Brands and marketers are bringing continuous value to influencer partnerships by repurposing influencer content. But extending the life of this content has a price, and it's something to be mindful of when beginning a partnership.

Once considered an afterthought in talent negotiations, usage rights are a topline factor in influencer pricing and can be one of the first questions brought up in partnership discussions.

Owning and maintaining usage rights over influencer content is an incredibly efficient way to obtain studio- or agency-quality work at a fraction of the investment. Despite the fees tagged on, the small charge is a fraction of the cost you would see from any third-party company's quote.

And now, creatives and their representatives are thinking more about what comes with repurposing content too, so brands will need to define clear goals when sitting at the table to negotiate. It can be costly to request usage rights that may never be used; on the other hand, neglecting to secure usage rights at the start of a sponsorship may cost a brand more down the road when the content is created—and the brand's leverage has weakened.

Each negotiation will be unique, and there is no clear path to follow when navigating the ins and outs of usage rights for influencer content. But if you're working on a partnership, here are the most important elements to keep in mind.

Be Prepared for Associated Costs

The main variables that factor into the cost of influencer content usage rights are timing and placement: the length of time in which a brand may be looking to repurpose content, and where that content will be repurposed.

Generally, marketers approach usage rights in the following time increments:

  • 1 to 3 months—Little to no incremental fee; can usually be negotiated into an influencer's baseline fee.
  • 3 months to 1 year—Small to moderate incremental fee; can raise influencer fees up to 2x for macro creators.
  • More than 1 year—Significant incremental fee; can raise influencer fees exponentially for macro creators.

And where the content will be repurposed:

  • Social—Most commonly requested usage right. Organic repurposing does not usually warrant an incremental fee. Paid social and amplification will typically require a small incremental fee.
  • Digital—Owned and operated website and email marketing use frequently require modest incremental fees, whereas banner ads and programmatic require moderate fees.
  • IRL and beyond—Typically, the most expensive placement for usage, often reserved for more traditional endorsement deals or ambassadorships.

Finally, ownership comes into play: Though many up-and-coming influencers are open to work-for-hire deals, more established creators are reluctant to grant a brand full ownership over their content without significant compensation.

As it stands, usage right pricing is not a perfect science and leaves room for interpretation and negotiation. Rates can vary based on the tier of influencer, the presence or absence of formal representation, and the relevance of the category of the partnership in relation to the influencer's primary content category.

The Micro-Influencer Advantage

Keep in mind during negotiations that micro or up-and-coming influencers may view repurposing or amplifying content as a major value-add.

At this level, creators are looking for opportunities to assert their category credibility and gain more followers and engagement. Content amplification grants micro-influencers all of those things.

Avoid Over-Scoping: Don't Pay for What You Know You Won't Use

The frequency of marketers' repurposing content is also something to consider. Some 44% of marketers report repurposing more than once per month.

Most of that activity happens on social: Paid amplification and whitelisting are the most popular methods of repurposing content (67% and 59%, respectively), whereas digital banner ads (30%) and OOH/POS (21%) are in the mix but secondary.

In short, brands are thoughtfully picking and choosing where and how to amplify influencer content.

That said, it's important to have a general sense of time and placement for content usage before you finalize details or cast creators—especially considering the impact on pricing.

Here are a few considerations to be mindful of to avoid paying for usage rights you won't need:

  • Seasonal content: Unless the content will be repurposed for the same season or holiday the following year, the content lifespan is significantly shorter and won't be relevant beyond 3-4 months from the initial publishing date.
  • Early promo: If you're putting significant paid amplification behind a piece of content, that content will likely be fully tapped within 1-3 months.
  • When in doubt: Instagram content has been found to be the most impactful from a native amplification standpoint, and it allows you to specify usage according to platform.
  • Undecided: If you might repurpose influencer content but aren't yet sure of the amplification plans, consider pre-negotiating and inserting options into the influencer's contract (better to know the pricing sooner than later).

Stay in Control

Though influencers are in tune with how their content performs with their audience, once amplification is part of the conversation, brands must still run the show in terms of defining content expectations.

For example, if content will be repurposed for digital marketing, certain specs may be required that differ from an influencer's typical approach to their feed (e.g., aspect ratio and orientations).

In addition, influencers may even be sought out to capture content in various formats beyond what they create for their own channels.

In fact, over 59% of marketers are tapping influencers for content creation-only partnerships—outlining extensive usage rights up front for content that an influencer may never even distribute on his or her own social channels.

* * *

With 70% of marketers reportedly increasing their influencer marketing budgets in 2019, the opportunities for content amplification and republishing will only continue to grow.

As repurposing influencer content becomes a dominant tool in the marketing toolbox, it will leave an impact on creator contracts, fuel negotiations, and shape partnerships for years to come.

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Influencer Partnerships: How to Navigate Influencer Usage Rights and Repurpose Content

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image of Lauren McGrath

Lauren McGrath is the vice-president of studio and SaaS strategy at ACTIVATE,  which partners with brands and influencers to tell engaging and compelling stories across social media, at scale.

Linkedin: Lauren McGrath Shaftel