Incompatibilities of Affiliate Marketing and Social Media – By Dustin Christensen

by Colleen on December 14, 2012


The wild growth of social media provides affiliates with a new avenue to reach customers. According to the 2012 AffStat Report, 60 percent of affiliates use social media to drive traffic, second only to search engine optimization (SEO).

But social media and affiliate marketing don’t always click. In some cases, your social media strategy may need tweaking in order to become an effective part of your affiliate endeavors. If you’re experiencing social media disconnect, one of these common situations may be to blame.

1. When not everyone wants to follow an affiliate product.

Affiliates often promote products that many consumers won’t readily follow. Stigmas associated with products like payday loans, debt relief and weight loss may keep your customers from publicly sharing your brand or product.

In this case, it can be difficult to build a following, engage customers and expand your social media presence. When you’re in a niche that relies heavily on privacy, it can be hard to get customers to open up and interact with your brand.

The Fix: Create and share content that’s related to your product, but more publicly appealing. If you’re promoting payday loans, a video on an unconventional way to save money may get shares, likes and links from consumers that wouldn’t necessarily associate themselves with payday loans. But they’ll find the information useful all the same.

2. When an affiliate product discourages repeat business.

Nielsen reports that social media reaches 80 percent of US Internet users. For most affiliates, the social media struggle isn’t about the initial reach; it’s about developing a loyal fan base. But affiliates who promote one-time products, like mortgage loans, have trouble engaging and retaining customers after a sale.

The Fix: Consider offering complementary products or resources. Providing links to relevant influencers, online communities and industry blogs can result in repeat visitors that recognize you as a source of value in your niche.

You can even improve your revenue by offering additional affiliate products.

3. When social media isn’t as measurable.

Sales, leads, revenue, earnings per click and conversion rates are the lifeblood of affiliate marketing. Without measurability, affiliate marketing simply wouldn’t survive. To affiliates, social media can represent a world of unknowns.

Even as social media measurement improves over time, affiliates may feel like social networking’s return on investment is ambiguous at best. After all, time spent on social media could be invested in crafting content, acquiring links and optimizing landing pages.

The Fix: Adjust your expectations. Realize that social media might not lead to direct revenue, but rather, expansion of your brand. Gauge social media’s effectiveness by shares, likes and referral traffic and base your success on a new benchmark.

Social media and affiliate marketing are both in their infancies, and may merge seamlessly with time. Until then, affiliates can minimize the disconnect between the two by continually adapting their approaches and expectations of social media.

Dustin Christensen is the Director of Content Marketing at Blue Global, a product development company.

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