Using influencers is a great way for brands to reach their targeted audience on social media without using excessive pop-up ads. However new forms of any medium bring new obstacles.
One obstacle would be that influencers are people and that their behavior and social engagement is uncontrollable. Anything that they say, tweet, hashtag, post, etc. all of a sudden becomes associated with the brands that they represent. Another problem would be that they often pull followers of all kinds—not necessarily just the group that a brand may want to target. And who even knows if their millions of followers are real? They could just be thousands of accounts created by the same person.
So, you can see there are difficulties that come with influencer advertisement are challenging to circumvent. While whitelisting influencers is not a cure-all for these problems, it does help brands side-step some major issues. As such, a growing number of brands are using influencer whitelists.
Whitelisting influencers is the same as whitelisting any other person or group who offers a service. In the case of the influencer, the service would be "brand advertisement."
Whitelisting is the opposite of blacklisting. Where blacklisting is targeting a specific group or individual as unfit for commerce or interaction, whitelisting is a mark of approval. It basically states that the people on the whitelist are a verified group that the brand is permitted to use. As best they can, marketers try to hammer down who the people are with the right following, the right social presence, who don’t promote similar products of other brands.
These whitelists can range from brand to brand and from campaign to campaign. A computer company may want to target hardworking men in one campaign and elementary schools in another. Here the whitelist for the respective campaigns would look vastly different based on followers, influencer content, and general influencer voice among other things. The influencer selling to a hardworking man can say a greater number of things, while someone selling to an elementary school should probably have “G” rated content.
It’s crucial to note that these influencer whitelists, while growing, are still green. There is no fool-proof way of determining how to create an influencer whitelist or who should be on it. We, at Pfeiffer Law Corp, are particularly excited to see if any accurate algorithms are created that will be able to do just this.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.