During this lockdown, your brand is more likely to capture the attention of your favorite influencer than ever before. Not necessarily by engaging with them on social; with every eye under 50 in the western world on Instagram right now (too much time on our hands!), the algorithm is getting a little cluttered.
But you do have a decent shot of catching their eye by ‘influencer seeding.’ This is when a brand sends product with no money changing hands, and no formal agreement in place that dictates ‘product-equals-post’. Brands do this understanding they may not see immediate result from their efforts (and inventory expenditure + shipping!) but in the hopes of building an ongoing relationship. The idea is that eventually, your influencer target gets to know your brand and posts something ‘just because,’ or wears your piece to an event, for example.
At The Launch this has worked for us many times. We gifted the Hadid sisters several send-outs worth of pieces from a fashion client, and eventually, Gigi Hadid was papped and posted everywhere online, wearing our clients’ design! Win!
Typically (especially on a smaller scale), seeding can be a bit of a gamble. A lot of influencers have become pretty savvy about charging for absolutely everything, creating content with a high production value so they CAN charge an arm and a leg. Plus the importance of a clean and cohesive aesthetic - which means most of their posts have to be thoughtfully planned in advance, adding to their rate.
However, amid Covid-19 lockdown orders, everyone is at home - which means the world is no longer an influencers oyster when it comes to locations and creative content in general. Many influencers (especially travel, fashion and food) rely on visiting exotic and visually exciting locations to create the kind of content their followers enjoy and engage with, and that’s out of the question right now. There’s only so much you can film in the house, and without access to studios, videographers and photographers, people are having to get creative and make compromises. Not to mention – there are no blogger brunches, influencer gifting suites, dinners or club appearances. So, your average influencer has a lot more time on their hands and a lot less content to post! Receiving a package in the mail is a bit more of a highlight than it used to be, for all of us - but even for the most jaded of influencers.
There is also an undercurrent of desire to help small businesses. Side note: if you did have a little budget set aside for paid posting, you might get a good deal right about now. But if you don’t have much in the way of budget for a paid post, there’s never been a better time to send products to influencers and ‘hope for the best.’ While, of course, nothing is guaranteed, you have a much better shot right of your influencer target posting an unpaid, organic unboxing, review, or selfie featuring your brand – especially if you follow these tips!
Our tips for #stayathome influencer seeding:
If you don’t have access to costly media databases, look no further than an influencer’s bio for the contact details of their agent, manager or partnerships coordinator – usually you can email straight from their bio. Shoot their team an email saying you would love to send some product their way, and you understand there’s no guarantee of a post occurring. You can even be transparent. ‘We don’t have budget for paid posts right now, but we would absolutely love to send some product just for fun.’ With any luck, they will agree and send you the delivery details.
Do a mini-audit of some influencers in your brand category and check out what kind of posts they’ve been doing during lockdown. This will help you ascertain who you have the best shot with. Oftentimes, influencers will mention if something is a paid post, so if you’re seeing a whole lot of content that doesn’t specify – you might be onto a winner. It will also give you some creative and personal send-out ideas based on things you’ve seen on their IG story, for example.
Come up with a total seeding budget – how much are you prepared to give away on product right now, and how much can you afford in shipping? Now, figure out the cost of 1 send-out. This should include your inventory, anything else you put in the box and packing and shipping materials. How many influencers can you afford to seed right now? Now make a shortlist of your faves.
A #stayathome care package is a great idea – rather than just send your product in an otherwise empty box, get creative about something you can throw in that you would want to receive, and post about, while stuck at home on lockdown. Preferably something that bears some relevance to your product so there’s a tie in. We’ve seen everything from $10 slippers to top-of-the-line juicers (we see you, Murad Skincare) go out as part of #stayathome PR packages. Both have worked! This is where you can also get personal, because you’ve been auditing their socials. If you have a beautiful skincare product with vegetable extracts in it, and your target influencer posted yesterday that their veggie peeler broke – you have the perfect gift to throw in. It’s low-cost, thoughtful and establishes a relationship.
Brand the inside and outside of your package. Include a handwritten note with a personal message. “Saw that your veggie peeler broke and thought this might come in handy! Also, we really hope you love our new moisturizer, it contains tons of veggie extracts as well.” Don’t include a lot of non-recyclable filler/ packing materials – this is a no-no.
In the current climate, it’s a good idea to include a note taped to the outside of the package saying ‘the contents of this package have been sanitized and were packed wearing gloves and adhering to the highest health and safety standards.’