It’s the type of career your parents never could have imagined and may not understand. But in many ways, being a social media influencer is no different from any other job. There is a lot of potential for success and there are a lot of potential pitfalls. Assuming you want to capitalize on the opportunity and avoid the pitfalls, the best time to contact an attorney is before you sign your first contract.
Building a solid foundation
Any successful business or career begins with a solid foundation. For social media influencers, this means:
- Finding your “niche” or topic area.
- Deciding which social media platforms you want to use.
- Cultivating a social media following.
- Studying and employing content strategies.
- Learning about effective messaging.
You can do most of these things on your own. However, it doesn’t hurt to enlist advice from marketing and advertising professionals, established influencers and similar professionals.
There are also a few things a social media influencer attorney can help with at this stage. After all, missing even the smallest detail may have serious consequences in the long run.
When starting a conventional business, for example, one of the first things you have to do is choose a name. Then you have to make sure it is unique. This is something you have to think about as a social media influencer as well. Do you know if you have the legal right to use your social media handle or blog name to promote or sell the brands you want to represent? Do you know if doing so would constitute a conflict of interest, or violate intellectual property laws? Do you know how to find out? If not, it’s OK. Our social media influencer lawyers can help.
Fine-tuning your contract(s)
So let’s say you’ve done all of your homework and you’ve started to implement what you’ve learned. Now you’ve got a great social media following, your content is on point, your clout is growing and all of those brand reps you’ve connected with are starting to take notice. Finally, all of your hard work has paid off, and your favorite brand wants you to promote their products. So they offer you a contract.
This is an exciting time and you may be tempted to sign so you can get to work straight away. If you’re not careful, doing so could cause trouble later. Instead of signing impulsively, have one of our social media influencer lawyers review the agreement to ensure it includes the following provisions:
- Type and frequency of social media posts
- Platform(s) where posts will appear
- Duration of post
- Type of compensation
- Use of hash tags
- Proof of performance
- The company’s rights to review, approve and edit posts prior to publication
- Conflict of interest
Following the rules
As social media influencing has evolved, the United States government has created rules to protect consumers that buy and use endorsed products and services. Accordingly, social media influencers must follow strict rules pertaining to disclosures enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC.
These rules mandate that social media influencers inform their followers that they are being paid or otherwise being compensated for their endorsements. The FTC rules also stipulate how these disclosures must be made.
Failure to comply with disclosure rules can result in warnings, fines and other sanctions. In some cases, the FTC may even pursue legal recourse against offenders.
But that’s not all you have to worry about. You also need to make sure you’re not violating copyright laws by using images that you don’t own without permission. Using certain logos, words or symbols in your social media posts may also violate intellectual property laws.
Finally, there’s the matter of what you say and how you say it. It is one thing to give an honest critique. On the other hand, deliberately and maliciously giving a product or service a bad review that damages the company’s reputation and harms its ability to do business may result in a defamation suit.
The time to contact a social media influencer lawyer is before you receive a demand letter from a disgruntled follower, brand rep, or a warning from the government.
To learn more about your legal rights and responsibilities as a social media influencer, contact the Law Office of Parag L. Amin P.C. (LawPLA). You can reach us by phone, or by scheduling an appointment online. Either way, we look forward to hearing from you soon.