It’s becoming more and more difficult for businesses to stand out. This is in part due to the fact that, as new entrepreneurs break into the market with great ideas, their markets naturally become more competitive over time. When polled, about 87% of businesses reported that their markets had become more competitive over the past three years. This is just one reason why many of them are turning to influencer marketing strategies.
Yes, influencer marketing — that is to say, the marketing strategy that many people don’t even recognize as advertising, even though they’re seeing it on a daily basis. If you’re an influencer, it’s probably going to be your main source of income. That means that you need to start taking it seriously if you want to succeed in this unique career path.
As even major brands allocate funds specifically for influencer sponsorships, the legalities surrounding this booming business shift. It’s important for influencers to be careful about how they navigate sponsorships, both to get the most out of these opportunities and to ensure that the rules surrounding them are followed correctly. Below, we’ll delve into a few tips on how you should navigate sponsorships as an influencer. Pay close attention; one certainty about social media is that followers always notice mistakes eventually!
1. Don’t Take Just Any Sponsorship
When offered your very first sponsorship, you may be tempted to take it immediately. After all, it’s difficult to make money through social media without sponsorships. In a competitive landscape, many influencers are never offered brand deals. However, if you take all sponsorships offered regardless of your personal brand and audience, your followers will likely have a negative reaction. If you are genuinely passionate about a product, or if it at least works nicely with your brand and interests, you’ll be able to talk about it in a genuine sense. But if you’re forcing a product onto your platform because you want money, people will realize that you’re simply advertising and won’t trust your recommendations anymore. In turn, if your followers don’t trust you, you’ll lose value to brands that would offer sponsorships otherwise.
For example, if you’ve dedicated your blog to high-end skincare for adults but suddenly start promoting infant skincare even though you don’t have children, your followers will likely be turned off. Though mineral oil works for most skin types and ages, including infants, a brand marketing mineral oils for babies won’t work for your adult-focused social media presence in this example. Apply that approach to your view on sponsorships, no matter what products or lifestyle you focus on.
2. Don’t Forget To Disclose
Again, honesty is key when building a career as a social media influencer. People like influencers because they come off as more genuine than the celebrities we’re used to; they’re seen as more down-to-earth and approachable. Even if you truly believe in the product you’re selling as part of a sponsorship, your followers do need to know that you are selling something and you are being compensated for your work.
This doesn’t just apply to how dishonesty can affect your relationship with your followers, however. It also applies to the legalities surrounding sponsorships and brand deals as well. Up until recently, there was a lot of ambiguity surrounding the way that social media influencers were paid. The FTC has recently cracked down on disclosure requirements, and there are now specific rules in place (which can vary from country to country) surrounding sponsorship disclosures. The FTC requires that disclosures are made whenever the influencer has a personal, familial, employment, or financial relationship to the brand sponsoring them. This means that even when you’ve merely been given a product to review, a practice that is often referred to as PR, you need to disclose your relationship with the brand to your followers. If you’re on Instagram, your disclosure must be clearly visible, be located within the first few lines of the caption, and outlined with clear and consistent language. It’s not enough to rely upon a platform’s own disclosure tools, either. You must be honest about your experience with the product or service, as well. Make sure to familiarize yourself with FTC guidelines — and if you have a major following and regularly accept brand deals, you might want to meet with a lawyer with knowledge in this area to ensure you’re following the rules.
3. Follow The Brand’s Guidelines
Few, if any, brands will offer a sponsorship without rules. Many brands require that you submit the content you’ve created for them for their final approval before it is posted. They may require certain edits until they’re satisfied. Brands may also require that you have a certain amount of photos of a product in action or that you avoid mentioning a different brand in the same post. No matter what, if you’re going to agree to a sponsorship, you must also accept the terms offered by the brand and follow them to the letter. Otherwise, you may not receive the expected payment. View a sponsorship as a partnership and remember that even if you’re working an unconventional job, you must be professional and hold up your end of the bargain.
4. Know Your Worth
Not all brands play fair; some will try to take advantage of inexperienced influencers who don’t know their own worth. While it’s not uncommon for business invoices to be paid late, with 60% being paid after their deadlines, some influencers aren’t paid at all. This could simply be a matter of a brand getting cold feet or failing to set aside a budget for certain influencer marketing campaigns. Worse, some brands attempt to steal content from influencers, taking images from their blogs without even crediting them for example. Other brands will attempt to convince influencers that they should work for free, simply because they’re gifted products, while asking for a disproportionate amount of work in return. Know how much you’re worth and expect compensation. If you don’t ask for it, you might not ever receive it.
Becoming an influencer isn’t straightforward, but it can be incredibly rewarding. Controlling and understanding your sponsorships is key to your success. Be proud of your online reputation, and make sure to preserve it. As you maintain your integrity, your influence will have the longevity it needs to support a true career.