Is gifting a good way to build an influencer marketing strategy?

Authored by Anuja Deora Sanctis – Founder and CEO, Filter Coffee Co.

Influencer marketing has many layers and aspects to it and over the years it has evolved drastically. It started as brands using celebrities to build social media presence and use digital media in its nascent stage, to platforms now launching features and updates which play an integral role in influencer marketing.

There are broadly two ways of conducting influencer marketing campaigns - there’s gifting and there’s paid collaboration. Each brand campaign's objective decides which strategy would benefit the brand best. In paid campaigns, we collaborate with the influencer, set out deliverables, define the content they will upload; while in gifting, we send out products to the influencers and they upload content at their own discretion.

In any campaign, the foremost thing to do is to identify the strategy – like brand awareness, website clicks, engagement, a new launch etc. Once the strategy is defined, and budgets are allocated, then the call has to be taken, whether its gifting or paid. Gifting also has costs attached which define the quantum of your campaign. Basis the strategy and cost, it is then decided whether to do purely gifting, a paid collab or a mix of both.

Gifting alone is an excellent idea for cost effectiveness. Even with the number of recipients increasing and the other hidden costs involved, it still does wonders for brand awareness and brand recall. If an influencer posts even one story that is visually pleasing and your product looks good, the chances of their audience reaching your social media pages or website increases.

Personally, I prefer gifting because it gives me an understanding on whether the person is actually my target audience, using my products. If they put in the effort to use our product and put out great content understanding the brand’s aesthetic, I’d definitely collaborate with them in the future. Whereas, if the person does not upload a content or it’s not a well thought through piece of content, they might not be my ideal TG.

Paid collaborations brings with it a team working on mood boards, references, the tonality and aesthetic of the content – it’s an entire process with a long term strategic approach towards brand building using influencer marketing as a part of a larger digital and social media strategy.

Another point to keep in mind is gifting only works well for luxury and aspirational brands where each SKU is priced at around 3-4k. If you compare a new beverage in the market versus a staple food item found in every home, only the beverage brand will see a spike in SOV compared to the food brand even if both are priced similarly.

As an agency, we believe in a mix of both. To weave a story of your brand, you will need some curated content and some organic. This encapsulates what your brand stands for. It reassures the audience that it’s a brand they would love to buy. It’s also only fair to do paid collaborations as well as content creators have a lot of costs attached to what they do.

While for an agency, paid collaborations have more benefits, we never pressurize the brand to do so. We feel an initial buzz can be created with gifting which can then be followed by a paid collaboration.


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