Discover all you need to know about whitelisting influencers: what it is, how it benefits both brands and content creators, and how to set it up.
You’ve for sure heard of blacklisting, but have you heard of whitelisting? If not, don't worry. You're in the right place.
Meta has been busy at work expanding its range of features to support partnerships between creators and brands. These features include building branded content tags, incorporating more monetization opportunities for creators, and giving brands and creators more and more ways to collaborate.
Businesses and creators alike have taken advantage of these tools to build stronger relationships and create more authentic ads. One particularly popular way of achieving this in recent years has been through influencer whitelisting for social media ads.
What is influencer whitelisting?
Whitelisting is when an influencer/content creator grants a partner brand permission to advertise through their social media accounts. This means that the brand can then use the influencer’s handle for their paid ads.
How is whitelisting different from regular social media ads?
At this point, you might still be wondering how whitelisting is different from regular social ads. And that’s a valid question.
Basically, it works like this:
- Regular brand ad: Run through the brand’s account and repurposes influencer content under the brand’s name.
- Whitelisted ad: Run through the influencer’s account, with the influencer’s content under the influencer’s name.
When it comes to influencer marketing, most people think of those #sponsored posts that influencers share on their personal accounts. You've probably seen these posts, like the one below:
In influencer marketing collaborations, brands usually repurpose this type of content as paid ads for their own channels. Take athleisure brand Halara for example. The brand went viral on TikTok and Instagram, and it owes part of its success to its strategy of working with influencers to create ad content.
What whitelisting does is take that collaboration to the next level. Instead of brands uploading repurposed content to their own ad accounts (which means the ads show the brand’s handle), they work through the influencer’s account to run ads with the influencer’s handle.
Influencer whitelisting opens up the possibility to use dark posting as well. And while that sounds like something really sinister, it’s not. Dark posting simply means that paid ads don’t appear on an influencer’s profile or in their stories. In fact, their followers won’t even see the ad unless specifically targeted. So brands can create a slew of content without asking the influencer to clog up their feed.
Another important benefit of whitelisting is the ability to track and measure the performance of the ads. Whitelisted ads run through the Ads Manager, so brands can track everything from impressions and clicks to conversions.
When working with regular sponsored posts, sure, you can track the ads you create using that sponsored content. But for the original content itself, you’ll have to ask the influencer to share those details with you.
So while sponsored posts are the most common form of influencer marketing, influencer whitelisting offers brands an even greater level of control, flexibility, and measurable results. By leveraging the power of influencers and their social media reach, brands can create successful advertising campaigns that resonate with their target audience and drive real business results.
Why do whitelisting in the first place?
When done well, whitelisting is a win-win situation for both brands and content creators. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
The brand can access new audiences, and the creator gets more exposure
When working through a creator’s account, the brand is able to access new audiences they wouldn’t necessarily reach from their own account. Through ad targeting, the brand can find lookalike audiences similar to the influencer’s followers, or even promote the ad among people who don’t follow the creator.
At the same time as this helps the brand get its ad in front of the right people, the creator is getting more varied exposure than they would with just their organic content. Ads are a great way to reach a lot of people fast, so the creator will see a boost in impressions and also hopefully get lots of new followers from people who saw their ad and wanted to check out their profile.
The brand can tweak content, and the creator gets a new perspective
When a creator whitelists a brand, the brand can also make small changes to the creator’s content and copy. Often, these changes are to make sure the ads are on-brand and aligned with the brand’s messaging strategy.
For creators, this can be insightful to their content creation process. They’ll be able to compare their original content to the ad version and see which changes the brand made. Learning from these changes will help the creator produce content that immediately resonates more with that specific brand, and also set up the framework for understanding what brands are looking for in general when it comes to influencer content.
Both brands and creators get the most out of their content
Some types of social media content are only visible for a fixed time period. Instagram stories, for example, can only be seen for 24 hours. Similarly, posts and Reels can also quickly get lost if the influencer posts a lot, pushing specific content further and further down their feed.
By converting these organic posts into ads, you can give them a longer life and help them reach a larger audience in that lifecycle.
Both brands and creators can get key insights into what content works best
In a whitelisted ad campaign, both parties can access the performance metrics for the whitelisted content. This means that brands can get insights into how to run successful campaigns, which audience segments are most receptive, and what type of content best shows off their products.
At the same time, creators see that, too. They learn what type of content—format, theme, tone, etc.—best resonates with audiences. This helps them refine their creative process and get better results from their future content.
Whitelisting builds trust in the brand-creator relationship
When we talk about influencer marketing, we talk a lot about relationships: how to activate those relationships, how to nurture those relationships, and so on. Whitelisting is a great step forward in your relationships with content creators.
When a creator gives a brand permission to work from their account, it’s a big display of trust. Think of it like this: you wouldn’t give just anyone the key to your house right? That show of trust is reserved for the closest people in your life—family, partners, and best friends. It’s the same for whitelisting.
The trust demonstrated in this process will bolster the relationship between brand and creator going forward. And that in turn will lead to an even better collaboration process, more authentic collaborations, and better results.
How to whitelist creators on Facebook and Instagram
In order to use whitelisting for social media campaigns, brands need whitelisting permissions from content creators through the Facebook Business Manager.
To start, the brand needs to set up its account on Business Manager. You can do this relatively quickly and easily, following the steps at the link above. This account must be linked to the brand’s Instagram handle and/or Facebook page.
Once the brand sets up its account, it can request that influencers add it as a business partner. To request this, you’ll need an influencer’s business manager ID, or the link to their Instagram or Facebook page.
Once they accept, the whitelisting partnership is ready to begin.
How to choose which creators to whitelist
At the end of the day, the goal of whitelisting influencers for social media ads is to secure content that will perform well for your campaigns.
So, it’s important to find creators who create unique, authentic, and creative content. This process isn’t all that different from finding your target influencers for traditional influencer marketing campaigns.
When speaking about ads though, there are a few key things to keep in mind here.
The creators should produce high-quality content
Social ads don’t require glossy, highly-edited content. But you still want someone who the audience can see and hear clearly. Look for someone who can do that while also making their content feel less like an ad and more like a video from a friend.
The creators should be on-brand
This means they align with the brand’s mission, values, and messaging strategy. This helps the ad content feel more authentic. Consumers will be confused if the ads don’t connect to what your brand is all about
The creator should help you connect to your target audience
Do a bit of research beforehand and analyze potential partners’ audience demographics. While you don’t need (or want) a total audience overlap, you want to make sure that the creators you whitelist can help you reach people who will care about what your brand can offer.
Tips for successful influencer whitelisting
Now you know how to set up whitelisting and what type of creators to whitelist. You’re ready to start! But first, to ensure that your influencer whitelisting efforts are successful, here are some tips.
Be clear about your plans and expectations
When working with influencers, it's important to be clear about your expectations from the outset. This includes things like the type of content you want them to create, how you might edit that content, how often you plan to post ads, what you hope to achieve, etc.
By laying out your plans and setting clear expectations, you can ensure that both you and the influencer are on the same page and that the collaboration runs smoothly.
Provide adequate compensation
Influencers invest a lot of time and effort into creating sponsored content for brands, and it's important to provide them with adequate compensation for their work. This can include payment, free products, or commissions on sales generated through your ads, among other things.
Adequate compensation helps to ensure that influencers are motivated to create high-quality content and that they continue to work with your brand in the future.
Start with what you know and develop as you go
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when you start up your whitelisting strategy. You’ll usually target whitelisted ads to an audience that more or less matches your existing brand community. So play off your existing successful content strategies to get started.
That said, trial and error is always a good way to discover new strategies. Test new ideas— content types, influencer types, market segments, CTAs, and copies—and just make sure you track all the relevant metrics.
Then you can analyze the results and see how you’ve done. There’s no such thing as a failure here. As long as you approach the process with an open mind, each campaign can teach you more about who you should target and how you can best communicate with them.
Whitelisting social media ads is a powerful way to get more out of your relationships with content creators. Both parties can share in increased exposure, a more streamlined process, and new insights into content creation.
Focus on finding the right person to collaborate with, and build your relationship with them. Within the scope of influencer marketing, whitelisting is a pretty intimate type of relationship, so you can’t expect to do it with just anyone right off the bat.
And once you’re ready to start whitelisting ads, remember that authentic content is king, and don’t be afraid to test out new ideas. You might be surprised by the results and uncover new strategies you hadn’t thought of before.