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The Do’s and Don’ts of Free Gifting to Influencers

While the influencer industry is growing, the fees for macro-influencers are also rising. For many (small) brands, collaborations are hardly affordable anymore. Free gifting can therefore be a strategy to increase brand awareness. Read more about this tactic and everything you need to consider about free gifting on the Kolsquare blog.

Man's hands holding a gift wrapped in red craft paper
Man's hands holding a gift wrapped in red craft paper

Free gifting sounds tempting to everyone at first, because who is not happy to receive a little something? However, just like personal gifts for family and friends, the gift should be well considered. Free gifting is definitely an interesting marketing strategy to increase brand awareness, but it needs to be well-thought-out and carefully planned. While some macro influencers can now charge up to $20,000 for a post and are consequently less interested in free product sampling, free gifting continues to be an effective strategy for finding true fans and turning them into brand ambassadors.

Read about three ways to turn influencers into true brand ambassadors on the Kolsquare blog.

If your brand sends free samples or products to selected influencers, this has many advantages. On the one hand, you get valuable feedback on your product, and on the other, reusable, user-generated content. Hence, Kolsquare explains what other advantages of free gifting as a marketing strategy exist, then outlines what you should consider when running your gift campaign.

What is Free Gifting?

Logical and almost self-explanatory, free gifting describes a marketing strategy where selected people, for example celebrities or influencers, are sent a free product from your brand. Usually, the quid pro quo is a mention of the product and your brand in a post or story.

Free gifting can be seen as a way to reduce marketing costs, since you just do not have to pay a high price for the content. But while your brand will obviously still have to invest initially, the ROI is potentially very high. Especially with micro and nano influencers, free gifting is a strategy that yields results, as macro influencers are now inundated with collaboration requests and gift boxes.

Benefits of Free Gifting for Influencers

Depending on your budget, who your target audience is, and what type of product your brand sells, free gifts have many advantages as a marketing strategy:

As mentioned before, free gifting of course also costs your brand at least the product, but the total investment will be much lower. Moreover, the sample of your product can build sincere attachment at first and also a close partnership in the long run. Since you simply give away the products, influencers can form their opinions in a completely unbiased way and consequently create authentic and organic content. The feedback you receive should be taken seriously.

By getting your products out there, you also show transparency and create a better understanding of your brand. At the same time, you both are not initially entering into any contractual cooperation. Accordingly, both your brand and the influencers can find out whether there is interest in a longer-term, perhaps contractual cooperation.

What to consider for your next Free Gifting campaign?

Based on the following example, you can see how you should not proceed with your free gifting campaign, as this message does not appear very sincere. Although the mentioned jewelry brand has 553K followers, this seems highly inauthentic, especially since it was sent to a profile with only 180 followers by an account that has one follower. That is why Kolsquare shows you what you need to consider when planning and executing a free gifting campaign.

Start with a clear definition of your goals

As with any marketing campaign, when it comes to free gifting, you should define upfront what you want to achieve. Do you want to launch a new product, increase sales, raise your brand awareness or gain authentic and reusable content?

It can also be particularly effective to integrate the giveaways into an event hosted by your brand. Since networking is key in the industry, events hosted by brands provide a great opportunity for creators to make friends or refresh contacts. It also increases face-to-face interaction, both between the influencers themselves but also between you and the influencers who represent your brand.

Choose influencers wisely

Now that you have defined your goal, you naturally want to send the gifts to the right influencers wisely. For many, this may go without saying, but there are a few things to consider when choosing influencers.

Obviously, you need to be aware of your target audience. Who do you ultimately want to reach? Accordingly, look for hashtags, locations or links. Furthermore, you can check the followers of your profiles or use tools and platforms like Kolsquare.

Also read the Kolsquare tips on how to find the right influencers on Instagram!

Be sure to check the availability of the chosen influencers. Even if they are true fans of your brand, they may already have enough collaborations and therefore your product will not really be recognized or get the attention you want, as paid collaborations will always take priority over free gifts. Ask yourself if influencers are featuring other products of the same niche on their channels.

In addition, it is important to know and understand country-specific customs. In some countries, influencers are now required to include gifts as part of their personal annual income, which could consequently impact their willingness to accept them. While in the UK, the US or Germany free gifting with micro-influencers is more common, in Poland, Russia or Spain, on the other hand, you are more likely to have the chance to collaborate with medium-sized influencers.

Influencer marketing in Spain is booming, but many brands can still better exploit its potential. Read this Kolsquare Focus article to learn how your brand will surely succeed!

To optimize your ROI, always ask beforehand whether the creators are open to gifts at all. Especially in light of the discussions around sustainability, influencers only want to receive products that they have explicitly agreed to and that really fit their preferences and content in general.

Two examples of excellent free gifting campaigns

Glossier, a self-proclaimed people-powered beauty ecosystem, likes to gift products before they launch them. In addition to the free products, Glossier sends its influencers a monthly credit of 30$ and they receive a percentage of purchases through the affiliate link assigned to them for a 10% discount for their followers.

Another example of successful gifting among macro influencers is the collaboration between Italian super blogger Chiara Ferragni and Italian jewelry label Summer Mode. While the Italian also collaborates with brands like Fendi, Dior and co, the jewelry brand went the extra mile to send personalized necklaces to congratulate Chiara’s daughter Vittoria on her birth. Her post has brought Summer Mode 8,000 new followers in just 48 hours.

About Kolsquare

Kolsquare is Europe’s leading Influencer Marketing platform, a data-driven solution that allows brands to scale their KOL Marketing strategies and implement authentic partnerships with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). Kolsquare’s technology enables marketing professionals to easily identify the best Content Creators profiles by filtering their content and audience, and to build and manage their campaigns from A to Z, including measuring results and benchmarking performance against competitors. Kolsquare has built the largest community of influencer marketing experts in the world, and offers hundreds of customers (Coca-Cola, Netflix, Sony Music, Publicis, Sézane, Sephora, El Corte Inglés, Lacoste, …) the latest Big Data, AI and Machine Learning technologies to drive inspiring partnerships, tapping into an exhaustive network covering 100% of  KOLs with more than 5,000 followers in 180 countries on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. As a Benefit Company, Kolsquare has been pioneering Responsible Influence by championing transparency, ethical practices, and meaningful collaborations to inspire change.

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