The Spooky Legalese of Influencers

The older we get, the scarier certain things become. Decaf coffee? Goosebumps. Student loans? Brrrr. Understanding the complicated legalese of influence marketing? Grab the smelling salts! 

Content marketing has continued to evolve at a break-neck pace, even within the past five years. Marketing through social media influencers has become a giant content strategy that increases the reach of brands and products by a hundredfold, no matter the niche.  Some of the largest accounts such as Kim Kardashian can reach millions of users every single day. For brands that would prefer a closer-knit (and far cheaper) community option, a subgroup of influencers known as micro influencers have the ability to reach a targeted audience of a couple thousand or more.  

Sending products like t-shirts and cosmetics to an online celebrity can be a relatively simple process, with some caveats. The law must always be adhered to, and content marketing through influencers is no exception. Do yourself a favor by acclimating to the terror of influencer legalese now to prevent any spooks or surprises in the future. 

The Big Three 

Like any other language, the more you practice speaking in legalese, the more you can understand it. Following proper and lawful procedures keeps your influencer campaign running and your bottom line secured. 

Copyright Ownership 

We’ve known since grade school that plagiarism is wrong, but just how does a copyright work?

At it’s core, copyright is any form of original work that is physically published by a creator. Articles, pictures, videos, and even sculptures are considered copyrighted after they are uploaded to a digital platform, bylined, or credited. Simple enough, right? 

In a sense, a business must secure a form of written, documented permission from copyright holders to use third-party content for their marketing campaigns. For social media influencers, these include photos, video clips, and written work. Licensing your influencers to use your branding, products, and photos is just as important. Make a comprehensive list of everything both you and they will need to be successful before launching your campaign. 

Contracts 

A social media influencer may not be a full-time employee, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to write up a contract. Several years ago, quite a few media influencer deals were done over the phone or through a series of emails. Whether or not they were successful, word-of-mouth hires and handshake deals might not be the safest way to market your product. 

When you’re writing up a contract deal, be aware of the results you’re looking for and the results you need. Include comprehensive legalese (eww) that detail the length of the campaign, the specific type and amount of content, copyright ownerships, and the all-important payment terms. 

Don’t feel good enough about scripting a contract yourself? There are tons of resources online that can help you craft the perfect contract. If you protect yourself now, you’re protected for the future. 

FTC Part 255 Compliance  

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) expects marketers to follow best practices and ethics during influencer deals. Content marketing through social media influencers is subject to Section 5 of the FTC Act prohibiting “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” during campaigns. Translation? Nobody likes a liar. 

Want your new influencer to rag on a competitor’s product? No dice. Don’t think the influencer should tell followers that you’re paying for a platform? That’s not a good idea. What about conveniently omitting something you don’t like about your business? Big oopsie. 

Deceptive and unfair acts according to the FTC can be summarized as: 

  • False representation, omission, or poor practice.

  • Causing substantial injury to consumers.

  • Failure to disclose sponsorship or ownership. 

There are lots of other FTC requirements that would take too much time to touch on, but the basics are here. Keep yourself aware of the common influencer pitfalls and keep yourself on the right side of the law. Trust us, products in good standing always sell better than the ones that aren’t. 

The FTC Act is a pretty big one, especially section 5. Why don’t you take a few minutes to get acquainted? 

Pushing the Boundaries 

Influencer legalisms can be a bit on the terrifying side. Don’t get spooked! Behind every great influencer strategy is a great content strategist. Looking for the right person for the job? Our advanced Stylemetrics AI system is equipped to help match your content up with the writer who will do it best. 

Writing for clients for over six years, Meagan S. is a proven professional with a strong educational background and an unmatched command of powerful, smooth-running prose. Her client-based writing strategy means that Meagan brings everything to the table, refusing to hold back or keep her best work to herself. Meagan is a serious writer with pieces that convert and call-to-action your audience for your optimal outcome. No matter the subject, Meagan can cover it.


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