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Agree to agree on what is agreed upon.
If you want to be seen as a professional social media manager, it’s important to set up your business with the right processes from the get-go. This will streamline your business and help it to run more smoothly on an ongoing basis. Part of that process involves creating a detailed social media agreement for your clients.
Every client relationship is different, but regardless of how formal that relationship is, it’s important to have clear guidelines governing the work that you’re completing. Whether you’re a well-established agency, or you’re just starting out as a freelancer, creating well-organized social media agreements is critical to your success. Let’s face it; social media is still a world of mystery to many clients, which means that not all of them will understand what’s included within your scope of work – and what’s not!
Not every social media professional knows how to create a social media contract, and that’s okay. Your contract doesn’t need to be a complicated 30-page document. It can just be a short agreement outlining the basic rules of your working relationship and what that entails. Keep reading to find out more!A
So, do you really need a social media agreement? Well, the simple answer is yes. Even if you are getting involved in a short-term project, you still want to be clear on the scope of your work, your involvement in the project, the project fee, and any legal guidelines governing the project and your roles and responsibilities within it.
A social media agreement is generally a legally binding contract that creates clear guidelines for both parties. It also protects you against any legal disputes that arise while completing the project and sets out a clear agenda for the project timelines and fees. This sets clear expectations for the project and can save both parties a lot of time down the track.
It can also outline any exclusions not included within the project. If your client is new to social media, they may assume that you are undertaking certain responsibilities, such as community management or video production. An agreement outlines any exclusions so there is no confusion throughout the project as to each party’s roles and responsibilities.
Even if you have been working with a client for a several years or they’re a close personal friend, you can still encounter legal problems or disputes around a project’s scope. No matter how small the project is, there can still be issues that crop up. Having a social media agreement in place just makes things easier for everyone.
Not only that, but a social media contract also makes you look much more professional. It establishes you as a legitimate business person and helps the client feel more reassured in working with you. They will be able to see from the beginning that you have established processes in place. They’ll also be able to see just how much work might be involved in the project. A social media contract enables the client to see all the different components that are involved in a campaign, and how long they might take which helps you to prove the value of your work.
A social media agreement is a legal document. Ideally, it should include a number of different elements, including the following:
Within the contract, each item should be clearly outlined so that both parties understand the requirements involved. Then, both parties should sign and date the contract prior to any work commencing.
It’s important to create your social media contract before you onboard any new clients. If you wait until you get your first client it could take at least a week to create your social media contract, so it’s better to have it prepared beforehand.
So, let’s break down each part of your social media contract and discuss why they’re so important.
The first part of the contract should highlight the basic project details, including the services offered, the dates the project will cover, and any parties involved. Remember this could also include other agencies, other freelancers, or any other stakeholders involved in the project.
Be sure to specify who will be signing the contract and representing the client and the freelancer or social media agency. Typically, on the client’s side, this will be the business owners. On your side, this will either be yourself or whoever is representing you within your agency. If you’re working as a freelancer, you should sign the contract yourself.
It’s important to outline these parties upfront. Depending on the project, sometimes collaborating with other teams can take longer than working alone. You’ll also want to outline the specific responsibilities that sit with different agencies or teams. Your client might assume that you have no issue working with other agencies, and while this shouldn’t be a big deal, it may add time to the project so this needs to be outlined upfront.
This is probably the most important detail of your entire agreement. This component outlines the actual work to be completed and any inclusions incorporated within this. In this section, you should be as detailed as possible, so there is no confusion as to the work involved.
Outline all the roles and responsibilities involved within the project and include all the other components that the client is responsible for. Be sure to include any project objectives. If you’re creating a social media calendar include which social platforms you’ll be posting on and the exact number of posts you’ll be creating. You should also include any secondary activities that might be part of the project.
Therefore, if you’re providing social media marketing services, outline exactly what will be provided by you, including such services as:
You should also outline the clients’ responsibilities and deadlines, including what needs to be provided for you to complete the project on which dates. This is especially important if client information or resources are required for you to complete your side of the project components. If you want to be really prescriptive you can even include estimates for meeting your goals or agree on KPIs so the client is clear on what they can expect.
The cost and payment details are another critical component of your social media agreement. Any social media marketing contract should specify exactly how much the work will cost and include a payment schedule so the client knows how much is due and when. You should also specify whether you’re working on a retainer basis, or whether you’re just working on a one-off project for a set duration.
When outlining the cost be sure to include any taxes, any additional fees, and an additional hourly rate if necessary. Add a payment schedule within the contract. The schedule should outline which payments are due when, or it might even specify that payments are due when you hit certain milestones within the project. If different parties are paying for different components within the project, specify this within the payment terms.
You may also want to add details on any additional expenses within the project, and who will be covering these costs. This might include travel costs, the cost of software or imagery, the cost of tools, or an hourly rate to cover the cost of additional services or overtime.
Another important component of your social media agreement is your timelines. If the work is open-ended, or you’re working based on an ongoing social media management contract, make sure you specify this within the contract. If your contract runs for a minimum period, specify this.
Include any specific deliverables due by specific dates within this section. Be clear that deliverables may be delayed if any required information isn’t provided in a timely fashion by your client.
Most ongoing contracts should have a minimum set period, for example, three months or six months. After this minimum period has elapsed, you can still have your agreement in place but you might want to ensure that you include a termination notice period, such as 21 days. This ensures that both parties are protected. It means that you won’t be left without a job. At the same time, it ensures that the client won’t be left high and dry with no social media content for the next month.
You may also want to include a fee or add reimbursements if the contract is terminated within the contract period.
Most social media marketing agreements will also include a section on liability, and we highly recommend doing so. This section essentially specifies who is liable for any damages caused by the work completed. Typically, social media management (SMM) doesn’t tend to result in many issues, however, there’s always a risk involved in publishing any online materials.
For this component, you may want to consult with a lawyer, depending on who you’re working with, what industry they operate in, and what the potential risks are. For example, companies in certain industries, such as the medical industry, have very specific guidelines around what can be posted and what claims can be made within these posts.
Depending on the client or the project, you may want to include additional protections within your social media contract to protect yourself in scenarios that include higher risk. These protections include things like non-compete clauses, non-waiver clauses, force majeure, and no guarantee clauses.
Your social media agreement should also incorporate details about your intellectual property rights, or in other words, who owns the work. Social media work is usually completed to produce social media content, or even other video content or images. An intellectual property clause will outline who owns the content and on what terms. For example, the client might own the rights to content only for a specific period, or only for specific uses.
Typically, the client or company you’re working for usually owns the content and retains all the rights to work completed. This makes sense – after all, creating content for the company is what the whole job is about, and you won’t likely have any use for it. The only reason you may want to use the content in the future is perhaps for training purposes or a portfolio for your website or credentials doc. If so, be sure to include a clause about this within your contract.
If you are running a social media photo shoot and supplying high-resolution images for use on social, the images should not be used for magazines or print ads, unless specified in the contract. They should also not be used for other social media channels all over the world unless specified.
But why is this such a big deal? Well, in this scenario, not only is the client not paying for these other uses but the content may not be being used for its intended purpose.
In the example above, for instance, social media images are typically not meant to be used for print, as the quality is typically not fit for a print ad. If the content is being used in a way other than what was intended, this may not reflect well on your business or your agency. It may look like you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t know how to create content for it for its purpose. In other words; it’s not a good look for you or your agency.
Within this section, you might also want to include a note on non-exclusivity. If you have a very large client that is providing you with a significant fee, you could potentially consider an exclusive relationship between you and your client. This might mean that you do not work with other clients in the same industry.
For example, if you are working with an organic wine brand, they might want to specify that you do not work with any other organic wine brands. The contract might even detail specific brands. If so, be sure to include these details within the contract. If your client is asking you to agree to an exclusive relationship, be careful. This might mean that you cannot work with any other brands or any other similar brands, meaning you lose out on other work. If you do choose to incorporate this within your agreement, be sure to specify that the agreement ends when your contract does.
It’s not always easy to think about what could happen if your contract is terminated, however, it’s important to include all the details about termination within your social media agreement. Your termination details will specify how the contract can be terminated or if it can be terminated at all. It should include a notice period of at least 14 days for both parties, if not longer.
The contract may also include a clause stating that it cannot be terminated at all until a certain period has elapsed. In the contract, you should specify that termination needs to be given in writing from either party.
Most of your social media agreement outlines what is included. The exclusion section outlines any components that are not included within the agreed scope of work.
Not all clients have a strong understanding of what social media is, let alone what it entails. It might seem obvious to you but don’t assume that your client knows what is and is not typically included within a social media agreement.
Your exclusions might outline components such as:
When you’re in the pitching stage, it’s important to ask all the right questions and quote accurately for the project based on exactly what it involves. Things like video content production or reporting can take hours out of each month, so it’s important to know from the very beginning whether these activities need to be included within your scope of work.
It’s also important to understand the potential yield you might make on certain social media management activities. For instance, you might be able to charge a lot for social media reporting but it may only take you a couple of hours every month. As you learn more about social media management, you’ll start to understand which social media activities are more lucrative than others. Then you can start to push for those activities that are more lucrative. Of course, it’s not all about the money. For example, doing social media reporting also helps you prove the effectiveness of all the work you’re doing so it is very important regardless of how lucrative it is.
Within your social media agreement, you may also want to include a confidentiality clause. This clause specifies that neither party will divulge any confidential information, including any proposals, costs, expenses, or other information about the other party. If you’re working with big brands, they may send you a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) to sign separately to protect any trade secrets or confidential information they may have given you. But keep in mind that you also need to protect your own information, costs, data, and your own interests.
Depending on what other social media marketing services you’re offering within your contract, you’ll also want to include all the details of such services to make it crystal clear how the arrangement will be set up.
You also want to specify within the contract that you’re working as an independent contractor or agency, rather than an employee. Some contracts might even include a line specifying this relationship.
While there are countless social media marketing contract templates out there, it’s important to consult a lawyer when you’re creating your own social media agreement. There might be specific laws in place that relate to your field or the specific job at hand. It’s also important to note that the governing laws in different areas may vary, so be sure to have a contract that relates to specific laws in your region or country.
When you send your contract, keep in mind that the client might come back to you with suggested amendments to the contract. Unless the amendments drastically change any of the details within your contract, they should be okay to sign. That said, if you’re starting a large project, you don’t want to go changing any major details without consulting a lawyer.
And even though it sounds expensive consulting a lawyer, it can be well worth it if it means that you will be avoiding a legal dispute in the future. Legal disputes can cost you thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention the damage to your reputation and the disruption to your work and home life.
The good thing is that once you have a good social media contract template in place, you can use the same one for all of your clients, tweaking small components where necessary. By creating your contract yourself with the help of a lawyer you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re covered for all eventualities.
In some cases, the client might present you with a separate client contract, which outlines all of their requirements. In the scenario, you might want to check with a lawyer to ensure that parts of their contract don’t cancel out yours, or you’re not signing your rights away.
If you’re serious about becoming a legitimate social media professional, or you’re starting your own social media marketing agency, it’s critical that you have the processes, legal documents, contracts, and tools to back it up. Only through setting up the right processes from the beginning will you be able to streamline your work, increase efficiency and maximize your bottom-line profits.
There are social media contract templates that you can use to bring structure to your social media services agreements, however, keep in mind that you probably want to consult a lawyer to create a contract that is specifically relevant to you.
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