How to do Affiliate Marketing on Social MediaMarch 21 2017 21 Mar 2017 13 min. read
Social media has been around for a long time now - MySpace started getting traction in 2004, then Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the rest, followed. It's become accepted that social media isn't just for children, and isn't just a toy. Given that most people know this, how do you maximize the value of being on social channels? Let's look at how to make money on social media with affiliate marketing.
Choose Your Channels
One of the occasionally confusing things about social media can be knowing which social channel to use for which purpose. The general rule, whatever you use, is don't post online anything you wouldn't want your best friend to read. Stick to this rule, and you won't have to worry about your social posts damaging your brand.
In some ways the grandaddy of current social media formats, Facebook has been in the "mainstream" news for many negative reasons most recently. Fake news, or fabricated stories, are getting shared on the platform too easily, some feel. Others argue that it's not a safe place for users, with trolling and harassment all too common.
The truth is, though, that if you aren't on Facebook with your affiliate marketing brand, you're not getting the exposure you ought to be. For its reach (most people with a computer are on Facebook, and it's the most-used social network), and its ability to share posts with a wide audience, you need to maintain an account. However we'd recommend that you keep professional and personal separate, and start a corporate page for your affiliate marketing. Also be sure not to promote
Treat Facebook as you would an old-school noticeboard - posting announcements and updates, but also asking questions to generate interest, and reposting interesting articles and stories that you think your followers will appreciate. Make sure likes you accumulate are organic; it may be appealing to buy 13,000 likes from an overseas "like farm," but it won't drive any more than the most minimal levels of additional engagement, and ends up looking more like vanity than anything useful.
A lot of people don't get Twitter. Perhaps they're put off engagement on the network by the endless slew of negative news about the activities of trolls (abusive people), sending angry, upsetting or annoying messages to other Twitter users. However, to really use social media to its maximum in promoting your affiliate programs, you need to be on Twitter, as we explored previously.
This is because you can get a lot of information across in 140 characters, and when you do, if you use the right #hashtags, you can reach an audience that is searching for that particular information. Include a link and an attractive illustration in the form of an image, and engagement will go up.
Twitter isn't just for posting notifications of new articles and content, or affiliate programs. You will build up followers if you're sure to post additional tweets (Twitter messages) that start or continue a conversation. This makes you and your site seem more "human" and caring, and improves your image, if done right. Just keep the ranting and raving out of your timeline.
The photo-sharing social network Instagram is a versatile platform for showing ideas and feelings, while promoting the values that your brand has. Because there is no restriction on the amount of text you can write below a photo, you can spend as much time as you want explaining an affiliate program, or perhaps just showing people how much fun it is to be playing poker, or to be trying casino games.
Instagram tends to be a kinder, gentler social network than Facebook or Twitter, too. This means that, although trolling does exist, it's more likely you will find a specific audience that you want on Instagram. This is partly because it's a visual medium, so a good image can draw in impressed crowds to learn more, and partly because users are accustomed to using hashtags, which are acknowledged and accepted as a way of targeting users with particular interests.
Positive messages tend to get a lot of love on Instagram; be sure that your photo is accompanied by either a really strong description of what you're doing in the picture, or a message that people will catch onto. You have to sell your affiliate programs in a clever way, because Instagram only supports either clickable tags to other profiles, or links in the biography section of a profile.
Best Ways of Posting on Social Media
Now that you know about the most popular forms of social media, let's look at some of the most important principles for getting your message out there on as many channels as you want. Remember - one wrong move on social media can damage your brand for a long time, so you must take care.
Many social networks, especially Facebook, are clamping down on affiliate links, and anything that looks spammy or like it might be sales-related. Your affiliate trackers might also be seen by users as suspicious, as they are likely to include random letters and numbers that won't always look automatically trustworthy.
Your solution is to use a link-shortening application. The best one for affiliate links is tinyurl.com, as it allows marketing campaigns to be shortened. The link will look a lot safer to click on if it goes through tinyurl, and is likely to get far more interest.
Quality Content First, Promotion Later
In order to get a loyal following on any of the social channels, you need to establish yourself as someone who shares things that make it worthwhile for people to follow you. This means that, even before you can sell anything to others, you need to show yourself to be a thought leader.
What does this mean? In this case, it means demonstrating your authority and/or expertise in the subject area on which your marketing will focus. So if you are looking to sell online poker affiliate programs, link to good-quality news content that you have written yourself, or that you have seen on a trusted source, and give your readers something they did not have, or did not know, before. This is a good, positive, way to establish your brand.
When you're a known thought leader, you can start marketing in earnest. However, be sure to stick to the principle of mixing good-quality content with marketing and sales content and links; don't just sell to your audience, engage them too.
Repost and Retweet, Share the Credit
A great way to establish yourself within a community of content-creators, and bring more attention to the affiliate programs you're selling, is to draw attention to the efforts of others. Remember that, whoever we are, we operate on social media as part of a community, and the process of picking up followers and, we hope, sign-ups to our programs, is not a zero-sum game. You're not taking leads off the competition, you're developing new leads for yourself.
For this reason, if you see a good story or idea on Twitter, retweet it (this copies the tweet into your own feed, meaning your followers can see it). On Facebook or Instagram, either share a post or draw attention to it, if you think being associated with the thought boosts your own brand. By giving exposure to things you like, you might just win an ally in the person who originally posted the content (assuming you give him or her the credit they deserve when linking to it). This might mean they do the same thing in return in the future. This will further grow your following.
Take Part in Conversations
This particularly applies to Twitter, a platform that encourages interaction through the @ symbol, but can also apply to Facebook and Instagram in other ways. On Twitter, if you see someone commenting on your area of expertise, feel free to get involved in the discussion, in a constructive way. This will draw people to the other material on your profile.
Taking part in conversations on Twitter in this way helps to increase your follower numbers (assuming what you're saying is relevant and polite), but also brings you to the attention of other people who may wish to get to know you.
On Facebook and Instagram, taking part in a conversation is generally done in a more indirect way, but on Facebook you can share links and posts and make a point about what you have heard or read, while on Instagram you can write about the reason you are posting on a topic, and put another side of the story onto a public forum that welcomes different viewpoints.
Use Helpful Applications
We've highlighted useful productivity apps for all formats and for iOS devices, because we use them and get a great deal of benefit from them. They make our work quicker and easier, and make our lives more efficient. There are applications for social media posting that can do the same, and ensure that even if you have a considerable presence on social platforms, you don't find it takes up all of your life.
Hootsuite and Buffer are multi-platform applications with which you can plan when to post things through scheduling them, and decide to which channel each post should go. Both offer advice as to when the best time is to post, or let you decide for yourself.Most of the biggest social networks are covered by both, although as they are freemium (some features are free, some paid), you'll need to decide what core features you need in order to promote your site and brands on social media. For a small-scale affiliate with a few stories per week and two or three social channels, the free versions of Buffer and Hootsuite are probably sufficient.
Tweetdeck is useful if you have more than one Twitter account, and also features a scheduling feature (albeit it's a bit more fiddly than those of Buffer and Hootsuite). You can easily view your timeline, notifications and direct messages for all accounts side-by-side, in an arrangement that's far better than logging into or out of personal and work accounts all the time.
Social Media: Key Learning Points
There are a few key principles you should bear in mind when using social media for affiliate marketing.
- Post quality content as well as promotions
- Don't plug your affiliate programs too often, or you'll seem "spammy".
- View social media as a community
- Contribute to conversations if you have something constructive to add
- Shorten your affiliate links
- Repost, retweet and share the credit
- Use scheduling and productivity applications to make it simpler
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