Sometimes the best way to reach new audiences is by partnering with people who already have access.
That’s why working with Black, Indigenous and creators of colour has increased in the past few years. Brands realize that they’ve failed to build authentic connections with a diverse range of customers, so they seek help from people that already have.
The problem is that many of these brands end up tokenizing influencers, alienating diverse communities, and perpetuating inequity through unfair pay.
Here are 4 tips for brands that want to engage with racialized communities in a meaningful way using influencer marketing:
1. Diversify your influencer roster, not just one-off campaigns
It’s not enough to add a racialized person to appear progressive or inclusive in one campaign while you maintain the status quo everywhere else. You need to take the time to build genuine relationships with creators of colour, so that there are mutual benefits to working together.
2. Set new benchmarks for your KPIs
If you’ve been working with the same type of influencers and have relied on tapping into their networks, you’re going to see changes in performance once you work with someone new. Adjust your expectations as results start to come in, whether they exceed or fall short of your original goals.
3. Trust the influencer
Remember that you’re hiring someone for their ability to connect with their audience — an audience that you probably don’t understand. They’ve built a connection by being authentically themselves, so any attempt to sanitize or tone police their messaging will likely fall flat.
Provide simple guidelines and let the creator do what they do best.
4. Pay them fairly
Creators who identify as Black, Indigenous or Persons of Colour get paid 29% less than their white counterparts. Black creators specifically are paid 35% less. This is highly concerning, especially considering how much influence Black communities have on social media (think about popular TikTok dances or the origins of the most popular slang).
The bottom line
We have a long way to go before influencer marketing is a truly inclusive and equitable practice. The opportunity gaps are obvious. So, brands that want to move the needle should focus on prioritizing creators that have been overlooked and underpaid for far too long — and making sure those creators are set up for success by following these 4 tips.