How To

4 Tips for Building an Influencer Seeding Strategy

April 27, 2022

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Influencer seeding — or the practice of sending free products to encourage organic posts — is the OG influencer marketing tactic.

But, many marketers are still unclear about how to develop an influencer seeding strategy that really works.  How do you find and vet influencers? What kinds of KPIs do you set? How can you track and measure them? Does it ever make sense to drop some paid spend into the mix?

Further, what is a good result from an influencer gifting campaign? 

In our last customer roundtable, Scarlette Tidy, CEO of Sure Thing Consulting, shared that a strong seeding campaign should achieve a 70% posting rate in the 4 to 6 weeks following shipment. But to achieve such success, you have to lead with data and communicate clearly with your influencers.  

Let’s dive into how to do influencer seeding like a pro.

Be precise with your influencer selection and vetting

Finding the right influencers to seed your product to is the crux of a successful campaign. Nothing matters if you send your product to someone who doesn’t have an interest (our potential) in your brand! Here are some influencer selection and vetting tips:

  • Start by searching for influencers by interest. If you have an influencer marketing software, you can achieve this by using a keyword list of topics, phrases, and hashtags to search through past influencer content and profile bios. 
  • Next, narrow by demographics and performance metrics. Does this influencer have the ear of your target audience? Also do they have content that mentions other brands’ gifted items? If so, did that content receive high engagement rates or video views? 
  • Last, make sure the influencer is a right fit for your brand. Have they mentioned your brand before, indicating they have pre-existing brand affinity? Do they make the kind of content that you think would work for your brand? 

Tip: If you have access to Traackr’s competitive analysis tool, you can also use the "paid vs love" tab to see who is tagging your competitors and mentioning their products. This can be a targeted, yet effective strategy for increasing your influencer roster and share of voice. 

If you’ve already sent free product to all the folks who match the criteria in the previous section, try these more sophisticated strategies:

  • Look for influencers who share the same culture and values as your brand. Again, you can do this by compiling a keyword list of phrases and interests conducting a content audit. Beekman 1802 successfully found new influencers who shared their value of “kindness” - these were paid partners, but the strategy is the same!
  • Find folks who are outside your typical influencer pool or tier. Many brands are experimenting with cross-industry promotion through influencer marketing, and it works! For example, beauty brands are working with gamers, and more recently, fashion influencers. 

Set specific influencer KPIs and campaign goals

Think of key performance indicators (KPIs) as the structure for your campaign. KPIs help you track how you’re doing in real time, analyze successes/failures, and improve over time. 

“Data driven influencer selection is central to our strategic approach at Shiseido US. Influencer measurement isn’t determined by a single number or ranking. Our team analyzes many intricate layers and sources of data to understand effectiveness at the program level. We leverage these ongoing findings to measure our program effectiveness and inform driving our go-forward strategy.”  — Erin Kelly, Director of Integrated Communications at Shiseido

Most brands look at influencer seeding campaigns as a way to drive top-of-funnel awareness, which is why you often see KPIs like: X number of posts, X number of engagements, X number of video views, and X% engagement rate.

There are a few other KPIs that are less common, but extremely helpful:

  • X number of posts from new influencer groups/tiers. This is especially useful if you are experimenting with different types of influencer groups and audiences. 
  • X number of views on a branded hashtag. A lot of brands use hashtags for their ambassador and seeding programs because it can help determine how much awareness they’re actually getting.

Last, but definitely not least, make sure that you track these KPIs in real-time. Using an influencer marketing platform like Traackr can help you do this — allowing your team to know how the campaign is progressing, and evaluate how to improve. For example, if your team notices a specific kind of content or product is performing well you might want to add some paid spend into the mix. You can do this by reposting high performing organic posts to your brand’s profile (make sure you ask permission first) or by engaging a few influencers to post sponsored content that utilizes key elements from successful organic content. 

Prioritize quality over quantity 

Influencer marketing has evolved to the point where bigger is not always better. Many brands are finding that it’s best to take the time to develop tailored and well thought out seeding strategies, even if it's for a smaller pool of influencers. 

“Influencer marketing is a perfect balance of a science and an artform. You need to be surgical in building your best practices but also creative in finding new partners and telling stories.” — Scarlette Tidy, CEO and Founder of Sure Thing Consulting

Here are a few easy ways to make sure you’re being both surgical and creative with your influencer seeding program:

  • Gauge interest before you hit send. It’s worth the upfront effort to give your influencers a head’s up before you send them products. This way they can keep an eye out for it and you can begin to build excitement. You can also use Traackr Studios to have influencers opt-in to receiving products and share their product preferences in advance. Then your team can put together special unboxing experiences for each influencer, thereby increasing the chance that they will post. This can help outreach feel more personal and less automated because you can understand who they are and what their interests or concerns are. This kind of vetting also helps reduce waste, and save money and time!
  • Write a personalized note. This note should include a reminder to the influencer to clearly identify their posts as sponsored or gifted but don’t be afraid to be creative! This is an opportunity to gain their interest and also implement a way to track success! For example, give them a special hashtag (e.g. #giftedbyTraackr) to use. 
  • Segment influencers by content types. Research the top performing content for your influencer list and then encourage repetition of what works well for them. It may be hard to do this on a 1:1 basis, but you can try grouping influencers by successful content type (e.g. GRWMs, funny content, ultra-creative makeup looks, etc). Doing this can help you stand out in the sea of inquiries and can help you tailor your note with a suggestion for how your product can be integrated.

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