Influencer Marketing Hub’s benchmark report showed the global industry is predicted to grow to $16.4 billion in 2022. In terms of platforms, Instagram is used by nearly 80% of brands who engage with influencer marketing. Gifting is a pretty logical route into influencer marketing for small businesses with limited budgets.
There are different stages of influencer gifting, the first being sending products for free in the hope that it will touch a nerve and result in content. The second is setting a pre-agreed arrangement where the influencer is paid to create content surrounding your products. These paid agreements are completely at the influencer’s discretion whether they create content to share with their audience. And it’s also at their discretion how they share it, so accepting lack of control as a brand is crucial. However, if you love the influencer and their content is interactive and consistent, you’ll be sure to slot in.
Micro influencers are where it’s at. While it’d be a huge boost for your brand to get a celebrity like Bella Hadid to share your product, it’s not a realistic strategy. Instead, you should be aiming at micro influencers, where the levels of engagement and trust are typically much higher and who you’re more likely to build real, long-term relationships with. The research phase of finding the right people is super important so make sure that you or a member of your team are training the algorithms (which can be achieved simply by being active) to bring the right influencers to your attention.
There are rules to follow. Depending on the country you’re operating in and which platform your influencer is sharing content on, there are different rules to adhere to. For example, in the UK, influencers have to clearly disclose if the products they’re sharing have been sent by a brand. Make sure you read up on what’s allowed and prepare for that to be included as part of any messaging.
If you want the gifting process to be more focused, it’s normally a lot more effective if you’re strategic about how you pull it off. For example, if you’re looking to highlight a product you’re launching, you might send it to around 10 micro influencers at the same time and try to manage it so that they post at a similar time. If you want to monitor the campaign’s effectiveness, you can build customised links for stories, so that you can track the traffic driven by each individual with Google Analytics.
You should outline to yourself and team what the goal of the targeted influencer partnership is. Is it to coincide with a product launch or a new season? Increase brand awareness with your target market? Drive more traffic to your website? Make more sales? If the latter, you’ll need to include discount or affiliate codes when you send products out to track the sales impact.
You also need to pre-prepare how you’ll measure and track success. think about which metrics you’ll track to monitor how successful the gifting has been. That might be site visitors, brand mentions online, direct sales or new followers. But keep in mind that gifting can take a long time to show any significant return on investment. It can also be quite intangible in the case of something like strengthening brand perception.
You need to vet the influencers. The vetting process is ultimately about making sure that the person in question aligns with your brand and has the right audience in terms of who you want to reach. But it’s also worth seeing if they’ve done a similar style of post in the past – and whether promoting brands on their channels is something they’re receptive to. It’s also important to check their engagement rate – Phlanx is a great tool for that.
On the influencer side it’s also important that they know about you and therefore how to portray your brand. Why should they open your product? What’s special about it? Why is your brand unique? Especially if they’re not familiar with you, you need to articulate clearly what your offering is and why you think it’s especially relevant to them. Can you offer them exposure on your social channels? Can you combine your gifts with events or experiences? Be creative in making it an attractive proposition.
Try and make the gift as personable as possible to the influencer. If you’re reaching out to CurlyGirl13 who promotes healthy, natural curl growth, don’t send her your bleach range. Try to make it memorable too, including a handwritten note, using custom packaging or adding other brand materials or extras in the box. Some influencers might make unboxing of the gift itself a piece of content (Unbox Hauls are very popular) if you can pull it off right. The key is to elevate the experience as much as you can and create something as distinct and reflective of your brand as possible.