Influencers have been paid to post and promote products and services on their Instagram pages for over 10 years, and influencer marketing campaigns have taken over traditional media.
Consequently, the tools, tech, trials and tribulations of influencer marketing have saturated the industry. But this gold rush has failed to educate the actual influencers at the heart of the industry about their options.
Organic creation, amplification, and engagement of Instagram content used to be the name of the game. An engaged organic audience was enough to drive results for your brand partners and produce profit for you (in any of the following ways):
- Flat rate for a post on your Instagram page
- Flat rate for a post on your Instagram story
- Commission-based payment depending on the engagement your Instagram story/post receives
- Flat rate for every photo/video created, and selling the ownership of that content to the brands
Ah, the good old days.
Contracts were easy to understand, Instagram was the only tool you really needed, and the only major tribulation was a brand accusing you of having fake followers to boost your metrics (which, of course, you’d never do).
Soon after, the industry graduated to Instagram's Branded Content Tool, which was a big win. But innovation never stops, and things are radically different yet again.
Your Google search brought you here, so we’re going to answer the question every influencer in today’s market needs to know: What is influencer whitelisting?
What is Influencer Whitelisting?
Whitelisting, in a nutshell, is when you give advertising permissions to your brand partners.
Unfortunately, whitelisting is a complex topic that can’t quite be explained with just one, simple definition.
Here’s why: whitelisting is a process that connects you and your brand partner in a way that simultaneously gets them better access to consumers, and gets you better reach and higher rates.
The problem is, you can whitelist a lot of different ways. That’s where the confusion normally starts to seep in.
For this article, Manual Whitelisting (working in the depths of your Facebook Business Manager) and Lumanu Whitelisting (A Facebook Certified Partner that streamlines the manual option) will be our focus.
Other methods of whitelisting can put your page security at risk, or restrict your visibility into Instagram ads running under your name and handle, so we are going to omit them.
It will all make sense in the next few paragraphs.
First, a few things you should know:
- Your brand partner wants to interact with all of your followers, as well as anyone who isn’t following you right now but might like your page and by extension the brand’s product.
- No matter how many followers you have (20k, 100k, 500k, 1 million), there are Instagram users who haven’t ever heard of you, but would love your page if they found it.
- Organic engagement on Instagram is lower than it has ever been before, with paid-for promotions dominating top slots in users’ feeds.
- You deserve to have insight into everything about your account, and shouldn’t use a tool (no matter how good it is), that keeps you blind to your content, likeness, etc.
- There are a lot of confusing terms when you enter the whitelisting world. One of those is “dark posting,” and it’s a tool you’ll want to have in your arsenal. Get an easy intro to it here.
How Does Influencer Whitelisting Work?
Whether you use Facebook Business Manager or Lumanu and our tool SocialCert, you give your brand partner permission to create ads that have your avi and your username attached to them.
To a user scrolling through Instagram, the ad will look like something you posted yourself. If they clicked on your handle, however, they wouldn’t see that photo on your page.
When you give permission to a brand to create ads using your account handle and content, you also give them access to data on your followers (don’t worry, nothing personal).
So, when a brand creates an ad after whitelisting with you, they can amplify it to people who are most similar to your current followers (who are more likely to be interested in the content you create, and the brands you promote).
This type of audience is called a Lookalike Audience (LAL). The benefit to the brand? They reach people most likely to buy what they’re selling. The benefit to you? You reach new audiences.
The people who see that ad are most likely to love your page, and they can easily click on your handle to peruse your content and click the “Follow” button in a matter of seconds.
In fewer words:
More sales for your brand partner.
Better engagement rates for you.
Great, you have an idea of what whitelisting is. Here’s some advice for putting this technique into practice.
Should You Whitelist? Pros and Cons
We can’t make that decision for you, but we can assure you that by using Lumanu to streamline the whitelisting process, or by whitelisting manually through Facebook Business Manager, you’ll have a more lucrative influencing experience.
Plus, your whitelisting will be more secure. Quick public service announcement: NEVER use a solution that involves sharing passwords or other personal information.
Now here are some major considerations when it comes to whitelisting:
Pro: Brands are often willing to pay an extra dollar for you to whitelist in each and every influencer campaign.
After all, you’re trusting them to run ads with your name plastered as owner. Even though you have the ability to halt ads that go against your contract or misrepresent you, brands know that it’s a nerve wracking thing for you to give access to your Instagram account.
So, you can enjoy charging a few extra dollars (or a few thousand) if you elect to whitelist, and partner with brands to achieve results with influencer ads.
Con: It is a time-consuming process.
Manual whitelisting is a nightmare if you aren’t already familiar with Facebook Business Manager (and it’s still a headache if you are).
You’ll need to dedicate a good amount of your time to learning the ins and outs of whichever tool you use, be it a manual option or whitelisting with Lumanu.
That, on top of managing your relationships with brands when dark posting, can make whitelisting an extremely tiring process. You need to decide if it’s worth the investment.
Below is a visual of the manual process from your brand partner’s perspective. We weren’t kidding when we said “time-consuming.”
Pro” Whitelisting is becoming the norm.
Both brands and influencers have gotten a taste of the financial benefits whitelisting provides, making it hard to justify doing organic content alone.
More and more brands are coming to realize they need their influencers to whitelist so they can stay competitive and touch their target audience, and more and more influencers are coming to realize the same.
Pro: You don’t have to put every ad on your page.
We’re trying to be objective, but that’s a pretty nice benefit. When you whitelist, fewer and fewer brands will ask you to post directly on your page.
As a result, there’s less ad-fatigue for your followers and you get to post more of your day-to-day photos, or whatever else is your go-to content that made you fall in love with being a content creator in the first place.
This is hardly a cohesive list, but it does offer a simple pro-con analysis to whitelisting in today’s world. Once again, if you want a deeper dive into the industry, check out our article on the benefits and challenges of the influencer marketing economy.
What’s Next in the World of Influencer Whitelisting?
Keeping up with every mutation of influencer marketing is tough work (whether you’re an influencer, agency head, or brand manager). To stay in the know about what Lumanu is doing to assist influencers in the whitelisting world, sign up here: https://www.socialcert.me/waitlist
This is a guest contribution by Ellery Kemner, Lumanu’s marketing coordinator.
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