Affiliate marketing went mainstream with the dot-com boom of the 90s. For many years, the only way to share affiliate content was via mailing lists or a blog of your own. However, the rise of social media has opened up new avenues for sharing -- the possibilities are endless!
Generally, AvantLink does not allow social media sites as your sole / primary affiliate marketing hub; you need other established web presence in order to qualify for our program. In addition, some Merchant Programs specifically prohibit Social Media advertising. (REI is a notable example). Please be sure to check each program's Terms & Conditions to see if there's a social media clause; or contact their affiliate manager if you're not sure.
So how can you make Social Media work for your affiliate program?
Social media is a great platform to increase visibility and clicks via organic reach. Instead of driving traffic to your website (which requires a higher level of involvement from your audience), you can gain a social media following, and gain views as part of your followers' daily feed / browsing habits. Your organic reach will be wider, and as a result it can drive more clicks. Even if you have a standalone website, a strong social media presence is becoming vital in today's hyper-connected world!
Although many of our tools are targeted towards traditional websites, using Custom Links works well for social media. This allows you to build a link to either the home page, or a deep link to a specific product or category page on a merchant site.
For example, if you paste a custom link to share on Facebook, it will automatically generate a nicely formatted preview (see right).
Twitter is a common 'micro-blogging' platform, and some accounts have tens-of-thousands followers! A common question is whether our tools can be used with URL shorteners, such as 't.co'. The answer is yes, you can use URL shorteners, and we even offer some built in to the Custom Link functionality!
What other options are available to affiliates?
Another overlooked branch of social media are forums. Forums are great for discussions and comment threads, and may or may not allow affiliate links -- be sure you're following their guidelines! If you run a site with a forum, you can use our Automatic Link Encoder, which will find non-affiliate links on your site (such as links that others post) and auto-encode them!
In addition to posting links, if you have a website or blog, embedding 'sharing' social media buttons is a great way to have your audience share your content, which can also help drive traffic!
Keep in mind that people share, retweet, or repost original, high quality, and engaging content -- make sure that you're not just spamming ads, but providing value via product reviews, endorsements, or using embedded links in your content!
How can merchants leverage the power of Social Media?
We recently brought on BPI Sports via AffiliateManager.com who had hundreds of existing social media 'influencers', most of which used Instagram to share their fitness progress / post motivational content. We created an innovative process, partnering with our Affiliate Applications team and using Exclusive Coupon Codes to get a large number of existing social media affiliates brought on to the program quickly. The reach and success of this pilot process has been phenomenal!
The current ecosystem of social media on the internet is guaranteed to change and evolve. Remember MySpace? At one time, it is estimated that it had a wider reach than Facebook. Believe it or not, MySpace still exists -- it has evolved into a music-sharing platform for artists.Those of you who still proudly put 'webmaster' on your resume or business card may remember previous incarnations of shared / free hosting, such as GeoCities or Angelfire, which are ancient in terms of the web.
As such, we're always on the lookout for changes, new media, and cutting-edge ideas. Got tips or tricks of your own? Something we overlooked? Email me directly!
About the author: Owen is proud to work with AvantLink to provide world-class technical assistance to our clientele. Outside of AvantLink, Owen can be found driving around town playing his ukulele or harmonica when waiting for red lights to change.