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Influencer Allowlisting vs Influencer Whitelisting: Which Term Should I Use?

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If you’re in the influencer marketing business, you may have come across the terms influencer allowlisting and influencer whitelisting, and maybe had a few resulting questions.

What is it? Which term should I use? Is it even worth knowing?

We get it — we had the same questions (and more). So, we did some digging and compiled everything we learned about it to give you all the answers you need.

What is influencer whitelisting / allowlisting?

To truly understand which term you should use, you need to know the meaning behind it, so let’s start there.

Influencer whitelisting, also known as influencer allowlisting, is a way for brands to create more authentic ads and build a genuine relationship with their customers. Essentially, it is the process of an influencer granting a brand access to advertise using their social media account.

Influencer allowlisting is different from brand-owned ads with influencer-generated content (IGC) in that brands run ads through the influencer’s account.

Once a brand is allow listed by an influencer, not only can it post under the influencer’s handle, but it can also target specific audiences, make edits to the copy and content of the influencer’s posts, extend the length of time the influencer can post certain content, and more. The influencer benefits as well, gaining exposure from the brand’s advertising and boosting engagement.

Why should we switch to influencer allowlisting?

The terms whitelist and blacklist have been used across all industries for many years — applied not just to influencer social media accounts, but also emails, websites, programs, and so much more.

In this case, “white” means good, positive, allowable, or accessible while “black” means bad, block, deny, or inaccessible. While these are the intentions of the command, assigning these values to these colors is a microaggression.

Using these racially loaded terms enables the notion that “white equals good” and “black equals bad,” not only in the world of influencer marketing, but society as a whole. And that is not something Aspire wants to perpetuate.

The world knows it needs to change. It wants to change. The process of switching from whitelisting to allowlisting has been going on for years! But it’s just not that simple.

Previous barriers to change

You may be wondering: if it’s so important to switch from whitelist to allowlist, why hasn’t it already happened?

First, the multiple alternatives to the words whitelist and blacklist make it difficult to nail down an industry-wide standard term. Each brand is choosing their preferred term or not changing it at all, causing confusion and a lack of industry alignment.

Another barrier to changing the term whitelisting is the resulting loss of search traffic. Since many users only know the term as whitelisting, they will only use whitelisting in search engines. If a brand doesn’t use that term or have it on their site, it won’t get the organic search traffic, a crucial component of digital marketing.

Finally, educating users and getting them used to new terminology takes time. Some users are familiar with changing terms and adapt to the new standard quickly. Others prefer to use the old term and take a little longer to adjust.

However, since the alternative terms are explanatory of the command itself and the upside is a more inclusive, positive verbiage, we hope the switch from influencer whitelisting to influencer allowlisting will be a smoother transition.

What progress has been made?

The good news is that we’re seeing several big players leading the charge in this area, with many companies joining the movement. Influential brands like Microsoft, IBM, Google, and GitHub have already made the shift to allow list, while some others, such as Drupal and Python, switched from other racially loaded tech language as far back as 2014 and 2018, respectively.

In 2020, the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) announced it would use the words allow list and denylist, not whitelist and blacklist, and stated that they were, “in fact, clearer and less ambiguous.”

Within the tech world, multiple terms have emerged to replace their racially biased predecessors, allowlist and denylist being the most common.

Alternatives for whitelist:

·   Allowlist

·   Welcomelist, welcome-list, welcome list

·   Safelist, safe-list

·   Grant list

·   Acceptlist, accept list

Alternatives for blacklist:

·   Denylist

·   Blocklist

·   Droplist

·   Ban list

·   Exclude list

·   Rejectlist, reject list 

Influencer whitelisting becomes influencer allowlisting

Words matter, and that’s something we need to apply to every aspect of our lives – even the most technical ones.

Luckily, the tech and marketing space is keen to be a driver of change. In a bid to promote industry alignment, both Meta and Microsoft reached out to other tech companies (including us!) to ask them to use allowlist over whitelist in sales pitches and other branded documents.

Influencer marketing is an inclusive, diverse, and forward-thinking industry that is constantly evolving. As the market continues to grow substantially – projected to reach over $16 billion in 2022 – it’s in a strong position to be a driver for change, encouraging other industries to follow suit. 

Embracing evolving terminology is a small but extremely significant step in achieving this change, and we’re proud to be part of an industry that is leading the charge.  

Aspire’s commitment to making the change 

At Aspire, inclusion and equity are foundational to our business. We are built on the idea that organizations and systems thrive when they encourage diversity, human connection, creativity, and community.

That is why we’re excited to embrace the new vocabulary around influencer allow listing, formerly known as influencer whitelisting. Not only are we changing our terminology on-site and in sales pitches, but we are also encouraging partners to do the same.

As an ongoing effort to be more inclusive and remove implicit racial biases that exist in our everyday language, we’re excited to bring you our ebook, A Marketer’s Guide to Influencer Allow Listing.

We hope you’ll hop on the wagon with us. It’s nice here.

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