You must ensure that your brand is on the right path when it comes to inclusivity and diversity.
If your audience does not see themselves represented in your content, they will feel unwelcome.
The risk of alienating a substantial demographic of potential consumers is high. As the expectation of fair representation grows, your brand must set inclusivity as a priority when setting up influencer marketing projects.
THE REAL WORLD
At the core of each marketing campaign is reaching the target audience.
Logically, based on your product or service, your focus and the preferred type of influencers may narrow down. Maybe you only want to collaborate with food bloggers, mommy influencers, or fashion experts.
Topics and niches may impact your influencer pool, but this should not result in a lack of representation.
Your target audience must reflect the real world, which is a place full of diversity.
Your consumer base is versatile, and this should be reflected in your influencer selection.
Influencer marketing humanizes your brand, logically meaning your campaigns need to represent real humans from the real world.
WHO IS MISSING?
When setting up an influencer marketing campaign, keep in mind all possible diversities that would make a genuinely inclusive list of creators.
Focus on different ethnicities, races, religions, creators from different socio-economic backgrounds, people with disabilities, various body types, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
For many account managers who themselves do not fall into any “minority” or “underrepresented” group, it might be easy to overlook someone. But make this a priority when creating your to-do list during campaign set-up.
A 1:1 ratio of represented versus underrepresented groups is not possible in most cases. But you must do everything in your power to expand and diversify your influencer pool.
AWARENESS IS HIGH
Gen Z is the consumer base most exposed to social media, making them the group that holds the most awareness when it comes to recognizing the lack of diversity in branded content.
They are also the group that will first call out a brand, which can, in the long run, be incredibly damaging for the brand.
Millennials are picking up on this and demanding and expecting fair representation. They are becoming more inclined to avoid certain brands if they recognize a lack of diversity in brand content.
Actively working on diversifying your influencer pool will only positively impact your influencer marketing efforts and provide a better connection to your existing and potential consumer base.
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT TOKENISM
The first step many brands will do, and are currently doing, is to expand diversity in their influencer pool and overall marketing strategies. However, this could easily be done very wrong and do more damage than good.
Definition of tokenism is the practice of “making only a (…) symbolic effort to be inclusive to members of minority groups, especially by recruiting people from underrepresented groups to give the appearance of racial or sexual equality within [an organization].”
This means brands collaborate once in a while with an influencer representing a minority group specifically to showcase how inclusive they are. For example, working with POC creators during Black History Month or jumping aboard the Pride month, working with LGBTQ+ creators, and producing Pride-related content and products.
This approach no longer works, as it’s obvious to consumers what the goal here was, and they won’t tolerate this.
EXAMPLE OF TOKENISM
An example of tokenism could be highlighting the fact the creator is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and linking that to your brand to appear more inclusive.
Imagine a post in which a creator is enjoying their time during the Pride parade, holding a can of an energy drink with the caption “Thank you (brand name) for the fun times at today’s Pride parade!”
This is simply not done.
Work with creators from different groups throughout the year, but do not continuously highlight the group they belong to. Treat them as human beings, and collaborate with them for their creativity and content.
Place “content creator” before “belongs to a minority group.”
BEWARE OF STEREOTYPING
Stereotyping can easily happen when you work with a creator specifically because you link your product to a stereotype about a particular minority group.
Some examples of stereotyping are approaching a gay creator to collaborate with a fashion brand, a plus-size person for a dieting product, or a black creator to promote an album from a hip-hop artist.
Stereotyping could be very damaging for your brand, and above all, creators will recognize when they are stereotyped and find this offensive. Insulting a creator will ruin any chances to build a meaningful relationship with them.
Be mindful of implicit bias, and approach creators only because their content matches your brand and campaign message.
ASK YOUR AUDIENCE
If you are uncertain if all groups are represented fairly in your influencer marketing campaigns, ask creators what they think. They can communicate about thoughts and feelings from consumers to you.
Benefit from their knowledge and awareness to help your brand make the steps in the right direction.
As we mentioned before, when setting up a campaign, you might be approached by mostly creators who do not represent a diverse group. However, you have the responsibility to do everything in your power to diversify your influencer pool.
Influo’s index of creators shows that the influencer world is full of so much diversity, it is difficult to exclude anyone.
However, doing what is most accessible and avoiding the task of inclusivity in your influencer marketing projects will only harm your brand in the long-run.
TIME IS NOW
Those most impacted by lack of representation are fully aware that brands are only now starting to work more on this issue. This means they are a bit more forgiving and will recognize genuine effort from brands.
Waiting too long will only bring more damage to your brand. It will also make it more challenging to work with diverse influencers in the future.
If you are just starting to focus on this, communicate about this openly with influencers and the audience. They will recognize the effort, and if you make this a constant effort in all your influencer marketing projects, you will be truly doing influencer marketing correctly!