Influencer marketing is an emerging area for both brands and the influencers they engage, but as the practice becomes more sophisticated, so too must the framework for the relationship. Having a clear brief and a legal agreement is the first step to ensure both parties understand what’s expected and what’s required, and this will ensure a better ROI for your marketing budget.

At the start of the relationship, both parties should discuss their respective expectations with regard to the campaign. As a brand, it’s a good idea to explain your marketing goals and how you see the influencer contributing to them as this will give them a chance to figure out whether they are happy to do what you’re asking and if they are the right fit, or even come back with some alternative ideas.

Once the goals are established, work out any KPIs for the influencer and confirm the payment, financial or otherwise. At this stage, it’s also an opportunity to set any variable payment terms, for example you might pay a base fee for the influencer’s time and audience reach but you might also want to consider offering a bonus if the campaign hits a certain ROI.

Both brands and influencers benefit from having an agreement. It’s a contract that serves to protect a brand’s interests as well as the rights of an influencer. Treat it like an agreement or contract you should already have with your other suppliers.

3 essentials the contract should cover

An influencer agreement should follow the basic principles of a legal contract: both parties agree to the deliverables of the campaign, both have the capacity to perform their respective duties and there is an exchange of value on both sides. Your contract should cover:

  1. Activities conducted by the influencer.

    This includes what the product or service is, for example, will they be reviewing you product? Will they be attending and covering your event? Or perhaps you’ll be running a competition with their audience. Define the scope of work very clearly in your brief.

    It’s good to be as specific as possible. If you’ve bought ‘social media mentions’ without specifying which platform and they mention you on a channel where you have low engagement, then that may not fit with your campaign aims.

    Include any KPIs, such as minimum reach or engagement levels.

  2. Timeframe of the engagement.

    If the influencer is reviewing an electric blanket, it’s not going to be much use to you if they receive the product in late autumn and review it in spring, so make sure you specify the timeframe for the activities that will best suit your marketing plan. Also be clear about when payment will occur (and stick to it).

  3. Copyright and ownership of collateral.

    The content creator is the automatic copyright holder unless IP rights are otherwise assigned by an agreement.

    That means if a brand provides material for the influencer to use, for example images, or an influencer creates content for a brand, you will need to sort out permissions issues prior. This should include where the images/content will be used and who will own it for what length of time.

    You may also like to specify what will be provided to the influencer (both in terms of resources as well as any payment, financial or otherwise) and any legal clauses to protect the brand, for example the influencer must not work with a competing brand for a certain period of time, must have a clear criminal record and/or must be over a certain age.

    It should be like a contractor’s agreement listing all fees and expectations, and accepted by both parties.

Agreements make good relationships

As a brand you should already have suppliers where an agreement is at the foundation of your relationship – this is no different.

In the early days of influencer marketing when formal agreements were less common, many brands were burnt by bad experiences from fraudulent practices, such as engaging influencers who misrepresented themselves with fake followers, to making payment and then the deliverables not turning out as expected. Most of these situations could have been avoided by having a clear brief and a contract.

A lot of influencers have started their careers in this field as amateurs so if you’re working with newer talent, you may find that a few still see having an agreement as overly formal. As a brand you should value the formality because it gives you some legal protection.

An influencer marketing agreement can determine the success (or failure) of your campaign. Making sure both parties are on the same page before you start is a good way to build a relationship that is professional and fruitful for both the brand and influencer.