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msl unveils 28-month listening analysis around influencer marketing and pay equity

01.16.23 / MSL Staff

MSL Unveils 28-month Listening Analysis Around Influencer Marketing and Pay Equity

While there is sustained conversation, advocacy (versus action) prevails

One year after its industry-leading ‘Time to Face the Influencer Pay Gap’ study was announced, MSL U.S. is unveiling the findings of a 28-month listening analysis focused on influencer diversity and pay equity. During the past 12 months specifically, MSL found increased levels of engagement, including nearly double (170%) the volume of earned media coverage and conversation specific to ‘Advocacy’ and ‘Action’ around this subject.

“We are proud of our agency’s work to date on this subject – from our ‘Time to Face the Influencer Pay Gap’ study to our closed-door summit in July to this listening analysis – but there is an undeniable need for our industry to do more,” said Diana Littman, MSL U.S. CEO. “We have been in close contact with some of the world’s most influential agencies, platforms, brands, influencers and other key stakeholders to inform our proposed Influencer Pay Index, a data-backed standard of fairness, coming in Q1 2023. But we cannot do it alone; we are looking to our peers to drive change and shine additional light on this issue. While advocacy is important and should not be discounted, this underscores the need to shift from advocacy and conversation to change and concrete action in order to close the racial pay gap.”

MSL’s original commitments were launched in August 2020 following the murder of George Floyd. While there was there was consistent conversation around influencer marketing and pay equity in mid-2020 through 2021, conversation surged in December 2021 and significantly spiked again in Q1 of 2022, resulting in an increased overall average of conversation in 2022. Spikes in conversation in December 2021 and Q1 2022 notably coincided with the launch of MSL U.S. ‘Time to Face the Influencer Pay Gap’ study, NBC News coverage on the MSL study and GMA’s Black History Month feature on Black influencers and pay disparity. There were also significant spikes in conversation during Equal Pay Day in 2021 and 2022.

Key findings from MSL’s listening analysis include:

  • Compared to 2020 and 2021, there was a significant overall increase in conversation around this topic during the last 12 months.
  • From December 2021 to November 2022, MSL observed a 170% increase in earned media conversation and a 62% increase in social media conversation, with nano influencers making up 85% of social conversation.
  • The top five trending conversation topics in the pay gap conversation were ‘Black influencers’, ‘Change’, ‘Compensation’, ‘Advocacy’ and ‘Diversity’, with conversation around ‘Black influencers’ notably increasing 120% year-over-year.
  • Social networks are frequently a part of discussion as users highlight pay gaps on specific platforms, with an increasing focus on TikTok influencers and a decreasing focus on Instagram influencers year-over-year.
  • When conducting listening around this topic specific to ‘Action’, the volume of conversation around ‘Advocacy’ was almost six times higher than terms such as ‘Unionization’, ‘Negotiation’ and ‘Commitments’, underscoring the need to shift from advocacy and conversation to change and concrete action.

“Following the launch of our study and our agency’s commitments in late 2022, we decided to conduct an ongoing listening analysis on this topic. As a strategist with deep passion for social impact, I believe the PR industry, with our unique ability to partner with and bring together business leaders, brands and influencers, can lead this change,” said Shreya Mukherjee, MSL U.S. chief strategy officer.

This listening analysis conducted by MSL around influencer diversity, pay equity and related topics includes both earned and social media data (news, blogs, forums, Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr) and metrics from MSL’s proprietary tech stack. The analysis reflects the 28 months prior to November 30, 2022.