How to Build Influencer Gifting Programs that Actually Work
For years, brands have sent influencers PR packages in hopes that they’ll post about the products on their social channels to their thousands (or maybe even millions) of followers. These types of campaigns, now more formally known as influencer product seeding, have become one of marketers’ favorite ways to drive brand awareness and purchase intent with influencers — at a cost-effective price.
However, product seeding success isn’t always guaranteed. To help you ensure a return from your next influencer gifting campaign, our Head of Strategy, Magda Houalla, hosted a webinar last week, discussing:
- What gifting programs should look like heading into 2024
- How to understand the ROI of a product seeding program
- Examples of successful gifting campaigns
- Tangible tips and tricks for your next seeding campaign
If you missed it, keep reading for the main takeaways or watch the webinar on demand.
What is influencer product seeding?
Influencer product seeding, also called product gifting or PR, refers to marketing campaigns in which brands send creators free products with the intention of:
- Building relationships: Product seeding offers an opportunity to introduce yourself, your brand, and your products to new influencers that may have not heard about you before.
- Generating buzz: When you gift your products to influencers, they may post about your brand to their social channels, helping to build awareness and drive purchase intent.
- Getting product feedback: Influencers try a lot of products on a weekly basis, and they can provide you with critical feedback about the product, packaging, and more.
A typical seeding campaign is termless, meaning you send your products to influencers with no expectations that they’ll post or create any content around your brand. This is a great way to create a surprise-and-delight experience for creators and build your brand affinity.
However, in some cases, brands run gifting campaigns with terms. Similar to a traditional influencer marketing campaign, a seeding campaign with terms involves a prearranged agreement between your brand and the influencer on the amount of content they’ll produce upon receiving your free products (with no additional payment). This works best for brands with high-value products, such as furniture, luxury clothing, and experiences. While this is a great way to ensure you get content back from influencers, it may also take longer to connect with influencers who are interested in working with you for just free products.
The bottom line is that you should gift your products with intention. Think about what products you’re sending and who you think will be a good fit based on your campaign goals — don’t just spray and pray.
Product seeding best practices
Everyone loves free products — but remember, many of the influencers you’re sending your products to receive dozens of PR packages every week. If you really want your product gifting campaign to work, you need to stand out in the eyes of influencers. So, what can you do to ensure they notice your product in the sea of PR packages, and better yet, post about your brand on their social channels?
1. Get creative with your packaging.
Consider unique, exciting, and eco-friendly packaging to make the product delivery feel like a real gift. In recent years, brands have sent influencers elaborate PR packages to create experiences that are easily shareable, and perhaps even FOMO-worthy. For example, Rare Beauty sent out a buzz-worthy PR package to influencers last year, not only including their latest “Positive Light” collection, but also custom initial earrings personalized to each influencer. This kind of product seeding campaign is the perfect way to get influencers excited about opening up your products and compel them to post about it organically on their own social channels.
2. Outline ways to engage.
Include both physical inserts and an email sequence outlining the different ways that the influencer can engage with you should they love your products. This could entail including a branded hashtag as they post about your products on their Stories, or even sharing a unique affiliate code that offers them the additional incentive of revenue sharing.
3. Work with nano-influencers.
Small creators are often more eager to work with brands on product seeding campaigns, as they’re excited to receive free products and start building relationships with their favorite brands. In fact, according to our Agency Services team, we often see the highest engagement with nano-influencers in product seeding campaigns.
4. Reinvest in your top performers.
Continue to send products to those who post frequently when they receive your products. These creators are your true brand fans, who can speak authentically about their love for your products. And if your brand has the budget, consider engaging with your top performing seeded influencers in paid partnerships.