Between 2018 and 2021, the global influencer marketing industry grew from a 4.6 billion dollar one to a 13.8-billion-dollar juggernaut. The world quickly caught on to how effective leveraging an influencer with an already opted-in audience can be for promoting brands. As companies redirect resources to create fully-budgeted influencer marketing strategies, people are wondering, what is next in the industry? The answer to this question appears to be influencer whitelisting.
How Influencer Whitelisting Changes the Way Brands Interact with Consumers:
What is Influencer Whitelisting?
Influencer whitelisting is the latest addition to influencer marketers’ toolboxes. It is a collaborative form of influencer marketing that gives brands more control while allowing the influencer to play a more passive role.
Influencer whitelisting is done by utilizing the influencer's account to run ads that appear as though they are from the actual influencer. This is best performed when utilizing the content of an influencer who has promoted the brand beforehand. The average consumer will not even realize that this is not an influencer post but instead just a cleverly disguised form of advertising.
The brand, with the permission of the influencer, can use the influencer's identity and have entire control of the creative, copy, and include a CTA. The posts don't remain on the influencer's feed, which is one reason many influencers are open to whitelisting. Instead, it attaches straight onto their Facebook Ads Manager, and brands can use their own paid media dollars to push the content.
Put simply, with influencer whitelisting, you can post ads that appear on news feeds as normal Facebook Ads would, but they appear to be posted by influencers. These allow you to have more control over the content and target bigger and more specific audiences. From the perspective of influencers, whitelisting removes their need to take an active role and boosts their profile across the platform. It is a mutually beneficial partnership that is poised to play a major role in the industry's future.
Let's explore some of the different advantages influencer whitelisting provides and the critical areas it could help your brand.
Ad Fatigue is Kicking in
Every day, ads surround us from all corners. Whether we log onto Instagram, watch a television program or even drive on the freeway, we are bombarded with advertisements. As a result, consumers have grown numb. Because we see such a constant stream of ads, seemingly every second of our lives, many consumers have developed ad fatigue. Ad fatigue is when people stop paying attention to advertisements due to the deluge of marketing content they receive.
According to PPC Protect, in the 1970s, the average person was exposed to 500-1600 ads per day? A whopping total, correct? Today, according to that same report, the average person sees 6,000-10,000 ads every day. The sheer volume of marketing content that is out there has a numbing effect on consumers.
Businesses still need to get their brand's exposure, but there seems to be little they can do to penetrate ad fatigue. There are endless ways to reach consumers that all brands are and will continue to take advantage of, and consumers have grown exhausted.
The only way to penetrate this exhaustion is to have ads appear natural and not like a blatant brand promotion. That is why influencer marketing works. It appears much more authentic, much less blatant, and it is one of the reasons that 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations.
A new way to combat this fatigue is through influencer whitelisting. Most people's social media feeds are a mixture of their friends and families, influencers that they follow, and then advertisements. Many are on high alert to skip through the advertisements and more of the content they have opted into.
Whitelisted ads appear to social media users as wanted forms of content, much as the typical influencer post would. This stops the typical social media from immediately mentally filtering out the advertisement. Using whitelisted ads bridges the gap between the wanted influencer content and the unwanted ads, bringing out the best of both worlds and breaking through ad fatigue.
Whitelisting is Authentic
One of the main reasons influencer whitelisting is so effective is because it requires the influencer to be an ambassador of the product already. The influencer will have already been involved with the brand in a gifting or budget campaign. Therefore, they'll have a better understanding of the content needed. In the case of a gifting campaign, the influencer will be posting with their only incentive being to use that brand's product and be more involved with the brand long term.
This influencer content is far more authentic than working with models and photographers and running ads with their content. These are people who actually use what they are promoting and, in many cases, are enthusiastic users of the brands. This user-generated content is much better and in a world where consumers can sniff out inauthenticity, having content that resonates and is trustworthy is critical. Influencers are deemed trustworthy, and in fact, 70% of teens trust influencers more than celebrities, largely due to their lack of corporate or PR sheen.
The best practice for influencer whitelisting is leaning on your previous experience with the influencers to decide who to target for your whitelisting campaign. Choose based on their performance among their real audience which content creators should be used for whitelisting advertisements. The influencers whose content is performing best with their own audience are likely the ones who will perform best in whitelisted ads.
Below are the different stages that brands can use to start to work their way up.
Turns Micro-Influencers into Mega Influencers
Micro-influencers are more effective on a per-dollar basis than macro-influencers are. They have a more loyal following, get more engagement, and can better hit specific niches. As well, there's way more of them! There are tens of thousands in most niches, and that increases every single day.
Naturally, it is an imperfect science. Some of these micro-influencers can be hit or miss, and since often you are paying them with product, it can be hard to control their content. When you find the right micro-influencer, it can be an absolute gold mine. However, many of these influencers don't have the biggest following. Therefore, even if their content resonates with their followers and you form a long-term partnership, there is still a limit to the number of people you can target.
A keto influencer with 6,000 loyal followers who frequent her social media pages to find out which keto snacks they eat to stay healthy might have an extremely engaged and attentive audience of 1,000-2,000 people. As a keto snack brand, this can be extremely helpful. Still, once those same few thousand people have seen this influencer's content repeatedly, it is tough to scale that relationship, no matter how perfect that influencer is and how great their content is.
Influencer whitelisting exists as a solution to this problem. Once you’ve determined that this keto influencer is the perfect brand ambassador for your company, you can reach a deal with them to run ads from their account. Now with paid media, instead of an audience size of 1,000-2,000, you can put this keto influencer content in front of hundreds of thousands or millions of potential customers!
Whitelisting Helps Advanced Targeting
Influencer Whitelisting allows more detailed targeting than has ever been possible. When running an influencer whitelisting campaign, there are three different types of audiences you can target:
Custom Audience: This is where you target based on people’s demographics and interests. For example, a pet brand might target moms that have pets and are in groups that have to do with pets. This type of targeting is available in all Facebook Ads.
Engaged Audiences: With engaged audiences, you can target specific people already engaging with that influencer. These are people that are already liking and commenting on the content of that influencer. These are the lowest hanging fruit and are an important first step in any whitelisting campaign. For each influencer you get on board, you can make custom ads with that influencer's content to their following.
Lookalike Audiences: Now, this is where things get interesting. Lookalike audiences allow you to create a custom audience similar in demographics and interests to the engaged audience. With Lookalike Audiences, you can go from an engaged audience of 5,000 and build an audience of 500,000 people similar to those who already engage with the influencers. This allows you to turn a micro-influencer into a mega-influencer without losing the impact while scaling up. It widens your reach while still maintaining the same narrowed scope of targeted customers.
It has been possible to target people similar in demographics to those who follow and engage with your brand. However, it has never been possible to target people similar to the types that like and follow the creators of the ad's content for your brand. This is a brand-new opportunity with major positive implications for businesses. It allows you to create the perfect wide audience for each one of your ads.
Blends the Customizability and Scalability of Paid Ads with the Effectiveness of Influencer Marketing
One of the only things holding back an influencer post from reaching its true potential is that it's not always done the way it should be. That is not necessarily the influencer's or the brand's fault. Sometimes it is hard for the influencer and the brand to perfectly align on what would perform best given the brand knows best how to sell the brand, and the influencer knows best how to sell to their audience.
Influencer whitelisting lets the brand align the content promoted by the influencer to their exact ideal piece of content. This is because influencer whitelisting lets the brand customize all aspects of the ad. This can include the creative, the CTA, or even the copy. This is all the more helpful, given that Instagram posts don't allow a CTA. With whitelisting, brands have a significantly elevated control over their influencer content and can A/B test their influencer marketing in a way that was never before possible.
Whitelisting Helps Attribution
One of the most frustrating things about influencer marketing is the lack of attribution. CPM (cost per impression) and CPE (cost per engagement) are often the metrics that a campaign is judged by. While they are undoubtedly important, many brands don't care and instead want to know about the one thing that drives them each day: sales.
Discount codes are what many brands use to judge sales, but that has its own set of problems. What if the follower goes to the website and forgets to use that code? What if they use Honey and get a different code? What if they don't buy immediately, follow the brand and then come back three months later and buy? It is next to impossible to judge exactly how many sales a normal influencer marketing campaign is truly responsible for. That’s why 23.5% of respondents in a recent survey said their biggest problem with influencer marketing was tracking ROI.
However, with influencer whitelisting, you run the ads through Facebook Ads manager and can more effectively display how much sales are coming from each influencer, audience, ad set, and so on. This allows marketers to justify the marketing dollars they are spending and allocate their money proportionately based on what is moving the needle most.
Influencer whitelisting is the perfect mixture of media buying and influencer marketing. It is poised to revolutionize how influencer marketing is conducted and give brands more control than ever before. It also allows influencers to monetize their platform without the same need for a time investment. Social media marketing is how brands can authentically reach new audiences, better connect with their customers, and build a brand.
Influencer whitelisting is the newest tool in businesses' arsenal that will allow them to break through ad fatigue, appear authentic to consumers, and grow the reach of their ideal influencers. It also creates better targeting, blends paid ad content with influencer marketing and helps with attribution. While still in its infancy, influencer whitelisting appears poised to be a massive development in the influencer marketing industry, with huge benefits for both brands and creators.