Influencer seeding involves sending products to influencers to earn word-of-mouth on social media. Seeding campaigns are especially popular on Instagram right now.
The idea here is simple: if a creator loves what a brand sends them, they’ll shout the brand out.
Much like gifting campaigns, product seeding helps brands achieve goals such as:
- Boosting your brand awareness and share of voice on social media
- Sourcing valuable product reviews and honest feedback from real people
- Earning user-generated content to promote your brand
Having worked with thousands of influencers, we know what it takes to run a seeding campaign. That’s why we put together this list of tips and strategies to help you build yours out!
How to Step Up Your Influencer Seeding Strategy
Keep in mind that seeding is effective for brands of all shapes and sizes.
Beauty. Food. Fitness. Fashion. Tech. You can send just about anything to content creators.
But no matter what you’re selling, the goal of influencer seeding is the same:
Encourage influencers to promote your products authentically and enthusiastically.
Below we break down how to put together an influencer seeding strategy to make it happen.
1. Personalize Your Product Packages Before You Ship Them
Anything you can do to create a memorable experience for your influencers is a plus.
That means your interactions and shipments shouldn’t feel “one-size-fits-all.”
Ask yourself: how can you make a positive, impactful impression on your creators? Here are a few popular personalization strategies for product seeding to consider:
- Pick products that are meaningful to the influencer you’re shipping to.
- Ex: a fitness brand sends cocoa protein powder to a creator that always posts about her love for chocolate.
- Customize your packaging or products to include your influencers’ name.
- Ex: a clothing brand might embroider an influencer's name on a shirt.
- Write a handwritten gifting note to include in your shipment (see below).
Remember: chances are you're not the only brand sending products to your influencers!
And that’s totally okay!
This illustrates the importance of standing out with your seeding campaign, though. You only have one chance to make an impact when it’s time to unbox your products. Personalization can give your gifted package the “wow” factor it needs to make a big impression.
2. Send Products to Influencers That They’ll Actually Use
This might seem like a no-brainer, right?
Thing is, many brands treat influencer seeding like a numbers game. This results in a ton of packages sent out to creators at random. Given the work involved in packaging and coordinating shipments, this is a huge waste of time. Not to mention a waste of product!
Remember: with product seeding, there’s no 100% guarantee that influencers will post. This is why it’s important to find relevant influencers who are truly interested in your brand.
When in doubt, prioritize partnerships with influencers that tick the following boxes:
- Reflect your target audience in terms of demographic, style and aesthetic
- Already promote and talk about products in their posts
- Have an authentic, organic following and engagement rate
For example, it makes perfect sense for a brand like MyVegan to primary partner with vegan content creators and fitness accounts.
Source: @veggielucy_ / @myvegan
Remember: legitimate influencers will promote brands that fit seamlessly into their organic posts. The closer your creators resemble your potential customers, the better. It makes more sense to be “picky” and selective versus shipping out products to influencers at random.
3. Send Influencers Your Best Products (Not Your Cheapest!)
No matter what you send as part of your seeding campaigns, you need to excite your creators.
The problem? Discount products often lack the “cool” factor that influencers desire for their content.
We get it! Brands don’t want to waste money shipping pricey products and then get ghosted. The reality, though? Influencer seeding is risky as content isn’t guaranteed without a contract.
But if you're selective and thoughtful with your outreach, the less likely you are to get ghosted.
Couple that with a compelling product and chances are you’ll earn the content you’re after.
Below is an example of a gifted post on behalf of Joovv featuring their portable red light therapy mask. For reference, this product retails for $600 USD. This highlights the lengths that brands will go to get creators to post about them.
To be clear, you’re not required to send a product to influencers anywhere near this price point! As a rule of thumb, we suggest a $20 minimum for products featured in influencer gifting campaigns.
If you primarily sell low-cost items or are on the fence about big-ticket products, we hear you. Brainstorm how you can create high-value bundles featuring multiple items. Even with less expensive products, a high volume of items at your influencers’ doorstep can delight them.
Do influencers love free stuff? Absolutely! But free products don’t mean great posts by default.
The key takeaway here is not to cut corners when it comes to influencer seeding. If you’re going to go through with putting together a campaign, don’t skimp on the products you send.
4. Don’t Limit Your Influencer Seeding Strategy's Audience
Again, your product seeding strategy should center around influencers that resemble your audience.
That doesn’t necessarily one audience or a single type of influencer, though.
Think about how your product might be perfect for influencers in a variety of niches. If so, awesome! Check out how Woah Dough reaches two audiences via gifting. The brand partners with mommy bloggers and foodie influencers to show off their plant-based cookie dough.
Source: @allie_eats_world / @caffeinated_curls
You may be surprised by the types of creators who get the most excited about your products. Also, you might learn that micro-influencers produce better content than creators with “bigger” accounts.
This highlights how seeding products can be a great learning experience for brands. If you want to learn the ropes of influencer marketing, these campaigns provide a true crash course.
5. Reach Out to Influencers Prior to Their Products Arriving
This is an important tip that often gets overlooked.
Let’s say you’ve shipped out your products and are tracking your PR packages like a hawk.
Relax! Still, this in-between time is a great opportunity to shoot your creators a quick follow-up email or DM. Here you can update them on the status of their products to build some anticipation.
Even if your influencers have the shipping info themselves, this is a simple courtesy. Likewise, this small interaction shows that you value your partnership.
And if there is a shipping issue, you can keep influencers in the loop as it gets resolved.
6. Engage With Your Influencers’ Posts After They're Live
If your seeding strategy is successful and people are posting, pat yourself on the back!
But your job isn’t done quite yet.
Make an effort to engage with your influencers by interacting with their content after it’s live. This means commenting on their product post and responding to followers if prompted. Doing so makes yourself visible to your creator’s followers as an added bonus.
Check out the positive and personalized comment from Pallure on the gifted post below.
These engagements can leave a positive impression on your influencers and target audience. Micro-influencers and smaller creators especially appreciate shout-outs from brands.
7. Promote Your Influencers’ Posts and Positive Feedback
One of the key benefits of any product seeding campaign is earning awesome creator content.
If an influencer creates a post that’s worth resharing, don’t hesitate to ask permission to do so.
Many brands on Instagram will regram their influencer content or post it to their Stories. Check out how Moody Lenses does exactly that below:
Remember: the value of running influencer campaigns is about more than just a single post. Consider how you can reuse and repurpose influencer content again and again. This includes potential content for includes ads, emails and more.
8. Evaluate the Results of Your Influencer Seeding Efforts
You won’t know if your product seeding strategy is successful until you look at the numbers.
As influencers begin to receive products and create posts, make a point to gather and evaluate your campaign data. This includes:
- Social media mentions, comments and interactions
- Engagement rates for influencer posts
- New accounts reached
- # of posts earned
- Product feedback and reviews earned
- New traffic to your site and storefront
Gathering this data may take some extra time and legwork on your part. That said, your numbers will clue you in on whether you generated the results you were looking for. For example, a single viral post or a handful of glowing reviews can make your campaign totally worthwhile.
How to Make Your Influencer Seeding Strategy Stand Out
Done right, product seeding can really level up your influencer marketing efforts.
Because once you get the ball rolling with creator posts, you can generate ongoing content and social proof to promote over and over again. Not to mention getting your brand in front of thousands of new potential customers.
Hopefully the tips above can help you make the most of your time and energy when sending products to people.
Interested in starting an influencer product seeding campaign and don’t want to do it yourself?
Statusphere can help in that department! Our full-service influencer marketing platform matches brands with relevant creators from our hand-picked network. We handle everything from matchmaking, fulfillment and performance-tracking.
Want to learn more about how the process works? Get in touch with one of our consumer-to-consumer marketing specialists to see how we can get more people posting about your brand ASAP.
This article was first published in November 2020. It was last updated July 20, 2022.