Product Sampling Programs

4 Types of Product Seeding Programs and Campaigns

Product seeding programs featuring influencers can build serious awareness at scale. Below we dig into popular types of product seeding campaigns for B2C brands.

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Product seeding is the act of sending products to relevant recipients to:

  • Gather feedback about new product(s)
  • Drive user-generated content
  • Support time-sensitive promotions (ex: retail launches)
  • Increase brand awareness, word-of-mouth referrals and social SEO

An underrated benefit of product seeding campaigns for brands is flexibility. You can nail any combination of the goals above by sending products to influencers. 

What Types of Product Seeding Programs Are Best for Brands?

The growing link between influencers and product discovery speaks for itself. Getting products into creators’ hands helps brands break through the noise and overcome fickle social algorithms.

This is especially true if you can seed influencers at scale and get 100s of people posting about you.

That said, seeding campaigns can involve a variety of strategies based on your goals and bandwidth. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to the process.

This post breaks down four popular types of product seeding programs. We’ll also dig into the best practices and goals of each.

1. Product Seeding Campaigns to Gather Feedback

Authentic reviews are invaluable in the era of social commerce.

Brands today thrive on recommendations, particularly on TikTok and Instagram. Sending products to influencers in exchange for unfiltered feedback via video content can build some much-needed word-of-mouth.

Product seeding campaigns for reviews can be especially powerful for brands that:

  • Are making changes to their product (packaging, formula, etc)
  • Want to test the popularity of individual products against each other to find which is your audience’s favorite
  • You want to try getting your products in front of a totally new audience

example of product seeding post on TikTok

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Sure, seeding with no strings attached doesn’t guarantee content for brands. 

But consider how this approach relieves pressure for creators and can result in higher quality content for recipients who do post.

That’s because creators aren’t tied to strict requirements or otherwise risk making their content seem “salesy.”

Food for thought: 83% of influencers are more than happy to post about brands in exchange for free products on one of two conditions.

  1. They already love the brand that’s sending them products.
  2. The value of the products sent is high.

As a result, making this type of product seeding program work means:

  • Offering a strong value exchange. Don’t expect five-star content from small product samples or bargain bin items. Note how many beauty brands go all out with their seeding campaigns with beautiful influencer kits featuring full-size products.

  • Start seeding influencers who already know and trust your brand. Creators you’ve collaborated with in the past are prime candidates for seeding. Chances are they’re already familiar and will be enthusiastic about shouting you out.

  • Accepting that every piece of content isn’t going to be “perfect.” Time and time again we advise against brands art-directing their creators. In the case of product seeding, brands have a minimal say in what gets posted. And that’s okay!

In our experience, it’s often the most off-the-cuff content that performs best. This is why it’s also fair game to seed influencers beyond your past customers.

Doing so means you’ll gather truly authentic content and feedback. Even if some so-so reviews come through, you can treat them as product research. That said, you can absolutely source stellar feedback from creators (granted you get your products into the hands of the right ones).

 example of product seeding on instagram

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2. Product Seeding Campaigns for User-Generated Content

Spend five seconds on your TikTok and Instagram and chances are you’ll see creators promoting products. Unboxings and influencer gifting hauls can result in authentic content that drives serious organic engagement.

product seeding unboxing example on TikTok

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Many brands kick off their seeding campaigns in pursuit of user-generated content. With a bit of legwork, UGC can be repurposed into:

  • Posts for your brand’s account(s)
  • UGC ads (like TikTok Spark Ads or Instagram Partnership Ads)

However, there are some specific challenges of product seeding for UGC:

  • If you want to run UGC ads with your seeding posts, you’ll need to negotiate content rights and get permission from creators first.

  • Since you can’t make edits to a piece of content to run as a UGC ad, you can’t provide creative direction for captions or videos themselves. This means that if a creator uses copyrighted music or bad-mouths a competitor, you can’t use it.

  • No strings attached means no guarantees of getting content. Simple as.

If you want to use UGC as the basis for ads or promotional content, product seeding can be a risk if you’re putting all of your eggs in one basket.

This last point drives home the value of a product seeding platform like Statusphere. We offer the flexibility for brands to send products to creators via traditional seeding or tap into our network of vetted creators for guaranteed, rights-ready content. This means you get the best of both worlds!

Instagram Influencer Campaign Manager Spreadsheet

3. PR Seeding Campaigns for Product Launches

PR seeding involves sending product kits in coordination with a product launch. 

The goal here is to build word-of-mouth for specific promotions either before or as they go live. This type of seeding program is particularly popular among beauty brands and CPG brands in major retailers.

make product seeding example on Instagram Reels   make product seeding example on Instagram Reels

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Much like the other types of product seeding campaigns on our list, PR seeding isn’t as simple as shipping out packages and hoping for the best. The stakes are arguably highest when sending PR packages to influencers because launches are so time-sensitive and positive posts are critical. 

Here are some additional considerations and best practices for PR seeding:

  • Make sure you ship products to a wide variety of creators. Maximizing reach means different demographics and target audiences. Doing so allows you to get in front of new potential customers at scale. For example, you might prioritize creators in a specific geographic area where you’re ramping up your retail efforts.

  • Your seeding fulfillment needs to be on point. You can’t afford to put in the hours sending out 50+ seeding kits and getting a couple of posts in return. From packaging and presentation to ensuring that orders get to creators in a timely manner, don’t let shipping fly under the radar.

  • Again, a strong value exchange is make-or-break. So much of getting that five-star content boils down to what you bring to the table. A TikTok-worthy product haul worth raving about isn’t going to happen with a handful of samples.

This is yet again where Statusphere’s influencer marketing platform can save the day. Our platform allows brands to send products to influencers based on 250+ unique, first-party creator data points. 

Translation? Your PR seeding becomes hyper-targeted and you only get your products into the hands of people who actively want to hype you up. 

Coupled with features like Instant Spark Ads and influencer whitelisting, you can turn your best posts into ads on TikTok in no time flat. This helps you squeeze even more ROI out of product seeding.

4. Always-On Product Seeding for Brand Awareness

More and more brands are adopting an always-on influencer marketing strategy.

And for many brands, that means ongoing product seeding campaigns.

By continuously sending products to creators, you can maintain a strong share of voice across social media. This is especially important for the sake of social SEO as brand and product searches dominate platforms like TikTok.

Continuous influencer product seeding campaigns keep your brand top-of-mind. When done with vetted content creators at scale, you can build a content engine for ads and organic visibility at the same time. The longer a creator collabs with your brand, the better they understand your products and how to make them shine.

make product seeding example on Instagram Reels

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The idea of always-on product seeding can be daunting, especially if you’re already struggling with influencer marketing. Making this sort of strategy work means:

  • Prioritizing seeding campaigns around micro-influencers. With the right value exchange, posts from smaller creators are more scalable than collabs with “big” celebrity influencers which require more negotiations and fine details.

  • Increasing your posting success rate from influencer seeding. The more creators post, you better your ROI. This yet again signals why brands should move away from “spray and pray” influencer gifting and focus on seeding influencers they can trust.

  • Automate and streamline as much of the process as possible. Even with a dedicated team, in-house seeding will only get you so far. For brands that want to reach 100s of creators at any given time, sifting through spreadsheets and shipping packages one by one isn’t realistic.

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How to Build a Streamlined Product Seeding Program from Scratch

For brands that need ongoing word-of-mouth, product seeding programs make perfect sense.

But like anything related to influencer marketing, campaigns require a serious investment of time.

And without a streamlined process, seeding influencers can quickly dominate your schedule. 

Given that seeding is difficult to measure manually and doesn’t result in guaranteed content, brands need to do everything they can to increase posting rates and partner with relevant creators.

And that’s exactly where Statusphere can help.

statusphere product seeding platform

Our micro-influencer marketing platform can optimize and scale your product seeding campaigns from A to Z. Statusphere handles everything from matchmaking and influencer management to fulfillment and beyond. 

Want to learn more about how our platform works? Get in touch with one of our experts to learn how our software can help you scale product seeding in a fraction of the time.

This article was first published in May 2019. It was last updated January 25, 2024.

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