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12 Rules to Ensure Brand Safety with Influencer Marketing

12 Rules of Brand Safety for Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing Brand Safety is a must!

There are limitless positive benefits surrounding the implementation of influencer marketing. Influencer marketing presents clear advantages for brand advertisers – especially the use of TikTok influencers in 2022. However, there still remains things you should concern yourself with, in regards to influencer marketing brand safety. Make sure you send this article to your internal team or your hired influencer agency, to ensure that they keep your brand and project safe at all times.

Simply put, what is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing comes in various forms but simply put; it involves hiring an influencer marketing agencies or influencers to promote your products/ services to their followers. Here’s some ways influencer marketing continues to thrive:

  • People still trust and are inspired by influencers – 4/10 millennials stated that their influencer understands them better than their friends. Astounding, right?
  • Influencer marketing increases brand exposure, traffic, brand credibility and conversions.
  • Influencer marketing, on average earns $5.78 for everything dollar spent.
  • 84% of marketers say they acquired better customers and reached out to diverse audiences through influencer marketing
  • With the pandemic still here, the influencer marketing industry is estimated to be worth a whopping $15 billion.

Along with paid media, email marketing, PR and SEO, influencer marketing provides an additional fastest-growing digital channel with a strong ROI. Not only that, influencer marketing can be combined with the likes of paid media via TikTok ads.

Nonetheless, you still need to concern yourself with influencer marketing brand safety. By not following these rules you may encounter problems surrounding law, regulation, money wastage and more. So, how safe is your brand in an ever-rising and expanding influencer marketing space? Let’s explore in this article.

ladies on a coach



Keeping Brands Safe When Conducting Influencer Marketing Campaigns

How do I keep my brand safe in influencer marketing?

Brand safety in the context of digital marketing refers to efforts by marketers to avoid association with harmful or questionable content online. The term ‘brand safety’, also refers to the processes and execution you administer when conducting your marketing campaigns. Until recently, brands and influencers didn’t have to adhere to specific codes of conduct. Mostly, because influencer marketing was new – it’s only affirmed its place in marketing the last few years, which has resulted in regulation by advertising bodies such as the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority).

With no regulations, the influencer marketing space became cluttered, with influencers promoting unethical brands and not being transparent. A study also investigated the rise of social media bots, for instance, brought to light the fact that some influencers would purchase fake followers to inflate their influence power and look genuine to unsuspecting brands.

As a result, many brands have become victims of fraud activities resulting in losses. Nonetheless, trust and transparency are core in any marketing campaign. It is not surprising that brands now want to protect their image and marketing investments.

Take Care of Your Brand Image

Your brand image is what the external world thinks about your brand when they see it, or think about it. If you are launching your next influencer marketing campaign but wondering who to partner with, to protect your brand image we have compiled the best brand safety rules and practices.

Our 12 rules list will walk you through the ins and out of brand safety for influencer marketing campaigns. Additionally, it will walk you through the 12 most important safety rules before launching your next campaign.

“Brands must deal with legitimate parties who can guarantee brand safety.” – Karen Koslow, the CEO at Wellness Amplified.

a womona in black and white crop top and blue denim shorts standing

The 12 Rules of Brand Safety for Influencer Marketing Campaigns

1. Do Thorough Background Checks of Influencers

Nobody understands your brand goals like yourself. Influencers only offer a platform for brands to sell your brand to the masses. So, rather than relying on automated tools that inconsequentially attach influencers to ads or campaigns, brands, and their agencies should be wiser and instead handpick who to associate with in their digital marketing campaigns.

Brand safety is a major concern for brands. A study conducted by GumGum revealed over two-thirds of marketers have had or dealt with brand safety issues before. Therefore, for those brands that have been lucky enough to avoid brand safety issues, the focus has to be prevention.

How to stay safe when picking influencers?

Accordingly use social listening software to identify negative articles surrounding influencers. Search them on all major search platforms, including Google and YouTube, if you don’t have access to social listening software.

Additionally, brands can search for influencers on influencer marketing whitelists. The lists offer details about an influencer’s content and reputation. Influencer marketing does have the occasional run-in with brand safety, but having the ability to vet and handpick gives an upper hand over those using algorithmic and programmatic tools.

2. Be Transparent About Ads – Follow FTC Influencer Marketing Brand Safety Regulation

You need to follow the regulators in your country. For this example, we discuss influencer marketing regulation within the United States, which is mainly overseen by the FTC.

FTC endorsement guidelines are built on the precept that users are likely to react differently to recommendations made by friends, family, or people close to them as compared to those who receive compensation to promote a product or service.

In that regard, FTC guidelines seek to establish more transparency in brand and influencer relationships. Accordingly, FTC requires disclosure when there is a financial reward or when there exists a family, employment, or personal relationship with a brand.

On the contrary, some influencers have been either unaware of, have found malicious ways to conceal ads or have ignored the regulations altogether.

While promoting the morning sickness pill Diclegis, Kim Kardashian failed to disclose the side effects of the medication as required by law. The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration body) ordered her to pull down the post and repost with the full side effects. This was a costly mistake that made pharmaceuticals rethink the execution of influencer marketing strategies.

While FTC places more onus on influencers, failure to comply will put your brand on watch. You need to be transparent enough with your ads. Follow up with your influencers to ensure they comply with the FTC guidelines. Place terms in your contracts.

3. Quality Control: Review and Approve Content Before Publishing

Proper messaging and placement have become a top priority for brands in a rising brand safety violation landscape.

Naomi Campbell for instance, received fair share of criticism when she posted a caption while working with Adidas. The caption read; “Naomi, so nice to see you in good spirits!!! … loving these adidas 350 SPZL from the adidas Spezial range. ✊ @adidasoriginals.”


Quality control, smashing some slotted jars that didn’t make the cut. #fails #smash #qualitycontrol #pottery

♬ original sound – Florian Gadsby

Her fans were keen to notice the ‘spirits’ but what are the perquisites for quality content? It should always reflect your general brand image. It should contain excellent production value, great content should be tailored for the right audience, and lastly, it should be 100% unique and relatable.

Asking for content preapprovals is generally the most accepted influencer and brand collaboration practice. But while this is a great idea, it should not hinder influencer creativity.

It is also great to work together right from project conception to delivery. Additionally, look to work long-term with influencers as it helps the influencer internalise your brand and attunes content to fit your brand image and needs correctly.

4. Use Exclusivity to Improve Your Brand’s Safety

Exclusivity ensures your influencer doesn’t collaborate with a competitor during a period. We often put a condition that are influencers can’t work with a competitor brand during the campaign or afterwards for a period of 6 months.

If for instance, an influencer sends a message to their followers from a given standpoint, the message should remain consistent for a prolonged period of time. When the influencer collaborates with competition, it dilutes your campaign efforts and makes the whole process less organic and resulting in a consumer and brand relationship breakdown.

Exclusivity agreements ensure that your brand message is consistent and credible; thus, they guarantee results for your campaign.

lady siting on a shopping cart

5. Secure your Brand  Safety with Authentic Real Followers (Influencers)

Successful influencers with inspired followers can generate an impressively high number of engagements and draw substantive social influence. Still, usually not all influencers have genuinely gained their following.

Influencers with fake followings and fake engagements use unscrupulous means to boost their following through fake accounts and bots.

Take an example of Likes.io. With this follower and engagement inflation firm, they allow anyone to buy thousands of followers for just a few hundred dollars. For instance, with just $279.99, they allow users to purchase 25,000 followers.

So, how safe are you from influencer marketing fraud? Experts say the red flags for fake influencers or unauthentic followers include recently created accounts with a large following but little engagement for their content. Always be on the lookout for unauthentic followers. Avoid hiring someone with a sudden spike in followers and engagements. If you are unsure about tracking down fake influences, you can use professional services to help you along.

At House of Marketers, we use internal software to detect fake followers, before onboarding influencers for our client campaigns.

6. Industry-Standard Engagement Rates and Comments

If you see a social media account with one million and over followers but only 70 to 100 likes for their content, you have reason to get worried.

One telltale of fake influencers is incompatible follower engagement rate ratios. Still, one can easily purchase followers from click farms bots. Likewise, likes and other forms of engagement can be forged too. So how can you tell whether the influencer you are dealing with will generate authentic traffic and engagements?

Determine the quality of engagements and posts. Real followers and influencers talk about real feelings and experiences. So, generic single sentences like “Wau! wonderful! I love this” is cause for concern. However, it doesn’t stop there. People are able to fraudulently create messages on their account from other people’s accounts using certain websites.

7. Assess the Ethical Risks Associated with Engaging an Influencer

Moral concerns and ethical implications are significant concerns when dealing with influential persons. Interestingly, it seems that by default, the risk of scandals is usually not far off when dealing with influencers and celebrities. ‘

While this is debatable and tends to elicit different reactions from people, the risk on business is usually devastating and unredeemable.

Let us look back to the Tiger woods scandal of 2009. Huge brands like Nike, EA Sports and Tag Heuer lost big when Tiger Woods was caught cheating on his wife. The public’s reception of this private issue was not so small. This led to big investors pulling their money out of companies like Nike, which then led to billions of losses.

Influencers are human, and while it is entirely unavoidable to void risk, some influencers have outstanding records, and others don’t. With that, our agency at House of Marketers does creative meetings, followed by risk assessment meetings, where we ensure that the influencer you partner with is squeaky clean.

As a matter of fact, influencer marketing is an influential marketing channel, and brands must take care of who they engage with.

woman doing yoga in a rocky place

8. Prepare and Organise your Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Don’t fail to plan. Much effort goes into drafting a successful campaign. It requires weeks of preparation and organisation to get things moving. Everything should be structured and done through a feasible timeline giving enough time to explore spaces and develop great content.

Working on tight timelines, micro-managing, and not having clear-cut influencer briefs can sabotage an influencer’s work and hinder their delivery capabilities. When BooTea collaborated with the reality T.V. show personality Scott Disick. The influencer copied the instructions from the brand and pasted them on his caption.

While this raises the question of influencer freedom, it also opens questions into how prepared both parties were.

9. When using Live Video or Takeovers, Prepare Better

Prepare your influencers with more care, clarity, and persistence.

Anyone can share their opinions about a product or service on a live stream. It however takes authority to keep people engaged. Live videos and takeovers allow brands to establish closer relationships with followers, in the form of human personalities.

The two tactics come in handy when you want to demonstrate something or walk your audience through a service or product.

One great example of brand and influencer takeover involved micro-influencer Peach collaborating with Full Psyche. Peach took over their Instagram account to show behind the scene as she delivered cycling bikes to homes across Costa Mesa. The aim was to help the community keep fit during this pandemic.

This is one example of a successful takeover since Peach went ahead to teach virtual wellness classes, including inviting another guest to talk in her classes.

Explore here for 46 video content marketing stats that will blow you away. These stats will help guide you on your next influencer marketing campaign.

10. Align your Influencers with your Brand

Influencer Match-making (Similar personality, values, voice, audience etc.)

Your message, brand values, and personality are just important as your creative idea. So, you should always be aware and not sacrifice your brand identity. In a 2017 Kendall Jenner and Pepsi collaboration, Kendall Jenner did a terrible advert with Pepsi. It was random and not authentic despite being a delicate topic covered.

The ideas were to promote ‘unity in diversity’ through Pepsi’s global diversity campaign supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, in collaboration with the Supermodel. The advert was a huge disaster and Pepsi was forced to pull down the ad.

This is an ideal example of why brands should be keen on who they choose to work with and whether their values are at stake, especially when a delicate topic is involved.

men’s black crew neck shirt couple shot

11. Use Clear and Concrete Contracts when Working with Influencers.

You need to get everyone on the same page regarding both parties’ expectations. An influencer marketing contract makes your project real and solidifies your campaigns.

You need to consider the following details: assignment details, the key messages, compensation, FTC compliance, content rights, visual guidelines, behaviour clauses, as well as tracking and reporting.

Without a contract and clear influencer brief, the content delivered may end up being something different than what you expected. Without a contract, you have no recourse when the delivered content does not meet expectations.

In short, having a clear and concrete contract in place helps you outline the details of your partnership with an influencer. Set expectations clearly.

12. Work with a Reputable Influencer Marketing Agency.

With the great consumer shift to social media, influencer marketing remains a formidable force for reaching customers in spaces where they spend their time. But despite this, influencer marketing is a lot more complexed process, then most believe.

For influencer marketing to work, you need to take into account all of the brand safety points referenced in this article. Additionally, you need to know how to identify the best influencers, communicate with them, and get the best out of them. And that’s where influencer marketing agencies tend to come in. Influencer agencies like ours help to bridge the gap between brands, influencers, creativity, social media and your audience.

Talk to our specialists today – we will give you a free marketing proposal. At House of Marketers, your brand safety for influencer marketing campaigns will be handled with the utmost care. We qualify every influencer and ensure it is crafted to drive meaningful results, that are agreed prior to the launch of your campaigns. 


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