How brands can partner more effectively with Black creators
Culture & Ethics

How brands can partner more effectively with Black creators

Shannice Baynes
Shannice Baynes

Spearheading online culture as we know it, Black creators have consistently inspired a wave of creativity that has gone on to shape digital platforms and the ever-changing creator economy as a whole. 

Take the rapid rise of TikTok, for example. Since the early beginnings of the short-form app, Black dancers have played a significant role in turning overlooked singles into viral crazes. Shaping TikTok as the entertainment platform that it is today has not only amplified the careers of emerging artists but has shifted the music industry as a whole, with record labels now adopting the method of dance challenges into their marketing strategy.

This isn’t the first time Black creators have influenced social media apps. We’ve seen this play out time and time again across apps like Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Even newbie app Clubhouse saw Black creators become the driving force behind its initial success. Yet, despite their contributions, Black influencers are still undervalued and underpaid in an industry that continues to profit from them. 

Earlier this year, MPs recommended the government investigate standards in the industry as part of a wider review of the industry. Raising concerns about inconsistent pay rates and evidence of a racial pay gap, the digital, culture, media and sport committee concluded social media platforms are “not appropriately and consistently rewarding influencers for their work”. It also raised concerns that payment from brands “varies wildly” for Black influencers.

This month, in their annual report, global communications firm MSL found this to be true, with a racial pay gap standing at 18.7% between white influencers and influencers who are people of colour. When comparing this to white and Black influencers specifically, this figure increased to 21.5%. Other notable findings included:

  • When negotiating fees, white influencers are nearly three times more likely to generate a positive outcome compared to Black influencers. 
  • 50% of influencers who are people of colour stated they believe that they are paid less because of race.
  • Influencers who speak up often see commercial partnerships revoked and removed. In fact, 35% of respondents felt there was a direct correlation between them speaking out on discrimination issues and brands not approaching them.  

So, how can brands and agencies do better in how they partner with Black creators effectively?

  • Be more open-minded and re-evaluate your performance measures. Lots of brands and agencies' reasoning for not working with Black talent is that their audiences do not speak to their target markets or pull in the impressions they’re looking for. However, not only does this end up excluding a market that holds as much value as white consumers, but presents a huge disservice to your company. Black creators resonate greatly with their audiences and beyond, posing the potential to unlock a whole new market and maintain a brand’s cultural relevance.
  • Pay Black creators. As straightforward as this sounds, a reoccurring theme among Black creators is the lack of pay for their work or the notion that they should work for free. Especially during calendar moments like Black History Month. These creators are not only experts in their fields but are taking the time to share their experiences and perspectives in a landscape that continues to undermine their worth, so it’s vital they get paid for doing so.
  • Educate yourselves about Black culture. The Black community is not a monolith. As much as there are similarities, there are differences and intersections. Brands and agencies need to recognise this and step away from approaching campaigns with a narrowed idea of what Black culture is. Instead, think about showcasing more diverse perspectives from the community.
  • Actively hire, retain and promote Black creators and experts. Representation shouldn’t be limited to Black History month alone. Yes, campaigns during this month can be just as impactful, but the reality is companies should be making inclusivity an objective all year round. Investing in these long-term partnerships - whether it’s with Black creators or professionals from within the community - will see more success than a token gesture ever will.

And lastly, don’t assume Black people have the answers for everything. It’s for everyone, not just Black people, to do the work to achieve the best results.

Download MSL’s pay gap report here.

To discover more ways to support and partner with Black Creators, join us at our 'Black Creators are Shaping Influencer Marketing' networking brunch and panel. Sign up now.

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