From Marketing Brew, April 18, 2023:

Much has been written about the ongoing issue of influencer inequity, but what’s actually being done about it?

For the last three years, communications agency M Booth—which has worked with clients like Morton Salt and Johnson & Johnson on influencer marketing campaigns—has been working on a how-to guide to help combat inequity in influencer marketing campaigns beyond just pay.

“There are so many places where bias and inequity creeps in,” Amy Shoenthal, SVP at M Booth, told Marketing Brew. “There’s algorithmic bias to navigate, there’s microaggressions during the feedback loop when you’re working with partners and addressing what they’ve already given you, there’s a lack of access to events and brands and opportunities.”

The Influencer Equity Playbook, as it’s called, aims to address these topics and provide steps to remedy them based on conversations with influencers, marketers, and other agencies. According to Shoenthal, the hope is to “put a stake in the ground” and contribute to the industry dialogue on how to address inequity in influencer marketing.

Taking the first step

Since M Booth started working on the playbook in 2020, Shoenthal said she’s seen more awareness around influencer equity issues, but she “[doesn’t] think enough progress has been made.”

“It is one thing to encourage change; it’s another to actually make changes.”

According to Shoenthal, M Booth did an audit of its own influencer campaigns and found that many things, including pay, were inconsistent across the agency. For that reason, M Booth made training based on the playbook mandatory for all employees before rolling it out to the public.

Recently, Shoenthal said she offered an influencer of color more than what she had asked for based on what M Booth had budgeted for other creators in the campaign. “The responses you get from an email like that, you can only imagine how rewarding they are,” she said.

Though Shoenthal said it can be hard to standardize rates given differences in goals and expectations across campaigns, the playbook encourages marketers to look at things like influencers’ average video views and engagement rates and aim for equitable pay.

The playbook also provides guidance on things like how to ID diverse influencers and look beyond the algorithms, as well as how to be mindful of words and phrases that “can be seen as microaggressions within specific communities,” like calling something “not a culture fit.”

Living document

Shoenthal said the playbook is “by no means finite” and expects people across the industry to weigh in and help it “evolve and grow” once they’ve had the chance to read it.

Her hope is the playbook won’t be relevant in the next couple of years because the industry will have figured out how to address inequity, saying that “we’re probably a long way from there, but that’s the big, audacious goal.”

In the meantime, she said, those who don’t evolve to diversify and fairly compensate their creators could be putting their brands’ bottom lines at risk: “Every day, the American consumer gets more and more diverse,” she said. “You don’t want to fall behind.”

Read the article by Marketing Brew here.

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