YouTube vs. Instagram: Which is the Best for Digital Marketing?

As companies begin to dive into digital marketing, they have several options to consider regarding strategy. However, one of the most significant foundations of a digital marketing campaign that all companies need to focus on is social media marketing (SMM). This form of marketing saw a total ad expenditure of 230 billion U.S. dollars in 2022 alone, showing how seriously companies are taking SMM. 

Of the many platforms to consider for an SMM strategy, two stand out: YouTube and Instagram. While many companies utilize both platforms, certain companies may only find use for one or the other. By outlining the differences between these platforms and the pros and cons of each, a company can decide which is suitable for their digital marketing strategy. 

YouTube vs. Instagram – The Difference

First and foremost, it’s worth outlining the difference between YouTube and Instagram for those unfamiliar with social media platforms. YouTube is a platform launched in 2005 that specializes in online video sharing through short or lengthy videos. Like other social media platforms, YouTube users have a profile that others can subscribe to to see their content. Still, their videos may also be advertised to non-subscribers as well.

On the other hand, Instagram was founded in 2010 as a photo-sharing platform meant for users to show off the highlights of their lives. They introduced new features such as “stories” in later years which served as short videos and disappeared after 24 hours. Both YouTube and Instagram feature integrations that allow for sharing between the platforms. For example, users can even turn a YouTube video into a reel on Instagram with little effort. 

From a user’s standpoint, YouTube has over 2.6 billion active users compared to Instagram’s 2.35 billion users, making them reasonably comparable. As for marketing use, over 50% of B2B marketers run ads through YouTube, amounting to nearly 1.5 billion, whereas an estimated 200,000 million businesses use Instagram.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of YouTube

Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

Determining whether YouTube or Instagram is better for your business needs requires looking at the pros and cons of each. Starting with YouTube, the most notable benefits and drawbacks include: 

Benefits of YouTube

  • The ability to reach an audience that is in the billions 
  • A wide range of targeting options given the different demographics on YouTube
  • Trackable results which can be used for future marketing campaigns
  • The platform is both mobile and computer friendly
  • Quick integration with Google Ads allows for cross-platform marketing
  • There are a variety of ad formats that a company can use on YouTube 

Drawbacks of YouTube

  • Given the older age of YouTube, there is more competition on the site and a higher cost for running ads.
  • The large number of users can make narrowing down specific targeting options challenging despite a wider pool of potential targets.
  • YouTube ads tend to be more obtrusive than ads on other social media platforms, leading more people to not follow links due to annoyance.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Instagram

Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash

On the other side of the advertising coin, there are several benefits and drawbacks to using Instagram that a business needs to consider as well. The most prominent of these include: 

Benefits of Instagram

  • A younger population of users and a growing number of users
  • The ability to build out a brand profile to establish a digital presence
  • More visual appeal can be created on Instagram as compared to YouTube
  • The ability to increase sales by driving followers to a brand
  • Lower expenses to run ads than on older social media platforms 

Drawbacks of Instagram

  • Instagram ads are straightforward to skip, meaning people may not notice them.
  • Instagram has a slightly limited audience compared to YouTube
  • The younger age of Instagram means the ad features are less built out 

The Bottom Line

Nobody wants to fall behind the competition and risk losing future business. Still, companies that have failed to adapt to digital marketing are already behind the curve and risk being beaten out by others. Take advantage of social media marketing by creating a digital foundation for your brand, which can later be used to expand and grow throughout the Internet. Contrary to popular belief, a company does not need to offer a web-based product or service to take advantage of digital marketing, so start building your strategy today.