Product Seeding (Influencer Gifting) – A Quick Guide

Rachel Smith
Communications Executive
October 11, 2021
min read
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What is product seeding?

Product seeding, also known as influencer gifting, is when a brand sends its products to a selected group of influencers. In return, the influencers create content featuring these products. Product seeding is an effective, cheap, and less time-consuming influencer marketing strategy to generate leads and increase brand awareness.  

How are notable brands using product seeding to their advantage?

A lot of reputed brands use the product seeding strategy to grow their influencer programs. When they send out their products to influencers, they not only get high-quality content with great reach, but the brand profiles also gain visitors, followers and witness increased engagement.

How do they do it? They get these two things right:

  1. They find the right influencers by finding personalities that are aligned with their brand
  2. They nurture quality relationships with the influencer on a personal level. For example, they personalize the package for each influencer, and they engage (like or comment) with the influencers’ posts.

Examples of brands using the product seeding technique successfully are LUSH, Chegg, GoPro, Graze, Clinique, and House of CB (just to name a few).

Benefits of Product Seeding and Key Takeaways

Wildly effective in creating robust influencer programs, product seeding helps yield many benefits for brands. These benefits broadly include:

  1. Long-term, authentic brand ambassadors
  2. It’s crucial that brands only partner with influencers who can create content that resonates with their brand. If the influencer is already using or buying the product, getting it for free will only encourage them to engage with you more. By partnering with the right influencers, you also weed out influencers in it for a quick buck.

    Influencer gifting with the right influencers cements the brand-influencer alignment, making them your biggest fans and your most effective partnerships.

    The takeaway: Build a relationship that grows over time. This slower relational approach is super effective in getting unique content for your brand from the influencer as they become your true promoters.

  3. Earned brand loyalty
  4. When you send a gift without asking for anything in return, it reflects your intention of building a good working relationship with the influencer. Start slow and send products to the influencer, so they get used to using your brand – do this with the ones that are receptive to your brand story and your products.

    The takeaway: Brand loyalty helps you create a culture where the influencers and their followers show their loyalty by either buying your product or sharing your brand story. When an influencer repeatedly talks about or shares content using your product, their followers trust that and automatic brand loyalty arises.

  5. Cost-effective influencer marketing
  6. The exchange of products for unique content is the most cost-effective way of building brand awareness and driving sales. You didn’t have to pay for ads; there are no agency fees and no other costs – just what your product cost you. In return, you get content that is not only viewed by the influencer’s audience, but you can use that content across your channels to expand the reach and utility of each content piece.

    The takeaway: Repurpose the influencer-generated content across your marketing strategy to keep the costs down.

  7. Brand awareness
  8. Influencers boost your brand visibility, making more people aware of your brand through a word-of-mouth conversation or a shoutout in the post.

    The takeaway: Every post the influencer shares about your brand is an opportunity for enhancing your brand awareness.

  9. Product placement
  10. In a recent survey, 80% of respondents said they preferred product placement over traditional types of paid advertising because it’s more authentic and organic.

    The takeaway: Just a picture of your product with the influencer is beneficial enough for your brand.

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How does Product Seeding work?

Influencer gifting is a simple concept but requires planning to be truly successful. Here is a basic process you can follow to create a successful plan that can guarantee product seeding success.

  1. Find the right influencers
  2. The right influencers are the ones who organically use your products. Finding them takes time, and it can get overwhelming if you don’t have the right resources and tools. Here’s where a tool like, Affable, an influencer marketing platform can help you find relevant and authentic influencers who can make your product seeding technique a success.

  3. Get to know them better
  4. Before you send the product to the influencer, spend some time to know them better and analyze influencer profiles. Go through their content – blogs, posts, comments, and online engagement – you’ll have a better idea about what the influencer is all about. This will help you decide which products will be best to send them.

    When you understand who they really are, you can also make your influencer outreach emails warmer, encouraging them to want to work with you.

  5. Make an authentic connection
  6. Authentic influencers don’t like to be bombarded by brands that don’t know anything about them. Therefore, you must show them that you have done your homework before approaching them. For example, you can convert your old outreach emails to warm ones by mentioning a piece of content that the influencer had created. This assures the influencer that you are genuine and spammer.

  7. Gift the right product to the influencer
  8. Just because it’s free, not everyone would want it. So, make sure to politely ask the influencer if you can send free gifts to them. Spend some time to decide on the product to send, and don’t forget to personalize it. This will ensure that your relationship is off to a good start.

  9. Don’t ask for a return right away
  10. If you want your brand-influencer relationships to flourish, don’t immediately ask for anything in return. If you aren’t pushy for an immediate return on investment, you can build strong long-term relationships. Give enough time for the influencer to fall in love with your product.

  11. Enhance your relationship
  12. Continue to work on your relationship with your influencers even after sending the gift. Follow up with them; ask them for feedback or if they have any questions about the product. Ensure that the exchange is genuine and positive.

  13. Subtly ask for content
  14. After you’ve made a genuine connection with the influencer, it’s time to ask for content. It could be a mention, tag, or a post with your product worn or in use. If you have invested enough time and effort in nurturing the relationship, the influencer will willingly give mentions, tags ,and their best recommendation without being asked.

  15. Initiate a collaboration
  16. Once the influencer shares content about your product, work towards initiating a real collaboration for the long term. This is where the relationship evolves into an influencer partnership that can include swipe-ups, affiliate links, brand mentions, etc.

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Will product seeding work for all brands?

Products should naturally appear in the influencer’s content without indicating that the influencer is working in partnership with the brand. It has to be subtle, and this is a challenge. Many brands employ a product seeding strategy because it’s cheaper and less time-consuming but fail to invest in technology that can help them find the right influencers who can speak about their product without making it look like an advertisement.

How can Affable help your brand with product seeding?

Affable makes the process of product seeding easy for you. Its end-to-end influencer marketing platform helps you find authentic influencers across any industry globally and engages them for product shootouts. Affable does a lot more than discover relevant influencers; it can manage and run product seeding and influencer gifting campaigns. Talk to our expert to know more.

How many influencers should products be sent to – is there a formula that works?

It varies depending on what you want to achieve with product seeding. That said, the more gifts you send to the influencers, the higher your reach will be. Consider applying a blanket approach; spread your product far and wide by sending the gifts to as many relevant influencers as you can.

5 Key Areas to Focus on for Product Seeding to Actually Work  

Product seeding is a lot more than sending free products to influencers and expecting them to talk about them in their posts. There’s more to it, and here’s what you should take care of:

  1. Personalization: Know this - you are not the only one sending products to influencers to try them out. Go the extra mile and personalize your gifts. Include a handwritten note with their name on it to make it a memorable experience. Don’t forget to tailor the experience so that the influencer can make it look Instagram-pretty.
  2. Packaging: Marketing begins the moment your gift arrives at the influencer’s door. They don’t know you yet, but they’ll form an opinion about you once they receive your product. So, make sure you put in lots of effort in packaging the product. For the most part, influencers care about how pretty their images look on social media. First impressions are everything, and packaging is what will create your first impression.
  3. Preferences: There’s no point in sending a product that doesn’t fit the influencer’s image. If the product is not an aesthetic fit to their personal brand, influencers simply won’t talk about it. So, be mindful of their preferences.
  4. Product Picking: Since you are giving your product for free, you might be tempted to send your least expensive one. Don’t make that mistake. Instead, send your hero product. If your influencers were not familiar with your bestseller, they are more likely to use it and talk about it in their posts. They might even want to try your other products or become your brand ambassador.
  5. Permission: Ask before sending a gift, and after sending a product, let the influencer know that a parcel is on its way. This interaction, however, small shows that you value the experience they have with the brand. This also helps you keep track of shipping errors and package damage.

It’s clear that product seeding works well and is a good strategy for utilizing influencer marketing for a brand. Using the information above, you can start working on a strategy and thinking about leveraging it, but first, it’s super important that you have the right tools.

For all your influencer marketing needs, including product seeding, Affable is what you need. Schedule a quick demo with Affable  and see how we can help you maximize your influencer marketing efforts.

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