YouTube influencers. There’s little doubt that this phrase has become one of the industry’s hottest buzzwords. You’ve heard of them, maybe you’ve spotted a billboard promoting a “YouTube Star” on the freeway, or perhaps you’ve tuned in (or even subscribe) to a few YouTube vlogs yourself. From cooking, sports, beauty, and everything in between, it’s safe to say that there is a YouTube channel for practically every category under the sun – and the people that power these channels serve as way more than your average TV show hosts. These folks are brands within themselves – real people whose raw authenticity serves as the not-so-secret sauce that continues to reel in millions of highly devoted eyeballs every moment of the day. And not surprisingly, many of these “stars” are breaking records in user engagement and views, likely by the time you finishing reading this post.

Over the past few years, Fraser Communications has collaborated with several major YouTube influencers, including Dulce Candy, The Eh Bees Family and The Daily Bumps, each bringing impressive results to our clients. From nearly half a million views on one video alone, to thousands of engaged comments and significant web traffic spikes, each influencer has delivered unique value that is unsurpassed by other mediums.

Whether you are part of the nearly 75% of marketers investing in influencer marketing or not, it pays to know a little bit about the enigmatic force behind YouTube’s best and brightest. After all, research shows that YouTube, which boasts more than 1 billion monthly users and is the internet’s second largest search engine, has the best ROI compared to any other social platform. It’s no surprise that brands want to work with YouTube influencers more than ever – and why it’s becoming one of today’s highest-ranked ways to reach and engage with customers.

Impressive numbers and promising outcomes tend to result in brands taking rapid moves to align with the “hottest” YouTube influencers. But in this fast-paced online ecosystem, it pays to stop for a moment and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into. Let’s take a deeper dive into YouTube marketing territory – namely,with 5 things NOT to do:

1. Leave your strategy on the backburner.

You’ve invested in building your brand, so it’s absolutely critical to work with influencers that align best with your business. Choosing the right influencer that more seamlessly fits with your brand is far more important than choosing the “hottest” YouTube star of the moment. Create your strategy and seek influencers who make sense for your brand and identify with your consumers’ personas.

2. Ignore an influencer’s engagement rate.

Massive numbers in the form of subscribers and views are definitely worth something, but not considering an influencer’s engagement rate is a huge mistake. For example, an influencer may have 1 million subscribers but very low engagement, say 50-100 comments or likes per session. If you compare this influencer to one with a smaller subscriber base but higher engagement rate, the latter is likely yielding a more devoted fan base, potentially creating a stronger opportunity for marketers.

3. Choose an influencer based on their latest videos alone.

Working with a platform like YouTube gives brands a chance to evaluate influencers on many levels, one being their engagement – namely, comments and likes – before they even step foot into negotiations. Through careful review of an influencer’s audience feedback, brands get a real-time look at their followers and conversations to help determine if they could be a good fit. And don’t make the mistake of only looking at their top videos. Many influencers “pin” certain videos to the top of their pages, resulting in inflated views and comments. Take a deeper dive into older or more buried videos to get a 360-degree view of their content and how they connect with their audiences. It’s also wise to check out influencers’ interactions on other social media platforms.

4. Disregard an influencer’s unique personality and ideas.

Coming to the table with a strategy is important, but keeping balance with an influencer’s ideas and style is just as critical. Remember, an influencer’s biggest asset is its engaged audience, and they’re already experts in knowing what types of content makes them tick. Marketers who are flexible and open-minded with influencers can expect a more seamless, genuine integration – and, ultimately, stronger results.

5. Look at content one-dimensionally.

Aligning with a YouTube influencer has many perks, one of which is receiving great content with a long shelf life – one that could potentially exist forever. But content creation goes far beyond vlogs. When choosing influencers, make sure you look at their social media value beyond YouTube. Many also boast significant followings on other platforms, like Instagram, SnapChat and Facebook – and some curate their own blogs – all of which open up doors for increased content opportunities for your brand. When negotiating, it’s also important to consider obtaining rights to their content for repurposing on your own social channels and web properties.

Have you worked with a YouTube influencer? Thinking of aligning with one? Share your questions or insights with us. We’d love to hear your thoughts.