Learn all about product seeding: what it is, how to set up a product seeding strategy, and examples of brands already doing it.
If your brand sells any type of physical products and you’re interested in product seeding, I have good news for you.
Product seeding is a great way to scale your influencer marketing while promoting brand awareness and driving sales. It’s also a great way to build relationships with influencers by letting them get to know your brand, get used to its products, and convert into fans.
This guide will go through everything you need to know about product seeding: what it is, which brands it’s best suited to, the benefits of doing it, and how to get started.
What is product seeding?
So what is product seeding anyway?
Product seeding is influencer gifting. Brands give free products to carefully chosen influencers. Those influencers in return post social media content about the products and brand.
The goal of product seeding is to get your product in front of an influencer who will use it and genuinely enjoy it. This will result in authentic, relatable social media content that will be engaging and memorable for the influencer’s audience. This creates brand awareness and can even help drive sales.
A big difference between product seeding and other types of influencer campaigns is that with product seeding you don’t specify what type of content you’ll get in exchange. You’re simply sending free gifts out of the goodness of your heart, while also of course hoping the influencers will post about you.
Product seeding is more of a word-of-mouth strategy than influencer marketing. You’re not closing a contract. You’re spreading the news by sending out your products, and hoping that news gets passed on.
It’s called product seeding because the idea is similar to when farmers sow—or seed—a field. They drop lots of seeds into soil that’s been carefully looked after all season with the expectation that a few months later, lots of plants will bloom.
In many cases of product seeding, the brand gives influencers a choice of which product they want to receive. This helps maximize the possibility that they’ll love it, as they’ve chosen it themselves.
Who is product seeding best for?
Product seeding is best for brands that already have some type of shipping logistics in place. Since you’re going to be sending products to a bunch of influencers, it helps to have a streamlined way to do this. This includes e-commerces, but can also include small businesses used to shipping out its products.
Product seeding also works better for brands whose products aren’t extremely expensive, and which are easily shippable without great cost. Since you’re not 100% sure you’ll get something in return, it doesn’t make sense to invest loads of money into product seeding. A makeup brand might be better suited for product seeding than a brand that makes refrigerators.
Product seeding is also a strategy better suited to B2C brands than B2B brands. B2B brands can find creative ways to successfully use the strategy. But in general, B2C products are going to be more exciting to influencers than B2B ones.
A few examples of brands using product seeding
Want to get some inspo for product seeding? Here are a few brands currently using the strategy.
Pixi is a beauty brand out of London. The brand produces skincare and makeup products and is easily recognizable by its Instagrammable pastel packaging. Its products are small and easy to ship, and they’re also pretty to look at. All these factors make product seeding an excellent strategy for the brand.
Founded in Oceanside, CA, Brixton’s clothing is inspired by creators and builders: musicians, artists, craftspeople, and travelers. The brand’s mission, in its own words, is Discovery through Art, Music, Exploration, and Adventure. With product seeding, Brixton can further explore that method by sending its products to people from various walks of life and various parts of the globe.
GoPro’s portable cameras are excellent products to seed. They’re tiny, which makes them easy to ship. These action cameras are also products that encourage people to create content. GoPro typically targets travel and extreme sports influencers, and they seed their products around the world.
The benefits of product seeding
Product seeding is a great way to build and scale your influencer program quickly. It can bring lots of benefits to your brand. Let’s look at five of these.
Ensure that the influencers you work with like your products
The key to influencer marketing is working with influencers who truly love the products you make. In an ideal world, you’ll always find influencers who already know your brand, have some of your products, and are excited to receive more.
But, more often than not, we don’t live in an ideal world. Brands sometimes end up working with influencers who aren’t overly enthused about its products and are more interested in the fee they’re getting paid.
Product seeding can help here. By letting influencers choose which products to get, you’re upping the chances that they’re going to actually use that product and genuinely enjoy it. And this helps drive affinity for your brand and positive reviews directed at the influencer’s audience.
Build authentic, long-lasting partnerships with influencers
Product seeding can also help you identify which influencers to work with going forward. You can judge which influencers responded with the most positivity and excitement to your product seeding efforts. Those people are probably the best candidates to be your next brand ambassadors.
When looking for ambassadors, it’s important to focus on partnerships and not just transactions. Influencers who are only interested in a transactional relationship might be okay for a one-off campaign, but they won’t be successful ambassadors in the long run.
Instead, look for influencers who genuinely love your brand and who would endorse your products even if you weren’t collaborating. Product seeding helps you find these people. And since you’re not starting your relationship with a contract, you’re setting the tone for a partnership and not just a mere transaction.
Boost brand awareness and brand love
Product seeding is also a great way to get organic exposure. If you choose your influencers well, you can end up reaching certain geographical areas or lifestyle niches where you want to drive awareness for your brand.
It’s commonly known in the influencer marketing industry that consumers trust influencers more than they trust brands. So when someone’s favorite influencer suddenly posts about your brand’s products, that person is more likely to pay attention than if they come across a post from your brand.
What’s more is that product seeding sets an open, trusting relationship with influencers. You’re giving them something, but not immediately asking for anything in return. This can generate brand love, with influencers (and by extension, their audiences) seeing your brand in an honest, benevolent light.
Get value-for-money content
User-generated content (UGC) is more valuable than ever due to its ability to spread awareness and drive sales. People like content that feels relatable and trustworthy, like it came from other users like them.
When you do product seeding, you’re getting UGC in exchange for the price of your products. This makes it a cost-effective way to source content. One caveat: make sure to choose your influencers wisely. They should already be producing content that looks like something your brand would be willing to reuse on your own social accounts or other channels.
Acquire new customers
Did you know that 80% of people have purchased products because of social media content? This, combined with the fact that consumers trust influencers more than brands, means that product seeding is a great way to drive sales.
Each product you seed becomes part of a network. If they post about it, they’re opening your brand up to various new customers among their followers. And even if an influencer doesn’t post about your product, they might talk about it at a yoga class or share it with their friends.
All of this is word-of-mouth, which is one of the most powerful drivers behind customer acquisition. So think of it like this: at the end of the day, each product in the hands of an influencer is serving you better than the products sitting in your warehouse.
How to start doing product seeding for your brand
Like any other marketing initiative, it’s important to have a clear strategy in place when you start doing product seeding. These are the steps you should follow.
Find influencers who truly align with your brand
I mentioned this a few times already, but I’ll say it again because it really is that important: find influencers who align with your brand’s mission and values, and who would genuinely enjoy your products.
Doing this will help ensure that the influencer truly loves your products and that you reach an audience who is also receptive to your brand. It takes a bit of time to find these influencers, but it’s worth the investment.
A good strategy to try out here is analyzing your community data to see if there are influencers who are already following your brand or interacting with you on social media. If so, you can guarantee that they’ll be even more excited to receive gifted products from your brand.
Connect and genuinely get to know the influencer
Before sending out any products, get to know the influencer. Spend time analyzing their content to understand what their personality is like and what products you think they’d like.
This helps set you up for successful outreach. The more you can personalize your outreach, the better. Introduce yourself and your brand, and say how you found the influencer and what made their profile stand out. Explain why you think they’d love your product. Keep your messages warm and positive.
Keep an eye out for anything suspicious or dangerous, too. You want to make sure the influencers you work with are brand-safe. Review their profile to make sure they don’t post offensive or inflammatory content that could land your brand in trouble.
Confirm that they want your product and send them a gift
Before sending anything or even asking for their address, confirm with the influencer that they actually want to receive your brand’s free gift.
If so, great! You may want to send them a specific product, or you might want to let them choose which product to get. If it’s the latter, put some time into choosing the perfect gift, thinking about the influencer’s personality, hobbies, content, etc. Whenever you can, personalize the gift. You could include a cute note or special packaging to make them feel extra special.
Nurture the relationship
Don’t immediately ask for content in return. Instead, nurture the relationship. Stay on their radar, but don’t be too pushy.
For example, let them know when the gift has shipped out, and when they should expect to receive it. Later on, follow up to make sure the gift arrived okay and tell them that you hope they’re enjoying it. You could also ask them if they have any questions about the product or your brand.
The key is to keep the conversation moving, and in turn, keep the relationship growing naturally.
Later on, ask for content
Once you have an authentic and stable relationship with the influencer, you can then subtly ask for content. If you’ve nurtured the relationship well, the influencer will be willing to post about your product and tag your brand without even being asked.
Or, if you see that they’ve posted but haven’t specifically mentioned your brand, you could send a polite message. Something like: We saw your recent post and love that you’ve featured our product. Would you mind tagging us?
Build your partnership for the future
Once the influencer posts about your product, make sure to keep working on the partnership going forward. You may want to include them in another round of product seeding first or ask them about collaborating long-term with your brand.
This is where product seeding can develop into a true influencer partnership. And the next time you have to do influencer discovery for a campaign, you’ll already have some people in mind.
A solid product seeding strategy can drive brand awareness and help you scale your influencer marketing program. When done correctly, product seeding is low-risk, cost-efficient, and highly effective when it comes to getting your brand promoted on social media.
But like any IM strategy, the key is finding the right influencers to partner with—ones who would genuinely enjoy your products in their daily lives. If you do this, product seeding can go on to bloom into authentic, long-term influencer partnerships.