Make Sure Teens Want to Represent Your Brand
Before we get to the legal stuff, there’s something you need to consider: Is your brand one that a young influencer would want to represent? Obviously, a 16-year-old isn’t likely to want to advertise your mortgage company, but they might be interested in showcasing that new fruity flavored water or lip gloss.
But it’s not enough for the influencer to like your product. Kids these days are interested in so much more, like if the product is made from sustainable products or how visually appealing it will look on their Instagram feed. To you, an influencer may seem picky, but if they’re worth their weight in clicks and purchases, they will be. A picky influencer cares about their reputation and wants to present products that suit their own brand. By doing this, they create an authentic relationship with their followers, and those followers are more likely to be interested in the products they advertise.
Always Follow Truth in Advertising Laws
If you think your brand is something a young influencer may want to advertise, it’s time to familiarize yourself with any laws that may impact the job. Truth in advertising laws state that “when consumers see or hear an advertisement, whether it’s on the Internet, radio or television, or anywhere else, federal law says that ad must be truthful, not misleading, and, when appropriate, backed by scientific evidence.” This doesn’t just apply to young social media stars — it’s something adult influencers should be on top of as well. It’s up to you to make sure any advertising you do with a teen influencer is 100% accurate.
Become Familiar With the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) is something else that can impact your relationship with a young influencer. Essentially, the 1998 law “imposes certain requirements on operators of websites or online services directed to children under 13 years of age, and on operators of other websites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information online from a child under 13 years of age.” Before you reach out to a young person or their parents, familiarize yourself with the law to ensure no one is breaking any rules.
Make Sure You’re Following Any Other Relevant State or Local Laws
Check to see if your state has any laws regarding child labor or child performers too. Many states actually have laws that create exemptions from child labor laws for children who perform under particular circumstances. For example, a child is not subject to labor laws if they work for their parents. That might include a mommy blogger who posts videos of her child performing or advertising products.
Know That, Ultimately, Parents Make the Rules
At the end of the day, many laws and regulations leave so much up to the parents of the influencer. It could be the most popular YouTube star on the planet, but if they’re only 14, mom and dad may take on a manager-like role. So, you will most likely find yourself negotiating with the parents. All of the laws mentioned give the parents a great deal of authority when it comes to making decisions about what’s right and wrong for their child. If you get involved with an influencer marketing deal with a family that makes you uncomfortable — for example, the parents ask the child to advertise products they don’t like or have no interest in — walk away. It’s better for both the child and your brand to find and nurture authentic relationships.
Be Clear About What You Want or Need … But Allow for Creativity
Once you’ve chosen someone to work with, be clear about what you want from them. Unless they’re mega stars, teens typically don’t have the negotiation skills that adults do. You need to make sure they know what’s acceptable and what’s not when creating an ad for you. But that doesn’t mean you should turn into a dictator. Once you set some general guidelines, allow for creativity. Influencers know their audiences and understand what they need to do to reach them. As long as they don’t break your rules, let them run with it. If you’re flexible, your target audience will appreciate the authenticity that results.
Don’t Let the Risks Dissuade You
There are always risks with reaching out to an influencer of any age, but especially a teenager or younger child. But the rewards outweigh them. More and more major companies are choosing to work with kids and teens because they appeal to other kids and parents alike. When you follow the rules, both written laws and unspoken practices, the result is usually an authentic advertisement that the audience trusts.
And when it’s done right, this kind of partnership is good for the teens too. They gain business and marketing knowledge; build their brand and their following, and earn money or products.
Don’t Be Afraid to Start Small
You don’t have to go after the influencers with a million views or followers to be successful. Even someone with just 1,000 followers on their YouTube channel can be a great partner. A few years ago, many companies began DMing teens who had a few followers on social media and paying them a small fee — maybe five or ten dollars — to post about their products. You can also offer free products or exclusive access and discounts. Just make sure that whatever you use as compensation is fair.