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19 December 20224 minute read

Working with a brand: 4 action steps for social media influencers

Many influencers today strive to form working relationships with brands. Such relationships can be mutually beneficial – not least, showcasing a brand’s value to the influencer’s followers while building the influencer’s own reach and impact.

But in relationships like these, there can be pitfalls. In this issue of IPT News, we look at four key actions for influencers to consider as you plan to work with a brand. Understanding these four points can help you develop a strong, positive relationship that is beneficial to all parties.

“Who owns your content and what rights does the brand have to use it?”

1. Do your due diligence

One of the easiest ways to avoid issues down the line is to ensure a good fit with a brand’s products and values, up front. When you promote a product or brand that doesn’t align with your own values, you run the risk of backlash or criticism from your followers. Doing some diligence about the companies you engage with will set your own business and brand up for success. 

2. Define exclusivity

Exclusivity is an important issue in influencer agreements. Since social media is so ephemeral, exclusivity may be limited to a short period during the term of the agreement. There may be a blackout period before or after a campaign goes live or when the influencer publishes campaign content, where the influencer commits not to post at all, or in more narrow circumstances, about competitive products or services. Influencers should be cautious about agreeing to a contract with long-term exclusivity provisions or a grant of exclusive rights for the brand to use the influencer’s content and should consider whether those restrictions impact the influencer’s ability to work with other brands in the future. 

3. Make the parameters of use clear

Who owns your content and what rights does the brand have to use it? Typically, influencers retain ownership of the copyright in the social media posts that the influencers create, subject to restrictions on how the influencers can use that content in the future.

Influencers should make sure that the agreement clearly outlines how the brand can use the influencer’s name and likeness and the influencer’s content. Influencers should ensure that they understand how brands can use the content, by defining things such as the media where the brand can use the content, the duration of use, and the type of uses that a brand can make with the influencer’s content.

Another important issue is ensuring that the parties agree on what counts as performance. Influencers should ensure that they understand a brand’s key metrics, contents of a creative brief, and what the brand expects to constitute performance. A creative brief helps all stakeholders align and meet essential expectations. 

Ultimately, clarity is important. Establish what is expected of both the brand and influencer at the outset.

4. Authentically align your brand

The FTC’s long-standing principles around disclosing material connections apply clearly in the social media context. The FTC regulates unfair and deceptive trade practices – and this mandate extends to influencers who are paid to advertise something. Any sort of material connection that could impact whether someone trusts their opinion about purchasing a product or service – a contractual agreement with the company, for instance, or gifts of products or services – must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed. 

Many influencers today use a hashtag, like #paidsponsor, to signal to consumers that they’ve received some compensation, such as a free product or a stay, to promote a brand. Using the hashtag is not enough, so influencers should ensure that they understand their obligations to make clear and conspicuous disclosures that match the medium of the format of their posts.

Moving forward

In conclusion, for influencers, vetting potential brand partners serves two purposes. First, you ensure that the brand aligns with your values so any ads feel authentic and your own brand is protected. At the same time, vetting in advance helps to establish a business relationship that will be successful for both sides.

Do your due diligence, define exclusivity, clarify and understand the boundaries, and authentically align your brand with business partners. Those simple steps will take you a long way.