Brad Shear, an in-house influencer with over a million followers on TikTok, talks about how he accidentally became a viral star by posting 15-second legal tips for his young audience.
As the in-house counsel for your digitally focused company, why did you decide to utilize social media platforms as an influencer?
It happened by accident. Last year, my oldest son said he wanted a TikTok account and I set it up so his privacy would be protected. At that point, I noticed there were no lawyers providing useful educational information to TikTok users. While the app was created for dancing and lip synching to music, I thought it was worth a try to share my talent, posting unbiased educational information. Since I can’t dance like Patrick Swayze, sing like Axl Rose, or have Brad Pitt’s good looks, I would have to be creative.
Why did you decide to become an influencer for other brands?
Brands started to reach out to me after I gained over a million followers on TikTok. In general, you do not decide to become an online influencer, others anoint you. When the brand is something I believe in, a product I may use, or it is a good fit for my followers, then being a brand ambassador is worth it.
Do you think other in-house counsel could do the same? If so, how?
Of course (as long as your company clears it)! Like anything else, you need to have an outgoing personality that can mentally handle the potential negative repercussions. I have advised pro-athletes, entertainers, students, lawmakers, and other lawyers about social media issues for years and now I am personally experiencing similar pros and cons as I enter the “public” domain. It has also given me direct insight, from a company’s perspective.
How can a company prepare for the reaction of an influencer post?
As a company engaging with an influencer, be sure you can handle the negative that comes along with the positive reactions. Personally, I have experienced trolling, hate comments, death threats, and verbal attacks on things like my physical appearance. The positive comes via my followers telling me that I have made a positive difference in their lives!
This article is part of a larger series on how influencers and in-house counsel can work together. Read "Under the Influence" for unique risks facing the company's reputation and brand and "Terms and Conditions to Include in Your Influencer Agreement" if you are considering contracting with an influencer.