Influencer whitelisting is a process where an influencer gives permission to a brand to access their social media accounts, and run ads from it. Brands will have access to the influencer's handle for running ads that are pushed straight from the influencers social media account.
So instead of putting your digital marketing budget towards traditional, organic, one-off posts — influencer whitelisting provides something way more lucrative. You're able to get higher reach, engagement, and frequency beyond the 24 hour period of the influencer's post.
But most are still yet to understand how to execute such partnerships with influencers, and at scale.
We're going to take you through our approach to influencer whitelisting, the considerations you need to take into account throughout the whitelisting process, and a step-by-step on how to whitelist an influencer account.
Influencer Whitelisting: What You Need To Know
Before we dive into the practical steps of influencer whitelisting, here are some of the common questions that come up when getting started.
What's the difference between influencer organic posts & influencer whitelisting?
Let's clear any confusion up front on this.
Social media platforms and their algorithms have increasingly limited reach. So this means influencer organic social posts aren't being seen by as many people as they used to. As a by-product of this, influencer organic posts have become far less effective for distribution into an influencer's audience to achieve campaign objectives.
Influencer whitelisting (or influencer sponsored ads) takes away the reliance on the influencer to organically post your branded content. Instead, you are given the ability to advertise directly through an influencer's social media account.
By comparison to influencer organic posts, influencer whitelisting has the potential for unlimited reach, engagement, and frequency — given the fact that you're in complete control of the distribution via paid media.
To be clear on this point — with influencer whitelisting you aren't at the mercy of the social algorithms. They can't limit the number of people within the audience you're able to reach.
Through influencer whitelisting, advertisers are able to access and put the influencer ads in front of every single one of their followers — even those who aren't followers but have engaged with their content in the last 365 days. And, at a frequency of your choosing. You don't have to worry about a one-off post, being seen by only 10% of their audience, and the whole one-and-done post.
What is influencer whitelisting & how does it fit into your influencer marketing strategy?
Influencer whitelisting ads enable you to build out an actual customer journey. Instead of having a one-off post with limited traction, advertisers are now able to build out a full-funnel. This funnel is consistent with specific content with the influencer for each step of the customer journey they are walking their followers through.
Even if you have partnerships with several influencers who are posting a few times per month, instead of one-offs, this is still not nurturing a customer journey.
Why? You're still hitting the same limited audience, just with different content.
Similar to executing an organic influencer post, you begin serving the influencer whitelisting ad to their audience, consisting of their Instagram account and Facebook followers, and engagers of the last 365 days.
When an influencer posts organically a one-off or series of post, this is the beginning and end of their ability to take viewers through a customer journey. It's the only audience segment that an organic post will (and can) target.
In comparison, the advantage of influencer whitelisting posts is the opportunity it provides to serve multiple stages of the customer journey.
How influencer whitelisting can be used at each stage of the customer journey
Here's how you should position uniquely curated influencer content against the marketing funnel.
- First touchpoint — the influencer whitelisting ad is served to the influencer's followers and engagers.
- Second touchpoint — following the influencer ad being served to the followers and engagers at the top of the funnel, you then position an additional influencer ad targeting people who engaged or viewed their initial video as the second touchpoint of the customer journey. Hot tip: We specifically recommend building an audience out consisting of people who watch at least 75% of the influencer's initial video — which is something you can't do when serving content via organic influencer posts.
- Third touchpoint — These initial two touchpoints should be followed up with content speaking to recent website visitors, driven by the ads you were previously running at touchpoints 1 and 2.
- Fourth touchpoint — Then you follow up with content targeted to individuals that had added to cart or checked out that were driven by the ads through steps 1-3.
As you can see, we're no longer talking about one-off posts. You begin to build out unique influencer content that helps your brand reach new audiences and drive conversions, all because you are serving the funnel and reaching specific audiences.
The benefits of influencer whitelisting for advertisers (over organic posts)
While boosting an influencer organic post is still considered an ad, influencer whitelisting ads are created through Ads Manager and offer far greater advanced customization solutions.
Let's get specific.
Through influencer whitelisting (instead of organic boosted posts) you can:
Use specific ad objectives
Choosing an ad objective early on will help you to focus on which campaign type best aligns with your current business goals including brand awareness, conversions, and engagement.
With boosted posts, you can only focus on website clicks, page engagement, and local business promotions. Basically, only brand awareness type objectives.
So if your business goals include revenue or ROI metrics, boosted posts are not the way to leverage influencers.
Influencer whitelisting lends itself to the full ads system in Ads Manager where you're able to choose objectives like store traffic, conversions, and lead generation.
If you care about influencers lending ROI/ROAS/Revenue, you need to optimize for conversions through the use of influencer whitelisting in comparison to boosted posts.
To be transparent, you're literally burning money if you're not optimizing for conversions. And let's be honest, you really only care about conversions and their ROI/ROAS, right?
Maintain creative control
With influencer whitelisting ads created through Ads Manager, you can design an ad that fits your goals.
This includes carousel ads, being able to add specific descriptions, and a call-to-action button all aimed at helping your audience take action (Btw, we recommend the 'Shop Now' CTA).
And this is only a few of the creative and formatting options available in Ads Manager that are not available when boosting a post from an influencer's account.
Boosted posts don't give advertisers any creative control. Meaning, you've got to boost the influencer's organic post the way it is.
So you're left with a single asset to run, unable to create iterations off it, and you have no control over the ad copywriting.
Use advanced targeting capabilities
Boosting posts lets you decide on interests, age, and gender for your ad targeting. But that's it. With influencer whitelisting ads, you can use more advanced tools to create overlapping audience types and lookalike audiences — so you can get really specific with your targeted audience.
Choose different ad placements
When you boost a post, you'll be able to check or uncheck whether or not you want to place your ad in Instagram in addition to Facebook mobile and desktop news feed.
Buuut with whitelisting ads, you have the ability to optimize for all placements, which is always recommend. You get the added benefit of choosing placements in Facebook News Feed side ads, Messenger ads, Instagram stories, instant articles, and Audience Network.
So. many. choices.
The benefits of influencer whitelisting for content creators — it's a win-win
Beyond the advantages for the advertiser or brand, influencer whitelisting is beneficial for content creators too.
Seeing as the content can surpass the limitations of the algorithm, as a creator you can reach new audiences, increase your own brand awareness, and grow your following.
On the reporting side, content creators are able to keep track of the content with the best engagement rates while brands can use these insights to optimise their influencer marketing campaigns.
And of course, the influencer wouldn't be giving all access to their social media account if they didn't see you as a trusted brand partner.
The ROI of influencer whitelisting and how much it costs
The ad amount should be guided by the influencer's audience size.
If you're working with a macro-influencer with 1M followers in comparison to a micro-influencers with 10k followers, your budget for ad spend will be substantially different when targeting their audiences via Facebook and Instagram ads.
So what is a practical way to calculate how you should budget for this, based on the influencer's audience size?
Follow this simple formula:
CPM (Cost Per 1000 impressions) / 1000 (Impressions) =
X (Ad Spend Budget) / Influencer Audience Size
Let's run this formula with an example of HelloFresh's influencer collaboration with Jessica Alba.
If we're targeting Jessica Alba's audience, we want to work out how much we should budget for ad spend if we want to make sure every single one of her followers is served this ad.
We can conservatively project CPMs will be $10 when targeting her audience of 19.4M.
To calculate the amount of ad spend it would take to serve an ad to every single one of Jessica Alba's Instagram followers, the formula would now look like this:
$10 (Cost Per Impressions) / 1000 (Impressions) =
X (Ad Spend Budget) / 19,400,000
That would mean X — your required ad spend to reach every single person in her audience — equals $194,000.
Keep in mind that this ad spend would only serve ads to every single follower and engager at a frequency of 1, meaning they would only see this content one time.
We recommend to make sure to budget enough ad spend to ensure you hit at least a frequency of 2, so you're serving Jessica Alba's HelloFresh content to her audience at least twice. So, $194,000 x 2 = $388,000 in Ad Spend.
Now, we know not everyone has this kind of budget to work with celebrity influencers like Jessica Alba. You can still use this formula across any micro-influencer too. For example, if you were working with a micro-influencer with 50,000 followers, it's only cost you $500 to serve an ad to every single person within that influencer's audience — and $1000 for serving it twice.
No matter how big or small the audience size of the influencers you are working with, this formula will help your team project the needed ad spend to make the most out of your influencer paid media partnerships.
The limitations of whitelisting influencer content and how to overcome them — a cautionary tale
Our team came across an unexpected problem when running whitelisting partnerships. We failed to realize that brands wouldn't be able to respond directly to comments on the Facebook/Instagram ads running from the influencer's page.
This meant that the brand was unable to respond directly to comments the infleuncer's ads received, in comparison to the brand being able to freely do so when running ads directly from their own social accounts.
As you know, responding to comments quickly and effectively with sufficient customer service has shown significant lifts in performance, so we had to find a way to respond to people who required a little extra TLC before converting as a purchaser.
Before we could solve the first problem, this led to another issue ...
The influencer was constantly receiving notification on their Facebook and Instagram with comments and questions from people on their whitelisted ads that they weren't well equipped to respond to.
This became an issue for the influencer, as they build their audience off their ability to interact with their followers. It put their authentic engagement in jeopardy.
So let's recap these painpoints:
- Insufficient customer service on the brand side that left money on the table
- Overwhelmed influencer incapable and rightfully unwilling to engage all comments on whitelisting ads
- Burned relationship between the brand and influencer
How did we get out of this chaos?
Luckily for us, while scaling an ad account way back when, we hired Gorgias to handle customer service, specifically for comments on the brand’s Facebook/Instagram Ads (not whitelisting ads … initially).
Gorgias (literally said as 'gorgeous') is an ecommerce helpdesk that enables automation within your customer service process, especially as you scale your business.
Call it blind luck, but their platform not only could enable the brand to respond to comments at scale — we were able to onboard the influencer's social pages into their system, and begin responding to comments within whitelisting partnerships as well!
Our team went from not being able to respond directly to comments at all, to now having influencers consistently engage and respond to potential consumers as if they were the brand's own customer service reps.
Practically speaking, once the influencer was on-boarded into Gorgias system, our teams collaborated with the influencer in putting together template responses that would then be automated on future comments/questions that were posted on their whitelisted ads.
From then on, Gorgias' automation system was able to respond to all comments and questions on behalf of the influencer, significantly lifting the brand's conversation rate while also building their brand equity.
Good save, Gorgias.
When shouldn't I whitelist an influencer?
If the influencer isn't a household name (or a macro-influencer), whitelisting isn't worth the investment. Why is that?
Influencer whitelisting doesn't outperform the ad if you were to simply serve the influencer's creative as an ad from your brand's handle.
Take a look at any heat chart of an ad and you'll see that the viewer's eyes consume the contents of an ad in the following fashion:
- Body Copy
- Name of the brand or influencer serving the ad
Not many people make it to step four ...
In all honesty, this is a hypothesis, but it's based on the +$250M in ad spend Kynship has managed. And there has been no statistical data surrounding influencer whitelisting lending a lift in performance — unless it was a household name or macro-influencer.
It's the influencer's creative that lends itself to performance, not the social handle serving the creative.
Step-by-Step Guide: How To Whitelist an Influencer Account & Leverage Their Content
First step is to send this set of instructions to your partnering influencers (you should be able to save the image) to get whitelisting permissions.
How do I get access to start a whitelist influencing campaign?
- Have the influencer go to http://Business.Facebook.com to setup or access their personal Business Manager
Many influencers already have pre-existing Business Managers that have been set up on Facebook (without them even knowing most of the time) — making these steps incredibly simple!
- Have the influencer follow the steps laid out below (feel free to copy and paste)
Influencer to click into their personal Business Manager >>> Click Business Settings >>> Click Pages >>> Click Add Page >>> Copy & Paste Facebook URL >>> Click Add >>> Click Assign Partner >>> Enter YOUR Business Partner ID >>> Toggle “Create Ads” >>> Click Next >>> Click Complete
At this point, the influencer has successfully granted your team advertiser access to their FB page in which you’ll be able to run whitelisted ads on all FB placements in tandem with their social handle.
- Now, onto setting up access with Instagram
Practically the same steps here but i’ll lay them out from the start to finish again... Influencer to click on their personal Business Manager >>> Click Business Settings >>> Click Instagram Page >>> Click Add Page >>> Copy & Paste Instagram URL >>> Click Add >>> Click Assign Partner >>> Enter YOUR Business Partner ID >>> Toggle “Create Ads” >>> Click Next >>> Click Complete
Your team has now been granted the necessary access to run ads on both Facebook and Instagram via the influencer's social handles!
- Assign the influencer's Facebook and Instagram to a media buyer
Once the influencer successfully takes the steps laid out above, all your team has to do is simply assign the influencer's Facebook and Instagram to a media buyer as well as to an ad account within your own Business Manager. Once that is done, you'll be able to run the influencer’s video content, serving ads from their Instagram and Facebook pages.
Now to go and execute!
How to build out an influencer's audience within Facebook Ads Manager to target your ads
Now let’s break down how you actually take the steps to do this within Facebook Ads Manager.
Within your Facebook Business Manager follow the steps laid out below in order to build an audience off of the influencer’s Instagram.
Click Audiences >> Create Audience >> Custom Audience >> Instagram account >> Click the dropdown menu and select the influencer’s IG page >> Click “Everyone who engaged with your professional account” >> Type in the past 365 days >> Click Create Audience
Now take a similar set of steps, laid out below, in order to build an audience off of the influencer’s Facebook…
Click Audiences >> Create Audience >> Custom Audience >> Facebook Page >> Click the dropdown menu and select the influencer’s IG page >> Click “Everyone who engaged with your Page” >> Type in the past 365 days >> Click Create Audience
Our recommendation: You should stack both of the Influencer’s built out Facebook and Instagram Audiences into a single ad set within a CBO campaign.
In addition to the above, for ToF and prospecting purposes, make sure to build lookalike audiences off of the influencer audiences you’ve already built out as well.
Hold up, what's an influencer lookalike audience?
A lookalike audience is a way to reach new people who are likely to be interested in the content the influencer has created on behalf of your brand because they're similar to that influencer’s followers and engagers.
Facebook’s machine learning system does an incredible job at pooling people together within these “Lookalike audiences” that not only resonate with the influencer and their content, but also with the brand in order to drive conversions.
How to write and optimize your influencer whitelisted ads
Once you get the influencer's content, do this:
- Always make sure to caption.
This one is important! The majority of people viewing ads never click to listen to the sound. If there are no captions, potential customers will not understand what your ad is trying to communicate — unless they happen to be master lip readers.
Past performance has also reeflected that videos with captions always outperform those without.
- Reformat the influencer generated content (ICG) into 1x1 and 9x16 for optimization purposes on Facebook's platform.
Captioning and reformatting is all that is needing before launching highly effective influencer generated content within Facebook Ads Manager. The IGC will maintain its organic nature that is native to the feed — most scrollers may not even realize its an ad!
- Repurpose the original IGC post into multiple versions to test.
Create iterations that includes text overlay, graphics, branding, and logos. Test it against the ad that is more of the raw asset in comparison, and see which outperforms the other within your ad account.
Creative testing is key when gauging what type of influencer content perfroms best for any given ad account.
Example comparison of raw influencer assets vs optimized asset
Here are some examples pulled from Native Deodorant's ad account.
Raw influencer asset A
The iterated version A
Raw influencer asset B
The iterated version B
As you can see, with a few simple additions (branding and captions), the context of the video is easily understood and the branding is super clear.
How do you write influencer whitelisting ad copy?
The whole point of whitelisting influencers and serving ads on behalf of your brand is to help you maintain creative control. But, you still need to be able to maintain a level of authenticity on the influencer's behalf.
So here's some tips on making sure you create the best ad copy for optimal results.
Don't duplicate the same Facebook or Instagram ad copy you're running on other paid ads
This one is important. If you did, you'd be welcoming the wrath of online trolls — they'll see straight through the inauthenticity of this straight away.
Start scrolling and study up on the influencer you chose
How does the influencer present themselves through their content? Go through their organic socials — Instagram, Tiktok, Facebook, and start scrolling! This will give you a better understanding of how they communicate through the captioning of their posts. How do they speak? Do they use any specific slang? Are they an emoji fan? What emojis do they use?
Get in the influencer's frame of mind
In the same way your own brand has its voice and specific language used to articulate the value props of your product/service, you need to get into the frame of mind of your selected influencer.
Ask yourself; how would they communicate the message you're trying to get across? Once you have a good grasp on the influencer's personal "brand voice," you can interweave the value propositions you want to get across to potential consumers in the influencer's whitelisted ads.
Here's some great influencer whitelisting ad copy examples
Here's an example of standard ad copy used on their ads.
Now, the whitelisting ad version.
Quite a difference, huh? The influencer’s whitelisted ad achieved a performance that beat the target by +60% within this campaign on behalf of LaserAway.
This example comparison is not as obvious as LaserAway.
HelloFresh simply took a quote from Jessica Alba and positioned it from the first person as well as the third person depending on if the ad was served by the influencer’s page or the brand’s page.
Which actually raises a critical point ... when writing ad copy for influencer ads, make sure it's written from the FIRST PERSON.
If the whitelisted ad contains video content, which is ideal, simply take a direct quote from the influencer’s content and use this as the ad copy.
Lastly, creative testing is the name of the game, so I would test each of these ad copy approaches when whitelisting influencers!
Next steps: Access, Iterate, & Scale Your Influencer Marketing Campaigns
Influencer whitelisting can help your brand expand its reach, engagement, and frequency when partnering with the right influencers.
Beyond organic influencer posts, influencer whitelisting allows your brand to maintain creative control, use specific ad objectives, advanced targeting capabilities, and choose different ad placements.