Now that we’ve officially entered the second half of the most turbulent year most of us have experienced, we’re taking a step back to check how our industry is doing and what the creators who are central to it are demanding. To help inform influencer marketing strategies moving forward, our Strategy Team engaged in social listening research, while our Community Team asked creators to share their thoughts on sponsored content in a changing social media landscape, where racial and social justice activism will continue to be much more prevalent.  

Overall, we learned creators were overwhelmingly supportive of pausing sponsored content to make space for the movement, that they’re now holding brands accountable for change, and that they’re more conscious than ever about the value exchange within sampling and gifting programs.

Here’s a look at who we heard from:

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SPONSORED CONTENT & THE EXPANSION OF THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT

With the unprecedented scale of the protests against police brutality and systemic racism dominating social media beginning in early June, Collectively paused all campaign work and encouraged our clients and creators to make space for this critical political movement to take precedence. Today, we have more conclusive data on how creators have responded and how the overall volume of sponsored content has shifted.

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SOCIAL LISTENING INSIGHTS

During the first week of June, the volume of sponsored content was cut in half compared to the previous week, while conversations around #BLM rose 200x. By June 15th, we saw a 15% increase in the amount of sponsored content, but still 43% less than pre-COVID-19 activity, and 37% less than pre-BLM protests.

As of 7/7/20, social listening data has shown that sponsored content volume continues to rise in the US, reflecting a 28% increase in posts containing #ad or #sponsored from the previous week, and 45K posts per day, on average.

The resurgence of sponsored content across social media has sparked some negative sentiment towards influencer marketing, with questions around diversity and payment equity demanding attention.

FROM THE COMMUNITY

The message from creators is very clear: they want to work with brands showing genuine support for racial justice and promoting equality in advertising.

"As a person of color and a member of the LGBTQ community, I feel comfortable amplifying campaigns that have a positive, underlying company ethos that takes a stance and provides beneficial actions to groups in need." @joshdixon

"As a Black creator, I've always worked towards educating my audience on social issues that affect my community. I'll continue doing so in addition to posting sponsored content. I don't find that the two are mutually exclusive." @TheKelleyDoll

EVOLVING CONSIDERATIONS FOR BRAND PARTNERSHIPS

While sponsored content campaigns are coming back online, there’s no going back to “business-as-usual.” In the past, many brands deemed any political or activist position as not “brand safe.” Now, with so many creators stepping up in their commitments to social justice, they are holding brands to higher standards around advocacy and contribution.

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FROM THE COMMUNITY

"As a minority influencer, it's disheartening to see campaigns with majority blonde, white creators. Brands usually look for the stereotypical "girl-next-door" look and prioritize that over creative content." @vintagedolls

"I have always spoken about activism, and I plan to do so moving forward." @barrettpall

CREATOR PERSPECTIVES ON GIFTING

Within the broader conversation happening around equity and inclusion in the influencer marketing space, there’s been additional scrutiny around sampling and gifting. We asked our community to weigh in:

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