4 Legal Things Social Media Influencers Should know
It is beyond doubt that in recent times, social media has become a major part of many people's lives. As such, influencer marketing has become a major social media strategy.
Social media influencers have built a reputation for knowing and being experts on certain topics. They come up with frequent posts about that topic on their social media channels and amass large followings.
However, being a social media influencer involves much more than just making nice content, it comes with certain responsibilities. One of these responsibilities is being versed with the legal requirements and operations. One wrong post or statement can ruin your career or get you in legal trouble. In this article, we will provide you with certain legal knowledge you must have as a social media influencer.
Who Is a Social Media Influencer?
A social media influencer is a user on social media who has sway in a specific industry and is trusted by their audience. They have access to a large audience and can circulate information to persuade others through their reach. Social media influencers usually partner with brands, promoting products to followers in exchange for monetary compensation or free products.
Companies and creatives who work in the entertainment industry such as film, music, and publishing sometimes need to employ the services of an entertainment law lawyer to protect their interests. These lawyers place priority on entertainment transactions, and also licences and grants of rights.
Why Do Social Media Influencers Need Entertainment Lawyers?
Entertainment lawyers are highly specialised. These lawyers focus on only a handful of industries. They cross paths with so many different legal practice areas, which qualify them as generalists.
Entertainment lawyers are the professionals who assist clients in the entertainment industry. They are responsible for ensuring that their clients' rights are protected and not abused.
- They make ready form agreements for clients, like appearance releases, location releases, and licence agreements.
- They examine contracts and other legal documents to analyse rights issues or other business issues and answer legal questions.
- Entertainment lawyers help to facilitate and negotiate distribution deals required for entertainment projects.
4 Legal Things Social Media Influencers Should Know
Social media influencers, brands and those desiring to experience the business should orient themselves with the legal things that are relevant to the industry. Things like disclosure, marketing regulations and intellectual property protection are must-knows.
1. Defamation and the Law Against Cyber Crime
Defamation is said to be a false oral and/or written statement that is destructive and unfair to a person's reputation. Sharing and advertising of false information about a person, organisation or product, is punishable in civil and criminal law. Anyone who spreads falsehood is as guilty as the one who came up with it.
As the number of followers, comments and shares increases, so will the punishment and damage. The law against Cybercrime recognizes standards of behaviour that are accepted for social media users. Cybercrime sanctions are established to protect ICT users, in general, and prevent harm to people.
As a social media influencer, it is important to know this law to ensure that posts on your page are not slanderous of other people's character or be ready to face the consequences.
2. Influencer Disclosure Obligation
The USA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made endorsement guidelines under the Federal Trade Commission Act. These guidelines are to specifically apply the law to digital and social media marketing.
The law states that an influencer must clearly and conspicuously disclose the connection in their posts that endorses the products, brand, or company. Refusal to abide by this law could result in severe penalties, including fines.
This provision made by the FTC isn't just for social media influencers. So long as you are someone who promotes products or services on behalf of a brand, this law is applicable to you, celebrities are not left out. As a social media influencer, sometimes you might need to openly declare a relationship with a brand. Do it on the side of caution and disclose it.
Social media influencers are required to disclose their relationships with brands, when the contents are being sponsored. Disclosure can be done in certain ways. The most common way is by using hashtags such as " #ad, #sponsored, or #paid." Some influencers go the extra mile to also include a statement in the caption of the post. They can also make a video explaining that the content has been sponsored.
3. Social Media Platform and the Influencer Contract
A major issue is that under the terms are conditions made by all social platforms. There are many violations that can earn a social media user and influencer a suspension or restriction from using their platform. Some of these violations include hate speech and harassment. An influencer who is not aware of these conditions can be liable for suspension or restriction. This is likely to result in a breach of contract with a client.
4. Intellectual Property Protection
While thriving in the business of social media influencing, influencers must be careful not to violate the intellectual property of others. In recent times, it has been very easy for people to get information, pictures and videos posted by other people without their permission. Copyright was made to protect the expression of ideas, through literary, musical and artistic works. For a brand or influencers work to be protected, it must be original.
Copyright law is applicable irrespective of whether you are on social media or not. When there's a breach of copyright, social media platforms can suspend or delete your account. The copyright owner may decide to take legal action for the breach. This will damage the Influencers reputation.
Copyrights are the concrete representation of the original ideas by creators themselves, since ideas can't be physically protected. Anybody can steal an idea and go scot free, but infringement of copyright is punishable by law.
The demand for Influencer marketing at the moment, has risen very high. This is because the connection that brands have with consumers through print and broadcast campaigns is now strengthened by a brief post on social media.
The advertising industry has now taken over social media. It is important for influencers to ensure that they are in line with the core values of advertising in any country that they find themselves in. Social media influencers should abide by the legal laws to avoid penalties and preserve consumer trust and loyalty.