Think diversity in Influencer Marketing is about checking a quota box? Think again! Yes, representation is an important step in Inclusive Marketing. However, getting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) right requires many steps from strategy and planning to execution in the campaign process. A great place to start, or to brush up on, is familiarizing yourself with DEI definitions and how they relate to the Influencer Marketing campaign planning process.

This post is part of a 7-part series on diversity, equity, and inclusion in Influencer Marketing. Check out the other articles to learn The Difference Between DEI and Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing and The Case for Inclusive Marketing. Additionally, get tips on How to Create Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing Campaigns and How to Ensure Your Diversity Influencer Marketing Campaigns Will Meet the Mark. Finally, discover 7 Mistakes to Avoid in Diversity Influencer Marketing. Last but not least, check out Brands Getting Diversity in Influencer Marketing Right. Want to get the goods all in one place? Download our eBook on Everything You Need to Know About Diversity in Influencer Marketing.

DEI definitions

What Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in Influencer Marketing Means

I love this fun event-themed University of Michigan DEI example shared by their Chief Diversity Officer, Robert Sellers. He compares diversity to everyone being invited to a party. Similarly, inclusion is when everyone can add to the playlist. Furthermore, equity means that everyone has the opportunity to dance. Notice that in all three examples, he uses the word “everyone.” Though diversity, equity, and inclusion seem simple, especially when it comes to throwing parties, simple doesn’t always mean easy. Therefore, many brands get it wrong. So, let’s drill down on DEI definitions as they relate to Influencer Marketing.

What Is Diversity in Influencer Marketing?

Diversity in Influencer Marketing means that you invite a broad group of influencers to participate in your brand’s or client’s campaigns. Many people think that diversity is synonymous with race. But, it goes well beyond that. Depending on what the data says and who the campaign’s target market is, you’d want to include creators from different: 

  • Races or minority groups
  • Ethnicities or cultures
  • Religious beliefs or practices
  • Socioeconomic statuses

Additionally, diversity reflects influencers with different:

  • Body shapes and sizes
  • Preferences
  • Gender identity
  • Sexual orientations
  • Abilities (physical, emotional, learning, etc.)
  • Levels (macro to nano)
  • Ages 

After you select influencers who match your buyers’ persona, make sure that you have representation in all stages of the campaign strategy and planning process. Specifically, influencer inclusion could look like inviting diverse partners who reflect your target audience to brainstorm during strategic planning meetings. Furthermore, it could include involving them in testing phases and feedback loops during approval processes. Or, participation might mean collaborating on, developing, and/or promoting creative assets. Regardless of how frequently or in what capacity you involve influencers, just make sure that they represent your target audience.

See examples of brands getting the broad definition of diversity right in their Influencer Marketing campaigns.

How to Gauge If You’re Embracing Diversity in Your Influencer Marketing Practices

Ask yourself these questions to ensure you’re embracing diversity in your Influencer Marketing campaigns: 

  • Are we creating opportunities from start to finish in the campaign’s process for influencer inclusion?
  • Are we enlisting a broad variety of influencers who reflect our target audience?

What Is Equity in Influencer Marketing?

Equity in Influencer Marketing means challenging biases and providing equal opportunities for all. For example, let’s say that your agency has a preference for working with or connections to white macro-influencers who are Millennials. However, your client’s target market, in addition to white Millennials, includes LGBTQIA+ Latinx consumers who are both Millennials and Gen X. Furthermore, your budget allows for a variety of influencer levels. Equity means that you provide opportunities for everyone who matches your target demographic and compensate them according to fair market value.

In our post on Addressing the Influencer Pay Gap, we shared the example of Stephanie Yeboah, a Black blogger from the U.K., who was accidentally CC’d on an email. The communication, sent from a brand she was working with, was addressed to a white influencer participating in the same campaign. The message contained the white blogger’s pay rates, which Yeboah realized were significantly higher than hers. Even though she and the other influencer were doing the same work and she had more followers and higher engagement, there was no denying the inequity. 

Avoid making a similar mistake by offering equal opportunities, resources, and fair pay.

Important note! Oftentimes, agencies and brands use the tactic of asking influencers for their rates to begin the negotiation process. There is nothing wrong with this. However, the absence of standard rates makes it difficult for influencers to assess their true value in relation to what the market can bear. One way you can ensure equity in your campaigns is to educate influencers. Specifically, you can inform them when they demand rates that are not in line with fair market value, especially if they ask for lower rates than they deserve. 

How to Ensure Equity in Your Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Though identifying fair pay can be a guessing game, especially since set standards don’t exist, your brand can still champion equity in Influencer Marketing by asking yourself:

  • Are we offering the same rates to influencers with similar qualifications and requirements?
  • Are we providing equal opportunities to a variety of influencers (those who make up the brand’s buyer persona)? 
  • Referring to the opportunities, are our expectations and requirements the same for all involved?
  • Do we provide the same resources to influencer partners?

What Is Inclusion in Influencer Marketing?

At its core, inclusion is about safety and belonging. In Influencer Marketing this is not just about the influencer partners. It is about creating an environment internally and externally that embraces an inclusive approach. For example, you could start with a work team and third-party vendors or partners that value differences and ensure DEI in workplace relationships. You could use that same approach when consulting and strategizing with your clients. Both would ensure you receive support when you add inclusive influencer opportunities to your campaign process. Additionally, you could insist on using language and terminology that is respectful of and understood by all. But, inclusion doesn’t stop there. Moreover, it is about belonging. Namely, allowing differences and welcoming fresh perspectives internally and externally in internal workplace practices all the way down to campaign execution. So, what does inclusion look like in Influencer Marketing campaigns, specifically?

For example, let’s say an influencer partner challenges a campaign’s brand message points, client feedback, or creative assets. Perhaps they claim some verbiage to be culturally insensitive. Resist responding with “Our brand messaging is locked in and we have to go with what the client wants.” Instead, consider creating a safe environment by replying with a more inclusive approach. For instance, “Wow! Great catch! Do you mind if I share your feedback with the client? What phrases would be more appropriate for this campaign? We definitely want to get this right and we value your input.” In this way, you’d not only be welcoming the influencer’s feedback but you would also be including them in the problem-solving process. This reinforces the safety and belonging of an inclusive relationship.

How to Ensure Inclusion in Your Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Ask yourself these questions to ensure you’re inclusive in your Influencer Marketing campaigns: 

  • Are we, internally with our teams and externally with our clients and vendors, embracing a spirit of inclusivity?
  • Is the language and terminology respectful and appropriate for all involved, including avoiding stereotypes?
  • Do we help influencers belong by giving them a seat at the table and a voice?
  • Do we welcome fresh perspectives and consider dissenting opinions at all phases in the campaign process?

Walmart: An Example of a Brand Getting DEI Right

Many brands deserve mention for their commitment to and implementation of DEI. But, Walmart gets the spotlight for going big or going home. According to a Vervoe post entitled: “39 Awesome Companies Leading the Way in Diversity“:

Retail powerhouse Walmart employs a massive workforce, and as a result, is one of the most diverse companies in the country. As of July 2020, Walmart’s US associates are 20.69% Black, 16.39% Latinx, and 55% women. Women make up 30% of “global officers” — leadership roles within the organization. Beyond committing to transparent diversity hiring, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation pledged to contribute $100 million over five years through a Center for Racial Equity to help address racial disparities in the U.S. in June 2020. This month, Walmart announced the first $14.3 million in grants would go to 16 different nonprofit organizations.

Wrapping It All Up

While representation is important, diversity in Influencer Marketing is about much more than race or just checking a quota box. Learning DEI definitions and how they relate to your Influencer Marketing campaigns is a great first step. Next, take action to implement diversity, equity, and inclusions from strategy and planning to execution in your campaign process. The questions included in the sections above will help you gauge whether you’re on the right track or need to course correct.

Next Steps

Want to learn more about diversity in Influencer Marketing? 

7 Truths and 1 Lie Your Brand Must Accept About Influencer Marketing
The Ultimate Guide: Creating, Launching, and Managing Diversity Marketing Campaigns