How to get more value from Influencer gifting

Read this before you send your products to influencers.

Gifting influencers your products is a popular influencer marketing campaign. In fact, book publishers have been employing this technique for decades. We all know it works, but how do we do it? Do we simply send our product to any influencer?

The short answer is no. There’s a lot more to it, which we outline below.

But before we get into the nitty gritty of gifting, let me be very clear: do not expect every influencer to do a post in exchange for a free gift. Yes, some will happily do it, but many will only do it if it meets their minimum requirements. At House of Sage, we don’t accept free gifts in exchange for a guaranteed post. And the reason for this is very simple: what happens if our influencers don’t like it? What if it’s totally inappropriate for them? It’s important for the ongoing success and careers of our influencers to only promote products they love. That said, if you follow our advice below, you will have a very strong chance of getting your product promoted:

1. Set realistic expectations.

Be very clear on why you are gifting in the first place. Is it product awareness? Reviews and feedback? Ambassador recruitment? Establish clear campaign objectives to determine this is the right course of action for you.

It’s also important to have realistic expectations of the content produced by the influencer. It’s highly unlikely an influencer will hire a professional photographer to take a photo for your product, or post multiple types of content (for example, a blog post as well as social media posts). Many influencers are doing ‘unboxing’ Instagram stories to share their gifts as it’s quick and no-cost – and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for you. Instagram stories are very, very popular now.

2. Choose your influencers carefully.

Your gifting campaign needs to be tailored by hand selecting the most appropriate influencers for your brand. The very first thing you should do is to research those who are already using your product or service. If any of your already loyal customer base has a significant social following, send your product and invite them to be part of your ongoing influencer cohort. The bonus here is that the hard work is already done: you know they love your brand and will share it with their audience. Secondly, choose a number of influencers (both macro and micro) who not only align with your brand, but are known for (or have done) product placement posts before. Do not send your product to influencers who almost never do a product post or are openly against gifted items.

3. Add the personal touch.

Show the influencer you respect them by sending them a unique, tailored package with your product. Avoid sending out batch copies of the product with no mention of the influencers name – a handwritten note with a personal reference goes a long way to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship built on trust and respect. 

This also applies to the initial pitch. Do not act like a typical PR company and send a mass market email!

4. Pay attention to the details.

The majority of influencers are creative individuals who highly respect the little touches. Make sure your packaging is memorable and an experience in itself. For example, Jaggad sent a ‘smashing cake’ with a hidden gift and invitation inside to a cohort of influencers. It was such an unique, memorable experience that all the influencers recorded themselves smashing the cake to reveal the goodies inside. Consider how you can do this for your product: can the opening process be an experience itself? Or can you provide exceptional detail in every level of your packaging?

5. Pitch the story.

People connect with stories, not products. The same principle applies to influencers – sell them with the story. Package a narrative for the influencer to help them sell your product to their audience. For example, are you a skincare brand trying to appeal to travellers? Find a beauty influencer that regularly travels to share how your face mist keeps their skin glowing on their next flight.

6. Time it well.

Take advantage of the public holidays and ‘international days’. For example, send your leather handbag to a variety of mummy bloggers in the lead up to Mother’s Day. Provide your influencers with the narrative of a mother’s day gift idea. Better yet, simply gift it as their Mother’s Day gift because they deserve it!

7. Treat gifting as the first exchange in a long term relationship.

First and foremost, this means following up with the influencer personally after they have received the gift. Ask for their feedback – did they like it? Would they recommend it to others? Did/would they promote it? If they do love your product, encourage them to share with their audience by giving them a call to action. For example, to either follow your account or to visit a specific webpage.

Once the relationship is on even, stable ground, it’s time to build on it. Keep in contact and regularly engage on their socials. And when the next gifting campaign comes around, send them more! Even better, if you found that they were very effective in either generating traffic and/or sales to you, consider paying them to become an ambassador for your brand. In fact, this should be your ultimate aim of your gifting campaign: to identify the best fit to be the ambassador (or ambassadors) for your brand.

Gifting is a specific influencer marketing campaign and needs to be treated as such. That means a clear marketing objective followed by a well-executed plan. For a small fee, we can manage your next gifting campaign. From concept to influencer outreach and measurement, contact us to ensure your next campaign is as efficient as possible.

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It ain’t as simple as it looks (the post where I compare influencer marketing to landscaping)

Call me Naive Neve but honestly, I didn’t think it would take 5 months just to get a retainer wall up and the backyard levelled. We’re talking basic canvas level here. We haven’t even started on the plants yet. Or the fruit trees that will probably die in our clay-laden soil but I like vodka, lime and soda and Tim likes mojitos so we need that damn lime tree. OR the nice path that will lead to an entertaining area for a) food to be consumed, b) sun to be baked in (safely of course), c) stories to be swapped and d) mama to spike her soda water while daddy plays with the kids because mama deserves a break. Or the kids area, with a sandpit (for the love of margaritas, please don’t turn into a dog poop pit, PLEASE), some ridiculous tall cubby house thing that grandma just has to buy for xmas (joking mum, THEY’LL LOVE IT. So will my anxiety.) and maybe a mud kitchen thing because MESS IS LEARNING GUYS.

A virtual slushie isn't as cold as the real deal, but boy it stings.

Disclaimer: I binge watched Glee in the first few months of my maternity leave. Did I just lose all my credibility as a professional consultant and marketer? Probably.  But until you have a turbo-charged she-demon 2 year old and a newborn hellbent on downing as much liquid gold all the while scratching through 3 layers of skin under your care, don’t judge.