Influencer Marketing Strategy

Influencer Product Gifting: How to Run a Gifting Campaign

Influencer gifting campaigns in-house can build awareness and help brands earn content. Here’s how to send products to influencers step-by-step.

A Statusphere-branded box encircled by products including a skincare bottle, flowers, a watch and a phone

Feeling generous?

Product gifting campaigns are a proven way to earn authentic posts from influencers.

The concept is simple enough: your brand sends products to influencers in exchange for content.

For brands that consistently get products into the hands of influencers, the benefits include:

  • Valuable user-generated content to promote in paid ads, product pages and beyond
  • An introduction to new audiences and potential customers
  • Greater visibility in social searches (aka social SEO)
  • Credibility by being featured in influencers' content

And the more creators you have posting on your behalf, the more you can scale these results.

That said, getting influencers to post about your product won’t happen by accident. If you're gifting products in-house, the process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Having sent tens of thousands of products to influencers, we know the legwork firsthand. 😉

This post digs into how to run an influencer product gifting campaign step-by-step.

6 Steps to a Successful Influencer Gifting Campaign

Here’s the deal: influencer gifting (AKA product seeding) is about much more than sending freebies to creators.

If you want to earn authentic content that’s worth promoting, you need to approach the process with care. The legwork involved is no joke, especially if you want more than a handful of posts.

Below we highlight how to launch an influencer product gifting campaign step-by-step.

1. Define Your Goals (What Can Influencer Gifting Do For Your Brand?)

Simple enough: you need to decide why you want to run a gifting campaign in the first place.

Goals matter for all marketing campaigns and gifting promotions are no exception. With an end game in mind, you can tie the impact of gifting to actual business objectives. This might include:

  • Promoting a product launch
  • Building brand awareness
  • Sourcing influencer-generated and user-generated content
  • Supporting your social media sales strategy
  • Improving your social search presence

Justifying the time commitment involved with gifting starts by setting specific goals. Doing so will make your job easier and highlight the value of your campaigns to stakeholders.

Below we dive deeper into the sample goals for influencer gifting above.

Product Launches

Gifting influencers your latest release is a prime way to introduce your products to the public.

Ideally, you should send out products a few weeks prior to your official release. Then, instruct influencers to not post about them until the actual launch date. This requires some coordination.

This approach gives your influencers enough time with the product to provide an honest and meaningful review. Extra time often translates to more thoughtful and creative content.

Trust us: your influencers will appreciate the flexibility.

Below is a post from a Statusphere creator highlighting how sending influencers products is super effective for supporting product launches.

Our platform matched Workman Publishing with parenting influencers on TikTok to support the launch of Be the Dragon prior to the book’s official release. By the time the book was available in stores, the brand already had high-performing all over TikTok. This one video earned 23,000+ views!

be the dragon workman example (1)

Source: @sierra_zagarri

Brand Awareness

Eager to build worth-or-mouth or tap into a totally new market? 

Gifting influencers can make both happen. Given the new Instagram algorithm, creator accounts almost always have way more reach than brand accounts. The same goes for TikTok, too.

Below is an example of how creators can earn greater social engagement than brands for the same piece of branded content. Note that the brand here has 25x (!!!) more followers than the creator at the time of posting. Meanwhile, the creator’s post earned 20x as many comments as the brand. 

colorfulnatalie1   colorfulnatalie2
Source: @shopcolorfulnatalie / Source: @maeveecostello

How's that for awareness? This speaks to the value of influencer gifting collaborations at scale. Imagine taking the reach and results from this post and expanding it across hundreds of influencers.

And while this may not be realistic in-house, this sort of scale is possible with the right influencer platform.

Earning Authentic, Reusable Content

Skilled influencers know how to create genuine content that shows off your products in the best way possible. Influencer product gifting earns you that content without waiting for it organically.

Beyond shout-outs, consider the ongoing value of influencer content. For example, you can repurpose influencer posts for:

  • Marketing emails
  • Product pages
  • Landing pages
  • Social media ads
  • Organic social media posts

Pro-tip: Be sure to work out a copyright agreement to avoid any issues when reusing influencer content. Check out our post on repurposing user-generated content if you haven’t already! On that note, brands that earn content using Statusphere have rights management built directly in.

statusphere dashboard

Increase Sales

Fact: 88% of consumers trust recommendations from people over brands.

And so a positive review from an influencer can translate to awareness and sales.

Your most popular products are a safe bet in terms of what you should send creators. Some brands also use influencer gifting as a way to get more exposure to their hidden gems.

Granted the product is relevant to your audience and represents a strong value exchange, both approaches are fair game.

Oh, and note that product gifting can also support your in-store retail efforts.

In this gifting campaign, Andalou Naturals was looking to promote their retail partnership with Whole Foods. The brand sent product bundles to Instagram beauty influencers who geo-tagged Whole Foods in their posts. Their captions served as a call to action to purchase products in-store.

andalou naturals example (2)

andalou naturals example comment
Source: @kissmyash_

See how that works?

That said, convincing a creator to go through the process of picking up a product is a huge ask for a gifting campaign. This highlights one of the limits of running gifting campaigns totally in-house. 

If retail support is your goal, consider how Statusphere's platform can help. Our software programmatically matches brands with creators from our community of vetted influencers. As a result, our creators understand and agree to the steps involved with promoting the products they're paired with. This includes in-store promotions.

2. Pick the Perfect Products to Send to Your Influencers

Product choice can be make-or-break for gifting campaigns.

You should send products to influencers that they'll legitimately love and want to promote. 

This seems obvious, right? But gifted products especially need to make an impact on influencers since there’s technically no obligation for creators to post.

Spoiler alert: irrelevant products get ignored all the time. Influencers have the right to be picky for the sake of their audience and personal brand.

If you want to delight your influencers, your gifted products should tick the boxes below.

Gifted Products Should Represent an Equitable Value Exchange

No surprises here. After all, the product you send needs to be worth the time and effort that goes into making a post. Products with higher price points are literally more valuable to recipients, too. You can't expect five-star, high-effort content with a budget offering.

Pro-tip: Product bundles are a smart move as they give your influencers more options for their posts. For example, eyeliner featured in your beauty bundle might be perfect for an influencer’s audience while your nail polish isn’t.

Gifted Products Should Be Easy to Ship

This is a detail of product gifting that many brands unfortunately overlook.

Gifting a damaged or busted product is obviously a bad look for your brand. Reconsider your product choice if you’re shipping:

  • Fragile items
  • Products that need to be kept at a specific temperature
  • Items that are too large to fit in a small shipping box. 

Trust us: fulfillment is one of the most time-consuming and tedious steps involved with sending products to influencers without a third party (or platform!) to do the heavy lifting.

Gifted Products Should Have a “Cool” Factor

Stylish. Share-worthy. Perfect for piggybacking on social media trends.

That’s what we mean by having a “cool” factor.

Influencers want to be on top of the next big thing when it comes to trends and their latest purchases. Gifting products with a cool factor makes creating content seamless for them.

Let’s look at a cool gifted product in action. Check out how beauty influencer @chloeandcos shows off Lottie London’s new stamp-on eyeliner set she was gifted.

eyeliner stamp example (1)_1

Source: @chloeandcos

Drawing identical wings on both eyes is a challenge but this product solves that problem by creating the perfect wing in a single stamp. She shows off all the creative ways to use the product and then asks her audience which eyeliner they would try.

Because of the product’s cool factor, this feels more like an organic post than sponsored content. That’s the power of influencer gifting done right!

Pro-tip: if you gift a product like this to influencers, ask them to show themselves using the product and give a positive review. This will help illustrate to their followers why they need to try it.

Here are a few final points to consider when choosing products for a gifting campaign:

  • Is your brand name or logo clearly visible on the product you’ve picked?
  • Will the influencer have enough of the product to thoroughly test the results?
  • How photogenic is the product?

Pro-tip: Think about shipping a few small extras to encourage influencers to post about your product. This might include sample sizes of other products you offer or personalized packaging. For example, sending a handwritten thank-you note can help you stand out from the crowd. These small extras show appreciation to your influencer beyond your campaign.

Instagram Influencer Campaign Manager Spreadsheet

3. Identify The Right Audience for Your Influencer Gifting Campaign

Based on what we’ve seen firsthand, about a quarter of influencers ghost brands after receiving a product to promote.

Ouch! That’s why it's essential to pick the right influencers for your brand. Much like choosing products, you have to put serious thought into your outreach candidates.

You need to find people who will actually care about your product once it's in their hands. That means reaching out to influencers with an audience that reflects your own.

Think about it. Asking a yoga lifestyle blogger who doesn’t have children to post about cloth diapers doesn’t make much sense, right?

The better the match, the better your campaign’s performance and UGC.

This illustrates the impact of Statusphere's unique matchmaking algorithm. We pair brands and creators based on 250+ unique, first-party data points. Granular details make for stronger matches and yield better content as a result.

statusphere influencer targeting
Check out this example from Curlsmith’s creator campaign through Statusphere. The brand focused on beauty micro-influencers on Instagram with content centered around curly and wavy hair.

curlsmith ex (1) Source: @being_frugal

The micro-influencer campaign above generated 40,000+ likes,  4,400+ comments overall and 1,500+ pieces of unique content.

The takeaway? Relevant creator matchmaking goes hand in hand with strong results!

How to Find Outreach Candidates for an Influencer Product Gifting Campaign

Without matchmaking, finding influencers to send products to is a full-time job by itself. This is especially true if you want to get products into the hands of more than just a few creators.

That said, here are some considerations for a small-scale gifting campaign:

  • Think about the target audience of your brand. Who do they follow on social media? Who are their favorite influencers? Again, you want the creators you choose to resemble your target audience and speak their language.

  • Looking at your own followers is a solid starting point for finding relevant influencers. If you have current customers who frequently engage with your account or post product photos, reach out and ask for a collab.

  • Turn to Google! Search for product review blogs and YouTube channels for creators in your industry. Chances are they’ll put their contact info front and center and let you know if they’re interested in collaborations.

  • Search industry-specific hashtags (#BeautyTok or #FoundationHacks) to find influencers who review products similar to yours. The more specific the hashtag is to your industry, the better. Tags like #Ad, #Gifted or #Sponsored can also help you find established influencers

  • If you’re a brick-and-mortar store looking to find local influencers to build brand awareness in your community, search for geo-specific Instagram hashtags. Examples of this might be #OrlandoFoodie or #ChicagoHairStylist.

  • When in doubt, try searching Instagram or TikTok for gifting-related hashtags

4. Contact and Pitch Influencers to Promote Your Gifted Products

First impressions matter when working with influencers.

Our advice? Be friendly, professional and specific about what you want.

By the time the influencer finishes reading your first DM or email, they should have a clear understanding of what’s being asked of them.

Keep in mind influencers get pitched all the time. To make your brand stand out, it’s important to highlight your product’s unique selling proposition. Mind what you say in your messages when sending products to influencers.

Pitching via email is ideal if you want to provide a more in-depth explanation of your brand or products. Emails offer space to highlight your value and what’s in it for them.

DM pitches should be short and sweet. Say exactly what you need to say in a couple of sentences. If they’re interested, they’ll let you know!

Here’s what you should include in your pitch when sending products to influencers:

  • An introduction to your brand and what you’re all about
  • What you specifically like about the influencer’s content
  • Why they’re a great fit for your brand (and the product you’re gifting)
  • Specify the type of content you want them to post (photos, videos, Reels, Stories)
  • A time frame for your campaign
Pro-tip: Outreach templates are a potential time-saver for influencer gifting campaigns. For samples of how to craft an effective pitch, check out our very own influencer outreach templates.

5. Ship Your Products to Influencers (Get Your Brand in Their Hands!)

With the initial planning phases of your gifting campaign complete, it’s time to start sending products to influencers.

Keep in mind that shipping is one of the most time-consuming tasks involved with product gifting.

Prepare to receive and send shipments, pack individual boxes and then mail them out. If you plan on doing this yourself, here are some firsthand tips on how to send influencers products:

  • Use a trackable delivery method to ensure all shipments are delivered on time. We recommend using a tracking spreadsheet to keep tabs on influencers. This helps you organize addresses, products and delivery dates throughout your campaign.

  • Ask each influencer for their address so you can ship the products directly.

  • If you have specific sizes, shades or variations of your product, be sure to ask your influencer for their preference!

  • Pack your boxes and personalize your packaging. Remember to include a thank you note to show your influencers you care. Bonus points if it’s handwritten.

  • Keep in touch with your influencers throughout the shipping process to ensure they receive their products.

  • Let your influencers know when you’ve delivered their gift so they can look out for it.

love1 (1) love 2

Source: @taytenlanae

Note: Brands streamline fulfillment by using an influencer marketing platform like Statusphere. We provide a creator-first fulfillment experience with beautiful packaging, customized creator instructions and timely updates on the status of the products our creators receive. 

6. Follow Up and Engage with Your Influencers’ Posts

Assuming that your products are in the influencers’ hands, you need to make sure all of the work you're done above results in actual content.

After all, that’s the whole point of a product gifting campaign.

kiehls giftedkiehls gifted comment

Source: @allthings_giselle

If you don’t hear from your influencers immediately, you might get nervous. That's understandable. Don't be surprised if you need to follow up more than once.

Here are some tips for following up without being too clingy or aggressive:

  • Wait to reach out via email or DM two to three days after they receive their product. Frame your follow-up as positive by saying you’re excited to see their posts.

  • Don’t forget to “like” and comment on their post when they go live. This shows you appreciate their work and that you’re engaged with their community (see below).

  • Once you send the gifts and influencers post about them, don’t let that be the end of your relationship. Keep in touch and show them that they’re valued. If their initial post performed well, they may want to continue beyond a one-off campaign.

But let’s say your influencer has gone silent even after following up multiple times.

The reality? It happens. A lot.

With no contract or legal obligations, there really are no guarantees that influencers will post. This is an obvious downside of running an influencer gifting campaign yourself. That said, if you're focused more on scale versys guaranteed content, gifting can work in your favor.

Sample Timeline of an Influencer Gifting Campaign

Before you get knee-deep into a gifting campaign, let’s quickly talk about time.

By now you’ve probably gathered that the time required to do product gifting is no joke.

We’ve sent countless products to influencers ourselves even prior to building Statusphere's platform. Also, we've spoken with 100s of brands who’ve done it the DIY way with poor results.

Here’s a breakdown of the average time required to run an influencer gifting campaign:

  • Identifying and researching your target audience (1 to 2 hours)
  • Creating a list of influencers to reach out to (5 to 10 hours)
  • Creating offers and pitching influencers (5 to 10 hours)
  • Managing influencer communication and negotiation (15 to 20 hours)
  • Sending products to influencers (8 to 15 hours)
  • Sending reminders and follow-ups to complete posts (8 to 20 hours)

And so you’re looking at 70+ hours from your schedule (and that’s being generous) for a handful of posts that aren't even guaranteed. Even if your goal is pure awareness and you're not concerned about hitting a specific content threshold, that's still a massively inefficient.

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How to Get Posts from Hundreds of Influencers Without Running a Gifting Campaign

With these steps in mind, you know exactly what to expect to run an influencer gifting campaign.

The effort and attention to detail involved represents a lot of time, not to mention risk given that content via gifting campaigns isn't guaranteed.

That said, some brands are understandably eager to earn as much authentic branded content as possible.

If you're looking for a time-efficient way to earn authentic posts from influencers at scale, Statusphere's platform can help.

Our platform was built specifically to eliminate and streamline the most intensive steps of getting products into influencers' hands. This includes matchmaking, fulfillment, analytics and content rights management. 

Unlike pure influencer gifting campaigns, we actually guarantee content since we only work with creators from our vetted community. We've already generated 75,000+ pieces of authentic content for 400+ brands.

But if your brand is interested in product seeding without guaranteed content, we can help there as well!

Want to learn more about how the platform works? Get in touch with one of our experts to see how we can maximize your influencer marketing ROI with guaranteed content at scale.

This article was first published in February 2019. It was last updated January 15, 2024.

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