Updated Australian Guidelines for Brands Working With Influencers

Alex Lawson

July 25, 2019

Alex Lawson

July 25, 2019

The influencer marketing industry is currently working together on a new framework to support all parts of the market. This is great news for the future of social media marketing as it recognises the importance and value of this advertising medium. This also supports the work of the AANA (www.aana.com.au) who are currently updating their code of ethics. Their previous guidelines have shaped the development of the sector. 

The main reason that these new recommendations need to be created is that there is so much misunderstanding of how brands should work with influencers and vice versa. 

These new social stars are teaching traditional advertisers and celebrities a few things about how to manage fame in the modern era. Social media gives us such a direct portal into the lives of our favourite celebs; what, when and how to post has become its own art-form. 

An art-form that some have turned into a very successful business. 

But the relationship between advertisers and influencers is a new one. A new business relationship that still hasn’t worked out all the kinks. It's important to put a framework in place so both sides can be protected. 

Let’s look into some of the main problem areas. 

 

Whose content is it anyway?

One of the grey areas that the new rules seek to shed light on is the question of who owns the content that has been produced. 

The way that social media platforms currently function means that whoever makes the post is the only person who controls it. They can choose how, when and where it is posted, and even when they take it down. You could spend thousands on getting a post from the perfect person, only to find it deleted within hours. High level users don’t want their feed filled with paid promotional posts, either to make themselves seem more genuine or to attract other businesses. 

That can be hard to justify to your company who is looking to you to deliver the most bang for their buck. 

On the flip side, the influencer also has very little control over how their content is used once it has been posted and is out there on the internet. A small time content creator still new to the game could miss a line in the contract and suddenly have her image posted across the sides of buses when she only thought it would be a simple instagram story (and was only paid peanuts). 

Content can come in all forms these days. Brands and influencers alike understand that the best stuff comes from their fans. User generated content has become a hot topic legally as many brands want to use the photos that their own customers post as testimonials, but they need to make sure they get permission. 

@Kayla_itsines is a fitness and lifestyle instagrammer who currently has 11.6m followers. Making her one of the top influencers on the Australian scene. 

She uses Instagram to promote her fitness guides and reposts before and after photos that her users send to her for real life testimonials. 

 

Superstar returns at supersaver rates 

How much to pay for social media posts has been a difficult question for a while now. On the one hand many smaller influencers would jump at the chance to get a free product, or even the chance to purchase a product before everyone else. All they need to do in exchange is to take to the web and tell everyone how great it is. Simple win-win right?

Well, when you consider that traditionally a company would have to hire a model, stylist, photographer, scout a location and whatever else required to even create an image, and then go through different channels get the image seen. The benefits are clearly weighted towards the brand and not the talent. 

@Gypsylovinlight has a huge production value behind each of her shots. 

The fact of the matter is that it is very hard to quantify how much an influencer is worth.

The amount of work that goes into creating and cultivating an audience is incredible, at any level. Keeping that audience engaged is like walking a tightrope, you need to keep your posts fresh, but also stay true to a theme. Your posts should be innovative but also you should follow trends. And of course you want to get paid to post, but not sell out. 

As a brand looking to get the most of your marketing dollar, you should take care not to put all of your eggs in one basket. One huge influencer could give you a short spell in the limelight, but they will naturally move on. even worse they could be a user who has bought their audience, although there are ways to find out if that's the case.

If you are able to cultivate relationships with several smaller influencers and fairly compensate them then you can grow a much more natural brand following. Whilst still saving on the massive costs of a traditional marketing campaign. 

 

The importance of a good contract

The contracts that are currently being used are the same that have existed for years. The type that treats the influencer as ‘the talent’ the same brush that has marked actors, models and artists in the past. This means that these contracts often ask influencers to sign over their identity, their name and any original content they produce in perpetuity. 

This means someone who has spent years building an audience, style and unique brand of their own is suddenly owned by a corporate entity. Many influencers don’t have the experience, legal council or union representation that actors have access to. So, don’t know how to read a contract in dense legalese. 

On the flip side brands working with these social media stars can also find themselves getting the short end of the stick. 

Without a proper contract in place you could find your product demo video actually turns out to be a side by side comparison with your biggest competitor, with some unflattering conclusions. 

Another aspect to the contract from the business’s perspective is to ensure the people you work with stick to any legal requirements necessary. It is often required for paid promotional posts to be disclosed, it could be with a simple #ad or #sp but sometimes it needs to be more. These clauses should be clearly outlined should your partners not properly follow the guidelines and you find yourself in trouble. 

@micahgianneli who uses her social media reach to advertise for various brands.

A strong contract protects both the influencer and the brand. It ensures you get what you pay for and neither side is taken advantage of. This doesn’t mean it’s easy to work with these young stars, take it from us, but there are ways to make it easier with a good brief you can make sure that you get exactly what you want from them.  

 

Where do we go from here?

One of the most exciting things about working in the social media marketing business is that the rulebook is being made up as we go. It’s vital to stay ahead of coming trends, as well as set best practices moving forward. This both safe guards our work and keeps us ahead of the competition. 

As the playing field continues to evolve, legislators will always be playing catch up. As loopholes present themselves people will exploit them. The interesting thing is, who will be able to police these areas. Real world consequences for the actions on Facebook have already sent shivers down an industry, growing faster than regulation can even hope to keep up. 

We have a responsibility to build a culture of cooperation online where people are fairly recognised for their work and still allow space for innovation and growth into new areas we frankly cannot envision just yet. 

If you want to see what that future could go get in touch with us here at Hello Social and we can help you grow your social media reach with style.

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