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Opinion

Is Influencer Gifting Still an Effective Marketing Tool?

There is no denying that the industry has changed. It’s mind blowing to think that even just a few years back, brands that were early in the game were able to use gifting models to collaborate with influencers. Is there a gifting model out there that can be sustained successfully?

Nowadays, some macro influencers charge a starting fee of $20,000 for a single post. It’s safe to say that it’s unlikely that you would be able to secure such macro influencers with a gifting model, but that isn’t to say that a gifting model no longer works. In fact, a lot of brands still have very effective gifting strategies, and although they are selling very different products to one another, they all have one thing in common. They understand which influencers are true brand advocates and what brings value to them.

How to make influencer gifting an effective marketing tool for you

In order to understand how to make influencer gifting an effective marketing tool for you, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, it depends on each influencer and their availability; even though they may love your product, they might already be at full capacity with paid collaborations which of course, they are going to prioritise. Take the time to check their accounts to see if they usually feature gifted products in their content or create regular gifted videos, where they go through all the gifted items they have received. 

Secondly, what market are you targeting? The more mature the market is, the higher the cost of partnerships. Depending on which country you are working with and how well established influencer marketing is will determine their openness to a barter collaboration. For more mature markets such as the UK, USA or Germany, a gifting strategy will be more common with micro influencers. Whereas you may be likely to get the opportunity to work with mid-tiered influencers in markets such as Poland, Russia and even Spain. 

Thirdly, what is your product and how does it resonate with the influencer and their community? This is the most important question to ask yourself, because it is essentially the only way to ensure that your gifting strategy succeeds. In simple terms, besides a free product, how are you motivating that influencer to spend their time creating content to share with their audience in an authentic and genuine way? It sounds very obvious, but brands and agencies sometimes forget how many other collaboration requests an influencer receives and the time it takes to produce such high quality content. So, unless your gifting strategy targets influencers that truly fit your brand or it’s values, you may be wasting your time.

How can you bring value through your gifting model?

If we’re looking at a macro fashion influencer, it’s unlikely that they will barter a collaboration. However, they could feature a gifted product in their next ‘Five Summer Looks’ video, if that product was specifically selected to match their style, rather than just what the fashion brand is trying to promote that season. Take the time to customise gift boxes with personalised cards and reasons why you think this product is perfect for them. 

Don’t forget to reach out to the influencer beforehand to check if they are open to gifting, and that they like the product you’re sending in order to increase your potential ROI and begin to build a positive relationship with them. You may think that surprising an influencer with a gift will always have a positive outcome, but this can have a negative response as many influencers are doing their bit to be more sustainable by only accepting gifts they’ve requested. 

Furthermore, in some countries influencers are now having to declare gifts as part of their annual personal income, which as influencer marketing continues to become more of a professionalised practise, influencers will have to pay more on gifts that they receive. This could impact their ability to accept gifted collaborations. Plus, you don’t want to see your products ending up on their Depop page the same week they receive it.

A gifting model can also be very effective when you have a clear purpose and can proudly share your mission and values with an influencer. Reach out to influencers that are passionate about similar projects to tell your story and ask for support. Regardless of the amount of followers they have, influencers will more than often use their platforms to promote small brands that they believe in and resonate with. 

Chiara Ferragni, Italian Influencer and Entrepreneur is always caught wearing gifted products from Summer Mode, a small sustainable jewellery brand that only uses raw Italian materials. The brand’s Instagram account grew over 8,000 new followers within 48 hours of Chiara uploading a photo of herself wearing a necklace gifted by them. The brand took the time to send a personalised necklace with the names of her two children, to celebrate the birth of her daughter.

Thinking outside the box

Of course, not all brands have an inspiring story or a mission to help change the world, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot create a gifting model that still brings value. 

  • Exposure on your social channels: Offering influencers exposure by reposting their content and tagging them can be a great incentive for them to promote your products.
  • Upcoming life events: Keep an eye out for a reason that they would purchase your products in the near future. Are they moving house, having a baby or simply going to a wedding soon?
  • Your social media channels: Check who’s following you and engaging with your content. Many times you can find great brand ambassadors right under your nose.
  • Reward system: Offer promotional codes or affiliate links for influencers to earn a percentage of revenue.
  • Content visibility: Reward great content with ad spend to boost influencers engagement and visibility.
  • Events and experiences: Combining an event or unique experience into your gifting strategy is always a great cocktail for success.

Integrating events and experiences into your gifting strategy

Influencers appreciate an opportunity to create new content, catch up with friends and meet the face behind the brand. Whether it’s a product launch, Christmas festivity or a simple brunch to strengthen relations, events give a more personal way to gift a product, and increase ROI.

Let’s say you’re inviting five influencers to a lunch for a new product launch. Combined, the meal, decorations and gifts costs you $5,000. The influencers have an average of 100,000 followers and usually charge $1,500 for two Instagram story frames. By strategically creating opportunities for influencers to create organic content, you can increase your ROI. 

For example, a beautiful venue, fancy cocktails, and an aesthetically wrapped gift could potentially double your ROI, and strengthen brand advocacy. Many brands also provide tickets to exclusive events, such a Fashion Week or sought after festivals, in exchange for endorsing products, which is also proven to be a great tactic to increase brand visibility and stay top of mine.

In conclusion, although influencer marketing continues to grow with barter collaborations becoming increasingly more challenging than ever before, gifting can still be an effective marketing tool if you can bring true value to the influencer.

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