How To Successfully Gift Online Influencers

Influencer marketing works (in fact, we wrote about that here). But only when you know how to do it well and within the rules. One of the easiest ways to start a relationship with online influencers is to ‘gift’ them your product - but how exactly do you go about doing this? And more importantly, how do you do it successfully?

We’ll outline exactly how to successfully gift online influencers and how you can build relationships with them to help promote your brand in the future.

What exactly is influencer marketing?

Before we can go into how to successfully gift online influencers, we need a little bit of background information to help formulate exactly why you might be considering it.

Previously, the only way to put any weight behind your products or service was to team up with a celebrity. But this, of course, was expensive and not a guarantee of success either. Some celebrities would push any product asked of them, which wasn’t exactly the best way to reach your target audience.

In 2022, influencer marketing has almost replaced working with celebrities. These online influencers are ‘mini’ celebrities in their own right, often with thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of followers. Brands piggyback off these followers, accessing audiences they might not have been able to reach on their own.

Influencers tend to be more engaged with their followers than faceless brands. Many have taken to only working with companies that align with their values and fit the aesthetic of their own brand. This means their followers are more likely to trust them when they do push a product or service because they genuinely believe the influencer cares about what they’re promoting.

This reputation building can take years for brands to achieve - with online influencers, consumers can relate almost instantly to their lives, simply by watching them on their Instagram stories, in a YouTube video, or a TikTok dance. We love an individual - and influencers can take advantage of this.

With influencer marketing, brands can research and evaluate who would be best to work with, looking at the influencer’s stats and followers, making sure they’re aligned with the brand’s values too. This partnership can then work both ways; the brand will promote the influencer and vice versa. This can look like:

Gifting a product for free
Paying the influencer to regularly post and feature your productsceleb influencer
Asking influencers to review your products
Creating brand ambassadors who work with you for a set amount of time
Creating a giveaway and using influencers to promote it
Influencers creating content for your brand (reels, TikToks etc.)

Some influencers will have strict guidelines for how they go about any of the above. If they’re a macro influencer (we’ll go through this in a minute), they’ll almost definitely have set fees for different options of working with them.

1  million+ influencers

There are different types of influencers, including:

Macro influencers or celebrities

Your macro-influencers (100K - 1M followers) and celebrities (1M+ followers) are usually the most expensive to work with. Macro influencers have probably spent years building up their huge followings - and they’re not just going to let anyone use that. They also know their worth and can be very picky on the types of brands they work with. However, they might have historic followers who no longer fit with their own personal brand. Be careful of being wowed by the numbers. Followers are one thing - but engagement is another.

Celebrities have dedicated and loyal followers too - but they’re not always as engaged. They’re more likely to be picky with what they share with followers too, so sending a gift their way might be wasted.

micro influencers under 100k

Micro influencers

With around 10K - 100K followers, your micro influencers aren’t really that small - but they have loyal, engaged followers, who are receptive to the influencer’s recommendations. They treat their followers like close friends, and have an audience that aligns with their brand and values. Gifting products to these influencers means you’re likely to reach relevant people who’ll buy your products.

Nano influencers

If you’re just starting out in the influencer marketing world, you might want to consider gifting your products to nano influencers. They can have anywhere from 1K followers to 10K followers - but boy, are these audiences engaged. They’re also cost effective, which means you can reach a smaller, more engaged audience who are likely to buy your products.

Getting in early with a nano influencer means you can grow with them, keeping them on side for when they reach the dizzying heights of becoming a macro influencer. Maintaining relationships with influencers is vital for being able to continue gifting them products, without actually having to pay them extortionate rates.

Nano influencers are a great way to test your gifting campaign out as well. They’re likely to share what you’re sending (as they won’t be being sent hundreds of things a week, like the macro influencers) and give honest feedback, which you might not always receive from the bigger influencers.

How to gift online influencers

Now you’ve got an idea of how influencer marketing might work for your brand, it’s time to get into the nitty gritty of how to gift online influencers. Before you do anything else, make sure you’re up-to-date on the rules around influencer marketing, so you don’t waste sending a product to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Research your target audience

So you know you want to create a list of nano influencers - but how do you know who to pick? Research is the most important part of working with online influencers. Many bloggers and Instagram stars will have a rates list and media pack, providing you with all the statistics you need to know if they’re worthwhile working with. But don’t just rely on this. You can easily use free tools, such as GRIN and Upfluence, to see if an influencer’s following is legit - as well as checking out their engagement rates.

Think about their niche as well. If you’re a fashion brand, it doesn’t make sense to gift a product to a beauty blogger - their audience wants make-up tips and product recommendations, not crop tops and skinny jeans. Ask influencers who they’ve worked with before - direct competitors are usually a good sign, as it means their audience is the right demographic. Unless they’re in a partnership or ambassador programme with your competitors, they’re more than likely open to working with you.

Check out their other posts and videos on their various platforms as well. They want you to align with their brand, but what about the content they create on a daily basis? Is it the kind of quality you want? Of course, at this stage, you’re only gifting them a product, but always think ahead. You might want a partnership with this person in the future - and the content they create will help promote your brand.

Create a list of influencers you’d like to work with

Once you’ve done your research, create a list of influencers you’re happy to send products to. You should also create a ‘dream influencer’ list - the kind of influencer you’d like to work with in the future, but aren’t sure they’d be open to it right now. This gives you something to work towards and keeps you focused.

Make sure you get all the relevant contact details and their names - some online influencers have different handles and names across the various platforms, so just make sure you get the right one, so as not to offend them before you’ve even had a chance to send the product. An influencer’s following is loyal - any negative feedback they mention about your brand can be incredibly damaging.

Contact them before sending the gift

Now you’ve got your list of potential influencers, it’s time to contact them BEFORE you send them a gift. It might seem like hard work, but giving influencers the heads-up generates conversation and discussion, making them more likely to share your product. Personalising your message is important as well. Pull out relevant posts you’ve seen them create or mention something you saw in a recent story or TikTok video. This will show that your brand is engaged and interested in them, rather than just utilising them for marketing purposes.

Remember, micro and macro influencers will be inundated with direct messages from brands on a daily basis. Some of these will be legit - and most will be spam. Don’t fall through the cracks and, where possible, use an appropriate email address to contact them.

If you are choosing to work with micro and macro influencers, be prepared that they may ask for a fee when promoting your product, even if you’ve pitched it as a gift. This then changes the level of marketing they’re offering - it now becomes an ad, rather than just a gift. The benefit of this is that you can have a guarantee they will post about your product, however, the downside is that it won’t look as organic to their audience, which is the whole point of gifting in the first place.

Personalisation is key

You’ve made it this far and you’ve managed to engage with some influencers. They’re happy to share your products on their channels, without the need for payment. Make sure you get their contact information, so you can send the products out ASAP. Ask for their sizing, maybe even their favourite colour or style, so you can send something unique and personal to them. This will make them far more likely to share your gift.

Another way to personalise your gift package is to make it look spectacular. Influencers are known for their great style and taste - anything eye-catching and interesting will likely end up on their Instagram stories. Add a personalised note, maybe even some extras, like chocolates or additional products. Make sure it looks beautiful, so that the influencer might even unwrap it live.

As with most marketing, there are no guarantees. However, working with online influencers, especially by gifting them free products, is a cost-effective way to reach your target audience and engage with relevant customers. Building relationships with influencers is vital and personalisation will go a long way. Happy gifting!