Influencer Product Seeding: A 7-Step Guide (With Examples)

February 22, 2023
15 min
Rochi Zalani
Content Writer, Modash
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I get it: you’d like to reduce your influencer marketing costs but continue to build fruitful, fulfilling, fresh creator relationships.

You aren’t daydreaming — it’s possible. How? Through product seeding.

What is influencer product seeding?

Influencer product seeding is when you give relevant creators in your niche your product for free without asking for anything in return. No reviews. No IGC. No post.

Sounds nuts? Seeded creators are one of the primary factors that scaled beauty company, Doe Beauty, to a $15M company. There’s definitely something there.

There are three reasons product seeding works:

  • It starts the influencer relationship on the right foot: pay-per-post seems transactional and one-off. A no-strings-attached product gets you in the good books of the influencer. You give, not ask.
  • It helps you find true cheerleaders of your product: an influencer would post about you for free only when they really love your merch. No fake-only-for-the-money posts here.
  • It’s more cost-effective: paying 100 influencers one-time for a spot on their feed is heavy on the pocket and low in influencer marketing ROI. Sending 100 shipments for free to relevant micro-influencers and getting genuine IGC in return is way cheaper and more profitable. (It depends on your COGS, but seeding would generally cost you less than pay-per-post.)

When I Googled “product seeding,”  I found people consider it synonymous with influencer gifting (and even … giveaways). 🙄

Gifting and seeding, though similar, aren’t the same thing.  

Product seeding vs. gifting

The primary difference between product seeding and influencer gifting is the long-term goal.

  • You gift your product to influencers hoping to get something in return immediately. You might share a discount code or a customized link to enroll them in your affiliate program. You got impressions and short-term eyeballs, accomplishing your goal with influencer gifting.
  • You seed your product to influencers to build long-lasting and authentic relationships. You don’t nudge or incentivize them to post about you — you let your product do the talking. Your goal here, unlike influencer gifting, is getting deep-rooted, long-term influencer collaborations that pay compounding returns.

One isn’t necessarily better than the other. In our opinion, influencer gifting works better when you want product reviews, fast. Product seeding is superior when your focus is authentic, multi-purpose influencer-generated content. Both have their place — the key is knowing which is the right choice for your brand.

Is influencer product seeding the right choice for your brand?

Here’s your checklist:

  • Are you comfortable with an influencer marketing strategy that takes time to show tangible results?
  • Is your goal finding genuine influencers who are advocates for your product?
  • Do you have a physical product that you can seed to many influencers?

If you answered yes to all of those questions, consider including product seeding in your influencer marketing strategy.

How to run an effective influencer product seeding campaign in 7 steps

Figured product seeding is right for you? Don’t start DMing influencers left and right just yet — here’s your step-by-step strategy for success:

Step 1: Search and shortlist perfect-fit influencers for your brand

Step 2: Email your shortlisted influencers to offer a free product (no strings attached)

Step 3: Create an irresistible unboxing experience

Step 4: Track influencer content and follow up on cold creators

Step 5: Thank influencers and ask them for usage rights for their content

Step 6: Invite the creators you loved into a long-term collaboration

Step 7: Analyze, improve, and repeat

Step 1: Search and shortlist perfect-fit influencers for your brand

Influencer product seeding works best with influencers who are:

  • a) Small in size: Kim Kardashian won’t respond to your “hey, want a free product?” DM. (I wish.) Product seeding works best with micro-influencers with a niche audience and a tight-knit community. Your best bet is fast-growing influencers — this way, you find hidden gems and reap the benefits of their compounding success.
  • b) Relevant in your niche: it’s no use partnering with a fashion influencer when you sell fitness products. Find a creator who reaches your target demographic and produces the kind of content you’d like to publish for your own brand.
  • c) Align with your brand: reach out to influencers who share your mission and values. It’s more authentic for consumers and makes for a much smoother collaboration.

How to find the perfect influencers for product seeding? Use an influencer discovery tool like Modash. Search across 200M+ creators and filter according to the platform, audience location & demographics, number of followers, engagement rate, and more.

Try free for 14 days.

How do you examine if an influencer is a right fit for your brand? Answer the following questions:

  • Does this influencer provide value to your target customers?
  • Would you be happy if this creator posted about your brand?
  • Do your buyers listen to this creator and trust their recommendations?
  • Does this influencer’s language, tone, and aesthetic overlap with your brand’s vision?
  • Does this influencer’s metrics look strong enough to promise a solid ROI if you form a long-term collaboration with them?

If you’ve found a couple of influencers you like, take this shortcut: use Modash’s influencer lookalike tool to find similar creators in one click.

With your list ready, slide into their inbox.

Step 2: Email your shortlisted influencers to offer a free product (no strings attached)

Influencers (good ones!) get hundreds of messages from brands every day. Stand out by crafting a short, crisp, and personalized email.

The right influencer outreach has four elements:

  • It’s short: value an influencer’s time. Get to the point quickly. Don’t bury the lede.
  • It has your brand’s brief details: tell who you are and who your business serves. Keep this in one to two lines, though — this DM isn’t about you.
  • It has a clear call to action: what action do you want the influencer to take next? Make that glaringly obvious and friction-free. In product seeding, this’d be asking the influencer to share their address if they’re interested in receiving your product.
  • It tells the influencer why they’re a good fit for your brand: what’s in it for the creator? Why are you DMing them over other influencers? Mention why you think they’re a good fit and personalize your message wherever possible.

Here’s a template that checks all three elements for you to steal:

Subject line: {your brand’s name} and {influencer name} — let’s talk partnership!


“Hey {influencer name}! I’m {your name}, {your role with your company} at {your brand’s name}. We aim to…{1-2 sentences about what your business does and your mission}. I found you through...{add how you discovered the influencer} believe you’re the right match for {your brand name} because…{personalize and mention why you think this influencer complements your brand}. I’d love to send you {your product name}, no strings attached. Are you open to it? If yes, let me know your address, and we’ll send it ASAP! 😀

Thanks, {your name} {your email for the influencer in case they have any questions}”

⚠️ Remember: don’t mention the word “free” or “gift” in your subject line — they might land you in spam. Worse: creators might filter you out as just another brand looking for a post in exchange for a free product.

Step 3: Create an irresistible unboxing experience

You only get one chance to make a first impression. A personalized unboxing experience increases the odds of an influencer posting about you and remembering your brand positively.

For example, makeup brand, Rare Beauty, sent beauty influencer Sylvia Gani a puzzle out of her favorite photo with her best friend on National Best Friend Day.

That’s the kind of stuff that elevates you from just another PR package to a must-have product. Rare Beauty did some YouTube influencer marketing without asking for it. Pretty cool.

You don’t need to travel the North Pole, just go a little extra mile — add a personalized handwritten note, if nothing else.  

Step 4: Track influencer content and follow up on cold creators

How do you keep track of influencer content you get from seeded creators? Don’t waste your time manually trawling through influencer content on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Use an influencer monitoring tool like Modash and track your creator content in one place. Add your list of influencers to a campaign, set hashtags to track, and track every piece of IGC automatically. That way you'll quickly see who posted, and who didn't. Plus you can save the IGC ready for repurposing later, and check the post performance in one place.

For creators who have received your product but haven’t responded yet, try following up with a simple message:

“Hey {influencer name}, Quickly wanted to confirm if you have received {your product name}. Let us know if not! We’d love to know what you thought and if you have any product feedback!”

⚠️ Note: don’t ask the influencer to post about your brand. Product seeding isn’t about asking, but giving.

Step 5: Thank influencers and ask them for usage rights for their content

Influencers post amazing content about you for free (only at the COGS). What more could you want? Organic posting is excellent, but repurposing it on your own channels is divine.

But you can’t repost without permission (not legally, anyway). Send a message to the creator to obtain usage rights:

“Hey {influencer name}, We loved what you put together for {your brand name} 😍 Thank you so much, and we’re glad you liked the products. Would you be willing to give us permission to repost this content on our channels and/or run it as an ad? We look forward to working with you in the near future!”

Most micro-influencers would be happy to grant you usage rights of their content for free. But some might ask you for a fee. Gladly pay this — authentic seeded content pays off much more than it costs. No wonder Glossier does this all the time on their Instagram handle.

Once you have the usage rights, run the seeded IGC in ads and reshare them on your socials. Don’t hold back by posting only what you think is best — let the data speak. You might be surprised at which type of content hits and misses with the masses.

Step 6: Invite the creators you loved into a long-term collaboration

The seeded influencers will fall under five camps:

  • Never responded: try DMing these influencers — or their lookalikes — in your next product seeding campaign.
  • Received the product but turned cold: some creators won’t post about your brand or offer feedback. Give some cool time and try reaching out to them again. Don’t push it, though — the whole point of product seeding is not having forced influencer partnerships.
  • Loved your product but didn’t post: influencers might share a positive review privately and not post about you for free. That’s okay! You can either try offering them a paid post or send them more free products with permission.
  • Posted about your product but didn’t give usage rights: form an official partnership with these creators or send them more free products to strengthen the relationship. This will build trust and start the relationship on the right foot.
  • Posted and let you have usage rights: these are your wins from the product seeding campaign. Take these relationships to the next level by forming a long-term, paid collaboration.

For the creators you want to onboard officially, send the following email:

“Hey {influencer name}! We loved working with you and are very thankful for the content you produced for us. Would you be interested in working with us officially as our affiliate partner/brand ambassador? We offer an X% commission on the sales that come through your link. More details here: {link to your landing page with more details}. Let me know what you think or if you have any questions!”

Send influencer contracts to creators who say yes to a long-term partnership. There are many ways to pay influencers, but we recommend building a performance-based influencer marketing program to get the most bang for your buck.

Step 7: Analyze, improve, and repeat

Learn from your first product seeding campaigns and take your lessons to the next as you continue to scale your influencer marketing efforts.

  • What IGC performs best, and how can you repeat successful results?
  • Which type of influencers work best for you for product seeding?
  • How can you improve your packaging or outreach game?

Double down on what works and rinse away what doesn’t.

5 examples of product seeding campaigns in action

Influencer product seeding sounds great, in theory. But what results does it produce on execution?

1: Animal House Fitness scaled from $0 to $7M in one year using product seeding

Animal House Fitness used product seeding to generate a whopping 3,710 organic posts. Over one thousand influencers posted about their product for free.

The word spread, and soon enough, Joe Rogan was talking about their Monkey Feet product on his podcast 🤯

Wild, huh?

2: YSL seeds their products to beauty influencers

YSL regularly sends its products to skincare influencers — one of them is YouTuber Laura Lee.

She unboxed the smooth packaging on video and talked about the products on her channel in a PR unboxing haul. It’s a great way to get more eyeballs on your brand and nitpick the products you want to showcase.

Take it a step further by targeting micro-influencers (not so crowded) and personalizing your packaging to stand out as the hero.

3: Eylure sends their product for free to creators

Eylure’s Instagram is filled with IGC generated from sending its products for free to relevant influencers.

Their creators often use the exact name of the product and showcase it in action — it helps to build credibility and provide a smooth experience to potential customers.

4: Metabolic Meals is a pro at influencer seeding

Metabolic Meals hyper-targets creators who’d benefit from their product and ships it to them for free. Most recently, they partnered with TPH Academy Chicago to send its products to athlete influencers.

Their precise shots at product seeding ensure relevant reach and authentic posts.

5: Purdy and Figg’s vast landscape of influencer gifting

Influencers might call it gifting, but Purdy and Figg’s product seeding campaign is a masterclass on how to seed successfully.

They sent products to relevant influencers who not only align with their buyer persona but also their values (natural ingredients, no plastic).

A wide variety of influencers post about their amazing products and highlight their values — making the collaboration seem much more genuine.

Seed first, partner later

Product seeding is cost-saving, sure. But one of its core benefits is it shifts the influencer relationship from transactional to personal.

It’s not just a one-off collaboration where you provide the influencer with a brief — they post to get paid and forget about you. Influencer product seeding is about nurturing the influencer-brand relationship to be deep and real.

The difference shows in the content influencers produce for you. And the customers that come through authentic IGC have a built-in trust that pay-per-post just can’t replicate.

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