The influencer marketing space is more crowded now than ever before and brands are finding it harder to stand out from their competition. This being the case, brands often negotiate exclusivity windows that prevent social media influencers from partnering with competitors and/or posting competitive content during an exclusive time period before or after a campaign. The non-compete window, or exclusivity window, can range from 24 hours for a one-off post to a week or more for a series of posts to years for long-term branded content partnership deals. The exclusivity right can also be limited to certain competitors or can include entire industry groups (e.g., beauty, beverage) depending on the brand running the influencer campaign.
To better understand social media influencers’ feelings and perceptions around exclusivity windows, we surveyed 150 influencers through ourinfluencer marketing platform. Specifically, we asked influencers about the most common exclusivity requests they have received from brands, the average duration of these requests and compensation required to agree to these requests. Here’s what we found:
The Majority of Brands Are Requesting Exclusivity Rights From Influencers
While the majority of influencers (61%) are receiving exclusivity requests from brands, influencers noted that brands in some industries are more likely to request exclusivity than others. Of the influencers who have received exclusivity requests from brands, 68% stated that the brands prompting these requests differ by vertical, with the largest numbers of requests coming from fashion, beauty and CPG brands.
There’s also an extremely vast range of exclusivity requests that influencers are receiving from brands, including how long the request is for, when the period of exclusivity begins and what exclusivity entails. While influencers noted that the majority of requests they’ve received have been centered around not posting content including product from a set list of competitors for 30 days after the content went live, other common requests also included not posting with competitors for a set timeframe before and after the post went live on the social platform (most commonly 30 days).
When asked about the most unreasonable exclusivity requests influencers have received from brands, the majority cited exclusivity length and payment as the two primary factors they feel brands often get wrong. Specifically, speaking to the length of exclusive agreement, one influencer stated, “There was a year-long campaign requiring exclusivity for beauty brands. There’s no way I could guarantee that – especially since I hadn’t worked with the brand before, so I didn’t know what the experience would be like working with them. They wanted a link in profile for all or most of the year, which competes with everything else I’m doing. It was a hard no for me.”
Influencers Expect Additional Compensation for Brand Exclusivity Requests
Agreeing to a window of exclusivity prevents influencers from accepting new business for a specific timeframe, so it’s no surprise that influencers expect additional compensation for these types of requests. Specifically, of the influencers surveyed, 85% of influencers expect additional compensation if there is a mention of exclusivity in their contract.
The majority of influencers specified the need for a monetary incentive (instead of free products) as part of an exclusivity agreement. When asked how much more compensation influencers expect for exclusivity rights, most influencers cited exclusivity category and duration as the two most important factors contributing to expected compensation. Specifically, influencers felt that they should be compensated for every month they are asked to turn down opportunities and incentives from other brands. As one influencer put it, “If the brand wants months at a time, they should have to buy out that availability. If an influencer could book 3 brands in 3 months and a brand wants to buy exclusivity, they’re buying the other two months of time.”
Influencers’ Value Long-Term Partnerships With Brands Rather Than One-Off Exclusivity Requests
While the majority of influencers understand the premise of exclusivity requests for certain products (as long as they are adequately compensated), influencers noted that long-term partnerships are one way that they would be more likely to have a natural exclusive partnership with a brand. As one influencer stated, “This is where I think long-term collaborating with influencers is especially useful. You keep the authenticity of having your brand consistently popping up in the feed and, if you’re continuing that paid partnership, they’re less likely to be looking for other brands to work with – or [less likely] say yes to other brands that are approaching them.”
Instead of legally forbidding an influencer from posting another brand, why not just make influencers’ experiences so elevated and special that they won’t want to post with another brand? In shifting the focus away from preventing influencers from working with other brands and towards elevating influencers’ experiences, both brands and influencers benefit. Specifically, brands have the opportunity to form deep and meaningful connections with influencers that will prove far more valuable in the long-term than prohibiting influencers from posting about competitors in a 60 day window.
Failing to form long-term partnerships with influencers are no longer just missed business opportunities, but instead are becoming a threat to the brand itself. Brands that fail to form a long-term relationship and co-create with influencers risk seeing influencers create brands on their own, as we’ve seen with the rise of influencer-to-consumer brands, such as Danielle Bernstein’s We Wore What collection. The future of product, brand, and communication development is supporting and incubating influencers’ ideas, creativity, community and vision, like Nordstrom has done with Arielle Charnas’ Something Navy collection. It’s come to the point where some brands have even started thinking about influencer marketing strategy, engagement, and incentives through the lens of venture capital, fully investing in long-term relationships with influencers that benefit everyone involved.
For more applicable insights to inform your influencer strategy, access our 2018 Influencer Perspective report and survey here.