Gifting Influencers - Acceptable or Not? 5 Factors to Consider

David Morneau

By David Morneau
12 min READ | Sep 25 2022

Table of contents

Is it ever acceptable to gift an influencer?

The answer to this question depends on various factors, including the nature of the relationship between the giver and the recipient, as well as the intent behind the gift you’re giving.

However, the practice has numerous advantages for everyone involved -  if you’re doing it right.

And legally.

This article discusses what influencer gifting is, how it works, plus several advantages and variables to consider. We will also discuss five compelling strategy examples you can implement in your campaigns, depending on the type of products you’re retailing.

Keep reading below.

What Is Influencer Gifting and How Does It Work?

Influencer gifting is not a new phenomenon in the social media age. It refers to the practice of giving free products to social media influencers in the hope that they will promote the product to their followers.

The logic behind influencer gifting is that people are more likely to purchase a product that has been recommended by someone they trust. Therefore, by giving products to influencers, companies can reach a wider audience and generate more sales from the influencers’ followers.

Remember: Not all influencers are equally effective at promoting products.

Some have many followers but are not particularly active on social media. Others may have a smaller following but are very engaged with their fans.

Therefore, companies must do their research before selecting an influencer to gift their products.

The Top 5 Benefits of Gifting Influencers (aka Product Seeding)

Let's review the benefits of influencer gifting.

Better Marketing ROI and Lower Costs

For one thing, customers are more likely to trust recommendations from people they follow than from brands themselves. In addition, influencer gifting allows businesses to tap into existing social networks and reach a wider audience more quickly and efficiently than other forms of advertising.

That's how your return on investment grows.

There's more.

Compare the cost of a traditional paid ad to an influencer post. Most sources agree that conventional ads are more expensive.

  • Depending on the channel you use, one ad can easily cost north of $500.
  • By comparison, a nano or micro-influencer post will cost around $150.

That is, unless you’re selling high-tech, luxury items.

But in this case, maybe you shouldn’t consider product seeding in the first place, unless it’s part of your influencer marketing strategy for fashion brands.

fashion brand influencer gifting

Now imagine that instead of paying an influencer $150 to post about your product, you’re giving them exclusive access to a $150 product they really wanted.

Which option seems more appealing to them?

You’re right; it’s the latter one.

And remember that the $150 cost is just the retail price. The manufacturing cost is much lower (if you know your business). So, the actual posting price will be around $100 for your business.

Improved Influencer Campaign Results

When it comes to influencer marketing campaigns, product seeding can be a great way to improve results. Here’s why:

First, it helps build rapport and trust between the influencer and the brand.

Imagine contacting a content creator with a bland collaboration offer. They post the needed content according to your brief and get paid for the delivered results.

Regardless of how much they might love your brand, this brief will make your relationship colder.

The influencer is more likely to be loyal to a brand that has gifted them products than a brand that pays them for an ad.

And that means they’re more likely to promote your products or discuss them with their audience in direct messages without any initial brief.

Secondly, product seeding can lead to more authentic and organic content.

When an influencer is given free rein to create content with a product, they’re more likely to produce something that feels genuine and relatable rather than a stiff and forced ad.

After all, that’s what shoppers want; authentic and relatable content, not a branded experience.

Like so:

skindoctor influencer gifting

Finally, product seeding allows influencers to get creative with their content.

They might come up with ideas that the brand would never have thought of on its own – and that’s the whole point of working with influencers in the first place.

Content creators have unique insights into their audience, which is also your audience. That’s why they know which buttons to push to move them through your sales funnel faster.

Higher Engagement with Followers

Product seeding leads to higher engagement with followers because those content creators will present a product their audience is interested in.

They can expect more questions and comments as they become a trusted source of information for their followers. That interaction builds their online reputation and endorses your products’ advantages.

Therefore, your products will:

  • Stand apart from the competition
  • Become more memorable
  • Represent a worthwhile solution to a specific problem

That engagement can also strengthen the connections between people using the same product, especially if your product is related to a particular value.

That’s how you can build a loyal brand community that will further endorse your products, generating free advertising.

Pro tip: Before choosing your influencers, check out their engagement rates. Also, remember that small-scale influencers have higher engagement rates compared to macro influencers.

There’s another advantage:

You can use product seeding for giveaways.

Giveaways are a great way to:

  • Grow your social media following.
  • Increase brand awareness.
  • Create some buzz around a new product.

By teaming up with an influencer willing to give away one of your products, you can reach a much wider audience than you would by doing it on your own.

Winners will not only have new gifted products, but they’ll also associate them with their favorite creator. So, when they start using it, they’ll be more likely to think of your brand.

Plus, everyone who enters the giveaway will see your brand name and products. Even if they don’t win, they’ll still be exposed to your marketing message.

User-Generated Content Made by Influencers

User-generated content (UGC) is proven to have a slew of advantages. Statistics show that it’s more convincing, with over 90% of people relying on it to make purchase decisions.

That’s not all.

Shoppers are willing to pay more for a brand using UGC than a company using traditional ads.


Because people identify with that user-generated content, especially if the content leverages their values. Besides, social media users will share brand-related UGC if they feel it helps the world (or their peers).

Unfortunately, UGC may be low-quality for social media managers’ standards, because your customers are regular people, not special effect experts.

However, Influencer content is of higher quality because your influencers usually have better equipment and know-how.

Those are not just whims.

Higher quality videos and images are proven to be more convincing.

Moreover, content creation has to follow specific rules to be more persuasive, and those rules depend on the social channels being used.

Influencers will know when to be more argumentative, funny, or serious, depending on each social media platform.

They’ll also know when to rely more on text, images, and videos, what hook to start with, and so forth.

Like so:

faceyoga influencer gifting campaign

Easier Way to Reach Micro-Influencers

Micro-influencers and nano-influencers are easier to reach with product seeding because of the following reasons:

  • They will see this as a sign of your good faith in their abilities as content creators.
  • Your relationship will be strengthened, especially if you send them a beautiful product package with a customized note. So, take good care of the communication surrounding this product seeding.

That means they will be more likely to use and promote your product, going beyond the potential responsibilities outlined in a cold brief.

They will:

  • Find different uses.
  • Make honest comparisons.
  • Pair it with other products.
  • Show their followers how that product works.
  • Engage their audience in comments or direct messages.

By comparison, a content brief limits their interaction with their audience compared to influencer gifting campaigns. If you also pay them for results instead of per social media post, they might not even agree to collaborate with you.

Micro-influencers and nano-influencers, in particular, usually make no guarantees that their posts will sell anything.

Sometimes, sales don’t go through because of reasons they cannot control.

So, they might want to avoid making an effort altogether, especially in the absence of a powerful connection with your brand.

Factors to Consider

There are some things to keep in mind before you start gifting products to ensure the success of your influencer marketing efforts.

You need to consider the type of product, the quality, the quantity, and, of course, the price.

Also, consider your target audience.

If you want to target high-end buyers, then gifting products to luxury influencers makes perfect sense. But, if your target buyers are more price-conscious, then working with budget-friendly influencers will be a better choice.

And you have to ensure the influencers’ audience matches your target market.

Lastly, your values and brand philosophy must align with the influencers’. That means they’ll be more likely to promote your products at length to an audience that matches yours.

Examples of Brands Gifting Influencers

Now that you’ve seen the benefits and factors to consider before gifting influencers, let’s review a few examples outlining different strategies.

1. The Tutorial

Maryam Remias is a beauty influencer who addresses an older demographic. Her unique selling point is not using make-up to highlight her flaws but to emphasize her natural advantages.

She is also adept at daring make-up styles.

In the video below, Maryam does a quick tutorial at the request of one of her users. The interesting part is using three products from three different brands.

makeup influencer gifting

What makes this gifting strategy good?

People use different products when they’re doing their make-up. So, naming all three in her make-up routine helps Maryam create more authentic, UGC-like content.

And authentic content sells better.

Besides, her audience can see how to use a specific make-up item together with others. They also see the final result. This bigger picture is more persuasive than presenting just one of these products would look like.

2. The Controversy

Another interesting gifting strategy is creating controversy because it allows the influencer to position themselves and your brand on one side of a conflicting situation.

That will also be the side your audience is on.

Creating an us-versus-them scenario makes your brand the obvious choice because it’s not about finding arguments against your product or researching products with better features.

Detractors would assimilate this technique to the Straw Man fallacy. However, creating a new perspective means shining a new light on your brand.

In the video below, ex-minister and plus-size hiker Andy Neal starts with an attention-grabbing statement that immediately creates teams:

When people say fitness and outdoor brands shouldn’t offer plus size clothing & gear because it ”promotes obesity”!

This post aims to promote Columbia as an inclusive sportswear brand. Andy manages not to sound promotional because he creates valuable content around this brand:

  • A funny voiceover
  • A post detailing his convictions
  • A question inviting Instagram users to share their favorite brands
Andy Neal influencer gifting

3. The Emotion

An influencer can elicit a wide range of emotions in their audience using your brand. And sometimes, without saying too much.

It’s the case of @baldmothertucker, who is a lifestyle influencer. Her unique selling point is addressing the niche of women with alopecia.

Trying on the wigs she gets from different companies combines specific emotions, such as grief or feeling like an outcast, but also feeling empowered.

The result is a compelling mix.

Besides, women losing their hair might be skeptical about wearing wigs. They might cling to their natural hair or prefer a scarf, especially if they believe those wigs look fake.

However, seeing a picture like the one below dispels their worries.

Most followers will click on the brand name out of curiosity. Once they’re on that page, they will start browsing different pictures.

In the best-case scenario, they will purchase a product. In the worst-case scenario, the brand Jon Renau has positioned itself on an empty niche in the mind of its potential customers.

And that’s a pretty big deal already.

baldmothertucker influencer gifting

4. The Awareness

Sometimes, all you need from your influencers is to simply mention your product. This strategy is especially good for consumer goods products.

When grocery shopping, most people look for the brands they know, either because they’ve used them before or received a recommendation.

That’s what Claire Saffitz does in the post below: recommending a specific brand of pecans.

Claire Saffitz influencer gifting

Her audience is more likely to try the peach cobbler recipe featuring these pecans because:

  • They trust her recipes. And changing one ingredient changes the taste of the entire dish.
  • They may not have another favorite brand of pecans. Even if they do, trying another brand is low-cost and low-risk enough to be worth it.

5. The Experiences

You can do product seeding even if you don’t have a product per se. Matetsi Victoria Falls partnered with Kamara to promote this luxury safari lodge.

euriental influencer gifting


By creating a desire for a wild yet luxurious experience.

The picture on the left perfectly suggests the blend of experiences as the elegant white dress contrasts the wild background. Besides, Kamara leaning into the wild nature while still holding onto the luxury coach further emphasizes the point.

At the same time, the description on the right is filled with wanderlust-eliciting adjectives that paint an enchanting overall experience.

Wrap Up

As you can see, gifting influencers has many advantages, and you can approach it from different perspectives.

Remember that the key to success lies in creating a custom strategy for each influencer you work with, as well as for your overall influencer marketing strategy.

Also, make sure to have solid goals and objectives in place so that you can measure the ROI of your investment.

And lastly, don’t forget that it’s not just about the numbers. The relationships you build along the way are just as important.

Need a trustworthy partner that can guide you along the way with expert advice and 24/7 support? We offer all that plus a free influencer database where we have selected the bestest. You can find us here.

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