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YouTube vs. Instagram — A Guide for Every Influencer

Published August 10, 2023

Seeing that visual marketing is the most effective promo option, it isn’t surprising that YouTube and Instagram are the two most popular platforms in the current social media landscape. In their essence, both apps allow you to express yourself visually and attract new followers.

However, they have enough differences to make you wonder: which one is better for an influencer in the making? If that is your aspiration and you’re pondering the same question, keep reading. We’ll give you a rundown of all the advantages of both YouTube and Instagram and help you decide which is a better option for you.

YouTube vs. Instagram: Key Differences

These two platforms differ based on several important factors, including the type of content they allow and the reach they have.

1. Content Types

As you probably already know, YouTube allows users to upload videos to their channels. These videos can be of any length, from a few seconds to a couple of hours.

Furthermore, Youtube also lets you post GIFs and images, although they are only available to those who are already subscribed to your channel. Finally, the platform has recently introduced YouTube Shorts, a feature that allows you to post videos reminiscent of TikToks and Instagram Reels.

On the other hand, Instagram allows you to share images and videos (either on your feed or via Stories and Reels). In the past few years, long-form videos have also become an option through the IGTV feature.

At first glance, the two apps might seem similar in this regard. Yet, the differences are quite stark when you think about what types of content are actually popular on them.

For example, YouTube videos are the main source of revenue for most influencers. Shorts and other post types are a nice way to reach out to your existing subscribers, but they can’t really help you advertise yourself to non-subscribers.

As for Instagram, things are slightly different. Namely, you can utilize all post types to gain new followers and expand your reach. Depending on your content and target audience, you can easily switch between Stories, Reels, IGTV, and feed posts to get the most out of your marketing strategy.

The Verdict

Which app offers better content types actually depends on your target audience and your personal brand.

If long-form videos suit your content and marketing strategy better, YouTube will be a wiser choice. These videos can help you post travel vlogs or game reviews, show off your production process, upload tutorials, and review or react to other people’s content.

But if your posts are more conventional and short, you will probably have more success with Instagram. You can post videos and pics on your Stories or use the feed post option. And if you ever need to post a longer video, the IGTV feature is there as well.

2. Reach

Reach refers to the number of people you have a chance to interact with or appeal to on a particular platform.

In the case of YouTube, this number is a staggering 2.6 billion users. With a sum like that, it is not wrong to assume that you will definitely be able to reach your target audience with the right tagging system and promo.

As for Instagram, the stats are also quite good. The app has around 1.2 billion monthly users. Each one of them spends at least 5 minutes on the app every day, meaning that you have a good chance to impress them with your content.

Aside from the number of users you can appeal to, it’s also essential to think of age demographics. Stats show that Millenials and Gen Z use Instagram the most, with other generations trailing behind by a lot. On YouTube, around 35% of users are younger than 25, with the rest being older.

Decision Time

Again, your decision should depend solely on your own content and target audience.

In case you want to appeal to younger people, Instagram might be a better choice. But if your target audience are Millenials and Gen X, Youtube is indeed the way to go.

Taking the apps’ reach into account, YouTube has a definitive advantage because it is used by a larger number of people. However, the number doesn’t matter as much as relevance. In other words, if your target audience isn’t really into YouTube, there’s no incentive to join it, even if it has 2.6 billion users.

3. Ads

Lastly, we’ll talk about another relevant factor in the debate: the ads that the two platforms let you post.

For starters, YouTube ads are, as you can probably guess, mostly in video format. They can appear before or during videos and are either skippable or non-skippable. Aside from them, you can also advertise your content via video banners or bumper ads.

YouTube video ads are the most expensive, while banners and the ads that appear on the right side of a page cost a bit less. In addition, your audience also influences the ad’s price, as more targeted videos or bumpers are pricier than the general ones. For example, an ad targeting only New York City users will cost significantly more than the one targeting an entire state.

On the other hand, Instagram ads can appear on users’ feeds, Stories, Explore pages, IGTV, or Reels. They can be either videos or pics, depending on your objectives for your marketing campaign.

Before you consider Instagram ads, make sure your account type is set to Business or Creator. Namely, these account types are the only ones that allow Instagram marketing. After you’re done, you can choose the ad type that suits your goal and target audience the most.

Price-wise, images that appear on people’s feeds and Stories cost the least, while videos are the most expensive. Reels are less pricey than IGTV posts simply because they can only be up to a minute long.

The Choice Is Yours

YouTube ads are excellent if you have a specific audience in mind. By paying for ads to appear before videos, you can easily catch the viewers’ attention. The only downside is that this type of advertising can be quite expensive in the long run.

Conversely, Instagram ads are better for smaller brands and influencers, as they are more affordable. Plus, they can take many formats, so you can really get creative and impress your audience through different mediums.

YouTube and Instagram: Choose Wisely

Now that you know the key differences and similarities between Instagram and YouTube, it’s time to make a decision. Based on your target audience and marketing goals, you can easily gauge which app can bring you the biggest returns.

And if deciding is too difficult, don’t forget that you can always use both! If you play your cards right, you can effortlessly get these two platforms to work for you at the same time.

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Written By:
Jessica is a writer who specializes in social media, marketing, and digital strategy. She is a graduate of Antioch College and earned her MBA at Boston College’s Carroll Graduate School of Management, specializing in STEM Management. Her work has been published in numerous academic journals and mainstream publications. She lives in New England with her husband, two children, and three dogs.
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