June 23, 2020: Diversity and inclusion in influencer marketing; inside TikTok’s algorithm; YouTube rebrands creator platform; Instagram tests expansion of Shopping Tags
Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:
Diversity and Inclusion in Influencer Marketing
A growing number of brands and agencies have begun laying out actionable plans to combat diversity problems — many of which are including influencer diversity in their paths forward.
Let’s set the stage.
In the influencer marketing industry, not only have Black influencers been under-represented and underpaid compared to their white counterparts, but they have also faced the issue of racially biased algorithms, many of which have been called out for privileging content from white people on platforms like TikTok and Twitter. This is a huge problem.
So, what are brands doing?
Some brands have shared exact percentages around influencer diversity. Milk Makeup, for instance, has publicly announced a goal of having at least 50% of the creators it features to be from BIPOC communities and it also plans to work with 50% people of color when it comes to creatives, such as photographers and stylists. Sephora was the first major retailer to make the 15% Pledge, a nonprofit started by Aurora James that asks retailers to commit to dedicating 15% of their inventory to Black-owned businesses.
What are influencers saying?
“Brands need to convince audiences that they are serious about [catering to] a diverse customer base. You can’t do that by using a Black influencer once a year and calling it a day.” – Natasha Ndlovu, a fashion influencer based in London
The influencer marketing industry, like countless others, has long lacked diversity and, as a result, is now facing a reckoning. While the majority of brands have pledged support for the movement, consumers are demanding more than a simple supportive post or adding more Black voices on their feeds only when it’s trending. For so long, consumers have been demanding brands be more inclusive in their marketing efforts, with 69% of Gen Z and millennials saying they think it’s positive for brands to feature diverse models in an ad. Although white influencers received 61% of sponsorship opportunities in 2019, down from 73% five years ago, in the eyes of consumers this is not enough.
Brands need to rebuild their marketing strategies to make up for past blindspots and move beyond the common reliance on a few token influencers of color. Not only do brands have a responsibility to ensure that their influencer marketing campaigns are represented by diverse influencers, but also have a responsibility to diversify the creative and management teams building the campaigns. Of course, a large part of this includes expanding hiring talent pools and, for influencer recruitment, includes collaborating with Black influencers for longer-term campaigns and hiring them as brand ambassadors.
Insider Look: TikTok’s Algorithm
In an attempt to provide added transparency, TikTok has published a new blog post explaining exactly how its recommendations algorithm works, and how videos gain traction (or don’t) on its platform.
Give me the deets.
The system recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors — starting from interests you express as a new user and adjusting for things you indicate you’re not interested in —all of which form the personalized For You feed. According to TikTok, recommendations are based on a number of factors, such as:
User interactions: TikTok factors in the videos you like and/or share, the accounts you follow, the comments you post, and the content you create. If, for instance, you post clips using a certain hashtag, you’re likely to see content with the same hashtag in your feed.
Video information: This could include details like captions, specific sounds and songs and hashtags.
Device and account settings: Lesser influencing factors are things such as your language preference, your country setting and your mobile device type. TikTok says these factors are considered in order to deliver optimal presentation, but they aren’t weighted the same as the other two.
TikTok is working very hard to establish itself as a major player in the social media space, highlighting its transparency by the addition of a new Transparency Center in LA, further distancing itself from its Chinese roots by appointing a former Disney exec as its CEO and, most recently, explaining exactly how its algorithm works.
In addition to the short videos on TikTok, what makes the platform so addictive is largely a function of how it leverages AI to inform its algorithm. Unlike Facebook and the majority of social networks that optimize their news feed algorithms based off who you’ve engaged with and followed (leaving you limited to the confines of who you’re connected to), TikTok’s AI optimizes based on what content you’ve engaged with, leveraging thousands of tags pers single piece of content to do so. In an environment like TikTok, content creators are able to amass followings because of the content they publish — not just because of who they are or how many followers they have.
YouTube Rebrands its Creator Platform
FameBit, YouTube’s influencer marketing platform acquired by Google in 2016, has undergone a rebrand and is now called YouTube BrandConnect.
Besides the name, what else has changed?
YouTube BrandConnect will nix its self-service offering, and will only focus on its professional services, where a team of experts proactively match creators with brands and provide end-to-end campaign management and delivery. It’s easy to see why — the company said creators earn 30x more from full-service deals compared to self-service and self-service only represented 4% of total Famebit payouts to creators
What’s the goal of the new program?
For brands, the goal of the revamped program is to provide measurable campaigns related to their branded content deals with top YouTube creators. In line with this objective, YouTube has added new measurement tools, like Brand Interest Lift, Influencer Lift and organic view-through conversions, to more directly see the impact of their influencer marketing campaigns. As well, YouTube has introduced new ad tech, such as the shopping shelf and app shelf, to help viewers buy products and download apps being discussed in creators’ videos directly from the watch page.
For creators, YouTube claims its insights-based matchmaking tools allow for access to more branded content deals. Over the past two years, the average deal size resulting from these matches across the full-service platform grew more than 260%, according to the company.
We’ve always believed that the platform that invests most in the creator experience and creator monetization will maintain creators’ preference and market share. YouTube, like all social media platforms, wants in on the explosive growth of the influencer economy, which is set to reach $15 billion by 2022. Of course, all platforms are competing to become creators’ platform of choice. Over the past few months, we’ve seen Facebook revamp its Brand Collabs Manager tool, we’ve seen TikTok launch its Creator Marketplace, and now, we’re seeing YouTube’s Creator tool undergo a rebrand.
Instagram Tests Expansion of Shopping Tags
As Instagram continues to double down in all-things ecommerce, it’s testing a range of new in-app shopping tools, most recently including the expansion of shopping tags.
Some Instagram profiles now have the ability to add product tags in their post captions, which, when tapped, takes users to a shoppable product page. Instagram has been testing the option with a small group of accounts in the U.S. that already have access to the Checkout feature.
Although still in limited testing, if rolled out, this would be huge — for brands, influencers and consumers alike. While brands already have access to Shopping Tags, which appear in post images, this would give users another place to click to shop, further accelerating users’ paths-to-purchase.