Affiliate marketing forums are a great way to communicate with affiliates, yet many affiliate managers, merchants and OPMs (Outsourced Program Managers) ignore or fear them. The basis of online forums and social networks is to build relationships.
People go to forums of interest to them to learn about a topic and to meet other people interested in the same topic. Affiliate marketing forums are filled with people interested specifically in affiliate marketing. They want to talk about it and find other people that do what they do.
General affiliate marketing forums are a good resource for recruiting and communicating with affiliates, because affiliates are able to speak freely without the conversation being controlled by the merchant or network.
Even negative feedback about a merchant is a great opportunity for an affiliate manager to come in and address issues they may not have realized were a problem, plus show affiliates that they are not afraid of constructive criticism.
Being a vocal participant on affiliate forums helps establish an affiliate manager as an authority in the industry, as affiliates read what managers have to say. Helping affiliates by answering questions not just related to the program(s) they manage shows affiliates that they care about the industry and helping their affiliates succeed.
Managers that restrict posting on forums to just information about their own program are limiting their reach and not taking advantage of a wide range of affiliates that are watching, reading, and ultimately deciding who to work with.
Forums are the original social media and should be a part of a plan to use all methods of communication with affiliates instead of relying on specifically social networking via sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
Social networking sites are great places to offer communication and support, but some affiliates also prefer to be somewhat anonymous, especially when they are first getting to know a manager or want to learn about a specific merchant.
They want to be able to ask questions, discuss problems and issues without managers and merchants knowing who they are. Some affiliates fear retribution if they bring up problems or support issues that have gone unanswered.
Forums are a great place for managers to do “damage control” by allowing issues to be discussed, and then providing support and solutions. Even if a manager has an issue that isn’t able to be totally resolved to some affiliate’s satisfaction, how the situation is handled can make affiliates decide to work with a manager (or not).
Affiliate marketing forums also offer advertising to affiliates that a merchant wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. Forum software is optimized for search engines, and your ad can show up quickly, as well as in RSS feeds to social networks and blogs that you wouldn’t normally have access too.
Online relationships built in forums and other social networking can then be expanded easily to offline networking conferences like Affiliate Summit, making the limited time you get at conferences more productive.
Deborah Carney is an OPM, as well as administrator of ABCsPlus.com and the Affiliate Summit forum.
Download the entire FeedFront issue 13 here – http://www.scribd.com/doc/45332687/FeedFront-Magazine-Issue-13
FeedFront issue 13 articles can be found here as well: http://feedfront.com/archives/article00date/2010/12a>