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In-House Legal’s Guide to Influencer Contracts

Legal and marketing work better together. Learn how the Texas Rangers created efficient and effective ways to manage influencer contracts.

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Hannah Wing, the Digital and In-Game Host and Social Media Coordinator for the Texas Rangers, does a lot, from hosting games—writing scripts, posting videos, building hype on gameday—to helping with the organization’s social media channels. While she’s comfortable tweeting to the team’s 1.4 million followers or hosting a game in front of 40,000 fans, when she started managing legal contracts for their influencer program, it made her nervous. 

 

“I didn’t know anything about influencer marketing when we launched the program several years ago—it’s still a new and evolving field of marketing,” she says. “I had the most heartburn about writing and reviewing contracts for our influencers.”

 

Hannah and the Rangers’ in-house legal team struggled with creating an efficient and compliant way to manage influencer contracts for the team’s growing list of social media partners for several reasons: 

  • They had no proven playbook: Influencer marketing was new for the team, so they didn’t have a playbook for how to handle legal matters on the backend. 
  • Processing legal contracts manually took lots of time: It took up to 15 minutes per agreement just to change fields and information for each influencer.
  • It was an overly manual process: Hannah had to email, print, and deliver documents to legal for signatures and then re-scan them—and she had no way of tracking where each contract stood between the influencer, legal department, or marketing. 

 

Read on to learn how Hannah and the Rangers:

  • Reduced the time to execute influencer contracts by 60%
  • Grew their influencer marketing program from 30 to over 80 influencers
  • Got rid of the heartburn over influencer contracts by streamlining and digitizing the process

A $3B market: Why influencers are becoming indispensable for growth 

The influencer industry is one of the fastest-growing ways to advertise and promote brands and products by leveraging trusted advocates—the influencers. Influencers offer a way for brands to connect with more followers and increase sales, drive customer engagement, and attract new, prospective customers. In fact, AdWeek reported that spending on influencer marketing in the U.S. will exceed $3 billion in 2021. 

 

For organizations working with dozens of influencers, implementing a solution that streamlines the contracting process is critical to save time and allow them to move quickly—so they don’t lose influencers to other brands and can leverage their reach and followers when they need them most. 

 

For the Rangers, influencers attract new fans and drive ticket sales for games and other events. Hannah needed a solution that would allow her to work seamlessly with influencers because:

  • Influencer marketing is just one tool in the toolbox: Hannah juggles many responsibilities, and legal contracts were bogging her down.
  • Manual processes inhibit scale: Increasing the number of influencers was practically impossible when she managed all of the paperwork manually.
  • Digital transformation is necessary to stay relevant: In order to stay ahead of the curve and connect with new generations of fans, as well as follow their new all-digital mandate, it was critical for the Rangers to adopt a forward-thinking approach to legal contracts. 

 

Case in point: Onboarding an influencer in time for a critical event

When the Rangers were opening their new ballpark, Globe Life Field, in 2020, the entire organization went digital—including their legal contracts. For the grand opening, Hannah wanted to invite some fresh new faces to help promote the ballpark and team on social media. She was able to get contracts executed in under an hour so local Dallas-based influencers like Courtney Stensland could attend the event.

The nuts and bolts of influencer marketing and contracts

When it comes to influencer marketing, Hannah measures the program’s success through metrics that are quantifiable—followers, ticket sales, clicks—and some that aren’t as easily measured but are perhaps more important, like engagement, experience, and relationships. 

 

“For me, working with people is the most important aspect of my job—the relationships we develop with our influencers are what drive the impact of our influencer marketing program,” she explains.  

 

Hannah’s approach echoes that of the industry: For many companies, influencer marketing is a way to create meaningful relationships between a brand and its customers—as well as to reach potential customers and drive sales or revenue.  

 

To do that, companies partner with influencers, who are hired to promote the companies’ products through content—endorsements and product mentions—on their social media accounts. For every influencer, their followers represent the brand’s potential customers. This strategy acts as a way for companies to show, not tell, potential customers that their products are loved. 

Content shared by influencers typically follows guidelines provided by the company in an agreement, such as terminology to be used, hashtags to include, or how many posts should be shared by a certain date. 

And in exchange for the posts, the company provides incentives to the influencer: in the Rangers’ case, experiences like tickets, merchandise and concessions credit, and parking. This is why legal contracts between companies and influencers are critical to ensure clear representation and remuneration or returns for both parties.

Texas Rangers require all influencers to tag @rangers, use the Globe Life Field location tag and the team’s campaign hashtag, #StraightUpTX.

Getting down to business: Influencer contracts

Though Hannah can count on a loyal fan base—sports followers can be loyal to a fault—most consumer and business brands stand to differentiate themselves significantly from the competition by relying on influencers. An influencer’s stamp of approval signals trust, authenticity, and drives personal connection with a brand via social media—while every brand can run an ad campaign, influencers will only work with one of two competing brands. 

The reality is, having solid contracts in place that allow for onboarding new influencers quickly is critical for brands in today’s marketing environment. In-house legal teams and marketing teams need to come to terms with influencers faster than the competition, or they risk losing influencers to other brands. That means marketing and legal must build streamlined workflows that allow marketing to self-serve influencer contracts. With a self-serve model, brands can turn around contracts more efficiently, deliver more timely campaigns, connect with brand advocates, build a bigger following, and drive sales—all faster than the competition. 

The manual process of creating and completing influencer contracts

Before moving to an all-digital, self-serve solution, the process of completing influencer contracts involved several steps. Hannah would meet with legal to come to terms on a standard influencer agreement and, together, they would identify fields that need to be adjusted for each influencer, such as the influencer’s name and information, as well as expected dates and deliverables.

Then, she would edit the document, save it as a separate file, and send it to the influencer. After she got it back from the influencer, she would print it out and get it signed by the Rangers’ VP of Marketing. Finally, she would scan the document to ensure she had a copy on her computer and deliver the finalized document to the legal team. 

This process posed several challenges for Hannah and the Legal team:

  • It was time-consuming, taking from 15 to 30 minutes per influencer;
  • It gave Hannah and legal little data or visibility, since emails and PDFs provided no way for marketers or in-house counsel to see when contracts had been viewed or executed; 
  • It prevented the team from seizing influencer moments. Because of how time-sensitive influencer marketing is, influencers sometimes need to be onboarded quickly to capitalize a timely moment, such as a game, announcement, or event, in Hannah’s case;
  • It made legal a bottleneck in the process because as influencer marketing became a larger share of the overall marketing strategy, the volume of requests to legal was hard to keep up with;

It put the Rangers at risk because, without robust contracts in place, there can be legal ramifications or damage to a brand when influencer marketing goes poorly.

A self-serve digital solution to influencer contracts

Hannah knew that the Rangers’ legal and marketing teams needed an efficient, legally sound, and self-service contract solution. She knew that with a solution, legal could empower marketers with the tools they need to partner with influencers and drive business results at scale, without sacrificing speed or efficiency. 

Building an influencer agreement from A to Z

  • Establish a partnership between marketing and legal. Hannah’s first step to overcoming the heartburn contracts caused was to partner with the Rangers’ legal team. She shared her marketing strategy, and together, they discussed the potential risks or blindspots (from both legal and marketing’s perspective). 

“Opening the lines of communication with legal is critical to creating a seamless influencer marketing strategy,” says Hannah.

  • Adopt a tool that streamlines the contract management process. Using a platform like Ironclad keeps lines of communication open between legal and marketing and makes sure that contracts are consistent and legally sound. By eliminating the back-and-forth between marketing and legal, contracts become self-serve, and both legal and marketing teams are empowered to focus on the meat of their work—like building relationships with influencers—instead of the paperwork behind it. 

“When the Rangers went fully digital, our legal team adopted Ironclad to manage our contracts,” Hannah explains. “It makes communicating with our legal team and providing the best possible influencer experience seamless for everyone involved.”

  • Outline needs, risks, and necessary information. Within the Rangers’ influencer contracts, Hannah identified the information that would need to be customized, tagging all fields to be filled out in a template. She also highlighted any areas influencers might have questions or concerns about. 
  • Create a self-serve contract. Using Ironclad’s Workflow Designer, the legal team turned the reviewed contract into a self-serve agreement for marketing to use. This dramatically reduced time spent in negotiation and review, as well as ensured that all contracts were compliant and up to date—without the need for manual reviews every time.
  • Use the contract with influencers. With Ironclad, Hannah can send contracts with the click of a button, as well as automate reminders and communicate with influencers right from the app. 
  • Keep a pulse on how things are going for everyone. Hannah likes to survey the Rangers influencers to see how happy they are working with the team. Using their feedback, she can then discuss, with legal, ongoing updates that should be made to contracts based on influencer feedback, new regulations, or technological developments.

“Gathering feedback helps me understand how to improve the process for our influencers so that they’re excited to represent the Rangers.”

Less heartburn over legal contracts, more influencers hired

Using Ironclad for influencer contracts cut Hannah’s time managing each agreement by 60%, from 15 minutes per agreement to just 5 minutes. This time savings allows Hannah to focus on building relationships with influencers and fans, growing the Rangers’ influencer marketing program, and continuing to innovate the Rangers’ brand. 

Part of growing the Rangers’ influencer marketing program comes from Hannah’s ability to increase the number of influencers the team works with much faster, thanks to a seamless contracts process. In the first season of influencer marketing at the Rangers, Hannah partnered with 30-50 influencers, whereas this past season, she worked with over 80 influencers in addition to 12 college brand ambassadors and 4 college athletes in the team’s first-ever NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) program. That’s over a 60% increase in the number of influencers she’s able to work with using Ironclad. 

Hannah has also been able to improve the influencer experience and overall engagement using Ironclad. When she surveyed the Rangers’ influencers, they shared that they felt the process was organized, easy, and fast—giving her time to focus on engaging with influencers. 

“Using Ironclad, I can focus on building relationships with our influencers instead of negotiating contracts or asking for paperwork to be filled out,” she says. “Ironclad streamlines the process for both our internal teams and our influencers.”

Ironclad also helps the influencer negotiation process move more smoothly: “It makes legal negotiations with influencers feel like an open conversation,” Hannah explains. “If influencers have questions, I have the time to connect with them and we’re saved from awkward negotiations because everything is so straightforward.”

Perhaps most importantly, using Ironclad ensures sound legal practices for Hannah, the Rangers, and their growing list of influencers. With legal involved in laying the foundations for the contracts in Ironclad, consistency is maintained and any negotiations are quick to be resolved through the tool itself—no printing and scanning required. 

“Legal processes can be overwhelming to anyone who’s not a lawyer—I am not an expert, and it was always an intimidating area of my work,” says Hannah. “With Ironclad, I’ve created a streamlined workflow that empowers me to take on the influencer marketing legal process and create an experience that’s positive for everyone involved.”

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