The Secret to Driving Massive Instagram Engagement

YouTube, Anyone?


YouTubers have higher engagement rates on Instagram.Kitty snuggles for the engagement win. As seen on YouTube.

Countless ruses can be implemented to ensure that your Instagram gallery is up to snuff, such as how to make sure your visuals are right, how to leverage your UGC, how to not suck... the hacks list goes on.

After all those solutions brands work so hard to execute comes another crucial growth step: influencer marketing. And speaking of, something recently came to our attention: Instagrammers who moonlight as YouTubers (or vice versa, rather) seem to leave all other influencers in the dust when it comes to engagement. Could video be the secret to community-building? We put certain accounts under the microscope to find out.

Mastering Millennial Marketing

It’s become a well known fact that millennials are into authenticity, making the use of platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat crucial for marketers to reach this demographic. The more real the ad feels, the better in terms of overall engagement and subsequent exposure.

These circumstances gave birth to the social media influencer. With native ads resonating best with the online generation, influential content creators have become increasingly selective about which brands they will work with - these partnerships have to feel organic for them to be well-received by followers. Taking into account that engagement is directly tied to establishing collaboration rates, it makes total sense, especially when considering the impending algorithm.

Another thing that has morphed within the marketing landscape is the fact that visual marketing has taken over anything text-based this past year, with a big emphasis on video, placing an even higher value on platforms like Instagram and YouTube. Here's looking at you, era of digital storytelling.

What a time to be alive!

While Instagram provides users with a peek into the lives of everyone's favorite social media stars, YouTube adds an even deeper level of intimacy with lengthy behind-the-scenes clips that amplify Insta stories. There is a growing number of users who are sharpening their skills at carefully balancing both platforms, making their respective accounts on each one complimentary. Creating that social synergy sets the perfect stage to propel engagement rates to new heights.

To provide some context, most top level Instagram influencers (think Rocky, Chiara, Aimee, Tash and Jules) see engagement rates that hover around 1.5%. Although their audiences are much more engaged than that of brands, these levels pale in comparison to users who also run YouTube accounts. Interesting observation, n'est-ce pas?

Could Instagram engagement's secret weapon really be YouTube?

Our curious minds led us to further examine this phenom: we looked at five users who are active on both Instagram and YouTube to settle this hypothesis. Can running a YouTube channel really be correlated to Instagram engagement?

Dun dun...

1. Jay Alvarrez
YouTube Subscribers: 763K
Instagram Followers: 3.9M
Average number of Instagram posts per week: 3
Average Instagram engagement rate: 4.04%

This is Jay's most engaged-around post of all time on Instagram:

feeding my kids 😁

A photo posted by JAY ALVARREZ (@jayalvarrez) on

It helps when your girlfriend is Alexis Ren.


2. Niomi Smart
YouTube Subscribers: 1.6M
Instagram Followers: 1.6M
Average number of Instagram posts per week: 8
Average Instagram Instagram engagement rate: 4.44%

This is Niomi' most engaged-around post of all time on Instagram:

Keeping it classy with a bathroom selfie πŸ‘ŒπŸΌπŸ˜„

A photo posted by Niomi Smart (@niomismart) on


Wait, is this part of a vlog?


3. Jenn Im
YouTube Subscribers: 1.6M
Instagram Followers: 1.2M
Average number of Instagram posts per week: 6
Average Instagram engagement rate: 4.66%

This is Jenn's most engaged-around post of all time on Instagram:

Four eyes. πŸ‘“

A photo posted by Jenn Im β€’ μž„λ„ν¬ πŸ’• (@imjennim) on


A big win for featured brands @americanapparel, @capwellco and @generaleyewear.


4. Zoella Sugg
YouTube Subscribers: 10.6M
Instagram Followers: 8.3M
Average number of Instagram posts per week: 3
Average Instagram engagement rate: 6.67%

This is Zoella's most engaged-around post of all time on Instagram:


With pal Niomi.


5. Sonya Esman
YouTube Subscribers: 310K
Instagram Followers: 1.6M
Average number of Instagram posts per week: 12
Average Instagram engagement rate: 7.33%

This is Sonya's most engaged-around post of all time on Instagram:

βœ–οΈ v i e t n a m βœ–οΈ @onia @angsanahotels #OniaAtSEA @spring

A photo posted by SONYA ESMAN (@classisinternal) on


As we learned in the past, luxury vacays do wonders for engagement.


Point Taken

It's pretty clear to see that YouTubers are crushing engagement rates when we know that other influential Instagrammers average out at around 1.5%. A plausible explanation for this sensation is that audiences simply feel a deeper connection to users with which they can interact on multiple levels. YouTube followers have grown attached to these influencers they've come to know (seemingly intimately) via video, and have carried over to Instagram.

While both platforms are sustained by authenticity, YouTube provides the opportunity to get even more personal, enabling an even greater devoted audience. Having an engaging presence in both places also facilitates content distribution at a higher frequency, making the crossover into Snapchat an even more judicious next step.

Brands looking to gain serious exposure, take note! These Instagram influencers with active YouTube channels are seeing up to five times the engagement as those who don't document their every move on video. Something to consider the next time you decide to run a campaign on IG.


Want more Instagram influencer insights like these? Talk to us! We’re always happy to help.