Influencer marketing is one of the most effective marketing strategies DTC brands can leverage in 2021.
Over the years, we have seen a shift in consumer behavior, where social media patrons are turning to beloved influencers for trusted product recommendations.
Many DTC brands have opted into working with influencers and have seen a massive ROI in return.
In fact, taken from a survey conducted by Influencer Marketing Hub, the average DTC brand is earning around $5.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing.
But what about influencers and paid media? When do these two marketing phenomenons collide?
In walks Influencer Whitelisting. This marketing strategy has slowly started taking over our timelines in the last year, and we might not have even realized it.
Brands are opting to run ads through influencer profiles in order to position their products in a more genuine way while also tapping into a new market of potential consumers.
This strategy is extremely profitable for both the brand and the influencer (we love to see it!)
In this article, we are going to take a deep dive into what is influencer whitelisting, and how your brand can kick off your first whitelisting campaign!
What Is Influencer Whitelisting?
Influencer whitelisting is an influencer marketing strategy where the influencers allows a brand to advertise on their social media.
A brand will run ads through the influencer's account and will have more control when it comes to the copy and creativity of the ad than they normally would with a traditional organic influencer post.
The influencer will still be present in the ad, but brands will have more access to editing and shaping the ad to ensure that the ad aligns with the brand's voice, message, and goals for the campaign.
In a nutshell, influencer whitelisting is at the center of influencer marketing and paid ads. With the creator's permission, brands will run ad campaigns through the creator's profile, but the posts will appear more genuine and natural on the influencer's feed.
Since brands will have control of the ads, they will be able to use Facebook Ads Manager to target specific audiences and monitor key metrics and KPIs of the campaign.
This is an extremely effective and lucrative strategy that provides immense benefits to both the brand and the content creator.
Benefits of Influencer Whitelisting for Brands
When brands leverage influencer whitelisting, they are often met with several incredible benefits, including:
- The opportunity to run dark posts
- Free creative control
- Access to new audiences
- Control over audiences they wish to target, including lookalike audiences, prospecting, and remarketing
- Access to new audience analytics will help shape future marketing efforts
What Are Dark Posts?
Running dark posts is one of the best benefits a brand can receive when incorporating an influencer whitelisting strategy into your marketing mix.
Dark posts are essentially paid ads that are run through the influencer's account that the brand creates that don't show up on the influencer's feed, story, or timeline.
Influencer's audience won't see these ads on their timeline unless they are included in the intended target audience set by the brand when running the ad.
The posts will be under the influencer's handle, so they will come off as more genuine and trustworthy, but brands will be able to control the audience of the targeted ad, the copy, and creativity.
This is GREAT news for brands, as they will be able to test and run a variety of ads through the influencer's account and gain access to new audiences.
Best part is that these ads won't clog the influencer's timeline.
Benefits of Whitelisting for Content Creators
Whitelisting isn't just beneficial for brands. Influencers can gain tons of great benefits from working with a brand and allowing them to whitelist under their account.
And you know in 2021, we are all about influencers and content creators having more autonomy and streams of revenue so that they can keep thriving in the passion economy!
Whitelisting is one of those tools that allows influencers to do so.
Some of the major benefits for influencers include:
- Additional income
- More reach with less fatigue
- Deep insights into what resonates best with the target audience
- Less demanding, as the brand takes care of most of the marketing and the creator can do what they do best; create content
- Great relationship builder and opportunity for long-term partnerships
Best Creators for a Whitelisting Campaign
One of the biggest payoffs of incorporating influencer marketing into your overall marketing strategy is the chance to get your products marketed to a wider audience in a more authentic way.
Consumers now place more trust in content creators than they do brands, and often look for product recommendations from friends and people they follow on social media.
Finding the right influencers can be difficult, but there are a lot of good strategies you can use to find the ones that will be best for your brand. Changes are, if you already work with influencers, you have a solid roster of creators that will happily run a whitelist campaign with you.
With that, you want to focus your search on finding influencers that create original, authentic, and genuine content. Look for influencers with a high engagement rate whose audience trusts their recommendations and often purchases the products they promote.
You could track their affiliate metrics to see if they are good at generating sales, as well as check their KPIs and metrics to ensure that the content they create will be of high value to their audience.
Lastly, select influencers with an audience that is similar to your ideal customer. This will yield a higher engagement rate and generate more buzz.
Best Content for a Whitelisting Campaign
Now that you have a list of influencers to run your whitelist campaign with, it is time to decide which type of content you want to create for the campaign.
You don't need to go rogue or start from scratch and create a whole new strategy. Not even in the slightest!
If you have worked with the influencer before, then you will know which type of content resonates best with their audience. You can take that knowledge and riff a bit.
However, if you are working with a new influencer, talk with the creator, check out their engagement rate, and see which types of posts receive the most engagement from their audience.
Using that information, you will be able to determine the best type of content to whitelist through that influencer's profile.
There are a few key pieces the content you publish should incorporate:
- A strong CTA
- Creative that resonates best with the audience
- Strong copy and narrative
- Products that fit within the influencer's niche
Implement a strong testing strategy to gain a better understanding of the whitelisted content that will be stickiest with the influencer's niche and scale up from there.
How to Whitelist Influencers on Facebook and Instagram
To start your whitelisting campaign, you will need to be granted access to the content creator's Facebook and Instagram accounts. This can all be done with Facebook Business Manager.
It is important to note that to whitelist, the creator must have a Facebook Business Manager account and have both their Facebook and Instagram linked to it. If they don't, you won't be able to run ads through their profile.
Once you agree to start a campaign with the influencer, your brand will want to add them as a business partner on Facebook Business Manager.
After the influencer accepts, you will be able to start your whitelisting campaign.
6 Strategies for Running a Successful Influencer Whitelisting Campaign
With any new marketing strategy, you will want to follow best practices to generate a positive ROI, and influencer whitelisting is no different.
Before you start, check out these best practices to help you optimize each influencer whitelisting campaign for maximum results!
Work with Niche Influencers of All Sizes
Finding niche influencers that hold the same ethos as your brand will always perform better than large-scale influencers that might not resonate with your products as well.
Additionally, don't focus on vanity metrics. More followers doesn't necessarily mean a higher engagement rate. There are many great nano and micro-influencers out there with an audience that is perfectly curated to generate a positive response to your whitelisting campaign.
In fact, micro-influencers on Instagram boast an average engagement rate of 3.86%, which is higher than that of mega-influencers, which typically see a 1.21% engagement rate.
Search for influencers that have a well-defined niche and a solid engagement rate, as these creators will often yield better campaign results.
Optimize for Video Content
Video content is king in 2021, so optimizing for video will help you expand your reach and receive more engagement for your campaign.
This can be in the form of Reels or Instagram/Facebook Stories.
By leveraging video content, your brand will have an easier time creating a narrative and highlighting all of the great aspects of your products/services.
Plus, it offers the chance for the influencer to use their creativity. Your brand and the content creators can get together and create a video strategy that holds the tone and voice of your brand, but that also encompasses the influencer's unique style that their audience has grown to love.
Focus on Engagement and a Strong CTA
When entering a whitelisting campaign, you will want to ensure that each post is fully optimized and has a clear CTA at the end.
The main goal of influencer whitelisting is to boost lead gen and guide new, potential customers to your brand's website. Focusing on the copy that parts interest, content that is engaging right from the start, and wrapping everything up with a strong and captivating CTA will help lead more people to your website.
Reach into Your Existing Customer Base
Working with influencers that are also customer advocates is one of the best ways to strengthen your influencer marketing strategy.
The right influencers to partner with are already out there using your product. Tapping into this group will help deliver your ads more genuinely.
You will be able to expand your reach and get more eyes on your brand. Additionally, the influencer's audience will trust their recommendation as they have likely already seen your product featured on the influencer's timeline.
If you host an influencer or brand ambassador program, chances are you already have several qualified creators to work with for your whitelisting campaign!
Establish Campaign Details Early
Before you begin reaching out to influencers, you will want to establish your campaign details early before you start reaching out.
The more organized you are with deliverables, timeframe, and payment, the more seamless the campaign will be.
Get with your team and discuss each aspect of your campaign, including:
- Compensation for the influencer
- Duration of the campaign
- How long you will run the ads for
- Content creation required from the influencer
- The type of medium you will work with - a single image, carousel, video, Instagram, or Facebook stories
- How to create a Facebook Business Manager account (in the case that you want to work with an influencer but they don't have an FBM set up, give them the tools to thrive!)
Document all of the ins and outs of your whitelisting campaign so that when you approach influencers to work with, expectations will be clear and concise.
Run Ads Longer
Running longer ads during your influencer whitelisting campaign will help your brand see more exposure and accurately test which creatives are generating more leads.
In order to accurately A/B test your ads under the influencer's profile, it is best to run the ads for around 15 days. This way, you can track what is converting and make adjustments to the ads that garnered less success.
Are you ready to harness the power of influencer whitelisting? Let us know how influencer whitelisting has helped your brand grow!
Ready to turn your customers into your army of brand ambassadors? If so, watch the epic CrewFire demo video or get in touch with us to learn how you can drive more referrals, word-of-mouth, and user-generated content for your Shopify store.
Get in touch w/ Alan (Founder/CEO - CrewFire):