Navigating Exclusivity In Influencer Partnerships: A Guide For Brands

April 30, 2024
12 min
Rochi Zalani
Content Writer, Modash
Anna-Maria Klappenbach
Community & Brand Marketing Lead, Aumio
Ben Williams
Influencer Team Manager, Blast
Valeriia Chemerys
Head of Media Partnerships, Deeper
... and
more expert contributors

Exclusivity is a clause in your agreement that prevents a creator from posting other sponsored content (entirely, or from specific comeptitors) for a duration. The exact scope of what exclusivity means can vary.


  • Does exclusivity even make sense in the first place?
  • If so, do brands have to pay for it? How much?
  • How do you have that conversation with influencers?

With the help of 3 influencer marketing experts, I'll answer these questions (and more).

Does exclusivity make sense in influencer partnerships?

The short answer is yes. At least, in some capacity. But:

1- It depends on the product, and

2- There are varying definitions of exclusivity.

In some product categories, it would be weird if an influencer used two similar products. We'll see an example of this further down (a fishing sonar).

In other product categories, it would be weird if an influencer didn't use two similar products. Think fashion, clothing. Why would someone only buy clothes from one place?

So the first thing we need to do is apply common sense.

Next, let’s consider the varying scopes of exclusivity.

"Exclusivity" doesn't always mean the same thing

First up: are we talking about full exclusivity, or category exclusivity?

  • Full exclusivity is when you don’t want the creator to post any sponsored content for a certain timeframe
  • Category exclusivity is when you don’t want the creator to partner with similar products or competitors for a certain timeframe

It's quite normal to see something like this. 1-2 days of full exclusivity, followed by a longer period of category exclusivity.

Beyond that, you can also customize and negotiate some nuances:

  • Customizing the duration: for how long can’t the influencer post competing sponsored content? One day? One week, a few months?
  • Customizing the social media platforms: is the exclusivity specific to the platform you’re collaborating on? For example, an influencer couldn’t share sponsored content on TikTok for the duration, but it doesn’t apply to Instagram/YouTube.
  • Customizing the content type: is the exclusivity clause specific to Stories, or does it apply to Posts and Reels too? Same goes for YouTube (videos vs Shorts).
  • Customizing the competitors: depending on the nature of your business, you might provide a specific list of competitors that an influencer can't collaborate with. You can adjust the list depending on the relevance.

Let's dive more into full vs. category exclusivity, with some examples of how others approach this.

Should you ask for full exclusivity?

Most brands, if they discuss it at all, ask influencers for category exclusivity.

In those cases it’s A-OK for a lifestyle influencer to post about a haircare brand one day and a skincare brand on another day, for instance.

When you ask for full exclusivity though, you create a breathable ad-free space before your sponsored post. That is likely to increase the percentage of followers/viewers who are receptive to your ad.

For that reason, Anna-Maria Klappenbach (Community & Brand Marketing Lead at Aumio), advises in favor of always having full exclusivity for at least a little duration before and after a collaborative post with an influencer.

Anna has the following two terms regarding full exclusivity with her creator partners at Aumio:

  • Any other sponsored Instagram content the creator wants to publish must be with a difference of at least 24 hours before and after their collaborative post
  • Any other partnership YouTube video that the influencer wants to publish must be with a difference of at least 48 hours after Aumio’s sponsored video

YouTube content typically has a longer shelf life than Instagram and TikTok, so it’s advisable to customize your exclusivity clause for each social media platform.

What should be your terms for category exclusivity?

Once again, your exact request is going to vary depending on the nature of your business, product, & influencer strategy.

We have three examples here that cover different products, markets, and collaboration types. They're explained in more detail below, but the overview is:

  • Valeriia at Deeper Sonar requires partners to avoid competitor mentions for full 1 year+ contracts
  • During Ben's time at FARFETCH (in luxury fashion), he typically asked for a 48 hour competitor exclusivity window on either side of the posting date
  • Anna-Maria at Aumio asks for a one-month category exclusivity window after their sponsored content goes live (in addition to 1-2 days of full exclusivity)

Here's a few more details about each.

Deeper Sonar's flagship product is a portable sonar. In this category (and many others), it makes sense to request category exclusivity for the full duration of the relationship (and a little buffer afterwards). Without it, everyone (including the creator) will lose authenticity. Valeriia Chemerys, Head of Partnerships, says their target audience won’t trust an influencer who promotes Deeper today and another sonar two weeks later.

Valeriia Chemerys
Head of Media Partnerships, Deeper
It isn't good for both the influencer or the brand. Anglers smell "promotion" and they don't like it. But when the creator uses one product for a long time and shares educational info and tips, it's a win-win for us both. The influencer becomes a trusted & reputable source, and we get more authentic-feeling promotion to our target audience.

And, back to our fashion counter-example, Ben Williams, (Influencer Team Manager at Blast, ex-FARFETCH) says the opposite can be true with everyday items like clothing, beauty, or skincare.

Ben Williams
Influencer Team Manager, Blast.tv
If an influencer is only promoting one brand/product, it can feel inauthentic. It's clear that they're being paid to promote that brand, and consumers will start to see right through it. Having variation on an influencer’s page can actually add authenticity and credibility.

In these categories, long-term exclusivity may be unreasonable. However, even in those cases, Ben recommends still asking for at least two days of exclusivity:

Ben Williams
Influencer Team Manager, Blast.tv
Ask for a short period of time around your post date where the influencer can't talk about a competitor brand. This could be two days on either side of the post to maximize the effectiveness of your collaboration.

1-2 days is really the minimum for category exclusivity, and it's a reasonable ask. If an influencer is promoting similar products more frequently than that, they risk their own credibility. Nobody wants to see ads on every post.

For one last example, Anna-Maria at Aumio requires that their partners avoid promoting any children’s mental health product or service for one month after their collaborative post goes live. (They're an app to help children & babies sleep.)

That longer window works in their space, and it might work in yours. Just remember to apply common sense, test, and negotiate. Everything in influencer partnerships is negotiable.

Should you pay extra for exclusivity?

Whether or not you should pay extra for exclusivity (and how much should you pay) depends on the factors that we've already been talking about:

  • Your product: is it easy or difficult to stay exclusive to you? For example, it’s easy to stay exclusive to a mattress company because it’s unlikely for anyone to buy multiple mattresses over a few months.
  • Duration of exclusivity: asking for 2-7 days exclusivity is quite normal in most categories. If you're considering longer-term though, you may start to encounter fees. Remember, you are closing off potential revenue streams for that influencer.
  • Type of exclusivity: full exclusivity (especially for the long-term) should cost more than category exclusivity. Though it's less common.

In our survey of 42 influencer marketers regarding Instagram influencer pricing, exclusivity among competitors was one of the most valuable add-ons — thus, worth paying extra for.

But, like everything, it depends. In some niches, it's normal to see exclusivity without fees. At Deeper, Valeriia says they never specifically pay extra for exclusivity. Even with 150+ long-term ambassadors on board.

It's always a part of their deal by default, and it's included in the contract. It makes sense in their space, because:

a) their product is its own category

b) most influencers in their niche are conscious about what they’re promoting

Similarly, at Aumio, Anna never does influencer outreach to creators who advertised Aumio’s competitors in the first place.

What the creators say

What do the creators have to say, though? Here are some perspectives from the influencer community:

  • Kristen Bousquet, a creator monetization coach, says she charges 10–15% of the base rate per 30-day period of category exclusivity for easy brands (aka products for which it’s easy to stay exclusive, like coffee maker companies) and around 50% of the base rate per month of category exclusivity for difficult brands (aka products for which it’s difficult to stay exclusive, like fashion or beauty companies).
  • Food creator Elena, on the other hand, says she charges the full base rate for each month the brand requests category exclusivity. So, if you paid $100 for a post and require three months of exclusivity, that’s $300 extra compensation.
  • For beauty and fashion creator Jalyn Baiden, exclusivity charges depend on the timeframe. She shared that the minimum cost for any kind of exclusivity for her partnerships is $200.

While these opinions might give you a good benchmark, remember that the reality might be more complex. For example, your exclusivity rates also depend on the type of influencer collaboration. Exclusivity for brand ambassadors will be different than for affiliates.

It’s also worthwhile to remember that many excellent creators will include at least some exclusivity window as part of their price by default.

How or when should you ask for exclusivity?

TL;DR: if your exclusivity terms are a bit tight for your product category, it’s best to start the topic early — as soon as you get a response. At Deeper, Valeriia brings up exclusivity in the first conversation. The creators must know what exclusivity means for your brand, what terms are included, and which companies might count as competitors. Valeriia clarifies all this and more during her first partnership calls with the creator.

This is what it looks like in their contract, which is shared transparently and early:

2. Exclusivity.

2.1. The type of partnership between Influencer and Advertiser is exclusive. That means that the Influencer agrees to avoid mentioning other sonar brands 1 month prior and 1 month after the last post / the Influencer agrees to avoid mentioning other sonar brands during the terms of partnership.

If you're worried about overwhelming the creator with too many points and terms all at once, some brands bring it up later, at the point of signing. This is especially fine if it's less restrictive, and unlikely to be a deal-breaker. At Aumio, for example, influencers see the exclusivity terms directly in the contract signing stage. The conversation can start from there if the influencer has any questions or concerns.

Most influencers expect exclusivity to be a part of the discussion, so don’t hesitate to bring it up.

And remember to always specify the ins and outs of your exclusivity terms clearly and transparently. Examples of things you should specify:

  • Which are the top competing brands the creators shouldn’t partner with?
  • What’s the exact duration of exclusivity — both before and after the campaign goes live?
  • Are they allowed to post about competing brands on their other social accounts?
  • Does exclusivity include not sharing PR products from competing brands, too?

Answer and address all these questions in your exclusivity conversations with creators and in your official contract.

Negotiation tips for exclusivity

Exclusivity is a fair ask if:

a) it’s natural in your product category

b) it’s for the short-term

However, if you want long-term exclusivity, it can often mean a creator has to turn down other work and income to honor your agreement. Since that’s a heavy-lift ask, be prepared to pay a bit extra, but you can always negotiate the amount and/or percentage. Here are four negotiation tactics to make exclusivity less of a friction point for the creator:

1. The easiest way to negotiate exclusivity is through a long-term partnership. If a creator knows that a part of their income is stabilized because you’re giving them recurrent work each month, they’ll be more comfortable with being exclusive to your brand.

2. You can also negotiate for exclusivity by adjusting the platform, type of content, and timeframe of your terms. For example, can a creator post about a competing brand on TikTok, if they partner with you only for Instagram? Or can you reduce the exclusivity duration? Perhaps they can post an Instagram Story, but not a dedicated in-feed post about a competitor.

3. Instead of asking the creator for category exclusivity, you can also be more specific and request only collaboration refrains from a selected list of your top competitors.

4. Ben Williams also suggested promoting an influencer to a brand ambassador if you’re negotiating for long-term exclusivity. But it’d cost you extra and might still not make sense for some industries like fashion, beauty, and skincare. For example, asking a creator to wear clothes only from your brand would be inconvenient and unrealistic.

Ben Williams
Influencer Team Manager, Blast.tv
If you want longer-term collaborations and exclusivity, one way is to make an influencer a brand ambassador. There are usually non-compete clauses in this contract, however it is balanced with higher fees, and it’s only really possible in certain verticals.

Plan exclusivity for your market

Ultimately, any degree of exclusivity is a major request. In some industries, exclusivity might be expected. But in other markets, you’re closing off potential revenue streams for the creator.

Think about what’s realistic from the influencer’s standpoint. If your budget allows the creator to supplement their income till the exclusivity’s duration, they’ll readily accept it. But it might be a dealbreaker if you want exclusivity but can’t cover the income they’d lose by turning down other brand deals.

If you want to learn more about the whole influencer marketing shebang, subscribe to Modash’s newsletter. Each week, we share actionable advice — like when you should use automation in your influencer marketing efforts — from real influencer marketers who’ve been there, done that.

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Contributors to this article

Anna-Maria Klappenbach
Community & Brand Marketing Lead, Aumio
Currently at Aumio, Anna is an expert in all things brand & influencer marketing. She has experience running performance-driven influencer collabs in markets like DACH, UK, US & more.
Ben Williams
Influencer Team Manager, Blast
Previously at Farfetch & Nike, Ben leads all things influencer marketing at Blast. He's responsible for driving revenue via creators for digital products & events.
Valeriia Chemerys
Head of Media Partnerships, Deeper
Valeriia is responsible for all media partnerships for portable sonar brand, Deeper. She manages 200+ paid influencer partners in Deeper's key markets.

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