Original article posted from medium.
Paying Instagram influencers may not be the most effective way to spend your influencer marketing budget in 2019.
In June 2018 Instagram announced it hit 1 billion active monthly users, a figure that puts it in the top few social media platforms and makes it extremely attractive to marketers wanting to use influencer marketing to generate social engagement and drive customer sales.
In concert with Instagram’s impressive rise, the influencer marketing spend on Instagram in 2019 is forecast to reach 2.38 billion dollars, up from an estimated 1.6 billion in 2018. With this type of predicted growth, brands should be planning to spend even more paying influencers, right? Well not necessarily. We think gifting product rather than paying influencers will be a more effective way to spend your marketing budget in 2019. Here’s why:
The rising challenge for most brands using influencer marketing on Instagram in 2018, has been the effort required to drive effective influencer campaigns, with growing concern over the cost, authenticity and scale of using influencers.
“brands can quickly burn through their marketing budget if a highly paid influencer fails to promote the brand in a way that connects with their audience”
Most brands that have dived into influencer marketing in the past year have realized that paying for influencers can be a costly exercise if not executed well, particularly if they fail to get the engagement and customer conversions they were hoping for. When choosing to pay larger influencers in the hope of gaining large-scale exposure, the risk is amplified, as brands can quickly burn through their marketing budget if a highly paid influencer fails to promote the brand in a way that connects with their audience.
At BrandSnob we see “GIFTING” as the solution to many of these roadblocks start-ups and established brands are facing. Gifting product to influencers, in exchange for posts on Instagram, instead of paying them has some major benefits for marketers:
By moving their marketing focus to gifting product, brands can afford to engage more influencers for longer periods of time. This helps them reach a wider range of niche audiences, diversify their risk and make their marketing budget stretch further. Having campaigns visible on Instagram for longer periods of time is proving to be extremely important as it becomes more difficult for brands to get the same organic reach they used to get.
Additionally, gifting product fosters a more genuine and authentic connection with the influencer and their audience. After all, influencers won’t accept and post about your product unless they genuinely like it. This is important if you want those social media impressions to turn into sales conversions. According to a recent report by Stackla, 86% of people say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support, and an overwhelming 90% of Millennials say brand authenticity is important. It’s pretty simple, consumers prefer real and organic product reviews over what’s often seen as insincere and scripted paid endorsements.
“gifting product rather than paying influencers should be considered a key part of every brand’s influence marketing strategy for 2019”
At BrandSnob, we’ve seen many examples of brands that have had huge success and exploded on Instagram, generating millions of dollars of revenue and social engagements, by primarily gifting influencers. If you look at brands like Hismile, Fashionova, Revolve, Missy Empire, Gymshark, Anastasia Beverly Hills, and Daniel Wellington a majority of their influencer generated content on Instagram has come from gifting influencers product.
As the influencer marketing space continues to grow, brands need to be smarter about the way they engage influencers, particularly if they want to build trust and credibility with the influencer’s audience. Building authentic relationships is going to be paramount if brands want to build highly effective social media campaigns. That’s why gifting product rather than paying influencers should be considered a key part of every brand’s influence marketing strategy for 2019.
Here are 4 important tips we have to make influencer gifting work for your brand.
1. DON’T TRY TO FIND THE INFLUENCERS YOURSELF
While finding influencers that closely align with your brand’s own identify is important, taking hours to trawl through blogs and Instagram accounts is not a good use of your time.
This is where technology can help. Influencer marketing platforms give you access to influencers that are already interested in promoting products and can help match influencers for you based on the demographic of the customers you are trying to reach. Platforms can also bring influencers to you.
At BrandSnob for example, you can post a campaign reaching 1000s of influencers in a matter of minutes and have the influencers interested in your products come to you.
2. KNOW THE ‘SWEET SPOT’ FOR GIFTING
Gifting as an influencer marketing strategy works perfectly with micro-influencers with between 10k and 100k followers. They are the sweet spot for brands looking to gift product in exchange for posts and will more likely have a higher engagement ratio and a more loyal following than influencers with much bigger audiences. And this results in better bang for your buck when it comes to customer conversions. According to a survey by HelloSociety campaigns using micro-influencers are 6.7 times more efficient per engagement than influencers with larger followings.
TThere is more than one reason to pick influencers in this range though. Influencers with above 10k followers allow you to take advantage of the swipe-up link feature on Instagram Stories, which we know to be effective when you are trying drive traffic and sales for a particular product. Additionally influencers with over 10k followers are more likely to understand the process of working with brands. Smaller emerging influencers are less likely to understand this so you’re going to lose time explaining to them how things work.
3. UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF THE EXCHANGE
When gifting product in exchange for reviews or content it’s important you understand the bargaining power you have. How many followers does the influencer have? What is the value of product you are offering? Remember it takes the influencer a lot of time to prepare for a shoot. They may even use the services of a makeup artist or professional photographer adding to their costs. Understanding these values and being flexible based on the influencer you are negotiating with, will help you get the most out of each collaboration.
Smaller influencers with 10K followers may accept gifting more readily and be prepared to offer more content in exchange for your product. On the other hand, larger influencers with 100k, who accept fewer gifting only jobs, are less likely to accommodate overly demanding content and timing requests.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t target larger influencers. If you are more flexible with what you are asking (allowing them to share about your product in non-exclusive posts or as Instagram stories rather than permanent posts) the results can still be great. Remember you can always offer larger influencers a bigger selection from your product range if you think the fit is good.
4. PERSONALIZE YOUR APPROACH
One of the biggest mistakes brands make when working with influencers is not personalizing their approach. Sending an influencer your product and a scripted pitch about your brand in the hope they will post good things about your product, is like throwing darts in the dark. You are just as likely to end up with a less than favorable review than a positive one.
It is important to firstly understand if there is a genuine fit there in the first place. Utilizing a platform where you are able to clearly spell out your campaign details and have influencers come to you if interested is a good start. Using a platform’s more contractual approach can help set clear expectations on what you would like them to do for you in exchange for the gift. Having influencers approach you if interested in collaborating also takes the guess work out of knowing who likes your product.
Once a connection is made, make sure you take the time to understand the influencer’s personal style so you can pick the right product or combination of products for them to promote. Better still let them pick the products they love from your range. This ensures a more genuine exchange.
Don’t forget to also personalize your gift; if you are promoting active wear and you know the influencer likes going to the beach, include some lip balm or a beach towel. Or if you know the influencer is a mother, include a small gift for their child as well.
Finally packaging and presentation is everything. Make sure when your product arrives it is packaged beautifully. Consider boxing it up and wrapping it, so the reveal is more exciting. Also a hand written note from you with a relevant message will show them your interest in them is genuine.
Applying this level of detail and extra attention to every influencer collaboration will help your brand make more meaningful connections with influencers and have them go the extra mile for your brand when creating content and reviewing your product. The result will be more meaningful social media interactions and better sales conversions for months to come.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Instead of paying influencers, running an influencer gifting campaign will allow your brand to work with hundreds of influencers and generate more content and social media interactions, reaching a wider audience and driving better awareness and sales conversions…all without breaking the bank.
Importantly, treating influencers fairly and personalizing your gifts will empower influencers to create and share genuine, authentic posts and unbiased reviews about your brand that connect with their audiences. Remember when using influencer marketing “Authenticity is Your Brand’s Social Currency”.
MORE ABOUT BRANDSNOB
At BrandSnob we make gifting influencer easy, so you can build authentic influencer relationships and get your brand in front of the hundreds of millions of potential customers on Instagram. Brands can post a campaign reaching 1000’s of influencer in a matter of minutes all for a single flat fee.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org