25 February 2022
What are unique challenges black creators face today and what can brands and agencies do to support the community? Meet Bibiana Yetty, digital creator, dentist, wife and mother of four. We spoke with Bibiana, who shared her personal experience of being a black creator in the influencer marketing industry, to help shed some light on this topic. Bibiana is part of the Channel Mum roster, one of INCA’s first verified partners to join our talent initiative programme in the UK.
Q: How did you first become a content creator and what was your motivation for getting started?
A: I’m currently a mum of four children, all aged eight years and under. When I first became a mother, I started watching other mums online to get tips and advice on motherhood. Before then, I wasn’t into watching much social media, I was just busy because of my profession. I’m a dentist, so it’s very far removed from what I do now.
After my twins, I had a very extended maternity leave because they were our first children, and we weren’t prepared for twins at all! I sort of fell into content creation, just doing it for fun and had no clue that there was a business side to it at all back then. When I got pregnant again with my third child, I started thinking about doing this as a potential job, because I saw other mums doing it. I then decided to pick up a camera and document my life more seriously and intentionally online. I started producing content on Facebook with friends and then I moved it to YouTube, because I felt like that was a nice way to connect with more people. I also enjoyed the whole process of producing long form video content.
I didn’t really share what I did professionally, I just shared motherhood content – because that is a whole job. I was later approached by Channel Mum, who I had admired for a long time. I feel like that’s when I realised that this is a profession and that I could create some sort of structure, vision and purpose behind my content. I share my journey as a mother, as a working mum and I also talk about faith and fashion.
I hadn’t seen many black mummy creators and that lack of representation spoke to me, because you connect with people who are like you and that goes beyond just being a mum. That said, it’s very challenging being a mother, but I try my best to show up – I feel that other mums can relate to this, mums of all races. I’m not specifically targeting black mothers with my content, although many of them will relate to me. But it’s nice for other mums as well, to see our experiences as a black family and to help change perspective.
Q: Can you please share your experience of being a black creator in the influencer industry, and share any unique challenges that you’ve faced?
A: I find that we’re still not seeing that many black creators in the industry. If I go to a speaking event, I’m still hearing the same names pop up. I think that there are more people out there doing the work, but I feel it’s only the ones that have the numbers behind their names who get big recognition. By engaging with black community pages, brands will see that there are other people, who are experts in their niche, producing great content, and I’d love to see more of that.
The Black Lives Matter movement opened my eyes to see that it’s true, there is a bit of an unconscious bias. Some industries think this is what the audience wants, and they present a certain influencer to represent an entire community and I think it’s wrong. Although everything is diverse now, I still don’t see a wide representation, or I just see the same token black influencer used in a certain campaign. If it’s not the same influencer, it’s the same look of influencer and I think that needs to change. We need to see more variety. There’s been a lot of reaction to Black History events and the Black Lives Matter movement, but it seems to come in waves. A lot of companies jumped on it in a panic, but there’s a lot of long-term work that still needs to be done.
Another area that needs improvement is long-term agreements with brands. My management is amazing, and I feel that they bend over backwards for me to get me the best jobs that they can. But I think it’s important to have more long-term relationships with brands. We need more companies to establish that kind of relationship with more black influencers, rather than signing them on to check a tick box once in a while.
Q: What can our brands and agencies do to support black creators?
A: There aren’t that many black creators talking about my niche specifically, but it’s definitely growing. There are smaller influencers out there who are using #blackmummyblogger for instance who aren’t with any agencies, so that’s one way to find them and see if they connect with your brand.
When it comes to picking creators for campaigns, I sometimes think creators are picked because they’re the ones that are always picked. It’s important to take a step back and review the creators for a campaign and look to see if they represent the wider community that we are trying to reach. Brands need to ask themselves, “are we using the same type of influencer’”and if you realise you haven’t used a black influencer for the past year, then that has to change. It can’t be a token thing, bands should be signing on a black influencer and giving them a long-term contract. These are small steps which will gain respect from your audiences. Everyone wants to see representation and we need to see that change happen.
Q: What excites you about the future of the industry?
A: The industry excites me because it’s being recognised more, even my family used to think I was doing this to keep myself busy, because I have the kids and can’t work as much these days. My mum can now see that it’s a job. She knows I’m a dentist by trade, but also sees that I’m working as a content creator as well. The world is recognising it too. Many people have tried it, but realised that it is hard work.
The industry has benefited me as a creator because it gives me a creative outlet outside of motherhood and work, which I love! Some people do this to quit their day job, but I’m not doing it for that. I like the fact that I can do both. I’ve always had creative passions in life. Throughout my upbringing, my parents used to say, “is it going to give you a certificate?” “Is there long-term security?” But in my heart, I knew I wanted to do it and to know you can actually do it, is a personal achievement for me as well. There’s a lot of people who follow you that aren’t content creators but are looking for someone to inspire them. I’m building a community of friends online and it really feels like that; a real friendship with people who will support you.
Q: Who inspires you as a creator?
A: If I had to say one, I would choose Patricia Bright. She’s probably our biggest champion as a black creator and has gone above and beyond. She’s one of my biggest role models. She’s a mum and she’s an entrepreneur – which is very inspiring for me as a mother and business owner. It’s great to see other mums supporting their families and teaching children that being a good parent is actually a very admirable thing. To see a black woman doing it all successfully, is also really inspiring.