Seeking a Leader

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One of the marketing strategies that rose sharply during the pandemic was the use of influencers particularly if it helped consumers cope or if it entertained them. How-to tutorials ranked highest among U.S. and UK respondents in a May 2020 survey of what they wanted to see more of in influencers. A 40% told eMarketer that this was their top wish. Memes or funny content followed with 37% and short-form videos at 33%.

What also grew was the use of influencer whitelisting, a contractual agreement between an influencer and a brand in which the brand is given access to the influencer’s social media accounts. With this access, brands can post ads through the influencer’s account. They can also insert CTAs like “shop now.” Another benefit for brands is that by using tools to customize audiences that resemble the influencer’s, brands can use the influencer’s follower data to get their ad in front of targeted customers.

The best candidates for influencer whitelisting are those who have creative and original content. When done right, they don’t even seem like ads. It’s a good investment of time to closely scrutinize potential influencers and validate their audience data before approaching them. What should also be important is whether their followers are like the brand’s target audience.

Facebook and Instagram are the favored platforms for influencer whitelisting. Potential influencers must have a Facebook Business Manager account. Brands seeking whitelist influencers on Facebook and Instagram can then go to Business Manager and obtain their permission. With permission granted, the brand will then have the influencer’s business ID as well as links to their Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Some things need to be considered in working with an influencer. The obvious is compensation as well as the influencer’s role, if any, in the approval process regarding changes and edits. They may also need helping in guiding them through the Business Manager approval process. For the brand, the big questions are measuring ROI and defining what success would look like.

Once a deal has been struck with one or more influencers, start by using the same content that’s being used on other social media platforms. If the research was done right and the audience is similar, the ads should resonate. At the same time, test some factors that may improve responses and sales.

Use different content and assess the reaction that’s received to get a clearer idea of what this audience likes. Similarly, experiment with a short and long copy to see what gets better results. Do the same with CTA buttons. Which labels drive the most clicks?

Influencer whitelisting has the potential to greatly expand a brand’s potential market. But as valuable as influencer whitelisting can be, there may likely be a stronger movement sometime soon about its terminology and even complaints that it’s racist. After all, the acronym is “blacklisting” with the connotation that white = good and black = bad. In August 2020, CNN went so far as to identify both, along with several other words, they felt should be dropped from our vocabulary.

An agency or brand that crafts and promotes a new label for both, but particularly “whitelisting,” will likely find a parade of support behind it among minority groups and civil rights leaders. More importantly, it will be recognized as a national leader for fairness and equality.

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