Influencer marketing is an industry that was built on the belief that you can use the vast assortment of channels out there (Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc…) to tell your story, and make an impact in someone’s life.
This has always been a core belief of our team at Blogist — the unending belief that social media has the power to make change and impact society for the better.
That said, deeply entrenched within the marketing industry, is a serious lack of representation that has led to movements such as the body positivity and different gender equality movements. As the news of George Floyd’s death surfaced across mainstream media, paired with the inequality that has become apparent through the COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to how black individuals are treated in this country, our country has seen an incredible wave of protests and conversations on social media about the systemic racism that is so prevalent in our society.
For the influencer marketing and media industry, this lack of diversity and representation goes deep. Here is an example quoted in AfroTech, that far too many influencers in the industry have experienced. An influencer said, “I approached creator friends who had worked with a brand I was working with before,” she said. “These creators happened to be white and they all said, ‘Oh no, we got paid’. The brand continued to reach out to us. Each time they never had a budget and each time I checked, they always did have a budget for someone else. Maybe they just didn’t have a budget for people who looked like us.”
Scenarios like these, are not okay.
The foundation of so many incredible black business owners and influencers, including some men and women that we are incredible blessed to know, Tiffany M Battle, Kelly Augustine, Gavyn Taylor, Chichi from SuppleChic, Shainna Tucker, Ashley Morgan, Ruthie Ridley, Taryn Newton (and many more) is the belief that black women in the United States need to be seen in media. Black owned brands need to be celebrated in the media.
If these women have built businesses focused on talking about black owned brands, and there still is a disparity in the amount of black owned businesses and black influencers online, who can make this change? It is on the white men and women in the influencer community to speak up, and help combat the systemic racism that’s been built into our culture.
Outside of these initiatives we will be focused on: Teaching black owned brands the power of influencer marketing, so that they can be a part of the major platforms influencers use. We will be working to bring together voices from the black community, to capture ways that our community and brands can make significant steps in creating diversity and inclusion within their businesses.
What we are going to do to actively make a change in the industry over the coming months:
- Publicly talk about the difference between the rates white influencers are presented vs. black influencers. After looking at our own data from inbound campaigns presented to our clients, on average black influencers were presented with 20% less than white influencers with the same following (this is a rough average and we will get more accurate data over time).
- Ask brands for a list of other influencers that are in the campaign. Challenge them and push back if there is a severe lack of representation in the campaign.
- Acknowledge and talk about the movements started by black men and women — movements like the body positive movement.
We are committed to working with each and every one of you to find ways and opportunities to make sure that your audience follows black men and women, and buy from black owned brands. If not, the systemic racism that is so deeply entrenched in the media industry will continue on.