Diverse organizations perform better. Marketers are always saying it, but there’s a good reason why. Sure enough, DTC business QuickBooks has found that the more diverse its influencer roster gets, the more effective it is.
Take LGBTQ influencers, for example, whose content tends to perform better, said Jennifer Buchbinder, director of strategic communications at QuickBooks’ owner Intuit. In fact, they earned an average 10.3% engagement rate (i.e. a metric for understanding the number of people who engaged with the sponsored post via clicks, likes, comments, and shares), outperforming the target by three times. Moreover, the content from these influencers was more likely to spark a relevant response from viewers, with more than 30% of the comments on their content relevant to the campaign’s messaging. That’s more than double the initial benchmark, said Buchbinder.
“We anticipate this percentage will increase by the end of this year, and in future years,” said Buchbinder. “Our LGBTQ+ influencers have actually performed better, on average. So, our audiences have clearly reacted well to their content.”
These comments will pique the interest of these influencers, no doubt. Many of them have grown frustrated with the fact that few companies seem to take them seriously. And even when it seems like they are, they are often asked to present a watered-down version of themselves who haven’t really understood what they’re buying into.
As one influencer who spoke on condition of anonymity to Digiday said: “It’s sad that some brands only care to market [to] the queer community during Pride, similar to Latinx campaigns during Hispanic heritage month and so on, being LGBTQIA+ is all day every day around the year.”
It’s a thought not lost on QuickBooks’ marketers. They were wary not to be seen as part of a crop of businesses who routinely hijack Pride with performative stunts of solidarity. Instead, they’ve tried to keep it simple: picking the right influencer, regardless of what they look like and their sexual orientation, for the right brief.
“Our primary selection criteria for working with an influencer for a specific campaign or program is looking at their experience and credibility on the content we want them to create,” said Buchbinder. “Then, we always strive for diverse and inclusive casting. It’s something that’s ingrained in my team.”
A recent campaign brought this point into sharp focus. It had to help new businesses learn about the ways QuickBooks can help them be successful. To do so, the company wanted influencers who also were QuickBooks customers — something it pushes for — and also had recently started their businesses. After it applied this filter, its marketers prioritized diverse and inclusive casting.
“For our content to ring true, it must be authentic to the influencer,” said Buchbinder. “We do our best to select influencers that we believe will perform well for a certain campaign, but once they’re selected, we give them the creative license to develop content in their own voice and tone.”
Plenty of worthy talk about diverse talent like this has not been followed by enough cash or action according to influencers. A recent study laid this out bare: it found that most influencers (89%) have been approached by a brand that’s only interested in engaging them in June for Pride campaigns rather than throughout the year, according to a survey of 93 LGBTQ influencers and creators who were surveyed by influencer agency Collectively in May. So while corporate diversity pledges have good intentions, they are not enough. At best, they lead to positive discrimination. At worst, they mask the fact that these companies have anything but a diverse, inclusive outlook of the world.
“The feeling that creators have about being tokenized or commodified this month every year is real,” said Natalie Silverstein, chief innovation officer at Collectively, which works with QuickBooks. “It’s something that marketers all need to recognize. And the ones we work with do. They’re not focusing on one marginalized group for a set period of time like Pride or Black History month. They recognize their customers of tomorrow are in a completely different headspace about topics of gender expression and sexuality than their customers of yesterday.”
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