From building branded content tags to incorporating more monetization opportunities for creators, Meta has expanded its slew of features that support partnerships between creators and brands on both Facebook and its sister app Instagram. Businesses and creators have leveraged these tools to build more meaningful relationships and create authentic ads. In the last few years, a popular way to do so has been through influencer whitelisting on Facebook and Instagram.
What is influencer whitelisting?
Whitelisting is the process of an influencer granting a brand partner advertising permissions to their social media accounts. This allows brands to use the influencer’s handle for their ads. Whitelisting provides brands with many advantages, such as:
- Controlling who sees the influencer’s whitelisted posts and even targeting the post to people who don’t follow the influencer
- Having the ability to make small edits to the copy and creative of the influencer’s post
- Lengthening the shelf life of an influencer’s post, which is especially beneficial for formats like Instagram Stories that disappear in 24 hours
But beyond brand advantages, the whitelisting process is also beneficial for creators.
As brands use the influencer’s content to reach wider, like-minded audiences, the creator also gets exposure to new audiences who may have not interacted with their account before. This widened visibility can drive more people to discover the influencer’s account, allowing the creator to grow their following quickly.
If done right, whitelisting is a win-win for both brands and creators. Both parties have access to performance metrics of the whitelisted post. Brands can get key insights into running successful campaigns and creators can understand what type of content resonates. Not to mention, whitelisting builds trust between brands and creators, elevating the relationship between the two and paving the way for more authentic ads.
How is a whitelisted ad different from a brand-owned ad?
When you think of influencer marketing, you’re probably thinking of those #sponsored posts that influencers post to their personal accounts. This has been the most popular way of partnering with creators on social media in recent years.
On Instagram, you may have seen these posts tagged at the top as “Paid partnership with [Brand].” On Facebook, you may have seen them as posted by “[Creator] with [Brand].”
This type of influencer-generated content (IGC) is often repurposed into a brand-owned paid ad across various channels, which runs under the brand’s handle. Take a look at Curology. The cult favorite skincare brand worked with influencers to create video content around their acne journeys, then repurposed them into brand-owned ads on Facebook. By utilizing IGC to power its paid ads, Curology is able to make its brand more human and provide social proof from its community.
However, influencer whitelisting is different from brand-owned ads in that it takes the partnership to the next level. Whitelisting allows brands the special privilege of running ads through the influencer’s account, meaning the ads are shown under the influencer’s handle. It also grants marketers the freedom to create ads that are slightly different than the original post to deliver higher performance. For example, they’re able to add call-to-action buttons like “Shop now,” change the ad copy, or even slightly edit the content.
Whitelisting also gives brands the ability to dark post, which are paid Facebook and Instagram ads that don’t appear on an influencer’s timeline, page, or Stories. Dark posts don’t show up in the news feed of the influencer’s followers, unless specifically targeted to that audience. This means brands can create a variety of ad content without asking influencers to crowd their feed.
In addition, whitelisting allows brands to use influencer audience data to get the whitelisted ad in front of their target consumer — not just the influencer’s existing audience — by utilizing tools to customize lookalike audiences.
Perhaps most importantly, whitelisted ads run through the Ads Manager and can be fully tracked and measured, from impressions and clicks to conversions. Brands can set UTM parameters to each call-to-action button, as well as IG Story swipe-ups in dark posts, to gain full funnel visibility in Google Analytics along with conversion tracking. This empowers brands to achieve their business objectives, whether it be reach, page views, or purchases, and measure the tangible ROI of their influencer campaigns.
How do you whitelist influencers on Facebook?
To whitelist influencers on Facebook and Instagram, marketers need whitelisting permissions from creators through Facebook Business Manager. The influencer must have a Facebook Business Manager account that is linked to their Facebook page or their Instagram handle.
Marketers can then use their Business Manager and request to add the influencer as a Business Partner. Influencers will need to provide you with the Business Manager ID, or the links to their Facebook page or Instagram account.
Once they accept, you’ll be able to use their accounts for your whitelisted ads.
What type of creators should you whitelist?
The goal of whitelisting influencers is to power your ad campaigns with high-performing content.
So, find influencers who create creative, authentic content. That way, their content will blend in smoothly with the rest of consumers’ feeds while staying on-brand. After all, the best ads are those that are so seamless that they don’t even look like advertisements!
Additionally, spend some time vetting influencers and verifying their audience data. Pay close attention to those who have followers in your target demographic to accurately build lookalike audiences and effectively reach potential new customers.
What type of content should you promote as whitelisted ads?
Don’t feel like you have to do a complete 180 when it comes to content. Whitelisted ads are typically targeted to an audience that matches the demographics of your brand’s existing community. So, start by implementing a content strategy that has proven to be successful in the past. That way, you’re almost guaranteed to serve content that resonates with your target audience.
However, at AspireIQ, we wholeheartedly believe in the test-and-invest method. This is the best way to see what type of content works best — and the results might even surprise you. Think about testing these factors:
- Influencer niche: Certain influencers may resonate better with your target audience than others. For example, your audience may enjoy content from fashion-focused creators over more general lifestyle influencers.
- Aesthetic: Test out different content. Your audience may like seeing content with more flashy, bold colors rather than a toned-down, minimalist aesthetic. Work with a variety of creators who create a diverse array of content to see who garners high engagement.
- Creative type: Experiment with varying formats of content, such as still in-feed images, Instagram carousels, Stories, or videos.
- Copy: The most optimized length of copy may vary depending on the content type. For instance, ads on a fast-moving feature like Instagram Stories may require shorter and punchier copy. Try a variation of long captions, short captions, and headlines to find what works best.
- CTA: Experiment with buttons in your call-to-action to see what drives the most clicks. Is “Shop now” better than the “Learn more” button?
How do I get started with influencer whitelisting?
To start tapping into influencer whitelisting on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll first need to set up your own brand account through Facebook Business Manager. The influencer must also have a Facebook Business Manager account that is linked to their Facebook page or their Instagram handle.
Next, you’ll need to set aside a budget to pay the influencers to access their account. Generally, this can be 20-30% of the collaboration fee. By tying whitelisting access into your collaboration terms, you’re able to stretch the impact of your influencer marketing efforts, lowering your customer acquisition costs (CAC) while boosting your return on ad spend (ROAS).
Finally, you’ll need to find a process for requesting advertiser access. If you’re planning to run things manually, you can use your Facebook Business Manager to request to add each influencer as a Business Partner. Influencers will need to provide you with the Business Manager ID, or the links to their Facebook page or Instagram account. Once they accept, you’ll be able to use their accounts for your whitelisted ads.
If you’re looking for a more seamless, automated way to tap into influencer whitelisting, use a tool like Aspire’s Brand Access Manager. As an Aspire customer, you gain proprietary access to Brand Access Manager to optimize your ad campaigns and drive ROI at a fraction of the cost — all without leaving the platform. This means you can run your influencer marketing campaigns on Aspire from top to bottom and directly attribute ad performance to Aspire influencer campaigns.
Here's a quick summary from our Head of Marketing Strategy, Magda Houalla.