The phenomenon of influencer marketing is going from strength to strength. A growing number of brands are leveraging influencer marketing to reach their target audience, and what was once a niche digital marketing strategy is quickly becoming an established strategy in its own right.
Even so, the path to involvement with influencer marketing is still lined with informality. For example, industry influencers may be invited by email to participate in a brand’s live webcast; the terms of the arrangement are more or less outlined in the first exchange, and the influencer acknowledges the terms by replying. A formal contract is rarely ever drawn up, and few brands recognize this is for the administrative oversight it is.
Some influencer marketing experts will argue that a contract is necessary for any kind of engagement with an influencer, ensuring that both parties are on the same page in terms of objectives, expectations, deliverables, brand guidelines and timelines.
Other experts say that a contract is only required once compensation is involved. If an influencer is being paid for speaking engagements, content creation, hosting events or the development of promotional materials, then a contract can help document the relevant terms of the exchange.
Each company is sure to come up with its own timeline for formalizing an arrangement with an influencer. Even so, it is vital to ensure that when a contract is eventually drawn up, several key elements are included.
1. Dates and Timeline
An influencer marketing contract must specify the duration of the work agreement, as well as dates for deliverables. For example, a brand might contract an influencer for a blog post to be written and published within 30 days of an agreement, as part of a contractual relationship lasting at least 90 days.
2. Deliverables and Scope of Work
A contract should be specific about the deliverables expected from the influencer. For example, if an influencer is to present on a live webcast, the contract should specify the length of the session, whether a Q&A session is expected, and whether or not a rehearsal will take place.
3. Approval Flows
An influencer contract should also specify which materials an influencer can publish autonomously and directly, and which content will require a brand to give prior review and approval.
In most cases, a reputable influencer won’t require much handling from a partner brand, but certain industries – especially highly regulated ones – may choose to enforce a final approval before publishing.
4. FTC-Mandated Disclosures
These are explicit references that influencers must adhere to for US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) disclosure guidelines. According to the FTC, if you endorse a product through social media, your endorsement message should make it obvious when you have a relationship or “material connection” with the brand.
The world of influencer marketing is, on the whole, filled with ambitious and creative brand ambassadors with highly-engaged and committed followers. Even so, it is a common and avoidable mistake to fail to map out proper expectations ahead of a partnership. Like any other relationship, influencer engagement is most successful when both parties are happy – and a contract can be an excellent tool to ensure this.