Since Everywhere Agency entered the world of social media marketing in 2009, we’ve been referred to as “the Match.com of brands and influencers.” Needless to say, we know a thing or two about what makes for an ideal, mutually beneficial coupling between companies and content creators.
What follows is some of our best advice for those of you who have been putting yourselves out there – with your awesome blog posts and engaging social shares – and who are now starting to see signals of interest from companies that want to collaborate.
Before entering any sort of partnership, you want to be confident that you’re both equally invested in its success. That being said, if a brand makes the first move and asks you to work on a campaign or help promote their product, you’re not obligated to say yes. It’s sort of like deciding to walk away from a first date after you show up at the restaurant and can tell from a distance that your would-be suitor’s profile picture was taken some years and 70 lbs. ago.
Sure, you might be flattered that they considered you in the first place, but a public display of brand affiliation is not a decision to be made on a whim.
Think about how this relationship fits into the big picture of your blog. Are your interests aligned with this brand? Will your readers find the information you share relevant and useful? If you’re not sure you can introduce this brand partnership to your audience without them questioning your judgment, it might be better to pass on the opportunity. It’s better to wait for a project that truly complements your passions and interests instead of pursuing a project that might present short-term benefits but ultimately doesn’t fit in with your overall blog strategy.
While prenups in marriage are optional, contractual agreements between you and any brand that you’re considering getting hitched to are not. You should always have a written agreement for the work that you’re performing that very clearly establishes what is expected of you and how much you will be compensated. When you receive these documents from your soon-to-be partner, make sure you read them carefully.
Here are some things to look out for:
- Does the agreement limit your ability to work with other brands? This is known as a “non-compete” and many brands will request this, and rightly so. They want to find an influencer who loves and is committed to their brand. This is not just a heat of the moment fling, so you’ll want to check to see how long that “non-compete” lasts.
- Does it specify the timeframe in which you’ll receive payment? Large businesses can take 60 to 90 days to pay, and there’s often no getting around that. If you work with Everywhere Agency, you know we pride ourselves on our speedy payment program.
- Are the requirements regarding how many times to post, what the ultimate goal of the campaign is, and which hashtag to use clearly communicated?
The brand might be issuing the contract, but it serves to protect both of you. It’s definitely worth taking the time to decipher the agreement and understand exactly what you’re agreeing to. Some things might be negotiable – like payment amounts or post requirements – while other things aren’t. If your potential collaborators are serious about making sure you’re both happy in this relationship, they should gladly walk you through any of your questions.
Once you’re committed to a brand and living the dream of creating beautiful sponsored content together, there’s another party that is very important to the success of your partnership – and that is the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC’s purpose in this world is to protect consumers.
They are in large part responsible for the birth of #ad, and you better be using that baby in a very prominent way. Any time you tell the Internet about something as a result of a paid campaign you’re working on, you must disclose that’s the case.
Historically, the FTC has only prosecuted brands that have failed to properly disclose that influencers were compensated for content – not individual influencers, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t. If you’ve been instructed to disclose sponsorship of posts (which might have been a part of that aforementioned agreement) and fail to do so, you could put a brand on the FTC’s radar. As you can imagine, that’s not a place companies want to be, and it will certainly make them think twice about working with you again.
At the end of the day, brand/influencer partnerships should meet the needs of both parties. It might be tempting to say yes to any offer that crosses your path, but if you want to be seen as a reputable destination for valuable content – by readers and brands – it’s best to be discerning when deciding who you want to work with, so you can both live happily ever after.