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The Ultimate Guide to Influencer Gifting Campaigns

Table of Contents

The Gifting Landscape: Market History & Industry Growth

Before influencer marketing was even an industry, people with strong online followings were open to free products from brands, and receiving payment for posting was not yet the standard.

Over the last decade, the influencer marketing industry has evolved and matured. Today, influencer marketing has been proven time and again as an effective advertising channel. A survey from Influencer Marketing Hub had 90% of respondents say they believe influencer marketing to be an effective form of marketing.

As influencer marketing and content creation demands have increased, so too have influencer rates, pay transparency, and partnership expectations. Today, it's a much more nuanced practice to launch successful influencer gifting campaigns in such a competitive and dynamic landscape.

A Brief History of the Influencer Industry & Gifting

Level-Setting Expectations

When gifting, it’s important to remember the following:

  • Creators may or may not share content, and that is okay. The good news is that with informal, low-level production features like Stories, creators still tend to share products as long as it resonates with their content and values.
  • Without traditional monetary compensation, you will generally have less control over campaign and product messaging.
  • Gifting is great for product seeding and reviews, brand awareness, and influencer partnership outreach. But if your objectives are high quality content or imagery, impressions, or a dedicated campaign roll-out, consider investing in a paid campaign.

Q1: To gift, or not to gift?

This is the most important question and the best place to start.

With increased demand, influencers—from macro to nano-level—now rightly ask for competitive compensation for product coverage with specific messaging. Many content creators utilize brand sponsorships as a primary source of income.

But what if you don’t have the marketing budget to spare? We’re not here to say influencer gifting campaigns are impossible to execute; it just means there needs to be an informed strategy and the right mindset to approach gifting activations.

Q2: What is the expected level of effort for the creator?

Are you offering an inexpensive product in hopes of receiving high quality content? If the answer is yes, you might reconsider the ask. The higher the production quality and the level of effort necessary for production, such as a long-form YouTube video, the higher the cost.

In addition to production value, consider the timing of your ask. Are you expecting a quick turnaround? Is it generally a busy season, like the Holidays? Are you factoring in the time to regularly use the product before expecting a substantial review? The less time you give them, the larger the ask.

Q3: What is the cost-value exchange?

We need to move away from a ‘transaction mindset.’ You shouldn’t assume because you're gifting something valuable, now you have a relationship with that influencer. It shouldn't be 'If I give you X, you give me Y.'

If you can, you should aim to match or exceed the retail value of what product you’re offering to what the creator would be earning in terms of payment for this campaign.

It is essential to know your product’s value. If you’re a newer brand with a product worth $50 that you’re looking to send to an influencer with 300,000 followers and expect an in-feed post, you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment. Depending on their standard rates, they could be charging thousands of dollars for that post, so the product value and their rate-per-post would be nowhere near equal. Understanding your brand and product appeal will give you a more realistic foundation in your influencer gifting efforts.

These activations should motivate consumer purchases rather than serve as partnership compensation, so try to avoid offering low-value gift cards, product discounts, or incentive programs.

The higher the product value, the higher the risk. If both product value and risk are higher, there needs to be a lot more thought, time, intention, personalization, and relationship-building baked into it.

If the product value is lower, the risk vs. reward makes sense. As a brand with a lower product value, you can risk sending out 100x products, even if you receive zero posts; it's not the end of the world.

Perhaps, your journey to date has shown that, while the results are up in the air and you won't be able to control the content, it's still worth your while to get your product in as many people's hands as you can. This type of activation requires less thoughtfulness, tailoring, and less of a time investment from you, so the measures of success will be different.

Q4: What is the relationship value exchange?

Is there anything else you can offer the creator that might serve as a perk or provide value? For example: if they have a smaller following, repost them on your brand’s channel with a tag, or write an article on your brand’s popular blog, which might incentivize a creator for exposure.

According to a Deloitte survey, 76% of creators consider at least one or more perks a “very important” factor when contemplating a brand partnership.

It’s also important to ask yourself, does the influencer have similar values to your brand? (Think: sustainability, inclusivity, transparency).

Fohr’s Discovery platform has a Content Search feature to discover influencers who have spoken about a topic relevant to a brand/product and link to their post in your influencer partnership outreach. For example, let’s say your product line donates 1% to save the rainforest, so you reach out to someone who travels to the Amazon every year.

Content search results examples on Fohr

Q5: What are the possible brand risks?

Brands must continue to evolve their approach to gifting campaigns, and it’s imperative to consider the risks. A great way to gut-check how your campaign offer feels: What would the general sentiment of the industry be if someone were to screenshot this offer and post it online?

Before you launch your influencer gifting campaigns, use this checklist to consider whether your campaign hits any of the low or high-risk marks:

Risk checklist for brands considering gifting campaigns

Q6: What is the length of the partnership?

It's important to try and sell this gifting opportunity as the start of a long-term relationship if it is truly a matter of testing the response and potentially unlocking a budget. An influencer will be more open to doing something for free for a brand if they might turn into a long-term paying client—but not for someone just looking to get a post out of them in the short term.

Long-term brand/influencer relationships are proven as more valuable to brands than one-off campaigns. Similarly, influencers prefer having selective long-term brand partnerships over multiple one-off campaigns. Brands should nurture their influencer relationships and champion their partners.

Q7: What is the current brand perception?

Let's first remember that, like many businesses, this is a relationship orientated one. Here are three things to consider when looking to build authentic relationships with influencers:

Brand perception: Are you working to refresh and reinvigorate a well-known heritage brand or the industry’s latest cult-favorite cool-girl makeup line? It’s best to conduct influencer partnership outreach to creators who already know, love, and talk about your brand organically.

Product perception: Would the product you send out be positive or negative for someone to feature in their feeds? Are you sending out a product with a more sensitive sentiment to post publicly on a feed? (e.g., sexual wellness or mental health). Consider this and which partner would be the best fit for this product.

Unboxing experience: If you want influencers to post your gift, a visually creative box and a personalized note go a long way. If your budget is tight, don’t use funds for a creative mailer. Use a simple white box and a note that you’d prefer not to post the unboxing.

Q8: Is the person you’re reaching out to open to gifting?

It's important to get the influencer to opt-in to your gifting. There is so much waste in the world, and if an influencer says they don't want what you're selling, we recommend not sending it. It's not good for you, the influencer, or the planet.

You have a manual option of outreach to individual influencers, asking if they would be interested in an unpaid opportunity, and capturing their reply. On Fohr’s Discovery platform, you can filter influencers open to gifting campaigns and post an opportunity as a Bulletin to influencers who are opted-in and engaged.

Ready to start your next influencer gifting campaign?

When it comes to gifting, why risk it? Save yourself time & energy—our Fohr Discovery platform is the best way to launch and manage complex gifting campaigns and influencer partnership outreach to opted-in influencers who already love your brand.

Book a demo here.