How to Send Products to Social Media Influencers

By Kristy Sammis, Cat Lincoln, Stefania Pomponi, Jenny Ng, Edita Gassmann Rodriguez, Judy Zhou

Got a great new product you can’t wait to get into the hands of social media influencers? Fantastic! Before launching a product-review program, keep these tips in mind:

  • Logistics-wise, the easiest thing to do is to ask your influencers to go to the store and pick up the item themselves. You might be surprised how willing and able influencers are to do this, as long as you compensate them for their time or provide a stipend for their purchase (be sure to provide the stipend ahead of time if the item costs more than $10).

    Don’t ask influencers to go to the store and get the item themselves if you aren’t 100 percent certain the item is available where they are. New-to-market items often aren’t on the shelves yet or available everywhere they’re supposed to be. Influencers don’t mind picking up something at the grocery store; they’ll mind driving all over town on a wild goose chase!

  • If your product is perishable, be extra-thoughtful about how you’ll ship your items to influencers. Food items can melt or go bad very quickly if not shipped properly or if specific delivery is not coordinated with the recipient ahead of time. (No one wants melted protein bars or wine that’s been sitting in 110-degree Arizona heat for two days!)

  • Track your packages. This extra step is well worth it for two reasons: First, it lets you and the influencer know exactly when to expect delivery, which is helpful for project-planning and deadline purposes. Second, it insures against false claims of packages “going missing.”

  • Pay attention to packaging. First impressions are everything! Many marketers don’t think twice about how a package will get to the influencers, and yet it’s such a critical element to an influencer’s perception. You’re asking influencers to review your product. You want them to have the best overall experience. Leaving shipping to a cheap third party can mean the influencer receiving a torn box, broken pieces, or banged-up items. Nothing screams, “You’re an afterthought” like sending a crappy package.

    Think about how you’d send a wedding gift to your closest friend. Now follow that same procedure for sending products to your influencers. When they open the box, you want them to feel excited — like you really cared about giving them something special.

  • Include messaging inside the package. Who are you? What is the product? Why is the recipient receiving it? What is she to do with it? Even if you’ve covered all of this in email (and hopefully you have!), spelling it out in the package is great reinforcement. Don’t assume your influencer will know what she’s gotten!

  • If you’re sending an item that comes in different sizes, do your homework. Don’t assume one size fits all, or make guesses about the size preferences of your influencer — it’s far too easy to guess wrong, to send a size that the influencer can’t or won’t use, or to offend people. If you have size, shape, or color options, ask upfront which the influencers would prefer. Their reviews will be much more useful (and likely more positive) if you do!

  • Build in product delivery time to your project plan. If it’ll take you three weeks to even get the items shipped, don’t expect your influencers to start posting in two weeks! This may sound obvious, but it happens all the time: Marketing planners forget to factor in logistical shipping realities. Until time travel is invented, be realistic about your timeline!