This is the fifth post in our series on affiliate marketing and we’re going to be talking specifically about making affiliate sales on social media. Find the other posts here:
So far we’ve concentrated on affiliate marketing via your blog and email list, and there’s a reason for that.
A highly relevant, search engine optimized, blog post that pre-sells a product or service is a great way to make affiliate sales.
Recommending a useful, relevant product or service by email to a targeted list of people who already know and trust you is another great way to make affiliate sales.
Just posting your affiliate links all over social media? NOT a good way to make affiliate sales (and quite a good way to annoy your friends and followers).
I’ve written a whole post on why online marketers need a blog, because too many marketers are annoying their Facebook friends by constantly pushing an array of products into their news feeds. But there are ways to make affiliate sales on social media, so you don’t want to discount it completely.
Here are my top ten tips for making affiliate sales on social media
Don’t push a ton of affiliate links into your friends’ Facebook news feeds
Your friends are on social to be social. Not to be sold to. Unless you’ve built your Facebook profile very carefully with your business in mind, your personal profile is likely to have friends and family who are totally outside your target group.
This doesn’t mean you can never mention your products on your personal profile. But you shouldn’t overdo it, and you shouldn’t expect significant sales from this tactic. Use the tactic below instead.
Use Facebook pages or groups instead
It’s easy to make a Facebook group or page based on a specific interest instead. Currently the organic reach of pages is down and groups seem to be working better, but we’re all just one algorithm tweak away from that changing again, which is another reason to build an audience via your blog and email list rather than rely on social sites.
Make sure it’s obvious (from the name and description) what your page or group is all about. Then invite all your friends to like your page or join your group. This way you’re allowing them to ‘opt-in’ to hearing about that particular topic.
Suddenly you’ve narrowed your audience from ‘everyone you know’ to ‘people you know who are also interested in your topic’. Now when you post a product recommendation (with an affiliate link) you’re talking to your audience, not random people.
Pinterest is arguably one of the best sites to make affiliate sales on. It’s one of the few ‘social’ sites where people are (often) shopping, or at least researching buying decisions. This is because it’s not really a social site at all, but a search engine. If people search for ‘pretty summer dresses’ or ‘baby boy nursery ideas’, they’re looking for ideas, but they’re probably also ready to buy a summer dress or some nursery equipment, so they’re coming to the site with a different mindset.
You can add your affiliate link to your Pins (like I have with this one, or this, or this) and you will often make some sales. For an incredibly detailed breakdown on exactly how to use Pinterest to make affiliate sales, check out this ebook (it’s so detailed it’s more like a mini-course than an ebook).
Pinterest is the site I’d advise you to focus on if you don’t want to run a blog or website but still want to make affiliate sales (and then focus on SEO, so Pinterest searchers find your Pins, rather than only your followers).
Unlike Pinterest, Instagram isn’t known for making affiliate sales. Apart from anything else you don’t have a direct link from each post to send traffic to your affiliate products. However, Instagram is very visual AND aspirational. So if people see something they love on there, they sometimes want to purchase it.
Top Instagrammers are getting around it with a call to action that encourages you to click the link in their profile. It’s an extra screen tap for people, but if they’re interested enough they’ll go to your profile link, which you can set up to take them to a page where you promote all the stuff you post on Instagram.
Make the most of images
Images sell. Especially on Twitter where you only have 140 characters, your image has to do the work. Images with text on let people know more about what they’re clicking through to.
If you’re posting on Twitter, make sure your image is strong to make up for the lack of information you’re providing. Twitter is much better used to drive traffic to a blog post that pre-sells your affiliate product, but it you are posting affiliate links direct to the site, include an eye-catching image, like this.
Remember to disclose
Just because you don’t have a lot of space, doesn’t mean you can drop the disclosure. It’s still required. On most sites you can simply say something like ‘Here’s my affiliate link,’ ‘My affiliate link is below’ or ‘Link (yep it’s my affiliate link) below.’
On Twitter it’s harder. People are using hashtags such as #affiliatelink or even just #afflink, but I can’t find definite confirmation that this is considered fair disclosure under the law (another reason to use Twitter primarily for driving traffic rather than affiliate marketing).
Don’t overdo it
Social should be social, not salesy. It’s an important part of the branding and audience growing strategy of most companies (big and small) because that is what it’s best used for: raising brand awareness and growing your audience. Will this lead to sales? Yes. Do they have to be direct? No. Social sites still work better as a PR tool than as a marketing tool. They’re still more about connection, image, message, and creating brand loyalty than making sales.
Keep the content aligned with your brand
Don’t go all salesy in your social posts, if you’re usually chatty and fun. Keep the tone the same, even if you are selling. Here’s an example of a ‘sales’ post from The Savvy Solopreneur Facebook page.
Note that the tone is chatty and light, in line with what people expect on Facebook.
Customize your links
Affiliate links can look suspiciously spammy at any time. They tend to look something like this:
So use a plugin or service to pretty them up (I use Pretty Link). The above link (after prettification) looks like this:
Keep it relevant
Social media is all about reaching your audience, so it’s vital to build a targeted audience interested in your topic.
If you sell weight loss products and stock photography, that’s two different niches with two different audiences. Unless your topics at least overlap, you should probably consider developing different social media accounts (ie two separate Twitter or Instagram accounts) to attract each audience. Facebook is easier. Just make different pages or groups.
Next week, we’re going to tie the series up with a post about some general dos and don’ts when it comes to making sales with affiliate marketing. It will be a sort of affiliate marketing best practices primer. Don’t forget to go back over the other posts in the series. And if you want to make a real living or significant side income from this affiliate marketing gig, you could definitely benefit for the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course.
My offer still stands. Everybody who signs up for the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course through my affiliate link (that’s this one) will get a FREE copy of my Busy Blogger’s Success Kit (it usually sells for $29). Simply sign up through my link, and then forward me the email you receive confirming you’re signed up for the course (don’t worry – there won’t be any personal information like payment details in your confirmation email). Simply send your confirmation to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll get your Busy Blogger’s Success Kit straight to your inbox.
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