As a business owner, you may be considering leveraging social media to enhance your business’s engagement and reach. One way to do this is to employ the use of social media influencers. Social media influencers are individuals who have amassed large followings of people on various social media sites who trust their opinions on a variety of matters.
Many social media influencers develop specific niches and select one or two social media platforms for their focus. Due to the nature of popular social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, and Twitter, it is important to consider the legal issues that could arise during the various stages of a relationship. If you are considering engaging a social media influencer, here are three key things you must keep in mind.
1. Have an agreement. Even though social media work feels very informal, entering into an arrangement with an influencer has serious legal implications and should be governed by a written agreement. Your social media influencer agreement should identify the influencer as an independent contractor and describe in detail what each party expects from the relationship. As with other contracts, it is vital to note compensation, essential dates, conflicts of interest, and any potential limitations imposed on the agreement.
2. Protect your intellectual property. A common problem social media influencers run into is copyright and trademark infringement. In an attempt to attract and engage their audiences, some influencers use others' content without obtaining adequate permissions or providing sufficient credit. In such instances, the influencer may be held liable for taking another’s work. Additionally, as parties to an agreement, both sides should identify who owns the copyrights and trademarks for any of the work created in connection with the agreement. For example, if a social media influencer appears in a photo with a product for a brand, the parties should agree as to who owns the copyright and identify the scope of any agreement to license the copyright in question.
3. Follow FTC guidelines. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) protects consumers from abusive business practices. As a result, the FTC monitors how social media influencers endorse various products or services. When working with social media influencers, ensure that required disclosures are made. For example, if an influencer posts about one of your products, they should use phrases like “#sponsored” or “#ad” to disclose to consumers the existence of a paid arrangement. There are also requirements regarding the placement and size of disclosures. Additionally, the FTC regulates false or misleading statements in social media content. Business owners should ensure that information posted on behalf of their brand does not contain any false or misleading information that could open the door to defamation lawsuits, deceptive trade practices lawsuits, and the like.
We Can Help
If you are considering working with social media influencers, it is important to take the right steps to lay a proper foundation for a successful working relationship. Call our office to schedule a meeting with a business attorney who understands business and social media. We can help you comply with regulations and navigate the potential legal issues that could arise.