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Why Representation Matters In Influencer Marketing & The Steps We’ve Taken

By Katie Rie and Charissa Corlies

Diverse hands in a row

It should be no surprise that Influencer Marketing has a diversity issue. Just look at your Instagram feed; it’s overwhelmed by white females, with millions of followers, touting numerous brand partnerships.

At Zeno, diversity and inclusion is a moral and ethical imperative that speaks to our agency’s core values. And this extends to our work with influencers, a community whom we have strived to make inclusive with a range of diverse voices for our clients’ campaigns. And while including BIPOC voices within a campaign roster is a good first step in ensuring diversity, it is not enough to truly make a campaign diverse. Diversity is an easy check mark to hit; inclusion is where the opportunities lie.

We want BIPOC voices to be heard within campaigns. This requires us, and our clients, being transparent with them, trusting their work and recognizing and appreciating the consumer demand these BIPOC voices can inspire through their influence.

As part of our 'Act Together' initiative, where actions speak louder than words, in our efforts to be sure that diversity, equity and inclusion is at the heart of all we do, these are the steps Zeno has taken regarding its Influencer Marketing:

  1. Showcasing a 1:1 Ratio of Influencer Options: For all consumer influencer programs that are targeting a national, general market audience, we present our clients with influencer options that reflect a 1:1 ratio of BIPOC to white creators. 
  2. Giving Influencers a voice during campaign planning: To ensure that Influencers have a seat at the table when we plan a campaign, Zeno invites them to use their voices, so their perspectives can be woven into campaigns and their authentic connections to the work can be shown to clients.
  3. Evaluating Influencers Based on Inclusivity & Values: We evaluate Influencers using an ”Inclusivity & Values Score” that grades the tone of their content based on a scale that includes criteria, such as inclusivity, positivity, and ability to foster a sense of community. 
  4. Transparency: We believe our partner Influencers should know who they are working alongside in campaigns, so we share the names of all participating Influencers once they are confirmed. 
  5. Working With BIPOC Influencer Agencies: We will be forming strategic partnerships with Influencer managers and agencies who represent BIPOC. As we plan campaigns, we will seek their input to build ideas, and during the Influencer identification process, we will rely on them to source talent from their rosters.
  6. Ensuring Fair Identification Processes: We have put a process in place to ensure the identification tools that we use to conduct searches for Influencers bring back results that include diverse creators and do not discriminate within their platform roster.

The commitments above reflect Zeno’s values and the interests of our clients, allowing brand success in the following ways: 

Aligns Influencer campaigns with brand values

  • By committing to partner with more people of color, brands are exemplifying that they are more than just talking the talk or checking a box when it comes to their commitment to diversity and inclusion. In this way, their Influencer content will not only highlight a product or service, but also what a company stands for and believes in.

Extends campaign reach

  • Having Black and other creators of color be a part of campaigns opens untapped audiences for brands. Despite sharing many of the same interests and motivations as their white counterparts, these audiences have historically been neglected when it comes to influencer marketing campaigns. Zeno believes reaching these new audiences is crucial to scaling your business’s social media and sales revenue.

Showcases responsibility as brand marketers

  • Companies have the power to impact representation of minority groups at a large scale. By amplifying the voices, faces, and stories of black people and POC, brands can cause serious change and impact the way people see others and themselves.

These new and improved standards for an Influencer Marketing practice are an important step forward in ensuring that our work more accurately represents the world in which we are living. Bringing diverse points of view and myriad voices makes the final product more impactful.