How to bring D&I into your influencer marketing strategies

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With projections indicating that advertising spend in the UK influencer advertising market will reach an impressive £0.90 billion by 2024, the industry is undeniably on an upward trajectory. In the context of Women’s History Month and reflecting on advances in gender equality, it is crucial to recognise the fundamental role of diversity and inclusion in influencer marketing strategies, especially as the field of influencer marketing experiences substantial growth.

In navigating these intricacies, it’s essential to avoid the pitfalls of exclusively targeting major influencers or those who may not resonate with your specific target audience. While high-profile influencers may have a broad reach, their relevance to your brand and engagement with your intended demographic should take precedence over sheer follower numbers. Falling into the trap of prioritising influencers solely based on their celebrity status can dilute the authenticity of your campaign.

Similarly, choosing influencers who do not authentically represent your audience may result in a misalignment between the influencer’s content and your brand identity. A more nuanced approach, focusing on influencers whose values and content align with your brand and resonate with your target demographic, can yield more meaningful and effective results.

Moreover, you must acknowledge that consumers tend to place trust in individuals who mirror their own identities. When evaluating an influencer, it is essential to take into account various aspects such as their background, ethnicity, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, body type, socioeconomic status, physical abilities, and religious beliefs.

Given this, integrating Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) into your influencer marketing strategies is not merely an innovative pursuit but an essential imperative.

Use platforms and inclusive agencies to discover influencers

Finding diverse and inclusive influencers requires some research and outreach. You can use platforms like Tribe, for example, which made public their Commitment to Diversity and Change. Through these platforms, you can filter and analyse influencers based on various criteria, such as demographics, location, niche, content, and engagement. However, it’s important not to rely solely on numbers or algorithms. You should also assess the influencer’s content, tone, and values, ensuring they align with your brand and campaign objectives.

In addition to platforms, there are specialised agencies like Shade, dedicated to diversifying influencer marketing: the agency manages a diverse portfolio of over 1,000 influencers, speakers, actors, entertainers, athletes, celebrities, and more, predominantly from black and brown backgrounds. They oversee all facets of influencer campaigns, ranging from strategic planning and talent selection to content creation and distribution.

Promote inclusive representation through authentic partnerships

Partnerships with influencers from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, and experiences play a crucial role in cultivating a more inclusive and relatable brand image. However, the effectiveness of this strategy hinges on its authenticity and consistency. It is essential to avoid ‘check-the-box diversity,’ known as Tokenism, where individuals from marginalised groups are included merely to meet quotas, deflect criticism, or create an illusion of fairness.

Moreover, it is crucial not to limit such partnerships to special occasions. Instead, a brand should strive for continuous and sustainable support for diverse communities throughout the year, transcending exclusive focus on “awareness days” or specific diversity-related announcements. Truly inclusive brands distinguish themselves by consistently embodying their values in everyday communications and actions.

Message responsibility

In today’s landscape, where the messages disseminated by brands have considerable power, it is imperative to recognise the responsibility that comes with making and sharing these messages. An example of responsible messaging can be seen in the collaboration between Munroe Bergdorf, Sophie Morgan and June Sarpong. They actively contributed to responsible messaging:

Munroe Bergdorf: Munroe’s collaborations with brands transcend mere endorsement; they embody activism. In partnership with a leading beauty brand, Munroe spearheaded campaigns that not only celebrated diversity, but also challenged social norms and promoted LGBTQ+ rights. Through her partnership, Munroe has initiated critical conversations, encouraging reflection and progress.

Sophie Morgan: Sophie’s defence of disability representation extends to her brand collaborations. In partnership with a major retailer, Sophie has worked to ensure that their advertising campaigns are inclusive and authentic. By promoting accessible and diverse representation, Sophie has harnessed her influence to promote meaningful change and foster a more inclusive society.

June Sarpong: June’s collaborations reflect her commitment to social change and inclusion. In partnership with a major media outlet, June has used her platform to amplify voices from diverse backgrounds and advocate for representation in the media industry. By leveraging her influence, June continues to promote systemic change and tell authentic stories.

These influencers are powerful examples of how it is possible to convey responsible messages through authentic partnerships. By aligning themselves with brands that share their values and using their platforms for meaningful conversations, they contribute to a more inclusive and socially conscious media landscape.

Reflect inclusive values internally

Consumers consider a company’s values in a broader context. Brands that commit to addressing social inequities through tangible actions garner heightened favourability:

  • In Deloitte’s survey of 11,500 global consumers, they found the youngest respondents (18-25 years old) took more significant notice of inclusive advertising when making purchase decisions. The results also show 57% of consumers are more loyal to brands that commit to addressing social inequities in their actions;
  • According to Traackr’s research, 66% of all consumers said that they at least somewhat agree that they would not buy a product from a brand if it says or does something that conflicts with their values.

If there are inconsistencies between a brand’s internal practices and its outward message, consumers are quick to discern, and the potential damage to the company can be severe. Maintaining alignment between internal ethos and external communications is paramount, as any perceivable dissonance may erode trust and credibility, leading to potentially irreparable harm to the brand’s reputation.

Ensure teams and suppliers reflect your market

When your teams and suppliers reflect the market’s diversity, they are better equipped to develop authentic and culturally relevant marketing strategies and messages. This authenticity fosters a stronger connection between the brand and its audience.

Bring diverse voices back to the organisation

Diverse voices represent a multitude of backgrounds, experiences, and identities, which can offer unique insights into the needs and preferences of diverse consumer segments, and also contribute to a richer pool of ideas, leading to more creative problem-solving and innovation, ultimately driving the organisation’s growth.

It is becoming increasingly clear that diversity and inclusion are not mere buzzwords, but fundamental principles essential to the evolution of influencer marketing. The exponential growth projected for the industry underlines the need for a paradigm shift in the way we approach partnerships with influencers, moving beyond superficial metrics to a deeper understanding of audience resonance and brand alignment. By embracing diversity in all its forms – whether in terms of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, body type, socio-economic status or otherwise – brands can cultivate authentic connections with consumers looking for relatability and authenticity in the content they consume.

What’s more, the power of influencer marketing lies not only in its ability to reach large audiences, but also in its potential to shape narratives and influence society’s perceptions. Through responsible messaging and genuine partnerships with influencers who champion diversity and inclusion, brands can become catalysts for positive change. These influencers exemplify how collaborations can transcend traditional marketing to become platforms for advocacy, education, and empowerment. By amplifying diverse voices and advocating for inclusive representation, brands not only strengthen their presence in the market, but also contribute to the wider movement towards a more equitable and inclusive society. Essentially, the future of influencer marketing lies in its ability to embrace diversity and exert influence responsibly, generating significant impact and promoting a culture of acceptance and understanding.


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