 48 per cent for YouTube (up from 20 per cent 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.

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 per cent felt familiar with YouTube.

Meanwhile, ‘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 a similar study in 2019, falling from 64 per cent to 58 per cent.

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 60 per cent of marketers agreeing TikTok is the most creative channel and 68 per cent also considering it the most entertaining channel.

Perceptions varied considerably across demographics, although YouTube was consistently the highest ranked social media platform by consumers across all these characteristics. This includes a significant majority of marketers (72 per cent) and consumers (55 per cent) who agree it 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, as well as 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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