Social media has become a powerhouse global economic force in a relatively short amount of time. New social media channels continue to spring up, and fresh new faces continue to populate the ranks of influencers. In the U.S. alone the social media industry is forecast to generate $40 billion in revenue in 2019, notes IBISWorld.

But it’s also an industry that’s attracted its fair share of controversy. Problematic players range from influencers who lose big deals for bad behavior to brands that tempt trouble by ignoring FTC disclosure guidelines. With so much money on the line and with reputations at stake, social media contracts are a must for brands, marketers and influencers.

Your Dos and Don’ts List

When brands and marketers collaborate with influencers on social media marketing campaigns, the partnership agreements they draw up are called social media contracts. A social media contract is important for the brand, the marketer and the influencer because it protects all parties. It spells out key terms, such as what’s expected of the influencer and what the payment terms are.

As social media marketing has grown and developed, so have the risks and precautions taken regarding it. Whether you’re an influencer, big brand, small business or agency, don’t take the risk of being unprepared should trouble come calling. Here’s what to do and avoid when creating a social media contract — and what goes into one.

  • Don’t Use a Random Contract Template: You can find dozens of social media contract templates online. But don’t be tempted to go for a quick fix and use one just because it’s free and easy to download. Remember, it wasn’t necessarily written for your industry or for the states or countries where the laws need to apply. Don’t try to wing it on your own. Do consult with an attorney that’s experienced in social media contracts when creating one.
  • Don’t Forget the Fundamentals: Don’t forget to include the basics in the agreement. This includes the names and physical signatures of the parties, a brief summary of the campaign and the date the contract is effective.
  • Do Include All of the Deliverables Expected: Specify what the scope of the work is to include. That means the format, frequency, length and social media platforms for posts and any other deliverables. Describe any other responsibilities influencers might have, like attending events or hosting contests for the campaign. Make sure to explain what your brand hopes to accomplish with the campaign and what its message is. That way the influencer has a clear understanding of what’s expected.
  • Don’t Ignore Compliance: Include a requirement for the influencer and marketer to comply with any laws that apply. These include copyright and intellectual property laws and FTC endorsement and disclosure requirements. Think of it as preventative medicine.
  • Don’t Forget to Include a Timeline: Make sure to include the timeline for the campaign. Schedule a start and end date and list when the posts and other deliverables are to occur. How long is the content to stay up on the influencer’s social media channels or website?
  • Do Spell Out Fees and Expenses Covered: Be specific about the compensation the influencer will receive. Also detail the types of expenses the influencer can incur that the brand or marketer will reimburse. Set budget limits for expenses, especially for things like photoshoots, which can quickly get costly.
  • Do Include Review, Revision and Approval Requirements: Outline the specifics of the approval process. For brands, how many reviews of the content do you require and at what points in the process do you want them? Will the brand or the influencer have the final sign off before the content is distributed? If you’re an influencer, consider how many rounds of revisions and how much brand oversight of the content is acceptable to you.
  • Don’t Forget About the Competition: Include a clause to make it clear if the influencer isn’t allowed to promote your competitors during the campaign. Indicate whether other brands can also be mentioned in the posts.
  • Do Include Metrics-Reporting Requirements: Be clear about the types of metrics the influencer is to report to you and how frequently.
  • Do Be Clear About Licensing and Ownership: Spell out what the licensed property will consist of, who will have ownership of the content and for how long. This is important for brands that want to repurpose content that the influencer has created for the campaign.
  • Do Include a Morals/Social Responsibility Clause: Influencers might have enormous social media audiences, but don’t assume that means they’ll act appropriately in your brand’s name. Make sure the contract includes a morals/social responsibility clause so they don’t post something offensive, dangerous or sexually explicit.
  • Do Include Payment Terms: List payment terms that are agreeable for both parties. How soon after content is posted will payment take place? If you’re an influencer, do you require any prepayment before you create or deliver the content? If you’re paying an influencer based on clicks, engagement or sales, how soon will you pay them? If you’re an influencer with concerns about late payments, consider including a penalty for them.
  • Don’t Forget Termination and Cancelation Clauses: Make sure you’re protected in case things don’t work out. The contract should describe the actions that are grounds for termination of the agreement. It should also address what happens if the project gets canceled for other reasons. Include details like how much notice is required before canceling a campaign. It’s also crucial to spell out how termination can affect compensation.
  • Do Include a Non-Disparagement Clause: Top influencers have huge audiences that are incredibly loyal and hang on the influencers’ every word. Likewise, a spokesperson for a top brand can command a lot of attention from the press, and marketers will talk among themselves. Include a non-disparagement clause so none of the parties can bad-mouth another if things go south with the relationship.
  • Do Address Penalties and Legal Repercussions: Include notice of any penalties or legal repercussions that could happen for not fulfilling the terms of the contract. For instance, what happens if an influencer posts behind schedule or doesn’t deliver the number of posts they’ve agreed to?
  • Do Include a Confidentiality Clause: A confidentiality clause prevents the parties from spilling the beans about the campaign ahead of time, so competitors can’t benefit from the information. Although when the campaign launches it won’t be a secret anymore, there are still elements that you’ll likely want to remain confidential.
  • Do Read the Fine Print: You might have the best lawyer or legal department in town, but even top lawyers make mistakes. Take your time when you review your contract. Carefully read the entire document before you sign it to make sure that it includes everything you require and agreed on. Ask as many questions as you feel necessary to get the clarity you need before finalizing the contract.
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