Want to reach a wider audience and drive sales for your small business, without spending all your budget? In this article, Paul Rowlett from EverythingBranded shares some tips for getting started with influencer gifting.
The concept behind influencer gifting is very simple: a brand contacts an influencer and offers them a free gift. Should they accept, the brand sends out a product — often one which has been personalised for the influencer in some way. The influencer then shares photos, videos, or other content of their gift with their audience, often in the form of a social media post or blog post. In return, the brand gains exposure via the influencer’s followers. This is just one form of influencer marketing.
Participating in influencer gifting can be an incredibly effective form of marketing, even for smaller brands with micro budgets. Unlike other paid influencer campaigns — which involve paying content creators a fee in exchange for a sponsored post or other advertising — sending gifted products is relatively cost effective. And, when done well, it can increase brand awareness, boost your following, and drive sales for your business — if you do it right, that is.
In this article, I’ll take you through a quick crash course in influencer gifting tactics, so you can give this lucrative form of marketing a try.
The benefits of influencer gifting
Before we dive in, just what are the benefits of influencer gifting campaigns, especially for smaller brands?
- You can get access to a valuable audience. Choosing the right influencer will mean you get your brand and products in front of a highly relevant audience of prospective customers. If you target the right influencers, it could result in a lot of sales.
- Influencers are trusted figures. They entire reason that these content creators have so much influence is because their followers esteem what they have to say. This means their audiences are more likely to act on their product recommendations, which could lead to more sales for you.
- It’s relatively cost effective. Sending a product to an influencer doesn’t cost a great deal when compared to traditional marketing and PR tactics, but it can get you a lot of exposure. If you decide to scale up, the costs will increase, but so will the returns, assuming you pick your targets carefully.
How to get started with influencer gifting
If you’re keen to give influencer gifting a try, you might be wondering where to start. It’s not a complicated process, but there are number of important things to bear in mind that will help ensure you get the best results.
Brush up on the rules around influencer gifting
Under ASA guidelines, influencers are legally obliged to disclose if any products they’ve received have been gifted by a brand. So, the first thing you should do is spend some time familiarising yourself with the rules for influencer marketing.
The influencers you contact are responsible for disclosing any gifts they share on their channels, and they could get into trouble if they don’t. So, don’t be surprised if they’re open and honest about this when sharing your product with their followers — and whatever you do, don’t try to pressure them into concealing the fact it was a gift.
For one thing, you really don’t need to. Modern consumers are increasingly savvy about how influencer marketing works and have become quite used to seeing #gifted tags next to the content their favourite influencers produce. So, if your products are relevant to the audience and stunningly presented and packaged, a disclosure is unlikely to have a detrimental effect on the success of your campaign, anyway.
Create a list of targets
You’ll need to put together a list of relevant, high-value targets. There are a number of apps and sites out there that match brands with influencers, such as Upfluence or Press Loft. You can also conduct your own research on social media — using hashtags can be an effective way to find influencers who are already interested in the type of products you sell.
There are a few factors to consider when analysing the suitability of an influencer:
- What are their following and engagement stats like? Naturally, you’re going to want to get your products in front of as many people as possible, but it’s not just a case of looking for content creators with a huge following. Often, for smaller brands, it’s much more cost-effective to partner with micro-influencers with smaller followings, but higher engagement rates.
- Does their content align with your brand? What sort of tone does their content have, and does it match up with the way you position your brand? You want to make sure the influencer is a good “fit” for your brand personality.
- How often do they post? And, do they work with a lot of brands? This might give you an indication of how likely an influencer is to want to work with you. Influencers who have a smaller ratio of sponsored content to personal posts tend also tend to seem more authentic to their followers, which can drive sales for your brand.
Send out email offers
Once you’ve compiled a list of suitable targets, you can reach out to the influencers and offer them a gift. Many influencers will receive lots of enquiries, so keep your message short, sweet, and to the point. Introduce yourself and your brand, and explain what you like about their content. Then, pitch your gift, and ask if they’d be happy to share it on social media.
Most influencers will have a contact email for brand enquiries somewhere on their social channels or blog, although you may also be able to contact them using direct messaging on some social media sites. Remember to personalise your message, taking the time to greet them by name.
If they ask for a fee in addition to the free gift, remember that this will constitute advertising, and the post will need to be disclosed as such.
Prepare your gifts (and make it personal)
When sending gifts to an influencer, it’s not really enough to simply box it up and send it out. If you want to increase your chances of being featured in their content, you need to really go out of your way to make your gift feel special.
One of the best, and easiest, ways to do this is by personalising the gift in some way. This could mean adding the influencer’s name to your product (if this is something you can accommodate), or even just including some personalised extras in the package. Remember, influencers can receive a high volume of gifts and PR products, so you need to find a way to make yours stand out from the crowd.
Lastly, remember that presentation is key. Unboxing videos and content are very popular: after all, who doesn’t love to unwrap a stunningly packaged gift? To really impress, add personalised elements, like custom wrapping paper, or even a hand-written note, if possible. This makes it more likely that an influencer will showcase their gift.
As with any marketing campaign, you’ll want to measure the performance of your efforts. So, keep and eye out for exposure and brand mentions across all social channels, as well as an increase in traffic from relevant sources. If you see a lot of engagement and sales from your efforts — at least enough to cover the basic cost of the products you sent out — then you could consider scaling up.
Influencer gifting is well worth the time and effort, as long as you take care to do it right. Hopefully, this introductory guide has shown you how to get started.