By ALL by MAMA Network Expert: Jamie Day
A couple of months ago I took the kids to London Zoo and shared the experience on Instagram – are you even a parent if you don’t share your everywaking moment with the kids? Kid’s got yoghurt on their face? Spilt cereal all over the floor? Pass me my phone NOW! People need to see this!
Anyway, I digress.
Now, here’s the thing; I was gifted the zoo tickets, and as with all my Instagram posts that are either paid or gifted, I try and make this clear – no one wants the Insta police knocking on your door at 3 in the morning do they? In this instance, I marked my posts with a simple ‘#gifted’ but I had no obligation to post anything about our day out. But, much like a spilt cereal post photo opportunity, I knew the world was dying to see our zoo experience (but really I also just wanted the zoo to know we’d been and we were hugely grateful for their generosity).
A couple of hours after posting, I received a response from someone who I chat to quite regularly on Instagram, and he stated, “do you influencers actually pay for anything?”
Firstly, ‘influencer’? Me? I can’t influence my kids to put their shoes on in the morning. Secondly, given the nature of our previous relationship, I knew his message was in jest, but I recognised there was a heavy dose of “well, do you, you absolute freeloading gits?” running through his question. A sentiment that I believe is widespread across Instagram these days.
When it comes to the whole ‘gifting’ thing, I’d like to try and put it into some context (blatantly setting myself up for some eye rolls and heavy tutting here, but bear with). When you’re strolling the local high street and a young Saturday-girl/boy offers you a shot of coffee, a slither of pizza or lump of chocolate brownie, do you turn it down? Alright, you might be one of those ‘stare at your phone types’ and ignore their generosity, but more fool you I say! I basically just listed the three main food groups. If it looks good and is something that I’d enjoy, or the kids will enjoy, I greet that Saturday employee with a friendly smile and thank them for their kindness. Of course, if I enjoy it, there’s a chance I’ll return for more or tell my friends about it. It might not be the same day or even the same month, but the brand awareness is planted somewhere deep in my brain (amongst thoughts of my Fantasy Football team and how much I want the Fab 5 from Queer Eye to give me a makeover – all the important stuff).
Continuing that high street stroll, if I’m offered something that doesn’t take my fancy, I’ll simply say ‘thank you for taking the time to reach out to me, but on this occasion I’ll have to say no to this opportunity. Good luck with the campaign.’. Okay, that might be my default email response, not what I’d say in the middle of a street, but you get the gist.
The same goes for when influencers are offered opportunities to experience products, events and experiences. In my opinion, if the relationship is authentic, they should say ‘yes’. I love helping small businesses trying to boost their brand awareness. I recognise that gifting is a key marketing tool for them and one that will usually hit their own small pockets, so the fact they’d consider me to partner with can be hugely flattering. A gifting relationship can also be mutually beneficial - it’s hugely rewarding to link with a growing brand whose values match your own, whilst collaborating with an established brand might lead to something else down the line.
I guess the issue comes when people say yes to everything and their feed and stories are just littered with tosh not relevant to their lifestyle or their online community.
I hope that provides some clarity to how I work when it comes to gifting. I’d estimate I only say yes to 1 in every 10 offers, and that 1 would usually be something that reallybenefits me, my family or perhaps has an inspirational story behind it and maybe even benefits charities (see my Cauz post as a good example). It should also be pointed out, that when posting a gifted item, it’s not only recognising and promoting the product, it’s a great way to say ‘thank you’ to the brand or agency who reached out in the first place. I’ve noticed a couple of influencers now consider posting gifted items as ‘bragging’. Saying thank you to someone, whether it’s a piece of brownie on the street, or a product on Instagram, isn’t bragging, it’s basic manners and is giving something back to the brand from the privileged position we’ve found ourselves in.