Partnering With An Influencer? Follow These Eight Steps To Protect Your Business

This article featuring our Executive Creative Director, Kenny Eicher, originally appeared on Forbes.

After a string of troubling and inappropriate videos, YouTube sensation Logan Paul, best known for his short films, sketches and daily vlogs, is, quite literally, paying for his behavior. YouTube temporarily suspended ads from running on Paul's account, effectively cutting off a huge revenue stream for the influencer.

Of course, Paul is not unique: Plenty of celebrities have lost endorsement deals over personal scandals and damaged reputations. When an influencer's reputation goes south, the brands on the other side need to distance themselves from that person, lest they hurt their own reputation among consumers.

Because you can't predict if or when a spokesperson will act out, it's wise to have a plan in place before you start working with one. Forbes Agency Council members offered their best tips for vetting and managing an influencer relationship.

1. Create A Mutually Beneficial Partnership Agreement 

Before partnering with any influencer, create an initial partnership agreement that both parties can follow that includes goals, expectations, deadlines, rights, payments, etc. The partnership should benefit both parties. In case something bad happens, an agreement will avoid hurdles down the road. It also gives your brand the rights to smoothly halt the partnership in case it goes south. - Solomon ThimothyOneIMS

2. Incorporate A Clear Separation Clause 

Before working with any influencer, you need to do your homework in the history and research departments. Make sure that this person doesn't go against anything you stand for and that you have legal clauses that allow you to separate the partnership if things go south. Though, just like Snapchat learned, make sure you pay attention and take care of your influencers if they are doing a stellar job. - Omar JenblatBusySeed

3. Institute Monetary Penalties And Content Review 

In an age of instant content publishing, you always run the risk of an influencer making a content mistake or having a lapse in judgment. Contractual parameters that outline monetary penalties is one way to ensure that your paid influencer will think twice before making a rash decision. Also, when possible, take the opportunity to review the content and edit if needed before it is made live. - Timothy NicholsExactDrive, Inc

4. Don't Focus Solely On An Influencer's Metrics 

Brands should consider that backlash can happen for a variety of reasons. Choose influencers that relate to your brand in some way and don't just choose by views. You increase the quality of your influencer strategy, and a view-count-only strategy pretty much guarantees a skip ad click. You can't insulate your brand from potential landmines and need to have an influencer crisis communication plan. - Jennifer BarbeeDestination Innovate

5. Act Quickly If Things Go South 

A brand engaged with an influencer must stay aware and engaged in their influencer's behavior. The moment things go south, the brand must act swiftly to issue a public statement separating themselves from the scandal and posting that statement on their blog, social channels and by issuing a press release. Brands who are unaware of the scandal, or let too much time pass, will seem to be compliant. - Kenny EicherThe CSI Group

6. Focus On Local Micro-Influencers Rather Than Big Names 

We can't predict the changing fortunes of internet celebrities, but many of them wouldn't be worth the huge fees they'd demand from you. Focus on micro-influencers, people with local relevancy to your target audiences, and people who are true authorities and thought leaders (read: purchase influencers) relevant to your category. Help those on their way up and you'll get more value with less risk. - Jamey BainerPACIFIC Digital Group, Inc.

7. Expect The Unexpected And Have A Crisis Plan In Place 

Influencer marketing is the digital form of a celebrity spokesperson. Before you sign with an influencer, you need to ensure that your brand values align with that influencer. All possible scenarios need to be considered and a crisis plan should be in place. Be ready at pivot at a moment's notice. - Lisa AlloccaRed Javelin Communications

8. Stay True To Your Target Audience 

Avoid the temptation of dizzying numbers that influencers like Logan Paul or A-listers promise. Influencers with a modest reach whose audience is a mirror image of your target customer will yield better, more targeted results. Don’t ignore a review of the comments section, as those can illuminate potential controversies by illustrating how their audience reacts to their content. - Keri WitmanCleriti

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