The Importance of Integrity
Whether you’re an influencer with millions of followers worldwide, a professional photographer who works in the commercial sphere, or someone who’s just getting started with paid social media projects – maintaining integrity and respect between you and your clients is key to any successful brand partnership.
For many, working with companies to enhance their exposure amongst key target audiences, engaging online viewers in the development of brand communities and furthering the interests of retailers through social media is a significant source of income. It can transform the act of posting online from a simple hobby to a money-making occupation.
Therefore, it’s vital that when engaging in brand partnerships, both parties know exactly where they stand when it comes to image ownership, protection and legal rights to avoid disputes and ensure professionalism within the collaboration.
If at any point during a brand-influencer partnership, the individual or company steps out of line or the imagery/messages are misinterpreted by the desired audiences, there is a high chance that the collaboration will be unsuccessful and future partnerships could be compromised.
To avoid negative consequences, it is vital that everyone involved acts with integrity and is fully aware of the responsibilities they uphold, with regards to their images and other marketing materials.
Here are a few top tips for influencers to ensure that brand partnerships run smoothly and efficiently:
Establish clear boundaries from the start
As an influencer, it’s impossible to act with full integrity within any commercial agreement without a definitive understanding of what the brand wants you to do and – perhaps even more importantly – what they don’t.
For example, a nutritional supplements company may be particular about the types of claims they’re making about their products and therefore be sure to instruct you on which benefits they want you to draw attention to on social media.
The easiest way to achieve clear boundaries within the partnership is to draw up a list of guidelines, including where/when/how to post particular images or promotional efforts at the beginning of the collaboration so that both parties are on the same page.
This way, you’ll always be confident that you’re acting within your rights and meeting the expectations of clients.
Be willing to compromise and co-create
The major value in brand partnerships comes from the fact that both the business and the influencer have unique assets, skills and intentions that work together to produce the outcome of profitability and brand awareness on both parts.
As such, for deals to be successful, you should be open to suggestions from the company, for example, how to phrase sponsored Instagram captions or answer product-related messages from followers. The brand must also take into account your needs/opinions on what product lines are most suitable for your audience or when you should receive payment.
The most engaging content is found where there’s a significant contribution coming from both sides of the partnership, and you’re able to adapt the messaging of the campaign to suit your personal brand and following – don’t be afraid to make adjustments or negotiate details in order to achieve the best results all-round.
Open up clear communication channels
Without regular discussions, progress reviews and appraisals, it’s hard to gauge whether the company is satisfied with how the partnership is working or ensure that the images/messaging that you’re putting on the web are performing as planned.
By consistently communicating with the client throughout your collaboration, not only will you be able to update them on engagement rates and interactions (data which is conveniently available to Veritent users at all times), but they will be able to give you honest feedback on how you’re holding up on your half of the deal.
An effective way to do this is to pinpoint one person from within the brand/organisation, who will act as a touchpoint that you can contact on a weekly or bi-weekly basis (depending on the time-span of the partnership) and talk as openly as needed.
Maintain Your Own Identity
LinkedIn blogger and PDI solutions consultant Kathy Miles advises that to achieve workplace integrity you must ‘come to understand who you are, what you are capable of becoming and where you want to go.’ She also emphasises the need to ‘ensure that these are not merely reflections of what others expect or want’.
The same rules apply to achieve integrity in the case of brand partnerships. As a representative of the company, you need to be aware of and reflect the image/persona of the business you’re working with, but don’t lose sight of the reputation you’ve created for yourself on social media.
If a brand is attempting to corrupt your unique identity – for instance with images that don’t align with your aesthetic or promotional tactics that go against your values – don’t be afraid to question/confront them.
At the end of the day, as an influencer, the perception your followers have of you is what transfers worth to your content, so it’s incredibly necessary to consider how any partnership deals are going to impact your reputation and social profile in the long-term.
Utilise image protection software and/or services
Social media platforms – especially Instagram – are incredibly visual tools which rely on imagery as the primary mode of interaction between users. Hence, any brand partnership is going to include a collection of photos or videos, and as an influencer, you’re expected to make sure they’re not being stolen or misused.
Take ‘Hello Fresh’ – for example. They use ‘partners’ to make audiences aware of their convenient, tasty meal-prep kits and depend on the authenticity of the images their influencers use to do this successfully. If someone were to hijack one of the Hello Fresh partners’ sponsored photos and take it entirely out of context, perhaps by claiming that they had made a particular dish without any mention of the service, this would undoubtedly compromise the outcome of the campaign.
As a representative, it is pivotal that you know what’s happening to every one of your branded images/videos and can keep track of if/when they are being reproduced.
The most reliable and efficient way to do this is with a platform like Veritent – which implements advanced AI technology to track where and how your images are being used online, providing data insights in minutes, for complete peace of mind. It provides a clear-cut confirmation that the images you’re publishing are 100% accredited to you and therefore valuable to the business that has commissioned them for posting on your social channels.
To find out how you can #ProtectYourWorth with Veritent and sign up to join the community of creators who are already taking control of their content, head over to www.veritent.com for more information.