Social Media Affiliate Marketing

If you have been using affiliate marketing as a means of supplementing your income for a while, you probably know that you can use some of your affiliate links on social media and even create paid ads on specific platforms for the purpose.

But how should you go about things if you’ve never used social media affiliate marketing before? What channels should you use? What tools are effective for analyzing the performance of a social media marketing affiliate program? Are you even allowed to post affiliate links on your SM channels? 

We’re answering all of these questions and more in today’s article, so keep on reading. 

Affiliate marketing through social media

Choosing the right platform

Anyone with a basic knowledge of how social media works knows that you can’t post the same things on Facebook and on LinkedIn. You have to have different formats, different images, and a different tone of voice. 

Besides, you might also not have the same amount of success when advertising your affiliate links on platforms such as LinkedIn (or Pinterest, if you want to try it) as you would on Facebook or Twitter. 

You have to ask yourself what types of services or products you are looking to advertise and where your ideal buyers hang out. Otherwise, you risk wasting a lot of money on paid campaigns, which you could be using on other things such as optimizing the content on your own website. 

The affiliate program you decide to work with can also make a difference in terms of the money you can make. Most networks are not going to have anything against you using affiliate links on social media, but that does not seem to be the case for all. 

For example, although there are some tricks you can use to do it, Amazon Associates technically doesn’t allow you to post your affiliate links on Facebook and other platforms. And if they find that you’re going against their official policy, you could risk being booted out of the program completely.  

In other words, it is up to you whether you want to take that risk or not. Some affiliates are being pretty smart about it, in that they might run an ad for 24 hours then take it out completely so that if someone at Amazon goes and looks for the link, they can’t come across anything that can prove that their affiliate is breaking the rules. 

Target your audience

When it comes to social media and affiliate marketing, we would love to tell you that you can just post your links on your Facebook page and see an increase in affiliate sales. Unfortunately, that is not the case. 

Social media networks have gradually changed their algorithms so that their users are forced to pay for ads rather than being able to use their personal accounts or pages as usual. For example, if you have 10,000 followers on your Facebook page, you might think that your affiliate link will get to at least one thousand of them in the course of a day after posting, right?

That is not true. Chances are that fewer than 200-300 people will get to see it and most of them will if they’ve selected the right feature and are closely following your page. 

Because you are therefore compelled to use paid ads when using affiliate marketing with social media, we strongly suggest that you select the right audience. 

For example, if you also have an affiliate site, just look at the Geo section in Google Analytics to see what region or age or device people are in or are using when browsing your site and spending the most time on it. You can then take that data and set your SM campaign audience accordingly. 

Use the right type of link

People have gotten smarter and have learned to spot an affiliate link, so using a link shortener or some other way to ‘trick’ (not the best word but it conveys what we mean) people into clicking is the right way of going about things. 

A redirect link is clean and simple and will entice people to click on it. 

Choose the right products

You’ve probably heard it before, but if you market the wrong type of product and you also don’t believe in it at all, chances are that your campaign is not going to be too successful. 

You’ll either have to hire an affiliate manager or a really good social media manager or you’ll have to recommend products or services that you truly believe in. If not, you will at least need to have some knowledge of how they work and how they can help other users. 

Affiliate marketing on Facebook

As much as you might or might not like it, Facebook is here to stay and it’s not going anywhere. Moreover, if your target audience is under the age of 30, they probably have a Facebook account that they use on a regular basis. 

You should create a Facebook page not just to acquire ‘likes’, but also because you can add buttons such as ‘Learn more’ or ‘Shop’ to your affiliate links and posts on it. Besides, you do not have the ability to create ad campaigns using your personal profile, so you will need a page for this. 

Lots of people who have eCommerce websites use ads to increase their sales. Facebook Ads used to be pretty lucrative even for affiliates, but it largely depends on what products you are recommending, their value, the share you will be getting on each referral and obviously, the cost per click.

If you aren’t getting the right return on investment, you might either have to make some tweaks here and there or Facebook might not be the correct platform to market your affiliate links on at all. 

Affiliate marketing on Twitter

Did you know that Twitter has more than 300 million users that regularly check it out each month? — And we’re just mentioning this figure because it’s made up of people that actually check their account every day or at least several times a week.

You can add your affiliate links to your tweets and Twitter will automatically shorten them, so that’s one less thing to worry about since you aren’t going to also have to look for and utilize a link shortener. 

Twitter might work or not depending on the kind of audience you have. You can use the social media network’s ad program, too, but Twitter actually calls for a lot of knowledge in their department. 

If you don’t really use your Twitter account and you don’t know how hashtags work and how you can use them to your advantage, we’d suggest steering clear of this one. 

Affiliate marketing on Instagram

Instagram can provide amazing results, but the trick is that you have to have a really impressive number of followers. 

While you will be able to use just one link, meaning the one in your profile description — since you can’t add links to your regular posts –, the same rule does not apply to Stories and content in the Reels section. 

Instagram Stories is pretty neat when it comes to directing your followership to your affiliate link. Just use the ‘swipe up’ feature to convince folks to click on the link. 

But then there’s the matter of whether people are going to buy a product through their mobile device or not, since Instagram remains mobile-only even to this date. What we would suggest in this case would be for you to avoid using the standard Amazon Associates program for Instagram affiliate marketing.

The reason we’re recommending this is that some people, especially those that purchase things from Amazon on a regular basis, are going to have the app installed on their phone or tablet. And get this — if your link redirects someone to an Amazon product page and they’re on their mobile device, that link is going to open in the Amazon app, not the web version. 

From what we know about it, the moment someone is redirected to the app, you lose the commission entirely. 

Also, because that’s how things work in today’s day and age, for every Instagram story where you post your affiliate link, you will have to use a hashtag or specify somewhere on that story that you post is, in fact, an ad. You have to disclose all ads in order to avoid any sort of legal problems. 

YouTube affiliate marketing

This one, too, also depends on how large your audience is and how many of them have pushed the bell notification button so that they are notified when you post anything new. 

The only places where you can use your affiliate link on YouTube are your video description and annotations in it. 

It’s quite difficult to tell how much success YouTubers have with affiliate marketing and that’s because it depends on the number of subscribers they have, how many people actually watch their videos, and how many of them click on the links. 

It also depends on the type of content you produce. For example, if your channel is largely based on creating reviews of products that you actually try and unbox and then maybe show people how to use, you might have a lot more success than someone just mentioning that they have an affiliate link for something (randomly) in their video description box. 

Your niche doesn’t really matter. For example, if you’re in the interior design kind of vlog niche, you can link to furniture or other types of products that you actually physically show in your videos. The same goes for the beauty niche (which is a pretty successful one on YouTube). 

The trick here is that you have to use your creativity as much as possible so that you don’t spend your money on any ad campaigns. 

It’s also worth noting that you can add your affiliate link in one of the comments, too, so that’s another suggestion that we have for you. 

What about other platforms?

Pinterest isn’t the best place to post your affiliate links to and for several good reasons. They had a ban in place for all affiliate links and while that was lifted, you still can’t use any images of products related to Amazon items, for example, or a URL shortener. 

If you are wondering whether you can use Snapchat for affiliate marketing, we’ll tell you – not until now. In fact, you can’t use any link whatsoever, but they might add the feature at one point or not. 

What about LinkedIn? While the platform does allow the use of links, it’s really not the best if you do not have the right audience. For example, it might be great if you are an affiliate for a certain B2B service, especially if it’s useful to your connections. 

But trying to sell things constantly on LinkedIn and posting the same link day in and day out is not going to get you anywhere, especially on this platform. 

Final thoughts

Social media can make a difference for some affiliate marketers, and if they have the budget, we strongly suggest that they look into what channels are the right ones for them. 

However, it can also be pretty tricky, and it can get you banned from certain programs. Make sure to read their policies before deciding to post any of your affiliate links on social media. 

Always focus on high-quality products and services that you know are great and will convert well, especially if you intend to use ads to generate more sales. 

Remember that the point of it all is not to alienate people and make them dislike your page — on the contrary, you want to not only keep, but further grow your audience and promote only things that they might want to try and that could help them. 

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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