As the marketer for a brand, the excitement over getting your latest product announcement or giveaway contest out the door can make you forget a very vital step: a clearly outlined contract with your social media influencers.
A contract isn’t just a legal agreement. It provides your influencers with clear guidelines on what you want them to post and what you want them to avoid. It saves them time by eliminating ambiguity about what you need, and it empowers them to publish promotional posts that effectively help you hit your marketing goals. Plus, contracts avoid future complications when it comes to payments and your working relationship.
Is this is your first time drafting up a contract for a social media campaign? The more details you include, the better it is for you, your business, and your influencers’ success. Here are several key items that you’ll want to ensure that you check off:
Don’t Anger the FTC (or your country’s related regulatory body)
This year, the Federal Trade Commission reached out to 90 major athletes, celebrities, and other social media influencers. In their letters, the FTC warned them that it’s illegal to not clearly disclose what’s a promotional post and what’s an organic post.
This can derail your influencer marketing programs and leave your brand in legal hot water. Avoid this by making clear in your contract how you want the influencer to disclose his or her relationship with you. You will likely want them to include a hashtag in the caption of the photo, such as #sponsored or #paid. Instagram and Facebook have also recently introduced features within their platforms that facilitates influencers tagging their brand partnerships to easily disclose paid content.
The Devil is in the Details
Leaving influencers in charge of what to include or not include in the photo is a headache for everyone involved. In your contract, clearly stipulate the do’s and don’ts for images so that influencers don’t have to worry about whether or not their post will be approved by you. Items to consider include:
- Does the image have to be original or can they use a past image?
- Are there any specifics about the lighting or setting? For example, a healthy organic products company might stipulate that they want the influencer in a natural setting.
- Is there packaging or branding involved? What parts of the product should be clearly visible in the photo? If you have a wide range of products, are there specific ones they must include?
- Do you care if another company’s products or brands are in the shot? Make it clear if you have strict rules about this.
What’s the Call-to-Action?
When building your social media campaign, you should always have clear consistency in your outreach. This includes what social media influencers post on their accounts. Give your influencers clear directions on any branded hashtags you want them to use in their posts.
Also, make sure you specify how you want their audience to connect back with your brand. After all, if there’s no clear call to action, you’re missing out on a key opportunity to convert users into valuable leads. Some things that you as a brand may want to consider:
- Having the influencer tag your account in the photo caption.
- Making sure there’s an in-image tag that links back to your account.
- Asking the influencer to include a link in their bio—for 24 hours after the post goes live. If you choose to do this, make sure it’s a trackable link associated with the influencer’s account so you can measure campaign success! You can accomplish this by using UTM codes.
Take this image by Michelle Madsen for example:
So excited to be partnering with @capribluecandles during NY fashion week ✨ not only do the candles smell ah-mazing BUT they're also beautifully designed and the perfect addition to your home decor 🙌🏼 follow along at @capribluecandles and their Insta-stories to see some behind-the-scenes with me here during fashion week! ❤️ #CBxNYFW #sponsored
You can clearly see that she has tagged the brand (@capribluecandles) in the caption, used their branded hashtag (and included the important #sponsored disclaimer), and if you tap the photo, you can see she tagged them within the photo itself. More importantly, she included a clear call to action and asked her readers to follow the brand’s account for behind-the-scenes shots.
What Should Be Avoided?
You’ve outlined what you want. Now include what you don’t want.
Common items seen in many influencer contracts that you may want to consider include:
- Brand exclusivity:
- Not featuring other people, products, or even other items that your brand sells other than the featured item.
- Not showing other brand logos or trademarks. This might even include brands in the background or on clothing like a hat or sweater.
- Don’t include personal overlays, watermarks, and other influencer branding. Remember, you are paying the influencer to promote you—not themselves.
- Keep it PG: Do you care how much or how little the influencer is wearing in the shot? Does profanity or cursing offend you? Make sure the post aligns with your brand’s values and your audience’s values.
Don’t Forget the Legal Stuff
Round out the contract with key legal details, including how much you will pay, when you plan to review and approve posts by, and the start and end date of the campaign.
Always Enforce Deadlines
It’s important to remember that when working with influencers—some of them may be new to the workforce (ie. quite young and not as professionally experienced as a seasoned freelancer). Give them some structure to ensure the collaborations go live smoothly.
Want to put these tips into practice and start working with world-class influencers to promote your brand and your brand’s products? Introduce yourself to #paid today and reach a new audience.
By day, Josh Duvauchelle is the co-founder of Frey Union, a marketing firm in Vancouver, BC. By night, he’s a health and wellness coach featured in Teen Vogue, Men’s Journal, Shape, Men’s Fitness, and more. Find him on Instagram under @joshduv. Josh is a member of #ThePaidCrew editorial team.