Social Media Influencers
Legal Counsel for Social Media Influencers & Online Streamers
Protect your Social Media Brand with Contracts and Regulatory Advice
As a social media influencer, your brand is your business. Protect that brand with written agreements and regulatory guidance that help ensure your valuable influence is marketable and risks to your reputation are minimized.
We help social media influencers with the following legal issues:
- Protecting and defending intellectual property, such as trademark applications, copyright licenses, and licensing agreements
- Drafting and negotiating influencer agreements, such as sponsorships, joint ventures, or merchandising agreements
- FTC compliance
- Responding to litigation, DMCA or related orders, or cease-and-desist letters
- Business or LLC formation, including foundational agreements
Call (713) 909-7323 today to get started.
On This Page
- The Business of Social Media Influence
- Drafting & Negotiating Social Media Influencer Agreements
- Social Media Influencers and FTC Compliance
- Defending Intellectual Property and Resolving Disputes over Social Media
- Business Formation for Social Media Influencers
- General Counsel Services for Social Media Influencers
Social media democratized the flow of information. No longer dependent on traditional mass media, individuals can now share ideas, opinions, and creative content with the public and build their own spheres of influence using social media platforms.
As an individual’s social media reputation grows, it is imbued with influence and power over decision making. This influence can be monetized in several ways:
- Sponsored content: Brands pay influencers to create and share content on their social media platforms that promotes the brand's products or services. This can include sponsored posts, product reviews, or sponsored stories.
- Affiliate marketing: Influencers can earn a commission by promoting a brand's products or services and including a unique affiliate link in their posts. When their followers click on the link and make a purchase, the influencer earns a commission.
- Endorsements: Brands may pay influencers to endorse their products or services on social media, in exchange for a fee or a percentage of the sales.
- Products and merchandise: Influencers may sell their own products and merchandise, such as clothing or accessories, on their social media platforms or through their own websites.
- Brand partnerships: Influencers may partner with brands to create and promote products or services. This can include collaborations on product lines, joint ventures, or consulting services.
All of these arrangements are business deals that should be documented with written agreements.
Whether your platform is Twitch, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, or blogs, it's important to have clear and well-drafted contracts in place when monetizing your social media presence. Written agreements ensure that both parties understand their rights and obligations, and help avoid disputes or misunderstandings down the line.
Terms of social media influencer agreements vary, but should generally include the following key elements:
- Objectives and scope of the agreement: The contract should clearly define the goals and objectives of the collaboration, as well as the scope of the influencer's responsibilities. This should include the type of content to be created, the target audience, and the desired outcomes of the collaboration.
- Compensation: The contract should specify the compensation that the influencer will receive, including any upfront payments, commissions, or bonuses. This should also include any reimbursement for expenses related to the collaboration.
- Duration and renewal: The contract should specify the start and end dates of the collaboration, as well as any options for renewal or extension.
- Ownership and use of intellectual property: The contract should specify who will own the rights to the content created by the influencer – your intellectual property – and how it can be used by both parties. This may include restrictions on the use of the content, such as geographic limitations or restrictions on how it can be modified.
- Confidentiality and non-compete clauses: The contract may include clauses requiring the influencer to keep confidential any confidential information provided by the brand, and to not compete with the brand for a specified period of time after the collaboration ends.
- Termination: The contract should specify the circumstances under which the collaboration can be terminated, and the consequences of termination, including any obligations for the return of confidential information or payment of damages.
The social media attorneys at Hendershot Cowart P.C. have decades of experience drafting and defending contracts. We are well-versed in the regulations and industry standards particular to social media and can provide holistic counsel to both influencers and the companies seeking to partner with them.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires social media influencers to disclose any material connections they have with brands or companies whose products or services they promote on their social media platforms. The intent of these guidelines is to ensure that social media followers are fully informed about any material connections influencers have with brands or companies.
Following are some key guidelines that social media influencers should follow to ensure FTC compliance:
- Disclose sponsored content: If an influencer is paid or receives any other compensation in exchange for promoting a product or service on social media, they must clearly and prominently disclose that the content is sponsored. This disclosure should be placed near the beginning of the post or in a clearly visible location.
- Be honest and transparent: Influencers should only promote products or services that they believe in and should not make false or misleading claims about the products or services they promote.
- Avoid disguised advertisements: Influencers should not create content that appears to be independent editorial content but is actually paid advertising.
- Follow guidelines for sponsored social media posts: Influencers should follow the guidelines provided by the brand or company for sponsored social media posts and make sure that the sponsored content is clearly distinguishable from their other content.
- Keep records: Influencers should keep records of their sponsored content and any compensation received, in case the FTC requests them for an investigation.
The consequences of violating FTC guidelines can result in legal action and fines, as well as reputational damage. Our social media attorneys can advise you on regulatory compliance and audit your existing activities to ensure your reputation and livelihood are protected from adverse consequences.
As with any industry, disputes will happen. Our social media lawyers have extensive litigation experience they can bring to bear on your matter – from DMCA take-down notices to contract disputes to claims of trademark or copyright infringement.
Common social media disputes we handle:
- Contract disputes: Disputes can arise over the terms of a contract, such as compensation, ownership of content, or the scope of the influencer's responsibilities. We can enforce or defend your contractual rights while protecting your social media presence and your right to create.
- Defamation: Influencers may face claims or be victims of false or defamatory statements on social media. If someone has threatened you with a defamation claim, we can help you draft a position and defend your statement. We can also take swift and decisive action if someone is smearing your name on social media.
- Regulatory investigations: Influencers may be sued for violating the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) guidelines for advertising and endorsement on social media, such as failing to disclose compensation or making false or misleading claims. Our law firm is experienced in regulatory investigations and routinely defend clients before enforcement agencies. We can prepare the best possible defense and also counsel you on compliance going forward.
As business lawyers with social media expertise, our attorneys are equipped to handle a range of disputes. We can discuss your objectives in dealing with the dispute and develop a strategy that protects your rights and reputation and achieves the best possible outcome for you.
If social media contributes to your livelihood, consider registering your social media business as an LLC or other corporate entity.
An LLC, or limited liability company, is a type of business structure that provides you, the owner, with limited liability protection, meaning that your personal assets are generally protected from business debts and liabilities.
Advantages of forming an LLC for social media influencers may include:
- Limited liability protection: As mentioned, an LLC provides the owners with limited liability protection, which can help protect their personal assets in the event of a lawsuit or financial loss.
- Flexibility: An LLC allows for flexibility in terms of management and ownership structure, making it easy to add or remove owners, and to choose the best tax structure for the business.
- Professionalism: Forming an LLC can demonstrate a level of professionalism and commitment to the influencer's business, which may increase credibility and attract more marketing and sponsorship opportunities.
The attorneys at Hendershot Cowart P.C. routinely set up LLCs and other business entities, including drafting foundational agreements, such as operating or partnership agreements. We know the questions to ask to make sure you get the proper documents in place and structure your LLC correctly and in compliance with state law.
Your social media presence is no longer a hobby; it’s a business. Protect your business with experienced counsel from the social media attorneys at Hendershot Cowart P.C.
From tailoring contracts for the risks and exposures unique to your industry to defending you against legal claims and regulatory action, our attorneys can serve as your general counsel and help establish your business on a solid foundation.
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