Risks and Benefits of Whitelisting For Creators
If you’re an influencer, chances are brands have asked if they can whitelist your account. Most influencers have absolutely no idea what whitelisting actually means. As more and more brands are using influencer whitelisting as a core part of their marketing budget, it’s important for you to understand the whitelisting process, why it’s beneficial to brands, and what the risks and benefits are to you.
Influencer whitelisting involves the influencer granting a brand partner advertising permissions to their Facebook Page or Instagram account. Invented in 2014 by Twitter, whitelisting is now quite popular on Facebook and Instagram. When whitelisting is done correctly, the brand partner can create and pay for Facebook and Instagram ads on behalf of the influencer. Whitelisting allows brands to leverage great influencer content with added benefits like:
- Having complete control over who sees the influencer’s “whitelisted” post. Brands can even target the post to people who don’t follow the influencer.
- Being able to make minor edits or tweaks to the influencer’s post, on both the copy and creative. Note that a good brand partner will always show the influencer what the edited post is like, either by using a tool like SocialCert or by emailing the influencer a link to the edited post.
- Extend the reach and shelf life of an influencer’s post, which is especially important for Instagram stories since they expire after 24 hours.
Unlike Facebook and Instagram’s Branded Content Tool, whitelisting allows brands the freedom to create ads that are slightly different than the original posts in order to deliver better marketing performance. This includes adding a call to action like “Shop Now”, changing the copy to be more “urgent”, and even editing the image/video/carousel. Whitelisting also allows brands to use influencer audience data in order to get the whitelisted ad in front of the perfect consumer (called “creating custom and lookalike audiences”).
As an influencer, how do you exactly complete a whitelist request? There are three main ways:
- Give your username and password to whoever is requesting the whitelisting access and hope that they don’t hijack your account. It goes without saying, but worth saying anyways -- NEVER DO THIS!
- Grant permissions via the Facebook Business Manager, which might require you to create a new Facebook Business Manager if you don’t already have one. This approach typically requires you to know your way in Facebook advertising tools. Your brand partner would likely send you instructions via a PDF file, but if you have issues, you’ll need to contact the brand/agency and resolve it on a phone call.
- Grant permissions via SocialCert. If your brand/agency partner is requesting whitelisting permissions via a tool called SocialCert, you will receive an email with a button that takes you through an automated flow. After 3 clicks, you’re all done! If you already have a SocialCert account, it takes just 1 click to confirm.
While whitelisting is very advantageous for brands and influencers (more on the benefits to influencers below), there are some big inherent risks. Before granting whitelisting permissions, make sure you trust and vet the brand or agency. A partner who has whitelisting access to your account can create ANY ad and run it through your account. The partner can also target ANYONE, including over-saturating your audience to the point of annoyance.
As you can imagine, the risks from whitelisting can be quite scary to influencers, especially because it only takes one rogue partner to jeopardize your account. This is why SocialCert was built by the team at Lumanu. SocialCert is specifically for influencers, to help them better manage who has permissions to their accounts and data. Unlike whitelisting done through other methods, whitelisting done via SocialCert gives influencers complete visibility into how their partners are using the whitelisting permissions. SocialCert also gives influencers the ability to automatically disconnect a partner as soon as the contractual terms of the whitelisting request is completed. As an added benefit, SocialCert also pipes brand marketing data back to the influencer, giving them visibility into how their content performs across a wider audience.
Now that the scary part is over, what exactly are the benefits of whitelisting to influencers?
Benefits of Whitelisting for Influencers
1. Extended Reach
One of the most significant advantages of whitelisting to creators is that it increases their audience outreach. Whitelisting helps brands tap into a wider, like-minded audience while at the same time exposes the creator to new audiences who may not have interacted with their social channels before. Brands are essentially paying to put your content in front of people who are most likely to follow you!
2. Growth in Fan Base
The boost in visibility can quickly generate a much larger fan base. If the posts are attractive and engaging enough, users will likely to share them or start following their channel. This can also lead to greater brand awareness and audience engagement.
3. Boost Engagement
Influencers can experience exponential growth with their engagement as a result of whitelisted content. Research from InfluencerDB suggests that sponsored posts tend to generate higher engagement than non-sponsored posts, likely because influencers put more effort into creating high-quality content when they're being sponsored and because Instagram's algorithms give higher precedence to “higher quality” posts.
4. Improve Content
Amplification of influencer-generated content allows both brands and creators to keep a close watch on the performance of posts. Monitoring and tracking these results gives brands key insights they need to run campaigns well and also provides creators feedback on how certain content performs.
5. Develop Lasting Relationships
In most cases, whitelisting is a win-win strategy for both brands and creators. Brands can tap into the organic audience of the influencer using their authentic voice, and influencers can experience a bump in exposure and subsequent follower growth. This relationship can pave the way for creating long-term professional partnerships and more genuinely effective influencer marketing.