There are more ways than ever for brands to leverage relationships with influencers, from quick sponsored posts to elaborate campaigns with giveaways and custom video. One of the newest options, available on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and elsewhere, is an easy way to harvest data insights while promoting key products. It’s called allowlisting.
Influencer allowlisting is a process in which influencers and creators grant advertising permissions to brand partners, allowing them to use their handles, content, and audience targeting to unlock a new media and acquisition channel. The brand gets full control over content optimization, versus simply boosting branded content to drive awareness. (You may hear this referred to as whitelisting, but many people prefer to avoid that term—and besides, allowlisting is a more accurate description of what actually happens.)
I recently worked with a Part and Sum client to test an allowlisting partnership with an Instagram influencer. We learned a lot—and encountered a few surprises—along the way.
How allowlisting works
On Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, influencers give you permission to access their account via the platform’s business manager, and select the level of access you can have. Most of the time, brands just need standard access, which lets you create ads and view all the performance data. Twitter takes it a step further: Before you can get started, the influencer needs to provide written permission.
To see what allowlisting was all about and what it would offer, I set up a small test with women’s fashion brand Apiece Apart. The first order of business was finding the right influencer. Luckily, Apiece Apart had an existing relationship with an Instagram micro-influencer (~3k followers) whose chic, inspiring aesthetic was a perfect match. We negotiated terms with the influencer’s agent: $800 for a 30-day test, which included two allowlisted ads.
In a matter of minutes, the influencer provided access to their Facebook Business Manager (which is how Instagram ads are managed), and we were ready to go.
Sponsored posts vs. allowlisted posts
Creative was dictated by two organic posts that performed well on the influencer’s feed previously. We made minor copy revisions and added “shop now” calls to action that drove directly to product pages—one of the main benefits of allowlisting.
Once the ad was approved, the content upload process was exactly the same as a traditional ad, with one big difference. In the identity pane, we selected the influencer’s IG profile instead of Apiece Apart’s. That way, the ad would look like it came directly from the influencer’s account—because it did.
The influencer we worked with isn’t on Facebook, but eliminating Facebook from the ad setup would limit placement possibilities. No big deal: For that platform we used Apiece Apart’s own account, and tweaked the ad copy slightly so it would make sense coming from the brand itself.
Allowlisting performance: the results are in
We decided to run our allowlisted ads alongside our normal ads, so we could have a direct performance comparison.
Drumroll please… upon completion of the 30-day test, we found that our two allowlisted ads had generated $14,200 in revenue. What’s more, the clickthrough rate was nearly double that of our typical ad placements, and we saw the most engagement in the prospecting portion of our funnel. That was a sign that the campaign effectively raised awareness and pushed Apiece Apart beyond its usual audience.
And the payoff wasn’t just for Apiece Apart, either. The influencer saw a 53% increase in new followers in the month of our test, compared to the previous month. That’s key: Influencer relationships, like all relationships, have to work both ways.
You don’t need to spend a ton of money to experiment with allowlisting, and the potential benefits are impressive, especially if you cultivate meaningful connections with influencers who speak to your audience.
As our test proved, micro-influencers can be extremely valuable in this context. Their rates are typically lower than influencers with millions of followers, and their smaller online circle often conveys a greater sense of authenticity. Their posts feel less commercial, and more like a real friend letting you know about something they’re genuinely into.
If you’ve got existing influencer relationships, ask if they’d be willing to try allowlisting. Don’t have any connections yet? Start with an influencer networking app. We recommend Grin and Creator.co, which focus on ecommerce/D2C brands and micro-influencers.
Start small, be creative, and see what happens. You may be surprised at what you discover.