Let’s say that by some stroke of unbelievable luck, you just booked Selena Gomez for your upcoming Instagram campaign. We bet you’d put a ton of time and care into any contract that would go in front of her team, to help the campaign avoid pitfalls and run as smoothly as possible, maximizing your investment in such a powerhouse influencer.
Well, we’re here to tell you that you should put just as much time and care as you would for Selena Gomez into every contract for every creator partnership you strike. If you don’t, you’re doing yourself a disservice by whiffing on a fundamental piece of the process that leads to successful influencer campaigns.
Contracts are nothing new to big-budget influencer marketing partnerships, but in the last two years, an equal level of sophistication is emerging within the micro-influencer tier. These days, creators with as few as 25,000 followers employ managers and agencies to facilitate their brand partnerships. And this is actually a win-win: both the brand and the influencer benefit from clear communication of expectations, which can be the difference between a creator campaign that moves the needle and one that ends in a messy lawsuit.
It’s important when proposing a deal to an influencer to have all the details mapped out, so that they have a clear picture of all requirements before agreeing to the partnership—and so that you get your money’s worth from what they produce. The items below represent many of the subjects that will arise during negotiation discussions, with our informed advice about how to navigate the process and get out ahead of any snafus.
- What types of posts are you asking the influencer to create?
- Think about all the information a creator would need to know to produce the best possible content for your brand. Include attachments or links to example posts to help define preferences and requirements.
- What is the overarching goal for your campaign?
- Provide as much context as you can for the influencer, so that they can make informed decisions about how to support it. Some questions to consider: What is the campaign strategy? How does the creator fit into that strategy? What does success look like?
- Do you have non-compete requirements?
- Specify the brand category or any competitors that the creator must avoid working with over a duration of time. For example, in a short-term agreement, you may stipulate that the influencer not share content from another beauty or sports brand for two weeks before or after your campaign posts are published. For more involved partnerships, the exclusivity period may be much longer, even a year.
Payment Amount & Terms
- How much will you be paying, and when can the creator expect to be paid?
- Depending on the campaign length and requirements, you may make more than one payment. That timing should be clearly laid out: will you be paying an initial deposit, at various intervals, or all upon completion of content deliverables?
- Also be sure to specify what is required from the creator before the payment can occur (i.e. an invoice, W-9, etc.).
- How long must the influencer keep the campaign content published on their channel from the time it is posted?
- For Stories, this is pretty straightforward (24 hours), but for videos and photos, your terms may start at 24 hours and go up to indefinitely. We find that two-four weeks is fairly standard and works well for both sides, as most in-feed engagements happen within the first 48 hours of the post’s life.
- What specific language and placement of disclosure tags do you expect to see on every branded post?
- Clear and specific requirements in this area are necessary to avoid running afoul of the FTC, which has been cracking down recently on influencers who fail to disclose when content is sponsored. We can help you do this right. (Read our blog post on the topic: Advertising & Endorsement Disclosure in Influencer Marketing
- Does your brand intend to repurpose the creator content for other marketing purposes?
- For example:
- Will the influencer posts be used within paid media campaigns? (Creators tend to charge more when this is the case.)
- Will the images be featured on a marketing website?
- Will the videos be played in-store or on TV?
- Are you planning to use creator imagery in billboards or other out-of-home placements?
Content Ownership & Use of Likeness
- Does the creator ultimately own the content they create for this campaign, simply providing a temporary usage license, or does the brand own this content in perpetuity and can do with it what they please?
- Sometimes you may strike a sharing arrangement. For example, the creator maintains ownership of their content, but the brand can use it however they wish for a period of time (i.e. six months or one year). In these cases, the brand may not have to delete the creator content when the partnership ends, but cannot continue to publicize the relationship beyond the agreed-upon time frame.
- If you’re running an affiliate program or driving clicks to your website, where must the creator include a link to your desired destination?
- Examples include: in a bio, Instagram Story, blog post, video description, etc.
- Be sure to specify, if the link goes in the creator’s bio, how long the influencer must keep it live.
- What will the content review process look like during the campaign?
- This is an area where clear expectations going into the campaign make a world of difference in terms of happy collaboration. Of course, the influencer should have creative freedom, but all brands and agencies will want to ensure the content accurately portrays the product and the campaign message. Some questions to consider and include:
- Are creators required to provide a concept before producing content?
- How many rounds of review and revisions are expected?
- If revisions are required, will the creator be paid additional fees for edits?
Miscellaneous and Custom Items
- Take some time to consider anything specific to your brand or campaign that wasn’t included in the points above. For example, many alcohol brands do not allow you to display more drinks than the number of individuals in a post, to discourage overconsumption. A couple more examples:
- Do creators need to include the product in every post?
- Are there any claims the influencer shouldn’t make about your product?
- Do you want to prohibit any words or actions?
As both brands and creators become more savvy and sophisticated in terms of campaigns and partnerships, contracts only become more essential. We strongly recommend creating a templated document specific to your brand to serve as a guide for influencer contract development. And, as always, things change quickly in the digital marketing space, so check back on your guide at regular intervals and update it as necessary.