What is product seeding?

Product seeding, also known as product gifting, is when a brand sends free products to a creator, social media influencer, ambassador, affiliate or customer with the intention of building relationships, kick starting organic word of mouth or gathering product feedback from a target audience.

With product seeding there are no contracts, nor is there an obligation for the influential person to mention, post or review the brand’s product online if they do not wish. Instead, it can be a chance for influencers to try out the product with the cameras off, shape their perceptions of the brand and decide whether they would like to engage in a partnership with them.

Saying that, if a creator does love the product (and the brand) straight away, it’s not uncommon for them to post about the product for free, under the hashtag #gifted. With different guidelines to that of #sponsored posts, organic #gifted posts can appear much more authentically to followers, signaling a genuine love for the product ahead of any sponsorship deals.

Influencer shows boots in mirror selfie
Influencer shares a post about gifted gumboots

While this authenticity makes product seeding a great technique for generating brand awareness and establishing social proof, brands should be careful not to take advantage of the influencer’s support of their product. A lot of time and effort goes into creating online content, as well as fostering the meaningful relationships your brand is benefitting from, so be sure to compensate influencers fairly – or expect significant influencer backlash as a result!

When should I use product seeding?

Whether or not product seeding is the right technique for you depends on your marketing goals, budget and stage of growth. In general, the technique is the most successful for the following three scenarios:

  • Opening up relationships with new influencers – a chance to introduce influencers to your brand, show interest in their work, and make sure they actually like your product (!) before engaging in a partnership
  • Launching a new product to an existing audience – product seeding is a great way to gain honest feedback (not clouded by money exchanging hands) from both influencers and their followers before launching a full sponsored campaign
  • As a smaller brand entering a new market – for smaller brands with smaller budgets, product seeding can be a helpful technique to generate some initial brand awareness and word of mouth without breaking the bank. But be sure to keep these influencers in mind for paid campaigns when your product starts taking off!

Getting product seeding right

While nothing is guaranteed with product seeding, it is a great way to get people talking about your product and begin building longer term relationships with creators.

Want to know how to get started? We share everything you need to know to run the perfect product seeding campaign in our Ultimate Guide to Product Seeding.

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