Influencer Gifting: a Guide to Product Seeding Success

Product seeding might *sound* like the kind of thing you can only do if you can give away hundreds of products.

Stefan Afrăsinei

by Stefan Afrăsinei

· 14 min read

Product seeding might *sound* like the kind of thing you can only do if you can afford to give away hundreds or thousands of products.

That’s simply not true.

Product seeding, or influencer gifting (they’re the same thing, so you’ll see us using the terms interchangeably throughout this article) is an amazing option for brands of every size.

We’ll explain why in a moment–and give you all the hacks for how to do it without spending time and money you don’t have. If you stick with us to the very end, we’ll also tell you which influencer gifting platform is the best (in our humble opinion).

But first, let’s talk a little more about product seeding and influencer gifting: What is it? And is it a good thing for brands and creators?

Let’s find out ⬇️

What is product seeding?

Product seeding (aka influencer gifting) is when you, as a brand, send free products to influencers. If you’re looking for a product seeding definition, that’s it.

Hopefully, the influencer has such an amazing experience with your product that they want to post about it on social media or review it on sites like TrustPilot.

It’s a way to nurture your brand’s relationship with influencers, which benefits everyone involved.

…And you may even be able to use the content the influencers create with your products. This is an amazing way for your brand to get affordable UGC to use on social media. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Getting content from influencers after a product seeding campaign can be a challenge unless you have the right influencer gifting platform–which we’ll discuss later!

For now, let’s talk about why product seeding is so helpful for both brands and influencers.

How does influencer gifting benefit brands and creators?

You might be thinking– “So we’re just supposed to give our products away? Aren’t we supposed to be selling them and making money?”

Let’s look at the bigger picture for a moment.

Yes, of course making a profit is the goal. But as we both know, increasing your revenue over time is a long game. And it pays to do whatever you can to develop good relationships with the influencers in your space.

Don’t worry, though–we’re not recommending you settle for creating ✌️ good vibes about your company.

There are real, tangible benefits to influencer gifting. We see them every day at Social Cat. Let’s talk about them now:

The benefits for brands

Product seeding has several benefits that are non-negotiables for brands, including:

  • Affordable UGC. 🤳 Imagine this: Getting videos and photos you can use on social media, product pages, emails, and your website for the price of sending your product to an influencer. That means it costs the actual price of your product– not the price you sell it for. See the point? It’s super affordable. Sure, it won’t look like a professional studio produced it, but you can work with that if you’re scrappy. Plus, customers trust authentic content more than professionally produced content.
  • Honest feedback. 😄 Product seeding is a great way to improve your product. You can ask for opinions from influencers, with questions like, “What can we improve?” or “How could the product be better?”This is a golden opportunity. It’s a cheap way to spot potential problems with your products. Instead of people leaving bad reviews, making angry videos, and telling all their friends not to buy it (people get upset if they’ve paid money for something that doesn’t perform to their expectations), an influencer can give you a heads up in a kind, honest, and calm way. After all, they didn’t pay for the product, so they’re not out anything. And you get that precious feedback while there’s still time to make changes.
  • Reviews. ⭐If you need to grow your reviews, you can ask content creators to leave a review for your product–which you can then use on things like product pages, Amazon listings, or even TrustPilot. Lots of brands use this hack to grow their reviews.
  • Brand awareness and potential sales. 🎉When an influencer promotes your products, they’re introducing you to their audience. So, you’ll definitely get awareness–and if you’re lucky, you may get some sales, too! But, don’t expect to sell out, especially after running just one campaign or launching a new product. It takes time to gather momentum around a brand or product. Even big brands experience this.

Speaking of big brands, we recently talked with a huge worldwide brand (We can’t share the name publicly yet 😎) looking to do influencer gifting.

If they’re going to do it, there must be something to it… Right?

Of course, a product seeding strategy doesn’t only help brands. You can call it “influencer gifting” for a reason!

So let’s talk about how it helps influencers, too. ⬇️

The benefits for creators

Here are some of the ways product seeding benefits influencers:

  • Experience. Okay, we know. There’s a LOT of discussion online that says influencers should be paid. We agree. However, it’s nice to have gifted collaborations as an option while finding your feet. Many big influencers started with product seeding and then transitioned to paid collaborations. If you’re an influencer reading this: You are worth the money, and it will eventually come. But if you don’t have much experience working with brands, why not build your platform slowly, polish your skills while getting free stuff, and then monetize?
  • Portfolio-building. On top of the experience working with brands and knowing how to navigate partnerships successfully, content creators can also use product seeding videos to build their portfolios, which increases their chances of working with other brands in the future!
  • Free products. Never underestimate the power of getting free products for influencers who are starting out. The fact that you’ve noticed their profile and reached out to send them something free is a sign that they’re making progress. Sure, as their platform grows, they will be less excited by free stuff and more excited about money–but no one hates getting free stuff. Especially if it’s something they will actually use.

Which brands are doing product seeding?

The short answer? All the brands. 😂 (At least, the ones who know what’s up!)

For small and medium-sized brands, influencer gifting is a great way to get affordable UGC for their marketing, brand awareness, and product feedback.

Sometimes, smaller brands get upset when they don’t get sales from these efforts, but this really *shouldn’t* be your main goal. All the OTHER benefits you get from influencers promoting your product should eventually lead to more sales, so don’t sweat it if you don’t see an immediate jump in revenue.

However–in many cases, brands do get sales, too. 😄 There are tons of product seeding examples that made a huge difference in revenue. We’re just saying: don’t expect it to happen right away.

Bigger brands are usually looking for one thing: Product feedback. How do everyday consumers react to their products? Especially with new products that are about to be launched, big brands want to make sure there aren’t any drawbacks or flaws that will make consumers hate the product. So, they gather feedback from all possible sources before the official release.

Bigger brands don’t care about getting UGC, sales, or even brand awareness from product seeding. They have other strategies for that. So, if they’re giving away early copies of their products, it’s because they want to make sure the product is good before they throw advertising money behind it. Smart, right?

How should brands pick influencers for product seeding?

This is a GREAT question because if you pick the wrong influencers, your campaign can flop–and you won’t see any of the benefits we’ve discussed in this article.

So how do you *know* that you’re picking a good influencer for your brand? Here’s how:

  • Check out their posts and bio. This should give you a solid idea of their niche, and the kinds of people who are interested in following them.
  • Go deeper. For example, if they post about skincare and you operate a skincare brand, can you do deeper? Do they focus on Korean skincare, affordable skincare, luxury skincare, etc? You get the point: Don’t just find out what their niche is– find out why their audience is interested in their content. Then, assess if that’s a good fit for your brand.
  • Start with nano and micro influencers. Usually, only nano influencers, micro influencers, and content creators do gifted campaigns. Don’t go for macro or mega influencers– they might take your products, but they aren’t going to give you any content for them. (Note: We do see some macro influencers going for gifted campaigns, but this is rarer and is often initiated by them for brands they LOVE)
  • Check their camera presence. Make sure they’re comfortable speaking in front of a camera. This is especially a concern when you work with smaller influencers.
  • Look for fake followers + engagement. You’ll want to check for fake followers and engagement, to make sure that the influencer you’re working with has a high-quality audience.

How should brands reach out to influencers for influencer gifting?

You can reach out to influencers for influencer gifting the same way you would for any campaign– through email or DM.

But here’s the problem: If you send 10-25 DMs or emails per day, that takes up a significant portion of your time. And even if you put in all that effort, most influencers never reply.

How do we know? We’ve done it ourselves–that’s how we started Social Cat!

You need a better way. That’s why Social Cat has an integrated messaging system to help you communicate with influencers.

… And because influencers opt in to our platform, they’re more likely to respond– as evidenced by our 63% response rate.

You can also draft contracts, organize collaborations, and receive content uploads right on Social Cat. With over 30,000 (yes, OVER 30K!) manually approved influencers on our platform, you’ll never run out of nano or micro influencers to collaborate with.

Plus, all of the content you receive from Social Cat’s influencers includes licensing fees- so you don’t have to worry about unexpected expenses or hassle down the road.

But the best part? We are one of the only platforms that does gifted collaborations.

You read that right: No cold outreach for product seeding. If you need an influencer gifting platform, we’re a great option– around 76% of the collaborations on Social Cat are gifted.

And yes–we make it easy for you to get the addresses for influencer gifting collaborations. After all, this is what we do!

How to get great content from influencer gifting

Using an influencer gifting platform like Social Cat changes the game.

If you’re doing cold outreach, it’s all about nurturing relationships: You send an influencer some products, check in to see if they like them, and then if things are going well, ask if they’d maybe consider making some content for you. Please? 🥺

With an influencer gifting platform, you can be direct and get the content you need, faster.

There are two ways to go about getting content from influencer gifting:

  1. Provide a brief. A brief is not a script–you want influencers to talk about your product in a natural way. But you can provide them with some guidance on the benefits of your product and other points you’d like them to mention. You shouldn’t try to control every word they say, but a little guidance can help you get the type of content you’re looking for.
  2. Go freestyle. If you don’t want to provide a brief, just send them the products and let them tell you their honest opinion. This can be an AMAZING way to get authentic content. However, a word of warning–check their portfolio to make sure they’re good at creating content. If they are, this is the best way to go.

Our thoughts about influencer gifting

Influencer gifting/product seeding is an awesome tool for small to medium-sized brands.

In particular, we love how you can get so much affordable UGC for such a low price. Plus, you can feel good knowing that you’re helping some amazing influencers get their start.

If you’re ready to start gifted collaborations for your brand, let us save you some time and headaches: Start a free trial with Social Cat and book a free demo call. We’d love to show you around and help you out.

And, we facilitate mostly gifted collaborations, so you’ll feel right at home. 😄

Share now!

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