Influencer Gifting Vs. Paid Collaborations: Which should You choose?

Influencer marketing can be a fantastically lucrative avenue for brands and businesses looking to increase brand awareness, reach new audiences, build trust with them quickly and boost sales. 

However, that’s not to say it’s easy to get right. 

You can’t just throw things randomly at the wall and hope something sticks. 

You need to set goals and make a clear plan about what kind of influencer activity you’ll need to achieve them.

Today we’re here to clear up the differences between the two main types of influencer campaigns: gifted and paid collaborations. 

Because the two styles of campaigns offer different rewards. So you’ll need to know what the two styles are and how they can help you before understanding how to implement a strategy that’ll help you achieve your goals.

Let’s kick things off by defining the two key types of campaigns, so we’re all on the same page.

Gifting Campaigns

Gifting campaigns involve giving away free products/services to influencers in exchange for potential product/service reviews or product placement in content. 

In this case, the influencers (or content creators) work for free in exchange for the sample products they receive and the added benefit of featuring brand collaborations on their channels.

More often than not it’s mostly nano and micro influencers (1-50K followers) who are interested in working in this way because, generally speaking, the more followers you have, the more value you provide to brands and the more you can charge.

Here’s an example of a gifting campaign we ran via Kinsume:

Paid Collaborations

On the other hand, paid collaborations involve paying larger influencers to create branded content on their website or social media channels. 

Here the content created typically has more thought go into it and the reach of the campaign is wider as the influencers audience is larger, creating a high potential for sales/a return on investment.

Here’s an example campaign:

Gifting Campaign Benefits

  • Nano and micro influencers offer a fantastic opportunity for brands to reach new and surgically targeted audiences because they tend to focus on niche topics. Any member of their audience has expressed clear interest in the topic by following them. Thereby, creating an opportunity for relevant brands to market to them through the influencer’s content.

  • Influencer marketing can be expensive, making it less accessible to small brands and local businesses. Gifting to influencers is free (other than the cost of the products), making it a super budget friendly option for anyone wanting to test out influencer marketing in a low risk fashion.

  • Generating UGC has been pivotal in the success of many big brands around today. It’s a brilliant way of building brand awareness, establishing credibility and boosting social media metrics. Most brands need a strategy for generating UGC and influencer gifting is the way so many seem to choose.

  • Nano and micro influencers typically have higher engagement rates and a stronger relationship and bond with their followers. They give the feel of “the guy next-door” and offer a great opportunity for brands to get in front of potential customers with a recommendation from someone they trust.

Paid Collab Benefits

  • For brands who have the budget and would like to reach wider audiences, paid collaborations are the way to go. The effectiveness of micro and nano influencers is limited by the number of followers they have – and that’s why it can often be free to work with them. Whereas, macro-influencers and celebrities have huge swathes of people following them and offer brands to opportunity to reach 100s of thousands of potential customers.
  • Another luxury of paid collaborations is the fact that you get guaranteed content. Compared to gifting campaigns where the influencer really isn’t obligated to post about your product unless they really love it, paid collaborations offer the chance for brands to know they’ll get something in return for their investment.
  • Given the wider reach paid collaborations offer you can imagine this creates space for a great return for the brand in terms of sales and exposure. Simply because they’re reaching more potentially paying customers.

  • It’s often the case that the larger the influencer the longer they’ve been at it. And what happens when you go at something for a long time? You get better and better at it. That’s exactly why you can expect higher quality content from larger influencers and content creators.

  • The final benefit, and a very important one for the larger brands out there, is creative control over content. If you have a specific brand image you need to uphold, then you want to be very careful about the kinds of people you have promoting your brand. In which case, you may want to engage in paid collaborations so you can (1) have creative direction over content and, (2) sign off on content before it goes live.

Which Campaign Should You Choose?

Final Thoughts

Overall, there are benefits to both gifting campaigns and paid collaborations. We hope after reading this post you have a better understanding of which to go for depending on your specific goals.

Still not sure what your goals are or where to start?

Sometimes it’s best to test out both kinds of campaigns in a small way to see which works best for your brand.

As we said before, the truth is, there’s no hard and fast rule for getting influencer marketing right. 

What works for one brand may not work for another. 

That’s why it can be best to dip your toe in the water and test out the different ways of working with influencers, before you scale your strategy.

Luckily for you, that’s exactly what we at Kinsume have designed our influencer packages to do. 

Get in touch via our contact page to learn more.

Otherwise, we think you’re good to go. 

So get out there, start mingling with content creators, test the different styles of campaigns on offer and scale what works.

Happy campaigning!

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