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TikTokers are now eligible to join Hollywood’s biggest union

SAG-AFTRA’s new ‘Influencer Agreement’ also offers representation to influencers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitch, and more

TikTokers, Instagram influencers, and other online content creators now have a new way to unionise, via SAG-AFTRA’s “Influencer Agreement”. As Hollywood’s top union, the catchily-named Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists will allow those that earn money through advertising on social media to reap the same benefits as A-list actors.

“The Influencer Agreement was created in response to the unique nature of Influencer-generated branded content and offers a new way for influencers to work under a SAG-AFTRA agreement,” Gabrielle Carteris, president of SAG-AFTRA, tells Backstage. “We want to be able to support both current and future SAG-AFTRA members in this space and for them to be able to access the benefits of union coverage.”

Those benefits include better opportunities and protections for those working in the industry, plus – in many cases – health and pension plans. Previously, YouTubers were the only influencers able to gain membership, which will now be available to influencers on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitch, and other platforms. According to SAG-AFTRA’s website, the union already represents around 160,000 performers and media professionals.

So, how do you qualify to join Hollywood’s biggest union as an influencer? Well, the new agreement categorises “influencer-generated branded content” as advertising, and this has to be produced by the influencers, and distributed on their personal platform in video or audio form. This could include as little as a short TikTok clip or Instagram story, and, according to the New York Times, there’s also no minimum follower count. The agreement doesn’t cover still imagery, however, or advertising campaigns created for a company, which are covered under a different agreement.

In the wake of the announcement last week, influencers and their followers have welcomed the ability to unionise, especially in an industry that is largely unregulated and offers its creators very little in the way of protection or stability. “A lot of influencers are marginalized people who could really benefit from union protections,” writes actor and writer Kristin Chirico in a tweet, “especially as more brands seek to employ marginalized creators to improve their images, so please spare me your eye rolls.”

Reportedly, the change to SAG-AFTRA’s membership requirements comes at the end of three and a half years of internal research and talks, after influencers approached the union for guidance as they negotiated deals. More specific details on the agreement are set to be revealed at a later date.