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Opinion

Representing Black Talent in the Influencer Industry

This month is Black History Month. And although black representation in the media is of utmost importance 365 days of the year, Black History Month is the perfect time to open conversations and share experiences that can be reflected upon all year round.

The representation of BIPOC in the media is progressing. Channel 4 recently launched its Black to Front Project as a part of its ongoing commitment to improving Black representation on-screen and more widely in the TV industry, the BBC have also followed suit sharing collections of shows covering Black history, and a ‘Black & British’ collection showcasing the excellent dramas, documentaries, and entertainment fronted by Black individuals. 

With the ‘mainstream’ media seeming to be taking a step in the right direction, it’s important to take a look at the progression within the influencer marketing and social media industries. To learn more about advocating for Black representation within the media as a whole, Neve Fear-Smith chatted with Lia Caesar. 

Lia is an Account Manager in the Beauty and Fashion division at Fanbytes, as well as the lead Project Manager for the Fanbytes Impact Fund, and was able to share some excellent insight into the work she does, as well as the work that the influencer marketing industry as a whole can do to showcase the excellent work of Black individuals. 

October is Black History month, and conversations about Black rights and Black representation are very present within the media, which is great, but what are some things that brands, businesses, and creators can do to show support to Black lives all year round? 

Brands and businesses can work with influencers from talent agencies that focus on representing Black creators if they struggle to find diverse creators such as. Some great examples include SevenSix, Season25, and VAMP.

Brands should also focus on the quality of the creatives and focus less on the number of followers an influencer has as the engagement rate is key and isn’t always aligned with huge follower numbers. This is crucial in order to provide more opportunities to smaller micro-influencers that are on the rise in the black community, especially on TikTok.

We also recently wrote this blog post about how brands can meaningfully celebrate BHM and make a positive and lasting impact.

Have you noticed a positive progression in the representation of black people in the mainstream media, and influencer world, over the past year? What do you believe the next steps are in improving this further?

I have. A great example is a crossover we’ve seen for Black TikTok creators that have been able to transcend from the platform to being featured on magazine covers and red carpet events, and even being featured in the latest TikTok outdoor billboard campaign.

We’ve also seen comedians such as Mo Gilligan and Munya Chuwawa crossing over into the world of television and landing their own shows as a result of their viral comedy sketches across Instagram and TikTok. This is a huge testament to the power of influence these platforms hold.

In terms of improving this further, brands can show dedication and commitment by looking to work with black creators for their ambassador campaigns, bringing them on a retainer basis, as opposed to one-off campaigns. This will help build familiarity with the influencer’s unique audiences as part of a longer-term strategy.

Fanbytes Impact fund has been designed to boost Black businesses and Black creators to the next level. It would be great if you could tell us a little bit more about how the fund began and how it works?

Following the murder of George Floyd and the historic social unrest around the world in summer 2020, we decided to launch a fund to economically empower the Black community and address inequalities in two ways. 

One, to provide influencer marketing support to promising Black-owned start-ups, and two, to address the influencer pay gap. Our data shows that while Black influencers have a click-through rate of 2.2x more than non-Black influencers on average, they are often overlooked and underpaid.

Businesses can apply via the Fanbytes website. We also promote the fund across our owned social channels and within our professional networks. 

For each successful applicant, we provide them with an influencer campaign and supporting influencer spend. Many of the selected brands are startups with this being their first real introduction to influencer marketing. A dedicated programme manager guides them through the process, manages and executes the campaign end-to-end at no cost to applicants. They provide businesses with key takeaways and best practices to use as they continue along their entrepreneurial journey.

Please tell us some more about your role in the development of the Impact Fund.

My role involves project management of the fund itself. I also provide end-to-end campaign management for each of the successful applicants. I devise briefs and liaise with both the influencers and brands in order to execute a bespoke awareness campaign on channels such as Instagram and TikTok.

It would be great if you could tell us about some of the businesses and creators who are currently benefiting from the fun. We would love to shine some light on them!

Some of our favourite brands to work with so far include natural tea company Herby Box founded by Paul Otote & Yemi Awopetu, Natural Energy Drink brand Füd founded by Philip Udeh, and Homeware brand Bespoke Binny founded by Natalie Manima. 

Some of the brilliant influencers we have worked with through the fund include: 

Sean: https://www.instagram.com/sugsean/

Gabrielle: https://www.instagram.com/gsterl/

Loic: https://www.instagram.com/loicrostand/

Christina: https://www.instagram.com/xtinaokenla/

Chioma: https://www.instagram.com/chii_neke/

Shelly-Ann: https://www.instagram.com/dr.shellyann/

With schemes like the Impact Fund in place for Black people in the influencer marketing industry, individuals who may have previously felt underrepresented are able to work with dedicated teams in order to thrive, both personally and professionally. 

It is worth noting that the next phase of the Fanbytes Impact Fund will be launching in early 2022. Applicants can register their interest now. It will be extremely exciting to see who else will be getting involved and to explore how more industry leaders hopefully follow in these footsteps. 

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