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How to Understand Who Owns the Rights to Content Created By a Social Media Manager

How to Understand Who Owns the Rights to Content Created By a Social Media Manager

As a business owner, one of the best ways to expand your team WITHOUT having to hire full time employees is to work with independent contractors aka service providers.

In the online business world, there’s a service provider for jussstttt about anything you might need in your business and for those of us that have to wear a LOT of hats, that’s good news for us.

At The Boutique Lawyer, I’m a big fan of working with independent contractors and have worked with various people to do various things over the years.

From system implementation, blog writing, social media assistance, operational support, and more, I can honestly say that my business wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of these people!

But on the flipside of that, I also know that choosing to work with an independent contractor in your business can feel scary especially if you’ve never done it before.

You probably have a lot of questions – rightfully so – which is why I have a few resources to help you feel confident doing so!

(Refer here for my spiel on How To Expand Your Team Through Independent Contractors While Also Protecting Your Business.

And here for The 5 Most Important Clauses to Read and Understand Before Agreeing to Work with an Independent Contractor.)

But in this blog specifically we’re going to lean into one of the most common questions that comes up when working with an independent contractor and that is: who owns the deliverables?

This question might be something you wonder when working with ANY service provider, but for the purpose of this blog we’re going to dive into social media management.

Social media is often one of the first things that business owners get help with since it can feel like a beast to keep up with.

From content creation, scheduling and planning a content calendar, actually posting what you create, engagement, answering DM’s and soooo much more, social media is a LOT!

It’s for that reason that many business owners look to outsource or at least get support for a specific piece of socials.

If you’re one of the many that decides to get support with the content creation side of things, the question of “who owns the deliverables?” becomes even MORE important to understand!

So, let’s get into it. ⬇️

4 Key Factors That Determines Ownership Of Content Created By Social Media Managers 

When you hire a social media manager to create content for your business, the ownership of the rights to the deliverables typically depends on the terms of your agreement.

Which is the very reason that actually READING and fully understanding your contract before you sign on the dotted line is soooo important!

There are a few key factors that determine ownership:

1. Work for Hire Clause

If the contract includes a "work for hire" clause, then the content created by the social media manager is generally considered the property of your business, which means your business owns the rights to the deliverables from the moment they are created.

2. Assignment of Rights

In the absence of a work for hire clause, the contract can include an assignment of rights provision, which means the social media manager transfers all rights to the content to your business upon completion and payment. This should be explicitly stated in the contract to avoid any ambiguity.

3. Freelancer/Independent Contractor Agreement

If the social media manager is an independent contractor or freelancer (which in this case they likely would be!), the default ownership unless otherwise stated in the contract is that the creator retains the copyright to the content.

Therefore, it is crucial to have a clear contract that either specifies a work for hire arrangement or includes an assignment of rights to ensure your business owns the content.

4. Licensing

In some cases, the social media manager may grant your business a license to use the content, rather than transferring ownership, which means your business can use the content as specified in the license agreement, but ultimately the manager retains ownership.

As a business owner, content ownership is likely something that’s important to you, so in order to ensure that your business owns the rights to the deliverables, it is essential to:

  • Clearly outline the ownership terms in the contract
  • Include a work for hire clause or an assignment of rights provision
  • Consult with a legal professional to draft or review the contract to ensure it adequately protects your interests

Ultimately, it all comes down to the CONTRACT! Who would’ve thunk?! 👀

By having a clear and comprehensive agreement, you can avoid potential disputes over content ownership and ensure that your business retains the rights to the social media content created by the manager.

“But what if the social media manager isn’t willing to give up ownership rights?”

Wellll, there’s no legal rule that requires them to! After all, they are the ones creating the content that you’re paying them for and the ownership decision is up to them.

In fact, the trend in the social media management industry is for the creator to retain ownership rights and assign you a license to use that content on your page.

In my experience, however, social media managers understand that you want to own the deliverables and they’re willing to meet you halfway or at least form some type of agreement that’s a win/win for both of you.

If a social media manager isn’t willing to budge and you’re not cool with that… well, don’t go into business with them!

The last thing you want is to enter a working relationship and then find yourself resenting what you’ve done.

Instead, find a social media manager who better aligns with your goals, read and fully understand their contract agreement, and hire them confidently!

Start Working With Independent Contractors With Confidence 

Overall, working with independent contractors can be a GREAT way to expand your business without having to hire a full time employee, but with anything in business, you want to make sure you do it RIGHT!

And remember – if ANY contractor you’re considering hiring, whether it be a social media manager or someone else, doesn’t have a contract, that’s a red flag and I would highlyyyy recommend working with someone who does! 🚩

(And if they don’t understand why you’re not comfortable working with them without a contract in place, feel free to point them my way. 😉)

Oh and if you’re not in need of hiring a social media manager or you’re simply wondering other ways you can outsource in your business through the use of contractors, this blog post provides a full list that could serve as a great starting point. 

And if you happen to BE a contractor reading this and are looking for some help implementing contracts in your business, here’s a few resources for you specifically:

⭐️ 6 Things To Include In Your Independent Contractor Agreements 

⭐️ The Hardest Working Clauses In Your Independent Contractor Agreements

⭐️ Social Media Services Agreement Template 

⭐️ Independent Contractor Agreement Template 


If we haven’t had the chance to *virtually* meet yet, hey I’m Amber – not a regular lawyer, but a cool lawyer that helps online business owners sell without getting sued. 

If you like what you just read and want more cool lawyer things in your life, here’s a few ways to stay connected:

Let’s be pen pals! Subscribe to my email list to receive all of my best biz tips and behind the scenes goodies to keep your business bringing in sales (legally of course).

Binge the blog to get all of the legal information you need about running a business in a way that actually makes sense to your non-legal brain.

Come hang with me on the ‘gram! I often do AMA’s on stories, so you can submit your specific questions when they come up.

And if you’re in need of legal resources that you can ACTUALLY understand? Here’s a few ways I can help:

Step into TBL’s free library of legal resources for creative entrepreneurs where we throw open the doors and spill the tea on what works and what doesn't when it comes to legal protection, systems and sales.  

Browse the contract template shop to find what’s missing in your biz and easily implement it with a plug and play template!

Need something else? Send me a DM! Always happy to lend a legal hand when I can.