Social Media Influencer Marketing: Critical Issues | Payne & Fears

The NCAA’s current announcement that school athletes might promote the rights to their names, photographs and likenesses has created a possibility for companies to signal influential school athletes and leverage their appreciable social media footprints. Now is an opportune time for any firm that contracts with social media influencers to re-examine rules governing social media endorsements.

The watershed NCAA announcement was made earlier this month after the Supreme Court’s resolution in June that the NCAA’s amateurism guidelines violated antitrust legal guidelines. In response, manufacturers have begun focusing on well-liked school athletes—notably these with giant social media followings—for endorsement offers. Boost Mobile, as an illustration, just lately signed Fresno State basketball gamers Hanna and Haley Cavinder, who boast tens of millions of social media followers, with its CEO telling ESPN that Boost has an inventory of 400 school athletes it hopes to companion with sooner or later. College athletes be a part of a ballooning catalogue of paid influencers who’re liable for an growing proportion of firm advertising budgets. According to Business Insider, manufacturers are projected to spend $15 billion on influencer campaigns by 2022.

Brands using influencer social media advertising must be conscious that it might implicate Federal Trade Commission rules or give rise to different claims. To keep away from FTC scrutiny and decrease different litigation publicity, manufacturers ought to perceive the potential authorized pitfalls and think about implementing protecting measures.

The FTC Regulates Influencer Marketing

The FTC regulates endorsements underneath part 5 of the FTC Act with the objective of defending shoppers from misleading promoting. The FTC seems to have discovered that influencer advertising is topic to the identical guidelines that apply to some other kind of promoting. Influencer endorsements due to this fact would require “clear and conspicuous” disclosure of an endorsement when there’s a “materials connection” between the influencer and the model. Brands would share duty for satisfactory endorsement disclosures with influencers, however the FTC has targeted its enforcement efforts on the manufacturers, not the influencers.

Incentivized Influencer Posts May Be Endorsements That Require Disclosures

Brands ought to assume, in an abundance of warning, that something posted by an influencer who was incentivized in any means by the model will probably be topic to FTC disclosure guidelines. The time period “endorsement” has been interpreted broadly, together with amongst different issues, tagging or liking a model, pinning a model, or offering a evaluation of a model. If an influencer refers to a model in a social media submit, the FTC might think about it an “endorsement” topic to its disclosure guidelines. 

Similarly, manufacturers ought to assume that if they provide something of worth to an influencer, there’s a “materials connection” with the influencer, which requires disclosure of the connection. The FTC might discover that these kinds of connections embody a model giving an influencer free or discounted services or products, get together invites, reciprocal endorsements or different perks.  

Carefully Review Influencer Marketing Contracts

Brands ought to fastidiously evaluation their influencer advertising agreements with respect to a number of key points that create authorized threat. First, manufacturers ought to think about addressing FTC disclosure necessities of their agreements. For instance, the advertising settlement might require that the influencer adjust to all FTC guidelines and guides, and mandate that posts disclose the connection between the model and influencer.

Second, manufacturers might elect to handle remedy of mental property of their influencer agreements. Indeed, posts by influencers would possibly give rise to model legal responsibility for false promoting underneath the Lanham Act or comparable state legal guidelines. For instance, a university athlete influencer could be tempted to make claims that the model’s product enhances the athlete’s efficiency. Unless that declare relies on reality, it could current severe authorized points. Social media influencer agreements thus usually embody provisions governing task and possession of the mental property, together with representations by the influencer that she or he is not going to submit any content material which infringes the mental property rights of third events. Because FTC and false promoting threat might be contractually transferred, influencer advertising agreements additionally usually embody indemnification for violations of FTC or different legal guidelines governing misleading or false promoting.

Third, manufacturers might think about specifying the employment classification of their social media influencers. For instance, if a model elects to deal with influencers as unbiased contractors relatively than workers, clarifying this relationship within the settlement, together with by addressing cost phrases and that the model can’t management the style or means by which the companies are rendered, could also be advisable. In the unbiased contractor relationship, manufacturers have to be very cautious that they don’t train an excessive amount of management over the influencer or the content material of the posts. Overly controlling influencers dangers a dedication that the events are in an employment, relatively than unbiased contractor, relationship. Detailed directions, concerning what ought to go into the posts, or a heavy-handed pre-approval course of might depart the model uncovered to numerous employment legal guidelines relevant to workers.

Implement Formal Social Media Policies

Like any firm that engages in social media promoting, formal social media insurance policies might be very useful to manufacturers using social media influencers. These insurance policies might be detailed, and embody particular posting pointers for influencers (and others). Usually companies embody provisions referring to FTC-required disclosures, the use and disclosure of confidential data and mental property, offensive or different content material that might implicate harassment or discrimination legislation, and privateness concerns.. This might assist promote compliance with FTC disclosure necessities and doubtlessly keep away from legal responsibility for false promoting, misappropriation of confidential data, or infringement of mental property, amongst different issues.  

Closely Monitor Influencer Endorsements

Closely monitoring posts made by a model’s influencers can also be necessary to sustaining compliance with the corporate’s social media insurance policies and the FTC’s rules and pointers.

When reviewing influencer posts, it’s essential to pay explicit consideration to the disclosures and consider whether or not they’re “clear and conspicuous” as required by the FTC Act. What qualifies as “clear and conspicuous” relies upon largely on the kind of endorsement and/or social media platform utilized. Generally, the FTC has defined that disclosure must be inside “the endorsement message itself.” The FTC notes that “[d]isclosures are more likely to be missed if they seem solely on an ABOUT ME or profile web page, on the finish of posts or movies, or wherever that requires an individual to click on MORE.”

For on-line posts, many entrepreneurs and types want to reveal their connection utilizing hashtags showing on the finish. But the FTC cautions in opposition to utilizing a hashtag disclosure whether it is hidden amongst a bunch of different hashtags. However, the hashtag – #advert – could also be enough if it’s the just one.

Photo endorsements are barely totally different, and the FTC means that entrepreneurs “superimpose the disclosure over the image and ensure viewers have sufficient time to note and skim it.”

And for movies, the FTC urges disclosure within the video itself, “and never simply within the description uploaded with the video.”

If making an endorsement in a dwell stream, the disclosure must be repeated periodically so viewers who solely see a part of the stream will get the disclosure.


Brands more and more use influencer social media advertising as a vital a part of their advertising methods. The NCAA’s resolution to grant school athletes the best to make use of their identify, picture and likeness has dramatically elevated the pool of influencers. In gentle of the authorized dangers related to influencer advertising, manufacturers ought to grow to be accustomed to the relevant legislation and proactively tackle these dangers of their contracts, insurance policies, and procedures. 

 See FTC’s Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers right here.  

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About the Author: Amanda