The Value of DEI for Influencer Marketing

Consumers are increasingly searching for brands that align with their personal values and ideals. As a result, brands need to be more than the cheapest or best option – they need to promote products and their brand values on websites and social media to influence purchasing decisions and attract potential customers.

We’re in the midst of a moral crisis that reached its peak during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the summer of 2020. Demonstrations not only brought centuries of injustice to light, but served as a wakeup call to people, brands, and lawmakers that change is overdue.

Consumers took notice. From their perspective, brands must take a stand, too. Businesses can’t afford to stay silent, and finally, ethics and authentic marketing efforts are part of business success, not a hindrance to it.

Yet, marketing doesn’t often reflect the way communities look. Diversity, equity, and inclusion should be core values for any business, and those values should be reflected in social media influencer marketing campaigns and branded content.

What is DEI?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a concept that creates an environment where everyone is welcomed, valued, and provided opportunity. “Everyone” means everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender, age, ability, or socioeconomic status.

DEI also means acknowledging the systems and processes that perpetuate division, oppression, and discrimination and seeking to create new systems that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

DEI in Marketing

As mentioned, the market trends have consumers moving toward purchasing from brands with values that align with their own. According to the Consumer Culture Report, the majority of millennials believe it’s crucial for the brands they support to align with their values.[1]

Furthermore, 70 percent of consumers believe that it’s important for brands to take a strong position on social and political issues.[2] Over two thirds of consumers surveyed said that they’ve taken action after watching an ad that portrayed inclusion or diversity.

So, what does this look like in practice?

For some brands, exclusivity is what helps a product sell. Inclusivity becomes a challenge in these marketing campaigns, but it helps potential customers connect with the brand and realize it’s for them.

Diversity is about being invited, while inclusion is about feeling welcomed and included. In marketing efforts, this means ensuring that images, copy, messaging, and other details are across a range of media to reach everyone and promote brand awareness. A brand ambassador and DEI campaigns are a great way to accomplish this.

For those with disabilities, this means that the messaging may not be communicated to them. Content should be optimized for people with disabilities, such as including voice search and subtitles or transcription for video, to get higher engagement rates.

DEI in Influencer Marketing to Grow Your Business

According to a Mavrck survey that included over 500 social media influencers, including YouTube influencers and Instagram influencers, 78 percent of participants have shared content related to diversity or social injustice since the beginning of 2020.[3] Almost all respondents said they would engage in collaboration or guest post if the campaign aligned with their values related to social justice.

Influencers believe that they’re underrepresented and that brands aren’t doing enough to support DEI within influencer marketing strategies and influencer content.

Younger social influencers are more likely to show support for DEI. Brands need to show diverse people engaging with products and have a responsibility to alter marketing to represent multiple perspectives. In addition, young content creators put more value in brand partnerships that prioritize diverse influencers to promote their brands and products on a social platform.

The message matters to the audience, too. Audiences react positively to DEI content from influencers and show increased engagement on Facebook and Instagram. Authentic campaigns that focus on social justice and diversity connect with an audience that’s trying to be part of the movement.

There’s another benefit to DEI with influencer marketing – diverse content creators have insights into new ways to approach DEI in a brand’s campaign. Brands should consult with successful influencers in brand partnerships to get ideas and inspiration for diversity and inclusion in campaigns.

When it comes to a micro-influencer, a diverse influencer has a lot of value. While they may not have the biggest follower count, these influencers have a passionate and loyal following with a better engagement rate across multiple types of social media, such as Facebook and Instagram. It’s important to choose influencers that truly believe in a brand, however, and align with the brand’s messaging.

Keep in mind as well that a celebrity influencer or successful influencers with a high follower count are in demand, so creators can choose to work with brands that show the values they want. If DEI matters to the influencer with a loyal following, an inauthentic effort to be more DEI-compliant will ring false.

Diversity needs to be the focus, not an afterthought, to grow your business. One campaign in response to a topic issue isn’t enough – brands need to embrace DEI as a marketing tactic within and across campaigns, brand messaging, and branded content.

Representation Matters

The key takeaway of this research is that DEI is more important than ever, and marketers are taking notice. In addition to marketing efforts, brands need to look for diverse influencer marketing agencies and social influencers to promote brands and products that align with their values and prioritize diversity and inclusion.