We’ve all been there. In our most sincere and best attempts to get diversity in Influencer Marketing right, we end up getting it wrong. How can we handle this “not if but when” situation? By learning the seven pitfalls of diversity in Influencer Marketing and avoiding them. 

This post is part of a 7-part series on diversity, equity, and inclusion in Influencer Marketing. Check out the other articles to learn DEI Definitions, 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, 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.

Diversity in Influencer Marketing

7 Mistakes to Avoid in Diversity Influencer Marketing

At this point, you know what diversity, equity, and inclusion mean. You may have even taken steps internally and externally to create an environment and campaigns that embrace DEI and use Multicultural Marketing best practices. Furthermore, you get that diversity in Influencer Marketing is not only the right thing to do but also makes great business sense. In fact, you may have even convinced your boss or client to dedicate a budget to inclusive and multicultural marketing. So, now what? Create multicultural campaigns that meet the mark. To do this, avoid these common 7 mistakes.

1. Don’t pay attention to the data.

Failing to analyze and incorporate data findings into your marketing campaigns means leaving success to chance. For instance, not paying attention to data means guessing at your key performance indicators (KPIs), making assumptions about your consumers, and choosing tactics that may or may not drive results. 

The fine folks over at the Marketing Insider Group remind us that “Marketing needs to be data-driven to be effective!” Additionally, they share:

Marketing today is driven by data-backed research and customer information that can be captured at every stage in the buying process. We don’t need to guess what people want; we just need to know where to look.

Avoid talking the talk but not walking the walk when it comes to data-based marketing campaigns. Instead, implement these 26 best practices for making your marketing data-driven.  

Specifically, data you should most analyze in your multicultural marketing efforts includes typical target market information, such as a consumers’:

  • Background
  • Current personal information 
  • Past and current professional information 
  • Behavior (physical, digital)

Additionally, take the following information about your consumers into consideration for your multicultural marketing efforts:

  • Country of origin
  • Neighborhood (where they currently live)
  • Spending patterns and habits, especially as it relates to buying things that remind them of their country of origin or products that are more U.S. specific

Finally, remember to add the human factor into your data-gathering efforts. In this Toolbox.com article, it says:

Internal CRM and DMPs are limited to a closed picture of consumer sentiment and preferences. In other words, it cannot highlight opportunities outside your existing customer base. Therefore you need third-party research, as well as A/B experiments with focus groups. 

Look for customer insights across different cities and regions relevant to your targeted cultural group. Next, conduct A/B tests to figure out which messaging, product traits, and visual elements resonate with this group.

In short, data-driven marketing decisions guide your strategies and plans; help you know what is working and what isn’t; give you intel on what tactics to test and try; give you clarity on who to market to, in what ways, where, when, and how; and where and when to shift gears or stay the course. Most importantly, you don’t have to wait until a campaign’s conclusion to let data do its work. Tracking and assessing regularly ensures greater success and faster modifications on strategies and campaigns from start to finish.

2. Avoid getting to know your target market.

Without really and truly knowing your ideal consumers, you can’t guarantee your marketing messages will actually reach or resonate with them. Furthermore, you may misrepresent them or worse, exclude them.

On the other hand, creating your buyers’ persona, identifying your campaign’s objectives, and determining which stage of the marketing funnel you’d like to take your consumers to help you get to know and reach your target market.

Juanita Velez, Multicultural Marketing Expert and Founder of HYPE, encourages marketers to drill down on their consumers by asking the following: 

  • Who do we want [to engage with the brand or the campaign] that represents our company’s culture and fulfills our objective?
  • Should we have more than one [campaign] for different audiences?
  • Who do we need represented to ensure the [marketing message] is diverse and caters to all of our [customers, clients, etc.]? 

Knowing your target demographic will help you factor in cultural differences, steer clear of stereotypes, and empathize with the nuanced differences within each group. Finally, as you get clarity on the answers to the above-listed questions, use the data to guide your strategic sessions and campaign planning and execution processes.

3. Fail to involve the right people in the planning, testing, and approval stages.

Not including members of your target market in the planning, testing, and approval phases means risking getting your brand messaging right. After all, you don’t want your brand to end up in a post entitled 5 Big Brands That Got Multicultural Marketing Wrong, do you? To prevent a campaign catastrophe, follow the advice Wil Hart, writer at Simple Marketing, shares: 

The best way to get multicultural marketing right is to ensure that your campaigns go through a series of approval processes that involve a diverse team, lead by management who is willing to embrace opinions other than their own, to provide varying perspectives. This starts with investing in a customer-centric approach to marketing—meaning getting to know your target audience intimately to understand their thoughts, feelings, sensitivities, needs, and opinions. Regularly connecting with your target audience and focusing on what resonates with them minimizes the risk of ignoring major blind spots. Such an approach can prevent poor ideation and careless oversights because your team is going to detect them before it’s too late.

Involving your ideal consumer in the planning, testing, and approval phases could look like:

  • Holding focus groups to get initial feedback on strategic planning ideas
  • Hiring consultants to be part of your team’s brainstorming process
  • Inviting a group of brand ambassadors who love your product or service and who represent your target audience to give you candid feedback on everything from your buyer personas, campaign objectives, tactics, and more
  • Employing experts on your team who get or are part of your target market
  • Creating a multicultural marketing style guide with processes, a checklist, copy and image guidelines, do’s and don’ts lists, and more to ensure your internal and external team are on the same page about your brand’s campaigns, especially as it relates to diversity in Influencer Marketing topics and processes

4. Let your ignorance shine through.

Ignorance may be bliss in some circumstances. But, when it comes to multicultural marketing, it isn’t an excuse. Yurir Boykiv, Co-Founder and CEO, Gravity Media, in his article entitled: “Lessons From History’s Worst Multicultural Marketing Campaigns,” shared:

“… big [campaign] mistakes all stem from ignorance, a lack of perspective, and sometimes tastelessness. While multicultural marketing is highly important, you can’t rush your campaign. Your marketing team or agency needs to fully understand cultural nuances, research ethnic histories, and conduct thorough market research before embarking on a campaign.”

Instead of pleading ignorance, do your research, dive into the cultural nuances of your target market, ensure you have experts on your team who speak the language, including slang. Be sure to use inclusive language. If you’re representing a large but diverse audience (the Hispanic/Latino U.S. community, for example), include members you’re targeting in your planning, testing, and approval phases. In short, market to the one, creating many targeted campaigns if you have to, instead of hoping a spray and pray approach will drive results.

5. Check the box when you’ve met your quota.

If you think you’ve reached DEI and multicultural status by checking a quota box, think again!

Headstart.io, a human resources applicant screening platform, shares in a blog post: 

[diversity and inclusion is] about making sure every employee has the same fair treatment at every touchpoint, from recruitment, hiring, promotion, and continual support throughout their career. 

Additionally, in a recent Forbes articles, it states:

There is a big difference between adding diverse voices to a group and actually engaging those voices.

For diversity to have any impact, you need the group to want to engage, adapt and change in response to the diverse perspectives. That is why strict quotas generally do not work. If groups are determined to not listen to perspectives and ideas from diverse voices, it is extremely difficult to force them to do so.

To achieve DEI best practices on your Influencer Marketing campaigns, avoid simply checking diversity quota boxes on your internal, third party, and Influencer Marketing campaign teams. Instead, encourage fair treatment and create safety and opportunity for all voices.

6. Don’t focus only on race in your diversity marketing campaigns.

For some, diversity may appear to be synonymous with race. Yes! Including diverse races and paying them fairly in your Influencer Marketing campaigns is important. However, race isn’t the only thing that makes up consumers in your brand’s target demographic. Although, while on that note, avoid use the token diverse person. Just because you are including one person of a different race does not make it a diversity-friendly marketing campaign. Additionally, consider:

  • Ethnicity or cultural backgrounds and traditions
  • Religion
  • Socioeconomic statuses
  • Body shapes and sizes
  • Preferences
  • Gender (assigned and identities)
  • Sexual orientations
  • Abilities
  • Influencer levels (macro to nano)
  • Age
  • Political persuasion

In Ann Gynn’s post on Content Marketing Institute entitled: Diversity and Content Marketing: How Brands Can Be More Inclusive, she states:

Your audience members want to see themselves in your content and no single image can convey that. More importantly, they want to know that you see them—physically, geographically, psychologically, etc. They want to make sure you get their needs, their pain points, their thoughts.

Then, she added this important caveat:

… your audiences aren’t always thinking about themselves. They want to see more than one type of person or voice in your content. A 2019 consumer survey by Google and The Female Quotient revealed that 64 percent of all respondents took some action after seeing an ad they considered to be diverse or inclusive.

7. Don’t take accountability if you get it wrong.

Because companies and organizations are made up of imperfect humans, getting DEI and diversity in Influencer Marketing 100 percent right all the time isn’t likely. Simply put, you’re bound to screw up sometime. It could be by not making room for a diverse group of people on your campaigns. It could be representing your target market wrong in your Influencer Marketing. Or, it could be interacting inappropriately with influencer partners or requiring brand messaging that misses the mark. Avoiding the common mistakes in DEI and inclusive marketing will take you a long way, but be prepared for when you take a misstep by doing the following:

  • Anticipate how you might get diversity in Influencer Marketing wrong, including on your Influencer Marketing campaigns.
  • Assess the risks and costs to your business of taking that misstep.
  • Create a crisis management plan, detailing what you will do and say in these types of situations.
  • Pull together a crisis management team, including seasoned PR professionals, legal representatives, spokespeople from your organization trained in crisis management and communications, etc.
  • Monitor buzz and feedback beyond before, during, and after a crisis.
  • Communicate early and with care, concern, and empathy. First, listen and if appropriate, validate. Next, apologize, where necessary. And finally, share how you will right the wrong. If your misstep was with influencer relationships or Influencer Marketing campaigns, take these steps directly with the influencers involved.
  • Enact a plan to help change public perception, including influencer involvement. Consider getting and implementing feedback at this stage from your target audience, including influencer partners.

Wrapping It All Up

Committing to DEI as a brand and on your campaigns is critical. You should not have a “one and done” mentality when it comes to diversity in campaign. Instead, brands should focus on being a truly inclusive brand. Keep in mind that it’s important to not lose sight of the brand’s voice, tone, and message. Diversity in Influencer Marketing is about more than getting the terms right and agreeing it makes great business sense. Specifically, it is about doing the following to ensure your diversity practices are buttoned up:

  1. Pay attention to the data.
  2. Get to know your target market.
  3. Involve the right people in the planning, testing, and approval stages.
  4. Make sure your ignorance doesn’t shine through.
  5. Look beyond what you’ve done once you check that you’ve met your quota. 
  6. Focus on other aspects of diversity—in addition to race—to make sure you have diversity in your campaigns. 
  7. Take accountability if you get it wrong.

Next Steps

Want to learn more about diversity in Influencer Marketing? 

Streamlining Your Influencer Marketing Campaign Management Process
5 Thanksgiving Influencer Marketing Campaign Ideas