What's the deal with influencer exclusivity?

Exclusivity makes sense for everyone. But it needs a customized approach.

Welcome to issue #10 of Return on Influence, a newsletter by me, Eleni Zoe from Modash, about the details that make influencer marketing a formidable channel. Every two weeks, get new ideas to better your processes, workflows, and strategies.

We need to talk about exclusivity…wait wait, hear me out. I’m not asking you to stop seeing other newsletters; that’d be really weird.

I’m talking about the other kind of exclusivity. The completely normal and expected part of influencer marketing deals.

How does it work? What kind of exclusivity should you ask for? Should you pay for it?

That’s what’s on the table this week. 👇


Exclusivity protects your investment

In influencer marketing, you’ll come across two types of exclusivity: ‘full’ exclusivity and ‘category’ exclusivity.  Both protect brands and influencers.

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

  • Full exclusivity means a creator posts no sponsored content for a certain duration before and/or after collaborating with your brand.

    Creating this ad-free space before your #spons post goes live increases the chances that the creator’s followers will see it, and it will make more of an impact. Full exclusivity protects all that work you’re doing and
    gives it its best chance at success.

  • Category exclusivity means creators can’t partner with your competitors for a specific time before and/or after your post goes live.

    A sponsored post with category exclusivity feels more authentic to the influencer and protects their credibility in the long term. This is the most common type used in influencer marketing.

TIP #2

Customize the terms of your exclusivity agreements

After chatting with some influencer marketers, it’s clear that there’s no one-size-fits-all exclusivity approach we can all take and call it a day. Bummer, I know.

The terms of your agreement will depend on your product. You’ll want to clarify and specify the terms. Here are a few customizations to think about.

  • Customize exclusivity type: do you need full exclusivity, category exclusivity, or both?

  • Customize duration: how long can’t the influencer post competing sponsored content? One day? One week, a few months?

    💡What to think about: Does the duration make sense for the product? If you’re asking them to promote fast-moving consumer products (like beauty, fashion, skincare), is it necessary to ask for a week of full exclusivity? Or does 1 day make more sense?

  • Customize for competitors: Could you be okay with letting creators collaborate with adjacent brands that don’t cater to your target market but not your direct top X number of competitors?

  • Customize for social media platforms: is the exclusivity specific to the social platform you’re collaborating on? For example, an influencer can’t share sponsored content on TikTok for the duration, but it doesn’t apply to Instagram/YouTube.

  • Customize for content type: an influencer can post other sponsored content in Instagram Stories within the time range if they wish, but not Reels.

Pro tip: You can use these customizations as a way to negotiate exclusivity with an influencer. If they bristle at 3 months of category exclusivity, you can return with category exclusivity for Instagram but not YouTube. Be flexible and fair.

TIP #3

Should you pay for exclusivity?

Exclusivity makes sense for everyone. The influencer retains credibility. The audience isn’t hammered with conflicting ads; brands get more engagement.

As a result, you’ll find that many influencers won’t ask for payment for some “normal” exclusivity. If you ask for full exclusivity of 24 hours, they’ll happily do it without extra payment needed.

In his experience, Ben Williams of Blast says that if you ask for a two-day gap on either side of the collaborative post, most influencers will agree to the condition without asking for additional payments.

However, when we are removing revenue opportunities for influencers, payment must be on the table. The longer or stricter the exclusivity you ask, the more opportunities they have to turn down.

How much you pay will depend on the following:

Is it easy or difficult to stay exclusive to your product?

It’s easy to stay exclusive to a mattress company because it’s unlikely for anyone to buy multiple mattresses over a few months.

Kristen Bousquet, a creator monetization coach, 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). For difficult brands ( (aka products for which it’s difficult to stay exclusive, like fashion or beauty companies), she ups it to 50% of the base rate per month of category exclusivity.

What is the duration of exclusivity?

Asking for a week’s category exclusivity is quite normal in most cases. If they want to keep their audience’s trust, no influencer would want to promote two competing products/brands in seven days.

But if you’re asking for a long-term exclusivity (for three to four months), you’ll likely have to pay extra for the loss of a creator’s income.

Food creator Elena 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.

What type of exclusivity are you requesting?

Full exclusivity (especially for the long term) might cost more than category exclusivity.

But when we we surveyed 42 influencer marketers regarding influencer pricing last year, exclusivity among competitors (aka category exclusivity) was voted as one of the most valuable add-ons — they’d pay extra for it.

If necessary, we recommend paying for exclusivity to make sure that your campaigns have their best chance for success.his will make your reports more concise and impactful (and save you time!)