Influencer Marketing 101

Influencer Gifting vs. Paid Collaborations

Influencer gifting and paid collaborations may seem one and the same but they're not—learn these key differences and similarities before your next campaign.

Influencer Gifting vs Paid Collaborations

Influencer gifting and paid collaborations may seem like one and the same, but we’re here to clarify a few key differences and similarities. Not only will we cover the benefits of each, but you’ll get a taste of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules required for each type of partnership and how you can get started. Whether you’re looking to partner with influencers to boost awareness, grow sales or host a giveaway or contest, it’s important to be familiar with these two methods when spreading the word about your product or service. 

Influencer Gifting

Influencer gifting is when you’re sending your product to content creators for free with the hopes that they will share it with their followers. Any beauty, wellness, CPG/food or lifestyle brand can take advantage of this marketing tactic.


There are many benefits to running influencer gifting campaigns. For starters, instead of having all of your eggs in one basket (or one paid collaboration), you’re able to work with more influencers who are willing to post in exchange for free product. Plus, if an influencer doesn’t like your product, they aren’t obligated to talk about it. 

  • Easier on your budget 
  • Able to work with more influencers
  • Less commitment on both ends

FTC Rules

When an influencer is posting your gifted product, their followers must be able to differentiate the fact that it’s a partnership and not just something they like. It’s up to you to establish these requirements with your influencer as you’re ultimately responsible for how your product is presented. Here are a few FTC guidelines to keep in mind when handling influencer gifting: 

  • Disclosures like #gifted are required
  • Must use clear language 
  • Be transparent in the video or caption that the product was sent to you by the brand 

For more info on gifting your product in exchange for product reviews, check out this blog

On Affiliate Links: You might want to give influencers an affiliate link or promo code along with the free product for their followers to take advantage of, but you must disclose this relationship. Consumers must be aware that although products were given for free, if they make a purchase, the influencer will be making a profit. 

How To Get Started

Although you’re giving away your product for free, you still need to plan out how you will go about doing so. Nothing’s worse than wasted time, energy and product. Ask yourself a few questions to get started: 

  • What do you want to send? 
  • Who do you want to receive your product? 
  • How will you send it? 
  • Where will they be asked to post? 
  • How will you collect and track influencer content?

Paid Collaborations

If you’ve got the budget, the influencers will come. Paid collaborations involve Influencers posting in exchange for the product you’ve sent them PLUS receiving payment. These are also commonly referred to as sponsorships


Remember, blogging and being an influencer can be a full-time job now, so your brand should be prepared to pay the higher the follower count gets. Even though your brand is spending more money going this route, there are still benefits to running paid collaborations.

  • Less likely to get ghosted (or not get a post) 
  • Influencers will be more willing to share their post analytics with you 
  • Your brand can ask for specific product features/verbiage to be used or mentioned

FTC Rules

It’s especially important to keep the FTC’s rules in mind when there’s monetary compensation involved with posting. Otherwise, you risk getting some hefty fines sent your way! According to the FTC, “If you endorse a product through social media, your endorsement message should make it obvious when you have a relationship ‘material connection’ with the brand.” Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when handling paid collaborations: 

  • Contract recommended 
  • Disclosures like #ad #sponsored and #gifted at the beginning of any social media caption or video are required 
  • Use the “Paid partnership with” tag on Instagram posts and stories

How To Get Started

Paid collaborations mean you have a little more at stake than just free product, you’re going to be paying this person to represent your brand in a (hopefully) positive light. Before you start planning out the cute thank you notes, it’s best to set the parameters of your campaign first.

In addition to the questions you’ll want to ask yourself before running an influencer gifting campaign, there are a few more specifics involved with paid collaborations:

  • Have you set a social media contract in place with your influencer? 
  • Have you established copyright-ownership rights so you can safely repurpose content?
  • Have you decided on the method of payment and terms for the collab?
  • Do you have someone in charge of issuing those payments/gift cards?
  • Do you intend to set up a longer-term partnership with them? 

Read this blog for everything you need to know about hiring an influencer manager to help oversee your paid collabs! 

Once all the gifts have been sent out and the influencers have posted, don’t let that be the end of your relationship with them. It’s important to keep in touch and show the influencers that they’re valued since they’re likely to spread the good word if everything went smoothly. 

New call-to-action

If you have any questions about running an influencer gifting campaign or partnering with more on-brand influencers for paid collaborations, contact our team of influencer marketing specialists! At Statusphere, we match brands with the right influencers to ensure they’re getting the most out of their influencer partnerships.

Similar posts

Get notified on new marketing insights

Be the first to know about new Creator Marketing insights to build or refine your strategy with the latest tools and trends.