5 Best Practices for Influencer Whitelisting

Makenna Johnson
By Makenna Johnson

Marketers and consumers are like characters from the old cartoon, Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner. Marketers put together elaborate plots to catch the consumers once and for all, while consumers install AdBlock apps or simply ignore their attempts without batting an eye. It’s a one-way struggle to keep up, and if there’s something you can say about marketers, much like Coyote, they are persistent and adaptive.

One of marketers’ newest schemes capitalizes on consumers’ propensity to purchase items based on recommendations made by friends—influencer marketing. While social media influencers aren’t friends with all of their followers, consumers trust influencer recommendations almost equally as they do friend recommendations.

Influencer whitelisting is a marketing strategy for brands to protect their image while utilizing this effective marketing method. By creating a list of influencers that match a brand’s messaging and overall tone, companies can invest in an authentic, paid advertisement strategy with a prosperous ROI. 

How Influencer Whitelisting Works

The idea behind influencer whitelisting is to combine the best attributes of both Facebook Ads Manager and influencer marketing. With the influencer’s permission, brands can run ads through the influencer’s profile, making the post appear natural on an Instagram feed. Brands can then invest in branded content and use the Ads Manager to target specific users and track ad performance.

Instead of a product’s messaging coming directly from the brand, influencer marketing offers an authoritative third-party recommendation. It’s a way for brands to get more out of a partnership than mere views, likes, and comments. To capitalize on influencer whitelisting and gain the most from each post, here are the five best practices.

1. Branded Video Content is Key

For brands, video content provides a creative way to showcase who you are as a company. Plus, video is known to generate more engagement than static photo ads. According to Databox, video ads increase click-through rate (CTR) and conversions by 20%, and they outperform static photos nine times out of ten.

To ensure your video content always performs well, use the following tips:

  • Keep videos clean and straightforward 
  • The shorter, the better
  • If there’s dialogue, provide subtitles
  • Show off something original

2. Static Posts Only

There are several different types of posts to consider when setting up a marketing campaign. There’s Instagram stories, polls, pictures, videos, highlights, and more. Make sure to have your influencers use static posts only. You can’t whitelist a carousel post.

3. Optimize the Influencer’s Testimonial

One of the greatest assets influencer marketing brings to the table is the brand’s message in different, unique voices. By allowing the influencer control over how they present your product, you’re allowing a natural tone to prosper. However, you want to ensure that the influencer gets the story and message correct. To do this, optimize the testimonial for maximum brand success and authenticity.

  • Shorten the caption
  • Strengthen the CTA
  • Use keywords specific to your brand’s messaging
  • Positivity is always better than negativity
  • Offer influencers a list of dos and don’ts

4. Increase the Ad Run Time

Marketers disagree on the optimal amount of time needed for an ad post. In reality, it depends on the content. If it’s a limited time offer, there’s no reason to run the ad past the offer’s end date. When in doubt, always shoot for at least 15 days minimum for standard ads.

5. Compare Performance

When using influencer marketing, the idea is to receive a better ROI than traditional marketing techniques. Always put it to the test. Run the same branded content and copy as the influencer’s ad on the brand’s social media. This way, you can compare the ad performance and determine which influencers are most beneficial for your brand.

Digital + Traditional PR

Different Types of Influencers

The most difficult stage in influencer whitelisting is finding the perfect influencers for your brand. Each type of influencer has strengths and weaknesses and using a combination of different influencer styles and follower sizes can bring a diverse audience and increase brand awareness. To breakdown the three main categories, there are:

  • Mega-influencers who have more than 1 million followers
  • Macro-influencers who have between 10,000 and 1 million followers
  • Micro-influencers who have less than 10,000 followers

Mega-influencers

These are traditionally known as celebrities. Sports superstars, musicians, actors, and high-end models fall under this category. Mega-influencers cost brands exorbitant fees in exchange for their massive consumer reach. Some mega-influencers reportedly make $1 million per paid advertisement post. For most companies, mega-influencers are out of the question.

Macro-influencers

Put two words together, and you can find your perfect macro-influencer. Food and travel. There’s a niche of macro-influencers for that. Travel and fashion. There’s a niche for those as well. Fitness and diet. Video games and memes. Art and wellness. Picking two words that neatly sum up your brand’s messaging will allow you to find the perfect macro-influencer.

Why? It comes with the territory of influencers. One of the first tips you receive as you start your influencer career is to pick two themes that sum up your feed. Once you have those locked in, you double down, triple down, and quadruple down on them. This way, followers know what to expect and stay dedicated to the channel.

Micro-influencers

Perhaps the most interesting of the bunch is the micro-influencers. What makes them so unique is that they have a particularly high engagement rate at a low influencer cost. The engagement rate is due to the amount of time it takes to respond to people. With 5,000 followers, an influencer can respond to almost every comment throughout the day, making follow-up engagement on the next post likelier. The reason they cost less per follower is, well, basic economics; there’s more of them. 

Pros and Cons to Working with Micro-influencers

For marketing teams, mega- and macro-influencers are straightforward to work with. They have large audiences. People trust their opinion. Brands pay them money to promote their products. 

For micro-influencers, the game changes. Because they’re not accepting life-changing sums of money, most micro-influencers only work with brands they endorse. In fact, 99.2% of micro-influencers believe in what they promote according to a study by Socialpubli. On top of this, people report that micro-influencers are more personable. They resemble peers versus mega- and macro-influencers who have that unreachable “celebrity” status.

Marketing has been trending toward micro-influencers for many reasons. 

  • Higher engagement – Micro-influencers bring in roughly seven times the engagement of mega-influencers. This is likely due to the active relationship micro-influencers create and maintain with the followers on their platform
  • Lower cost – While not all micro-influencers adhere to this rule, a general principle for calculating the cost is $100 per 10k followers. Which means targeting a group of 40 influencers who average around 8k followers would cost around $3,200. For small and mid-sized companies, this is a reasonable number to spend on marketing. (And it’s much more manageable than $1 million per post.)
  • More authentic – There could be any number of reasons why micro-influencers are perceived as more authentic advertisers. They regularly engage with their audience in a running conversation, and they usually post about personal life events making them relatable. It’s this level of accessibility that makes them different than macro- and mega-influencers.

With the good comes the bad. The downsides of working with micro-influencers include:

  • Less reach – Returning to the example above with 40 influencers at 8k followers each—to put it into perspective, that’s less than one mid-sized macro-influencer. While the engagement and cost are great flipsides, at some point the numbers do matter. Micro-influencers don’t have nearly as much reach.
  • More research to find them –Remember that each influencer has to be researched to ensure they fit with the brand’s messaging. This means going through their post history and looking for anything that would turn consumers off. Doing this for each micro-influencer is time-consuming.
  • Increased time spent managing – Each post has to be edited to unite the brand’s message with the influencer’s authentic voice. Needless to say, for the marketing team who manages the influencers, they would much prefer the one macro-influencer to 40 micro-influencers. 

Problems with Advertising Through Influencers

When hiring influencers to be a part of your brand’s advertising, they become spokespeople for your company. Whatever they endorse, suddenly your brand also endorses. For this reason, there are a few things to keep in mind when working with influencers.

  • Influencers are people – Never forget that the people behind these social media accounts are human. They make mistakes, they change their minds, they have wildly different opinions, and because of their status, these accounts aren’t afraid to post any of this to their feed. While honesty is a great policy, it can lead to unfortunate scenarios. And anything that erupts over the influencer’s personal life will negatively affect your brand.
  • Consumers are sensitive – These mistakes by influencers can have real effects on your brand. According to studies compiled by Invespcro, 40% of consumers have abstained from purchasing products from companies who have elicited irresponsible or harmful behavior. This extends to the brand representatives’ behavior as well.

Influencer Marketing on the Rise

As the never-ending chase between marketers and consumers continues, influencer marketing is going to stand as a pinnacle in the way brands spread their message. There’s no pop-ups or gimmicks involved. It’s merely a roundabout way of getting a brand’s message across by using a familiar face. 

Sources:

Socialpubli. 2018 Global Micro-Influencer Study. https://socialpubli.com/blog/i-microinfluencers-study-2018/

Twitter. New research: The value of influencers on Twitter.  https://blog.twitter.com/marketing/en_us/a/2016/new-research-the-value-of-influencers-on-twitter.html

NY Times. Use of Ad-Blocking Software Rises by 30% Worldwide.  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/31/technology/ad-blocking-internet.html

Invespcro. How Branding Influences Purchase Decisions.  https://www.invespcro.com/blog/how-branding-influences-purchase-decisions-infographic/

Databox. Videos vs. Images: Which Drives More Engagement in Facebook Ads?  https://databox.com/videos-vs-images-in-facebook-ads

Free PR Assessment copy

Makenna is a PR Coordinator and Account Manager at Power Digital. As a University of Oregon alumni, she studied Journalism with an emphasis on Public Relations, and has been passionate about the field ever since. Makenna spearheads SEO outreach and manages social media influencer outreach within the PR departement, building valuable partnerships with publications and influencers to elevate both brand awareness and ROI for our clients. Go ducks!