When we first started talking about influencer marketing more heavily on our blog about a year ago, the practice was still making waves through the marketing industry. A year can bring a lifetime of change in terms of digital strategies and we have seen enormous change when it comes to marketers and influencers.
Influencer marketing is now very likely top of mind for many brand marketers and agencies. As the influencer industry has continued to gain momentum, so have the regulations and legalities around it.
When influencer marketing in, it’s current form, first picked up steam, many influencers didn’t admit they had been paid or given goods for their review. While influencers are encouraged to give their honest reviews or opinions, the exchange of payment still makes influencer marketing a clear form of advertising. Therefore, regulating bodies in many countries (including US and Canada) have intervened to ensure bloggers and social influencers disclose their affiliation to the brand.
Over the past few years, we have seen many brands and influencers held accountable for not using proper disclosure. In some cases, this could be due to a lack of knowledge with both parties. However, there is certainly still a lack of understanding around the severity of the regulations and the fines given out for non-compliance.
The basics of compliance in influencer marketing.
The specific rules and regulations around influencer marketing and disclosure can vary from one country to the next, but the basic principle is the same; be upfront and honest about the exchange between the brand and influencer.
Influencers must disclose they have been given goods and/or payments in exchange for their review. This can be done in a number of ways, but the most common are as follows:
For blog posts and articles – A disclosure statement must be present on the blog post and preferably at the top of the article. This statement can be brief, but must state the fact the influencer has been compensated in some way for the content that follows.
In an article from Search Engine Watch, the look at some of the options provided by the FTC guidelines for the United States:
In the FTC guide, the organization outlines these two options for statements as a way of properly alerting audiences that the brand provided products for the influencer to post about:
“Company XX gave me this product to try . . .”
“Some of the products I’m going to use in this video were sent to me by XX’s manufacturers.”
For social posts – Within platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc., influencers must identify content they have been compensated for through the use of a #hashtag (Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.). For social networks where hashtags are not as widely accepted – I’m looking at you, Facebook – add a disclosure statement line of text in the post.
DO NOT USE the following terms, which are not sufficient enough and can have you facing a fine:
The bottom line, disclosure has to be clear and should be placed very obviously within the post.
Why is it important to issue contracts with your influencers?
We know influencer marketing is becoming a regular staple in the strategies of most marketers. In fact, 86% of marketers used influencer marketing in 2016, 94% of whom found it to be effective, according to a study done by Linqia. However, we also know many brands run influencer campaigns without the use of proper contracts.
Speaking from personal experience as a blogger in the parenting and lifestyle space (yes, I used an example from my own blog above…), I know contracts are not used as often as they should be. Over the past five years, I have been hired by dozens of different companies, many of which are some of the biggest brands in the family industry, and have only ever been offered a proper contract a handful of times.
This lack of use with influencer agreements is changing quickly.
Influencer agreements or contracts are simply documents to help outline the campaign details and expectation of deliverables, between the brand and the influencer. Most importantly, brands can use contracts to ensure their influencers understand they have to use proper disclosure on all of their content.
What you put into a contract is up to you, but you should look to include the following components:
- Start and end date of the campaign
- Outline of deliverables
- Guidelines for posting (use of disclosure, campaign hashtags, etc.)
- Approval process
As our friend Mark Schaefer says, “There’s no room for uncertainty in influence marketing: you need to clarify from the start what your brand expects from influencers, what you will provide them with, and the limits of their affiliation with you.”
Contracts can also serve to help establish a professional business relationship between your brand and your influencers. You want to make sure they know you take their work seriously, and you want them to give equal respect to your brand and message.
“Having a signed contract between the brand and influencer is so important for many reasons. It keeps both the brand and influencer accountable to the agreed upon deliverables of the campaign. It maintains a sense of professionalism and helps clearly lay out the details of the campaign and the expectations of the influencers. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, It can also act to safeguard the brand from any drama as it relates to compensation.” – Logan Miller, Digital Marketing Strategist – Influencer Marketing & Social Lead, gShift
Logan heads up the influencer marketing services here at gShift and has created incredible campaigns for the likes of Budweiser and North Paw, just to name and few. And yes, of course, he never kicks off any campaign without sound contracts in place.
Get in touch with our team to learn more about how we can help you with influencer marketing.