Four Legal Considerations before Partnering with an Influencer

September 23, 2019

Over 80% of brands use social media influencers to promote products. But leagues of those companies are unwittingly exposing themselves to the regulatory and contractual pitfalls of third-party marketing by not following the four foundational legal rules of working with influencers.

Influencer Legal Consideration #1: Easy-Out Clause

You did it! You found the perfect influencer partners for your brand. Their follower stats are solid; their engagement figures are impressive. You’re thrilled.

Before you sign on the dotted line, however, make sure your contract has an easy out clause — because today’s darlings could be tomorrow’s villains. Influencer fans are fickle, the public’s tastes shift with the wind, and people are perpetually in search of the next big thing. That’s why brands need to include favorable termination clauses in their influencer contracts.

Businesses should also consider working with “nano-influencers.” They may not have gigantic followings, but their hives are highly engaged. In many instances, nano-influencers don’t command top-dollar but deliver a better ROI. Moreover, since they’re not trying to satisfy the masses, nano-influencers are less likely to reach for the shock-value stunts that too often mushroom into brand-distancing scandals.

Influencer Legal Consideration #2: Controlled Autonomy

Brands use influencers because — at least, theoretically — their fans trust and listen to them. Influencers know what works with their fandoms and what doesn’t. So, to maximize impact, companies should give social media partners a professional amount of leeway to decide what will “sell” best to their constituents.

However, businesses should never forfeit too much control. Don’t forget: You’re responsible for adhering to local, state, federal and international regulations.

Influencer Legal Consideration #3: FTC Marketing Regulations

The Federal Trade Commission is responsible for developing and enforcing online marketing regulations in the United States. Back in the Internet’s early days, the commission’s focus on digital promotion was sporadic and ill-conceived. But over the years, the FTC has gotten its digital ducks in a row. Nowadays, the nation’s consumer watchdog regularly sues brands and individuals for evading promotional standards. Commissioners are especially picky about failing to disclose marketing posts as advertisements. Be warned: The FTC tosses huge fines at brands and individuals who fail to “clearly and conspicuously disclose relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing products through social media.” Adding a #spon, #ad or #partner almost always does the trick.

Also, beware of influencers who buy followers. Not only could you be paying top-dollar for zero return, but you could land in the middle of an FTC compliance kerfuffle since fake followers don’t align with promotional guidelines.

Influencer Legal Consideration #4: Morality Clauses

Influencers that work for your brand are extensions of your business, even if they’re just contractors. To safeguard your reputation, vet potential partners, and make sure your influencer contracts include morality clauses equipped with an ejector seat in case an influencer snaps.

Work with an Online Marketing Influencer Attorney

Do you use influencers to market products? Are you considering it?

Our team of online marketing lawyers can walk you through a consultation and outline the pitfalls to avoid. We’ll also draft an air-tight, multi-jurisdictional influencer contract that protects your assets and reputation.

In today’s digital — not to mention litigious — marketplace, you can’t afford to go without an Internet law attorney. We’ll ensure you stay on the right side of the law while maximizing profits.

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