According to insights from 500+ influencers in the U.S. responding to a Mavrck survey sent in October focusing solely on DEI, 78 percent of them have shared content specifically related to diversity or social injustice since the start of 2020. In addition, almost all respondents — 93 percent — said they would engage in a collaboration if the campaign included messaging around social justice that they aligned with.
It’s clear that creators value the importance of DEI within the influencer marketing ecosystem and want to do their part to help make it more inclusive. It’s also apparent that many influencers think they are underrepresented, with not enough brands taking intentional actions towards supporting DEI within their influencer marketing strategies and beyond.
The below guide walks through six key insights that brand marketers can use to take action, each supported by our survey data and valuable feedback collected directly from our influencers.
6 Insights Into Action
1) Younger Influencer Support for DEI Outweighs That of Older Demographics
“Representation matters. Brands need to show all types of people engaging with their products to communicate a message of inclusion. Additionally, companies have a responsibility to change the face of advertising and media to represent multiple perspectives – not just limit it to one type of person.” – Marissa Strang, @marissa.daily
When looking at the survey data, there was a clear trend showing that the younger demographic shares DEI-related content more than the older demographic. The 25-34 age group had 81 percent saying yes to sharing DEI-related content versus only 38 percent of the 55+ age group saying yes.
Additionally, young creators place more importance on making sure their brand partners work with diverse influencers, with 66 percent of 25-34 year olds believing this is very important versus only 45 percent of the 45-54 group. Consider activating millennials for campaigns that include social justice messaging to authentically connect with younger audiences and put your words into action.
2) Influencers’ Followers Embrace DEI-Related Content
In response to asking if there are any examples of brands that are embracing diversity and inclusion well: “This is a great question because I can name more brands that have not done this well than brands that have. To me, @Express and @HM are doing a great job to continue showcasing black creators on their feed. I will start paying more attention to brands doing this well. I believe the fact that I cannot think of that many is very telling.” – Ciara Rose Freeman, @ciarafreeman_
Almost all of the respondents — 97 percent — said that their audiences react positively to the DEI-related content that they share, leading to steady or increased engagement on this content. In fact, 49 percent of respondents said that their average engagement rate stayed the same while 27 percent saw higher engagement rates compared to their average.
Don’t be afraid to launch a campaign that authentically revolves around social justice and connect with your audience on a deeper level while they too are trying to be allies. Be sure to check out Mavrck’s Guide to Inclusive Influencer Marketing for more recommendations from our team and creators.
3) Leverage Influencers for DEI Input
“A brand had offered to do a collaboration with me, because I am white-passing. I am actually of mixed descent, so I am half Latinx and half white. I went to this brand’s page and noticed that the only people they featured were white with Euro-centric features. I ended up turning them down because I did not feel comfortable working with a brand that did not make it a point to include everyone in their company. – Caitlyn Juroviesky, @imaginationbycat
With 84 percent of respondents agreeing it’s important that brands work with a diverse group of influencers, marketers should always make a conscious effort to ensure their campaigns are inclusive. However, it’s surprising that only 20 percent of influencers have had brands ask them for their input on how to be more diverse and inclusive in their influencer campaigns.
This indicates that brands have a huge opportunity to leverage creators for their feedback when it comes to supporting DEI in their marketing initiatives. Always remember — if you are asking for creators’ expertise as consultants, make sure that you pay them for their valuable time and insights.
4) Treat All Influencers Equitably
“Choose influencers who truly believe in your brand and what you do, so the content is authentic and engaging. Sometimes, diverse influencers won’t have the biggest following or the most aesthetically perfect content… But the investment in their leadership is critical to social media remaining/becoming a place where every voice matters equally.” – Trystan Reese, @biffandi
When asked about brand collaboration offers that were not equitable across all influencers participating, 27 percent answered that they have experienced inequitable treatment in campaigns before. Of those willing to share more about their experiences, 58 percent said this mistreatment was due to unequal pay across influencers. Respondents also cited unfair influencer selection, with 24 percent of this group indicating they have experienced this
Brands need to make sure that, no matter what, all influencers are treated equitably. Regardless of a creators’ race, gender, sexuality, following, content type, ability, or otherwise, diverse influencers can play a variety of roles and provide value to any campaign.
5) Be Intentional About Progress Towards DEI
“It means a lot to be seen and to see someone like you. I’m Asian and the first time I really saw an Asian lead in a movie was a couple of years ago. I cried because it felt so good to finally feel seen.” – Andrea Bass, @msandiedandy
We also asked creators what they value most in brand partnerships, with 30 percent valuing ‘brand mission/philosophy/ethos’ above the rest. That group also agreed that actions should not be one-off tactics, with 32 percent of those respondents wanting brands to provide consistent support of social and racial justice.
Furthermore, one of the top answers respondents had when asked what DEI in influencer marketing means to them was that brands should be taking intentional actions towards supporting DEI. Whether this means hiring diverse employees (including C-level executives) or posting more inclusive content throughout all marketing initiatives, brands should put their words into action and genuinely support DEI consistently.
6) Diversity Should be a Priority, Not an Afterthought
“I think diversity is THE step (not A step) in the right direction. Our differences make us unique yet interesting. We are all drawn to human connection and embracing those differences breaks down the barriers.” – Jonathan David Maner, @jd_maner
When asked what DEI in influencer marketing means to creators, the number one answer was that there should always be equal and fair representation of diverse groups within campaigns, according to 38 percent of respondents. The second top answer, which is tied very closely to the first, was that 29 percent of these respondents want to see collaboration opportunities for everyone.
In order to achieve this diverse representation, start with diversifying your influencer persona types during your campaign planning process and make a conscious effort to include a wide variety of diverse personas who represent your consumers.
With so many influencers believing they are underrepresented and so few brands taking intentional actions necessary to embrace DEI within their marketing and companies, what is preventing you from shifting your influencer marketing and overall organization in a way that’s more inclusive? Read the full Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Survey Insights Report by clicking here and please feel free to reach out to [email protected] if you have any feedback or questions — We’d love to hear from you!