How to Write Excellent Influencer Contracts and Why You Need Them
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Influencer contracts are integral to protecting brands and social media influencers alike. They are the key to ensuring a successful working relationship and fair compensation. So, what do you need to know to write one?
First off, the influencer marketing industry has grown astronomically in recent years. Brands that want to stay competitive in their niche know that social media marketing is the future. The good news is that this means influencer agreements have become practically standard.
For influencers, there is a lot more protection now than there used to be. Additionally, there are certain standards that have become commonplace. Along with that, there are new regulations for influencer marketing to avoid scams and misinformation.
Having a rock-solid influencer contract in place can protect both parties from potential lawsuits and contribute to a strong influencer relationship between the individual and the brand.
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- What Are Influencer Contracts?
- 9 Things to Include in Your Influencer Contracts
- When Do You Need an Influencer Contract?
- Influencer Contract Templates and Other Resources
- Final Thoughts on Influencer Contracts
What Are Influencer Contracts?
Nowadays, social media is more than just a place to catch up with friends from high school. Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have become powerful marketing spaces for brands (with some great TikTok ads worth studying). One of the ways that a business may market on social media is to collaborate with an influencer.
Often influencers will have a large following in order for brands to be interested in working together, but that isn't always the case.
Sometimes just being in the right niche or having a really active following is more important. Generating curated content on behalf of a brand is a great way to make money online.
If you want to be an influencer with a thriving following, be sure to check out our guide to grow your social media following here.
From a brand perspective, working with influencers increases brand awareness and drives traffic to your website. Ultimately, it's one of the most successful marketing strategies in this day and age. The most important aspect of this is to make sure you choose the right influencer to work with.
One way to search for an influencer to work with is by checking out influencer networks. Look for someone that fits your niche and has a high engagement rate.
The terms of the arrangement between the influencer and the brand are laid out in influencer contracts. This way, who has agreed to do what and for how much is clear and referenceable. A written agreement means brands can be sure they are getting what they've paid for. Meanwhile, an influencer contract gives the content creator direction and security.
9 Things to Include in Your Influencer Contracts
1. Detailed Scope of Work
A clear outline of the work to be done is a standard part of any contract agreement. In an influencer contract, you would expect to see:
- Content guidelines
- Branding and aesthetic guidelines
- Specific details regarding content
The most obvious thing to include in your influencer marketing agreement is what content is to be provided.
Your influencer contract should lay out:
- Type of post (reel, story, post, live video, etc.)
- Social media platforms to be posted on
- Volume of posts
- Frequency of posts
More and more brands are moving towards building long-term relationships with their influencers. This means rather than doing deals for one-off posts, they are trying to foster a working relationship with influencers in their niche to post frequently about their brand.
Branding and Aesthetics
Unsurprisingly, brands want their sponsored content to fit their brand image. This might mean applying a certain aesthetic to the content or ensuring that brand values are conveyed through the content.
As a social media influencer, it's also important to ensure that sponsored posts fit with your own personal brand. Remember that the brand benefits so long as the influencer's following is engaged by the content. It's important that the brand aesthetics don't clash with what followers will be expecting from the influencer.
For that reason, this is an area where communication between both parties is necessary for success.
You can also include things that are not allowed in the content to avoid possible issues. This means clearly stating what the influencer cannot include in the post.
Most influencer marketing campaigns will require a specific hashtag or mention in the post. Make sure this is included in the contract so the influencer can refer back and make sure they've got it right.
2. Approval Process
Some brands can feel wary about trusting their brand image to somebody else. That's part of why having a good influencer contract can be essential for success. Brands can lay out what the approval process for any social media posts might be.
This can be a good thing to include in the early days of working with a new brand/influencer. It allows the influencer to feel confident that they are delivering content that the brand is happy with and allows the brand to retain some control over their marketing.
Once you've been working together for a while, you might both feel comfortable skipping the approval process as your influencer relationship grows stronger.
To start, include the contact details for the influencer's main point of contact. This will be the person they can get in touch with if they have any questions. If the individual responsible for approving any posts is different, then include their details as well.
Additionally, include the actual approval process. For example, include at what stage the brand would like the content creator to get approval.
At the end of the day, influencer marketing is a legitimate industry and so should be treated like any other business. That means including hard deadlines and targets.
A big mistake small brands sometimes make when reaching out to influencers is failing to include a solid contract or, at the very least, agreeing on a deadline.
Unfortunately, this can sometimes mean free products get sent out with nothing to show for it.
Once an influencer agrees to work with a brand, there should be a set time period for the influencer to generate some kind of content for the brand.
The whole point of influencer marketing is that with a few Instagram posts here, a YouTube video there, badda-bing, badda-boom -- there is a surge in business.
Influencers that can reliably generate significant returns for the company can charge more for their content creation. The results of a successful influencer marketing campaign are called deliverables.
Even small-time influencers should be prepared to tell a company what it is they bring to the table. Stats like engagement (comments, likes, saves, etc.) can persuade a brand that your influencer content is worth the investment.
Additionally, clear objectives can give the business an idea of what kind of return on investment to expect.
There are lots of different ways to track deliverables from Google Analytics to Instagram's built-in analytic dashboard. Both parties should agree on how success will be measured and what the goal of the campaign will be.
As an influencer, it's not necessary for you to include your social media login information if you're not comfortable with doing so. Instead, you can offer to send screenshots of your social media analytics or other ways to prove you're holding up your end of the deal.
However, it's worth noting that the company you're working with might ask for login details so that they can take over responding to any comments and interactions to do with the sponsored post.
Of course, aside from the details of content creation, the most obvious thing to include in an influencer contract is compensation.
There are different incentives for both parties to work together. Sometimes a company will offer some of its products for free in exchange for a product review post. However, most often, monetary compensation is paid in exchange for some kind of influencer marketing campaign.
Make sure to include the following in your influencer agreement:
- Payment details
- Timing and frequency
- Currency (when dealing with an international influencer, this is really important to include so there is no confusion)
6. Content Ownership
Influencer contracts are legal documents so including content ownership can save either party from issues down the line.
Brands will likely want to include some kind of statement that gives them permission to modify what the content creator has done. This means that if any tweaks need to be made to better reflect brand values or image there are no questions about the right to do so.
Additionally, the agreement should outline whether the business has the right to repost or share the content creator's work on other channels.
Influencers should be prepared to agree to have their name and personal brand associated with the company (usually for a certain period of time, which should also be stated).
7. Confidentiality Clause
A confidentiality clause or non-disclosure agreement states the influencer can't share how much they were paid and stuff like that. It's good practice, especially when working with multiple influencers who are possibly on different pay.
In some cases, the brand might also require exclusivity, which means the influencer won't work with competing brands for as long as you have a working relationship. This is another thing to include in your contract agreement in case of any breach. The length of time the company expects exclusivity should be stated.
This is an important clause to include. Lay out under what circumstances either party may cancel or terminate the contract and what the ramifications may be.
For example, the brand might include a behavioral clause that states that if the influencer acts or is associated with acts that go against the brand image, their contract may be terminated.
You can also include a deadline for canceling a long-term agreement. If you've been working together on a rolling contract but feel like the relationship has run its course, you can specify two weeks' notice or something similar so that the other party has fair warning that the relationship is coming to an end.
Note - A force majeure clause is one of the most standard contract clauses out there. This clause protects both parties from unforeseen circumstances. For example, it covers things like natural disasters or situations like the COVID-19 pandemic.
9. FTC Guidelines
DISCLOSE YOUR BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS.
Don't pull a Kim K and get fined by the SEC for failing to state you're plugging crypto because you got paid to do it.
The Federal Trade Commission has strict guidelines to regulate social media marketing and influencer marketing campaigns in order to protect consumers. Both the brand and the influencer need to follow these to avoid fines, potential lawsuits, and other penalties.
Often, this means disclosing you are in partnership together by including hashtags like #ad or #sponsored.
You can also read this post by Neil Schaffer which is really helpful for laying out what you need to know about FTC guidelines when it comes to influencer marketing.
In the UK and other countries, there will be different governing bodies that oversee standard practices in marketing. Make sure you comply with the applicable laws for the country your brand is based in.
When Do You Need an Influencer Contract?
Always have a signed contract.
Whenever there is a social media influencer agreement made, draw up a contract template and have it signed by both parties involved. This makes it a legally-binding agreement and both sides are then responsible for holding up their part of the deal.
Having a formal influencer contract can:
- Protect your brand
- Protect your consumer
- Set expectations for the relationship
For influencers, a signed agreement means:
- Clear content instruction
- Protection in terms of compensation
- Relationship timeline
Influencer Contract Templates and Other Resources
The good news is that influencer contracts are a lot more prevalent now than they were a few years ago. Usually, both parties will be expecting a contract of some sort, and that means that there are a lot more resources online to help you get started–including influencer contract templates.
If you've never written an influencer contract before and you need some ideas for where to start, below are some free examples of an influencer contract template:
- Influencer Marketing Hub's Contract Template
- Revv's Influencer Contract Template
- Influencer Contract by JotForm
Other helpful resources for influencers include:
- Free 3-Day Instagram Influencer course by LadyBossBlogger
- How to Create an Influencer Media Kit
- Neil Patel's Guide to Becoming an Influencer
- How to Become an Influencer
Meanwhile, brands can benefit from tools like:
Final Thoughts on Influencer Contracts
Influencer contracts are binding legal documents, but that doesn't mean they need to be stressful to create, nor do you need to look at hiring a law firm to write one up for you. Whether you are a small brand writing your first contract or an influencer creating their own to protect your interests in a new business venture, don't skip this crucial step.
Start by including everything discussed above and don't be afraid to negotiate and agree on terms that you are both happy with! The final influencer agreement should be a collaborative process that ensures benefits and expectations from both sides.
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