Marketers have always chased eyeballs. Now, they’re chasing influencers across the far corners of the internet. Better to fish where the fish are than to cast a line into the void. And where these fish are—the social platforms—marketers are finding that the water is welcoming if they understand how influencers treat each platform.
“Right now, we’re seeing brands just putting all of their dollars in Instagram. And while Instagram is amazing, a single platform strategy isn’t a great one,” said Daniel Schotland, COO of influencer marketing platform Linqia.
While Instagram is the king of social media, it’s not the only game in town. A recent report from The Observer found that younger influencers are turning their noses up at Instagram in favor of TikTok’s sillier point of view. Meanwhile, other reports have found influencers are leaving the platform due to the fatigue and financial stress that come with Instagram’s oversaturated market.
TikTok and Twitter (and their influencers) are going head-to-head with the reigning influencer marketing champs, Instagram and YouTube.
The champions: Instagram and YouTube
Part of the reason that Instagram and YouTube dominate the conversation: scale. The third most popular platform in North America, Instagram boasts roughly 1 billion monthly active users. YouTube weighs in with 2 billion monthly users.
Thanks to the saturation of Instagram’s 500,000 influencers, marketers in every industry can find a relatively inexpensive home on the platform. Recent estimates peg the average sponsored post on the platform at barely $200. To put that into perspective, an average sponsored video on YouTube can run upward of $6,700.
For luxury brands like American Express, Instagram’s community offers a way to talk about benefits without being too stodgy. According to Walter Frye, the company’s vp of global brand engagement, the company specifically “works with people who have passions and whose audiences have passions that align with those of our customers.”
“Instagram’s always been great for reaching a lot of people on a limited amount of money,” said Chris Gonzalez, CMO at influencer marketing platform NeoReach. But that has fluctuated, he added, thanks partially to Instagram’s algorithm shifts and partially to the surge of ad dollars into the site.
The challengers: TikTok and Twitter
For marketers seeking a platform that curates content while also being easier on their wallets, TikTok is looking more viable, Gonzalez added.
At less than a dollar per average CPM, TikTok’s lower cost is partially due to the platform’s immaturity, with 14.3 million monthly active users in the U.S. It can also be chalked up to the platform’s younger audience, which brings less spending power.
But the platform also brings something to marketing that can’t be found anywhere else: a sense of humor. Unlike Instagram’s polished influencer community, some of TikTok’s most popular creators are producing comedic content.
“It’s kind of the ethos of that platform,” Schotland said. “If you can be OK with that as a brand or if you can expand your brand to accommodate for that, and you’re OK with giving up a little bit of control for what could be massive virality, TikTok could be a great place.”
Earlier this year, Chipotle became the first casual restaurant chain to partner with TikTok in the U.S., and so far, the platform’s branded challenges have been a boon for the company.
Thanks to the snappy, short-form content that’s native to Twitter, influencers with a presence there are under pressure to produce smarter content.
“It’s definitely a different kind of influencer,” said Brian Sorel, NeoReach’s COO. “But because it’s hard to have a good, meaty Twitter channel that’s engaging to an audience, I think there’s a lot more power with Twitter’s influencers than on any other channel.”
Some of Twitter’s most-followed accounts are also the most scholarly. In that way, Twitter’s influencers skew less toward content creation and more toward strong points of view.
“Many young people care about sustainability, they care about politics, and these bigger conversations are happening on Twitter,” said Evyenia Wilkins, vp of marketing at the influencer marketing platform Traackr. She added that the platform is best suited for brands that “aren’t afraid” of siding with an influencer with a strong point of view.
For instance, thanks to the collective buzz generated on Twitter, Popeyes Chicken Sandwich sold out just two weeks after its launch.
“It’s not just the platform, but who is on the platform,” God-is Rivera, Twitter’s global director of culture and community, said at this year’s Brandweek. The platform’s black Twitter community is ultimately what rocketed the sandwich’s success, she added.