October 21, 2021

Written by: Jenny McKenzie

Influencer marketing is an important communications tool that can help increase brand awareness, build and strengthen a community, and drive sales. 

This year, the influencer marketing industry is expected to grow to $13.8B in value. The investment can have major ROI for brands, with businesses on average making $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. Beyond sales goals, leveraging influencers as brand ambassadors can also help increase brand credibility and loyalty among consumers. 

Over the last year as the Black Lives Matter and #StopAsianHate movements gained significant traction, racialized creators took to social media to share their experiences working with brands. Creators and consumers alike expressed their desire to see more inclusive practices from brands. As we work towards a more equitable and inclusive society, below are three best practices for building diverse and equitable influencer campaigns:

Value diversity over impressions

When selecting influencers for a campaign, PR teams and brands typically set parameters based on numbers (think: reach, impressions, views, and engagement). For this reason, brands often gravitate towards established influencers who have a proven track record on their content.

As PR professionals, we have a responsibility to consider the barriers faced by racialized creators, and educate clients on the importance of diverse representation. In making recommendations, the inclusion of racialized creators must be valued over the numbers. As PR representatives, we can bring this to life by setting diversity targets for every campaign.

So, how does this translate? Recognizing the inequalities faced by racialized creators, this means the total reach of an influencer campaign may be lower than if it were a cast of entirely white influencers who have had greater access to the resources necessary for success. What’s critical to recognize is the value of diverse representation, something that doesn’t always translate to numbers, but is increasingly important to consumers. And if you do need numbers to back it – remember that 83% of consumers prefer diverse brands; and as of 2019, brands with the highest level of diverse representation in their ads saw an average stock gain of 44% across seven quarters.

Equitable pay is non-negotiable

For racialized creators to reach success on a broad scale, brands have a responsibility to create access in an equitable way.

Traditionally, influencer marketing was built on product exchange. Many brands and influencers began their roots in social media through a goods and services exchange based on free product trials. As influencer marketing became more popular, it became standard for many influencers to charge fees for content creation, thus allowing the job title ‘creator’ to become a viable career path. Like any other career, to ensure equality in the industry, opportunities must be presented in an equitable way. As PR representatives we must push brands to have all participants in an influencer campaign paid the same, regardless of what their rate card asks for.

If a brand is committed to making real change, diverse representation in influencer marketing cannot be for show. It must be genuine and authentic, meaning each influencer is compensated the same, no questions asked.

Consider the bigger picture

In today’s digital world, “cancel culture” is a real threat for many brands. This has motivated many brands to be considerate of how they’re using social media, and elevating the voices of racialized creators has been popular on Instagram, in particular. Creating diverse and equitable influencer campaigns is incredibly important – but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. It’s not just about how the brand looks to consumers, but it’s how a brand operates on the inside. If your influencer network is diverse, but your board of directors and executive level employees are not, then there is significantly more work to be done. 

At Yulu, we are not afraid to challenge our clients. We choose to work exclusively with organizations and brands that are committed to making an impact on their communities. We recognize that no brand is perfect – but we believe that every brand is capable of making real change.