Demystifying Creator Licensing a.k.a Influencer Whitelisting
The New York-based beauty brand Glossier achieved a remarkable feat by selling its Glossier You fragrance bottle every 37 seconds in 2022, all thanks to a viral trend on TikTok. Their approach was ingeniously simple.
The brand leveraged influencers by utilizing their accounts for paid promotions. Instead of relying solely on their brand's official social media platform for the boost, Glossier strategically leveraged influencer accounts to amplify their paid promotional content.
Strategic collaboration with TikTok creators @bitcoin_papi and @lyssielooloo led to a surge in sales. These creators granted Glossier access to their accounts and enabled the brand to leverage their existing viral organic posts for paid promotions. By December 2022, they had sold over a million of these fragrance bottles.
This innovative approach is called creator licensing, previously known as influencer whitelisting.
With the holiday season right around the corner, we thought it'd be cool to break down this creator licensing strategy for you. To understand this, let's dive into what is creator content licensing, its benefits, best practices, and a lot more!
What is creator licensing?
Creator licensing is an influencer marketing strategy where brands use the influencer’s profiles to run social media ads. They turn top-performing Influencer Generated Content (IGC) into ad content and access influencer's social channels to run the ads. Influencers permit brands to run ads from their pages, improving reach, impressions, audience targeting, and ROI measurement.
Creator Licensing vs. Influencer Whitelisting
There's only one difference between creator licensing and influencer whitelisting - the name. Creator licensing was earlier called influencer whitelisting or whitelabeling. Brands and influencers no longer use these terms because of the connotation they represent. The positive connotation attached to the word "white" and the negative connotation in the word "black" is not inclusive, which is why the industry is moving away from such words and embracing licensing and other terms like:
- Creator allowlisting
- Creator promotion
- Paid media amplification
- Creator advertising access
- Influencer ads
How is creator licensing (whitelisting) different from influencer paid partnerships?
Creator licensing is often confused with influencer paid partnerships. But there’s a stark difference. Under paid partnerships, influencers share posts, stories, or videos from their profile with a specific disclosure of getting paid for the content. They use #ad, #sponsored, or a Paid Partnership as labels to demarcate these posts from organic. That’s one way brands appear in influencer promotions.
The second way is using influencer content to run ads from the brand’s profile. Brands pick top-performing influencer content for ads, emails, and other marketing campaigns. These ads appear on the user’s feed from the brand’s profile.
Both the above ways are not creator licensing.
Creator licensing is when creators give brands access to their content and allow them to run ads through their profiles. Meta provides access to run these ads through its Facebook Business Manager, while TikTok through the Spark Ads feature.
Here’s how you can distinguish between paid partnerships and whitelisted ads:
A. Facebook and Instagram
In Facebook and Instagram paid partnerships posts, you can see a label at the top saying “Paid Partnership with [the brand name],” or #ad #sponsored in the caption. But in a whitelisted ad:
- It will be posted from the influencer’s profile, not the brand’s.
- It will have a Sponsored label at the top.
- It will contain a CTA button.
- It will only appear in your feed as an ad and not as a post in the influencer profile.
In TikTok, paid partnership ads are similar to what you see on Facebook and Instagram. They have a Paid Partnership label, or contain #ad #sponsored #partner. But whitelisted TikTok ads are posted from the influencer’s profile and have:
- A Sponsored label.
- A CTA button with a link to the landing page.
- A Promoted Music label.
These TikTok whitelisted ads will appear in your For You page feeds with the creator’s handle. If you swipe left, click on profile image, or click the influencer’s handle, you will reach either the brand’s profile or the influencer’s page.
Note: You can see the organic post in the influencer’s timeline but not the ad with the Sponsored label.
5 Step creator licensing guide for different social channels
1. Choose the right creator
Connecting with influencers that align with your brand values and create relatable content can significantly impact your allowlisting campaigns. Here are tips on picking the ideal creator:
- Find influencers that match your brand's values and messaging.
- Work with niche creators that have a deep understanding of your industry.
- Analyze the influencer's content quality so that you can repurpose it for scroll-stopping ads.
- Ensure the influencers have the ability to engage and connect with their community.
- Go for micro and nano influencers with high engagement rates and audience trust.
- Connect with influencers who understand the influencer market.
Being mindful of these many details on top of analyzing countless influencer profiles can be stressful. We suggest using an influencer marketing platform. Softwares like affable.ai automate every step, from influencer search to impact measurement. The platforms use insights from influencer profiles to help you make data-driven decisions.
Plus, with AI revolutionizing marketing, influencer search has become much easier. Skye is one such tool. affable.ai has introduced the world's first Gen AI companion for influencer marketers, Skye, built in collaboration with Google Cloud. You can find your perfect influencer match with conversational chats, image search, lookalike influencer recommendations, and more! Get a free trial to learn more.
2. Ask for permissions and usage rights
To run a creator licensing campaign, you will need influencers' permission. It can be a challenging task. So, draft a detailed influencer agreement that includes the following:
- Campaign duration
- Social media platform
- Content license agreement
- Content usage rights
- Legal obligations
- Creative approval
- Intellectual property rights
If you are wondering what’s in store for influencers. Why should they give you access to their social media account? Through creator licensing, they enjoy:
- More followers
- Better reach
- Potential to go viral
- More earning potential
- More effective content
3. Create a campaign
The next step is to launch the influencer campaign. Ask the influencers to share the content organically on their social media platforms. Monitor the performance of the posts to select the best-performing pieces. You can either use the original content and give it a paid push or repurpose them for the ads. Most brands merge sponsored stories, and snippets from Reels and TikTok videos to create a new piece.
Note: Sharing content organically does not mean influencers can opt out partnership disclosure. Ask your influencers to mention terms like Sponsored, Ad or Paid Partnership in their posts to avoid any legal issues. Check out our influencer marketing legal issues guide for more information on how to keep your brand safe.
4. Connect the ads manager to creator profile
A. Facebook and Instagram
Here's how you can run influencer ads from the influencer's Facebook and Instagram profiles:
Step 1: Set up Facebook Business Manager
Brands and influencers both need a Facebook page and Instagram account linked with Facebook Business Manager to run creator licensing campaigns on Facebook and Instagram. Under Pages add the Facebook page and under Instagram Accounts add the IG profile.
Once logged in, creators will add the brand’s page to their page for access.
Step 2: Ask influencers to share access
Once both parties have set up an account, influencers need to give content access to the brands. Click Facebook Business Manager > Business Settings > Users > Partners.
Step 3: Tap on the Add button to open the drop-down. And then click Partner to share assets with.
Step 4: To allow access, add the brand's Facebook Business Manager ID. Click Next. Do the same for Instagram.
Step 5: Tap on Assets and Permissions for the brand to access the content in the Facebook Business Manager.
Step 6: Next, select the Facebook and Instagram assets the brand will be using to run the ads. And while you're at it, ask the influencers to share access to Pixels for a large audience reach.
Step 7: Turn on the permission to Create Ads.
Step 8: Save Changes
Once the influencer finishes setting up, their Facebook Business ID will appear in your (the brand’s) Business Manager. You can select the content you want to whitelist and run the ads.
TikTok whitelisting can be done using the TikTok Spark Ads feature.
First, get the video's code from the creator.
Step 1: Click Creator Tools in the Settings & Privacy section of your profile.
Step 2: Choose Ad Settings to Generate Code.
Step 3: Select authorization period and click Authorize.
Step 4: Copy and share the code with brands for creator licensing.
Now, brands can use the code to run the ads.
Step1: Log into the TikTok Ads Manager.
Step 2: Click Assets from the top left menu and choose Spark Ads.
Step 3: Click Apply for Authorization and paste the code.
Step 4: Check the preview and Confirm.
Step 5: Create the ad and choose your ad goal.
Step 6: Upon reaching Identity and Ad Details section, click the checkbox “Use TikTok account to deliver Spark ads”
Step 7: Choose Single Video under Ad Details.
Step 8: Select Use other authorized account or post.
Step 9: Click on your creator’s account name.
Step 10: Select TikTok Post.
Step 11: Find your whitelisted video from creators’ authorized content and confirm.
Step 12: Check the preview and submit!
5. Monitor your success [A/B Test]
The best way to amplify the success rate of your creator-licensed campaigns is to A/B test your ads. This way, you can make tweaks and know which content is working and what is not working. Swap creatives, copy, and audiences to assess the performance.
8 Reasons why you should embrace creator licensing (whitelisting)
Brands have been seeking ways to place influencer content strategically across marketing channels to reach wider audiences. Creator licensing (or whitelisting) makes it possible.
Here are the amazing benefits of creator licensing:
1. Reaches a targeted audience
With creator licensing, you can expand your target audience beyond your customers. Influencers have an engaged and loyal audience that is more likely to interact with your ads. Plus, with influencers’ access to first-party data about their followers, you can customize lookalike audiences to target prospective customers similar to your community.
2. Maximizes ad quality
Influencer content definitely beats those shutterstock images you might be using to run digital ads. Influencers, with their creativity and expertise, are the best at creating authentic and quality-driven content. Ads created using influencer content are more natural, genuine, and organic looking for the audience as they trust the influencers to endorse only quality products.
3. Boosts content shelf life
Influencers share a lot of content on their profiles, branded and non-branded. It is likely the post with the brand mention could be lost among other pieces. Also, social media algorithms push the newest content on feeds, cutting off your post's reach. With paid amplification, you can increase the longevity of your influencer posts. Simply repurpose the posts, reels, and even disappearing stories into ads to increase their shelf life.
4. Improves engagement
Influencers are excellent conversation starters. Their content can push people to have genuine conversations around a particular industry, brand, or product, leading to improved engagements.
5. Puts you in the driver's seat
Influencer ads give the control back to you. They let you control the targeting, performance, budget, and even conversions. You can decide what audience the ads will reach, how long they will run, what budget they will use, and where the traffic will be led to.
6. Multiplies customer touchpoints
Customers rarely take action after the first encounter. They see the content, engage and then move on. This may make them remember your brand but does not inspire action. To make that happen, you need to pop up in front of the customers repeatedly. Creator licensing creates more customer touchpoints so that you can convince the audience to take action - visit the website, check out the product, sign up for a workshop, or more!
7. Drives longer influencer partnerships
Creator licensing facilitates longer brand-influencer partnerships. This isn't a strategy that you can adopt with a one-off campaign. You need to partner with the influencer for the long haul, build trust, create value for them, and then ask them to run ads from their profiles.
8. Amplifies your ROI
The multiple touchpoints, social proof, enhanced reach, and quality content all contribute to a larger return on your investment. Creator licensing lowers your ad budget since you don't have to spend on content production while increasing your paid results.
Maximize the impact of licensed (whitelisted) content with 5 best practices
Whitelisting influencers is not a run-it-forget-it strategy. It needs to be optimized, and A/B tested for maximum results.
Use the below best practices to amplify the impact of your licensed creator content and increase your ROI!
1. Stop the hard sell
Social media users can instantly spot a brand’s attempt to sell them products, even if it is through influencer content. A study reveals that 47% of consumers are fatigued by influencer content. They see their content as ads and not honest product reviews.
That’s why you need to be smart with your strategies, especially with an economic downturn affecting customers’ purchasing behavior. Many consumers are looking to cut down expenses and purchase only relevant products, which is a major reason why they’re avoiding influencer content. They don’t want to be advertised to.
To make your influencer ads stand out, provide value through your ads so customers do not skip them. How to do that?
- Partner with nano and micro creators to improve engagement. Product recommendations from small-scale influencers seem more trustworthy than traditional celebrity endorsements. People trust nano and micro creators to share products that add value to their life.
- Curate relatable content. People demand more raw and relatable content from brands and influencers. Embrace unedited content trends like de-influencing, romanticizing daily routines, GRWM videos, and more.
- Educate the audience instead of selling to them. Brands and even influencers recommend educating and empowering the audience to form loyal connections. Use how-to videos, #truthtok, and more such trends to share valuable information with consumers.
2. Target holiday season shoppers
The holiday season is the perfect time to team up with whitelisting influencers. When your customers have spread their holiday from August to December, these upcoming months are critical to promote your holiday sales.
Also, in the last few years, customer behavior has shown an inclination toward buying products from new brands during the holiday season. Here, branded content and promotional influencer posts can do wonders for you.
It is the best time to get started with creator licensing. Run influencer campaigns now to target the shoppers during the peak shopping season in November with ads. Our holiday season playbook will guide you on how to begin paid promotions for your holiday campaigns with full-funnel marketing calendars, expert opinions, examples, and more!
3. Multiply exposure with longer ads
Running the influencer ads for longer is the best way to gain more exposure. The ideal approach is to let the influencer's content perform organically for 1-2 weeks and then use the content to run ads from their accounts. This creates a win-win situation for you as you get the best of both organic and the paid world.
Longer duration influencer ads mean more reach, engagement and conversions. If you're running paid promotions for the holiday season, get the influencer content live by October and start promoting the content from late October or early November to capture the attention of holiday shoppers. Provide exclusive offers, promotions, and discounts to get people to act and purchase. Keep the ads running until late November to retarget the same audience while appealing to the late shoppers.
According to our Holiday Season Influencer Marketing Playbook, Danny Agg, CEO & Co- founder, Zodiac Global, influencer marketing agency said, "Launching your paid promotions in early November can be advantageous. By this time, consumers are already starting to think about their holiday shopping, and your campaigns can capture their attention before the intense competition of later November and December."
4. Blend in with the organic feed
We understand you want your influencer ads to stand out, but that shouldn't come at the cost of sounding unrelatable. The influencer ads must blend in with the authentic organic posts in your consumer’s feed.
5. Start with only 5-20 influencers
Most marketers jump all in with creator licensing (or whitelisting) without fully understanding the nitty-gritty of it. Experts recommend starting with only 5-20 influencers first, A/B testing the strategy to see what works and what doesn't, and then increasing the volume to more influencers. This way, you will get an understanding of:
- What type of influencers work best for creator licensing
- What type of content should you promote
- What duration should you keep the ad running
3 Scroll-stopping creator licensing campaigns
1. Fabletics x Kevin Hart
Fabletics, the subscription-based activewear brand, forayed into the men's fitness market in 2020 with a strategic influencer marketing campaign. They chose the comedian and entertainment influencer Kevin Hart to promote the brand’s latest offering. To let the word out about their new product line, Fabletics used Kevin Hart’s Facebook profile to run an ad, reaching more than 1 million prospective customers!
What works about their creator licensing campaign?
1. The brand chose the perfect influencer. Considering Hart's promotions for Nike and nutrition brand Vita Hustle, he was perfect for endorsing Fabletics Men's activewear.
2. Kevin Hart’s content caters to both genders equally. Whitelisting his content helps the brand to target male and female shoppers for the same product.
3. They use a mix of still images and videos repurposed from Hart's Instagram page.
2. Secret x Katelyn Speights
Secret, the women's deodorant launched by Procter and Gamble, is always in the headlines for its exceptional marketing campaigns. Whether it is launching a film, using Twitter hashtags, or leveraging user-generated content, Secret is always at the top of its social media marketing game.
The brand partnered with micro and macro influencers like Katelyn Speights, Cath Bastien fr, and others for the summer to introduce their new aluminum free deodorant range. And then used their content to boost impressions across Facebook and Instagram.
What worked about their creator licensing campaign?
1. The influencers used the popular GRWM (Get Ready With Me) trend to talk about the deodorant, giving the videos an authentic touch and blending them with other non-branded content on social media.
2. Instead of going for a celebrity, the brand partnered with micro and macro creators to maximize engagement rates as well as awareness.
3. They ran collaborative ads with influencers to reach more prospective customers.
4. They whitelisted both new content and old influencer pieces to boost their shelf life on social media.
3. Athletic Greens x Gut Talk Girls
The whole food vitamin supplement brand Athletic Greens has been driving success through TikTok Spark Ads (creator licensing on TikTok). They leverage travel and fitness TikTokers to let a word about their product and use their profiles to share sponsored videos.
In December 2021, the brand partnered with Gut Talk Girls, gut health influencers on TikTok, and podcast hosts to create awareness about their new travel packs and increase holiday sales. In the ad, the influencers share how the new compact packets help them pack efficiently for holiday traveling, engaging seasonal shoppers and travelers concerned about their health.
What worked about their creator licensing campaign?
1. They shared the influencer ad 2 days before Christmas to attract the last-minute shoppers.
2. The brand collaborated with mega TikTok creators to amass as much brand awareness as possible.
Increase the impact of your TikTok creator campaigns by avoiding these 5 mistakes!
BlendJet is nailing the creator licensing strategy on TikTok! So much so that its whitelisted ads generated 28 million impressions, 407,000 clicks and 12,000 conversions with a click-through rate of 1.43%, according to TikTok for Business.
The up-and-coming e-commerce brand sells portable blenders, protein powders and smoothie jet packs, and uses TikTok to amplify its sales. In September 2022, BlendJet partnered with a bunch of fitness, foo, and lifestyle TikTok creators to create videos “Things TikTok Made Me Buy” and "Live Hack" style videos showcasing the product’s features.
What worked about their creator licensing campaign?
1. They partnered with small-scale creators with below 100 followers but high engagement rate. This allowed the brand to leverage the creators’ authentic voice and trust with their followers to sell its products.
2. The creators went for authentic content formats like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt and life hack videos, which tend to perform better in the app and have the potential to go viral.
3. Instead of posting bite-sized videos, the creators took advantage of Tik Tok’s long form videos to post genuine and honest reviews. The detailed information in the videos allowed the viewers to see the product as an excellent alternative to bulky blenders.
Let's begin creator licensing by finding the right creators for your campaigns!
Creator licensing is an effective strategy but equally time-consuming and complicated. Getting permissions and content licensing access can take up countless hours. Thankfully, affable.ai has a solution for you!
Influencer marketing platforms like affable.ai connect you with the right creators. The platforms use data metrics and insights to paint a clear picture of the influencers and their content. Tools like influencer search engines and bulk emails help find relevant creators and establish effective communication, reducing the back and forth of licensing permissions.
Get a free trial to see how the platform works!