Influencer marketing is one of the most effective strategies DTC brands can leverage in 2022.
Over the years, we have seen a shift in consumer behavior, where social media patrons turn to influencer content for trusted product recommendations.
Many DTC brands have opted to work with influencers and see a massive ROI.
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? We are all familiar with influencers making branded content and brands running Facebook and Instagram ads. But what happens when these two marketing phenomena collide?
In walks influencer whitelisting.
Whitelisting social media posts from influencers is a marketing strategy that has slowly started taking over our timelines in the last year, and we might not have even realized it.
Influencer whitelisting is where paid ads and influencer campaigns come together in perfect harmony. These paid ads are more genuine and are created in the typical style of the influencer's content. And they're popping up on various social media platforms, from Instagram to Facebook.
Brands are opting to run ads through influencer profiles to position their products more authentically while tapping into a new market of potential consumers.
This strategy is highly profitable for both the brand and the influencer (we love to see it!) However, influencer marketing campaigns wouldn't be complete without creating a specific strategy to whitelist on social media.
In this article, we will take a deep dive into what influencer whitelisting is, how this strategy can fit into your overall influencer campaigns, and how your brand can kick off your first whitelisting campaign!
What Is Influencer Whitelisting?
Influencer whitelisting is an influencer marketing strategy where influencers allow brands to advertise on their social media accounts.
A brand will run paid ads through the influencer's account and have more control when it comes to the copy and creativity of the ad than they usually would with traditional organic content created by an influencer.
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 feed of the influencer's audience.
Since brands have control of the ads, they can use Facebook Ads Manager to target specific audiences and monitor critical metrics and KPIs of the campaign.
Many influencer marketing campaigns launched by your favorite brands have incorporated influencer whitelisting into their overall paid media strategy.
Take Neutrogena, for example - they have utilized influencer whitelisting with mega influencer Victoria Lyn. This post does not appear in her regular feed but in her followers' feeds. The content was created in her usual format and style, so it appears as a normal, organic post. But the content is paid for by Neutrogena.
For Neutrogena, they found a way to optimize paid media by whitelisting under Victoria's profile.
This extremely effective and lucrative strategy provides immense benefits to both the brand and the content creator.
Benefits of Influencer Whitelisting for Brands
Leveraging influencer whitelisting in your overall paid media strategy has many benefits. If you're thinking of whitelisting during your next influencer marketing campaign, keep in mind some of the incredible benefits this specific strategy can provide you, including:
- The opportunity to run dark posts
- Free creative control and the ability to have more say in influencer content
- Access to new audiences
- Control over audiences they wish to target, including lookalike audiences, prospecting, and remarketing
- Access to new audience data will help shape future marketing efforts
- The chance to see a higher return on your paid social strategy
What Are Dark Posts?
Running influencer dark posts is one of the best benefits a brand can receive when incorporating an influencer whitelisting strategy into your marketing mix.
To create influencer dark posts, your brand will essentially need to create paid ads that are run through the influencer's account that your brand creates. These influencer posts don't appear on their feed, story, or timeline, hence the name, dark posts.
When you create dark posts, the influencer audiences 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 that they will come off as more natural 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 can test and run various ads through the influencer's account and gain access to new audiences.
The best part is that these targeted ads won't clog the influencer's timeline.
This is why running dark posts under an influencer's account have become a prevalent social media marketing strategy for DTC brands.
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 2022, we are all about influencers and content creators having more autonomy and revenue streams so they can keep thriving in the passion economy!
Whitelisting is one of those tools that allows influencers to do so.
The influencer's social media marketing efforts won't be in vain. Quite the contrary, as running a whitelisting influencer campaign can pay well, and the creator will get to make their usual content but earn extra. So running brand ads under your name is an excellent way for influencers to earn more passive income and earn more while doing what they do best.
Some of the significant benefits for influencers include:
- Additional income
- More reach with less fatigue
- Deep insights into what resonates best with their target audience
- Less demanding, as the brand takes care of most of the marketing and the creator can do what they do best; create sticky influencer content
- The opportunity to become a brand partner and enter into a long-term partnerships
Best Influencers to Partner with when Whitelisting
One of the biggest payoffs of incorporating influencer marketing into your overall marketing strategy is the chance to get your products marketed to a broader audience in a more authentic way.
Consumers now place more trust in influencer content than 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. Chances are, if you already work with influencers, you have a solid roster of creators that will happily create branded content and 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. Check out their Instagram account and other social media accounts and look at their audience demographics, engagement rate, and other important metrics to see if the influencer will be a good match.
Lastly, work with influencers with an audience similar to your ideal customer. This will yield a higher engagement rate and generate more buzz.
If all signs indicate that the relationship between your brand and the influencer will be solid, then create ads with the influencer.
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 branded 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! Many influencer marketing programs and campaigns have already run whitelisted ads, so check and see what the competition is running and try to riff on that.
If you have worked with the influencer, you will know which type of content resonates best with their audience. So you can take that knowledge and create branded content around it.
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 can determine the best type of compelling content to whitelist through that influencer's profile.
There are a few key pieces the content you publish should incorporate:
- A strong CTA
- Creatives that resonate best with the audience
- Strong copy and narrative
- Products that fit within the influencer's niche
Implement a strong testing strategy to understand 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 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 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 must add them as a business partner on Facebook's Business Manager. You will need to have access to the influencer's Facebook ad manager so that you can begin setting up the paid ads.
After the influencer accepts, you can start your whitelisting campaign. Inside the influencer's Facebook Business Manager, you can review the influencer content, set the constraints, and begin to run the sponsored content on the influencer's feed.
6 Strategies for Running a Successful Influencer Whitelisting Campaign
With any new marketing strategy and influencer campaign, you will want to follow best practices to generate a positive ROI, and influencer whitelisting is no different.
Before you start influencer content whitelisting, check out these best practices to help you optimize each whitelist campaign for maximum results.
Work with Niche Influencers of All Sizes
If you're ready to run influencer ads and start a whitelisting campaign, consider working with smaller creators over large-scale mega influencers.
Finding niche influencers with the same ethos as your brand can often perform better than large-scale influencers that might not resonate with your products.
Additionally, don't focus on vanity metrics. More followers don't necessarily mean a higher engagement rate. There are many great nano and micro-influencers with a perfectly curated audience to generate a positive response to your whitelisting campaign.
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.
Your brand can optimize influencer content during your next whitelisting campaign by working with smaller influencers with a dialed-in and committed audience.
Search for influencers with a well-defined niche and a solid engagement rate, as these creators often yield better campaign results.
Optimize for Video Content
Video marketing is superior in 2022, so optimizing for video will help you expand your reach and receive more engagement for your campaign.
Most organic posts on social media are now videos. So if you look at your favorite influencer's content or feed, you will undoubtedly see the vast majority of it is video-focused. That's because video works!
This can be in Reels, Facebook videos, or Instagram and Facebook Stories.
By leveraging video content, your brand will have an easier time creating a narrative and highlighting the significant aspects of your products/services.
Plus, it allows the influencer you work with to use their creativity. Your brand and the content creators can get together and create a video strategy that holds your brand's tone and voice but also encompasses the influencer's unique style that their audience has grown to love.
Focus on Engagement and a Strong CTA
Many digital marketers know that the secret to converting is a solid call to action. That's why we spend so much time optimizing copy and our CTA to convert more visitors to customers.
Running influencer ads and a whitelisting campaign is no different.
When starting a whitelisting campaign, you will want to ensure that the influencer's content is fully optimized and has a clear CTA at the end.
The main goal of influencer whitelisting is to boost lead generation and guide new potential customers to your brand's website. Focusing on the copy that interests interest, engaging content from the start, and wrapping everything up with a strong and captivating CTA will help lead more people to your website.
Utilize 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.
When looking for influencers to partner with, check the influencer posts on their social media accounts to see if they have featured your products in their organic content.
This will signal to your brand that the influencer is a fan and likely already in your customer base.
It will also help your content become more authentic when you run your paid ads because the influencer's audience has already been exposed to your products in the past. This will help you 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 stories, or Facebook stories
- How to create a Facebook Business Manager account (if you want to work with an influencer but 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 Longer Ads
Influencer content whitelisting will take trial and error to get right, so be prepared to test and pivot. But a smart strategy to start with when kicking off your whitelisting campaign is to run longer ads.
Running longer ads during your influencer whitelisting campaign will help your brand get more exposure and accurately test which creatives are generating more leads.
To accurately A/B test your ads under the influencer's profile, it is best to run them for around 15 days. This way, you can track what is converting and make adjustments to the ads that garnered less success.
The influencer marketing industry is constantly changing, but one thing will continue to hold; consumers trust influencers and content creators to give product recommendations that will impact their buying behavior.
That is why the power of influencer content whitelisting is evident and something your brand needs to capitalize on this year!
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 thriving crew 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/ Rony (CEO - CrewFire)