written by Jessica Evans
The rise of Amazon, eBay, AliExpress and a handful of other Goliath online retailers has brought with it an age of affiliate marketing. These companies have built massive armies of commission based sales people. As one of these people it’s incredibly difficult to stand out in the crowd, so today we’re going to be covering how to use social media for affiliate marketing to give you an advantage.
Before we jump into the nuts and bolts, we’ll cover some of the high level concepts around affiliate marketing.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a fairly simple concept in that you essentially become the middleman.
You partner with a brand selling a product or services. The brand provides you with a special affiliate link which you share with your audience. When your readers click on the link and make a purchase, you get a commission.
Affiliate marketing programs are free to join but sometimes do have requirements such as follower or subscriber minimum.
Although they don’t cost money to join, there’s a big gap in the commission you earn (which is really the cost of doing business). For instance, Amazon will pay out up to 10% on some products. At the other end of the sale is our commission program at Ultimate Bundles where we pay 40% on all sales to affiliate and 70% to anyone contributing a product to a sale. Click here to apply to join the program!
Just quick plug for our program if you’re on the fence. Our thriving community, expert support and free training provide a huge amount of value. It’s all free and we’re always looking for new affiliates to join us. It takes 5 minutes to sign up and there’s no obligation to promote… but if you do, you’ll earn some serious money! So head over to the application form now.
The typical model of affiliate programs you’ll see out in the wild include:
- Marketplace – Allows for one signup and then may apply to multiple brand’s affiliate programs. Examples include ShareASale and Rakuten Marketing.
- Retailer – Would give access to multiple products from many different brands. Examples would be Amazon or Target.
- Brand – Could include a service or product and would involve joining the brand’s affiliate program. Examples include Ultimate Bundles and MyThemeShop.
How can you use social media to reach your customers?
Social media can be used as a powerful marketing tool. This is a poorly kept secret. Every man and his dog tries their hand at selling something on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.
One thing most people don’t know is the effectiveness of social media has been declining over the past several years, so it’s critical to get your ducks in a line.
Don’t let this put you off. There’s still huge potential to use social media for affiliate marketing. The trick is finding a high converting product and getting your link in front of the right audience.
Remember, you are acting as an influencer when you share products and services to your followers. You want to only choose what is right for your people and your what you would use yourself. This not only provides a close connection but also a sense of trust to your audience.
With that in mind, let’s get started discovering how social media marketing can boost your blog to the next level!
Here’s what we’ll be covering:
- Getting Noticed
- Converting Viewers
- Facebook Mechanics
- Pinterest Mechanics
- Twitter mechanics
- Instagram mechanics
How can we use it when it’s time for a brief sales period where we need to get the word out there and convert people to sales?
Best practice is to focus on driving traffic to the site with evergreen content, which will then convert to sales via site-wide banners and text links. The reason for this is, evergreen content does much better than limited time only sales on social media due to its long relevance and value rather than short term frequently changing content.
Lead magnets with freebie offers do well compared to sales pitches. Who doesn’t like something for free, right? So when you do post about the sale on social media, don’t bombard your following with sales pitches, a good starting place is the 80/20 rule.
The 80/20 rule is 80% content, 20% promotional material, which can then be adjusted based on your following. While 80/20 used to be the “sweet spot”, today that magic number needs to be determined by your followers. Watching your analytics is extremely helpful here.
Analytics should also be watched during the promotional sale period. when it’s important to increase your average daily posts. Why? Well, you want to get the word out, not necessarily directly about the sale, but you want people to get to your site and find out about the sale. Doing this temporarily shouldn’t cause a ruckus; most of your followers won’t even notice.
Search out and connect with groups on Facebook. Joining communities within your niche or focused on online entrepreneurs is a great way to meet like minded individuals. Many are in the same situation as yourself so don’t be afraid to network and help each other figure out what’s going on with social media for your target audiences.
What do we share on social media platforms to be effective?
You need engaging content, of course the stuff that people can’t help but click on. Posts that they want to like and share. Stories that they want to comment on. This is especially important because platforms like Facebook and Pinterest have an algorithm, this mathematical formula that decides whether or not a post is worthy of being delivered to followers.
The algorithm is looking at whether people are interacting with it, so if a post isn’t engaging, it doesn’t get seen by that many people. Here is an overview of some of the latest changes for each social media platform:
- High ratings for link shares over Messenger.
- Prefers native content over content linked to another site.
- Marked down for asking followers to like, comment or share your post.
- Checks to see that keywords and phrases used in the description of the pin, board title and board description where the pin is saved and keywords in the title tag and page content of the pin destination.
- Rates image quality and size which the ideal pin image runs in a 2:3 ratio.
- Active pinner account.
- Post timing is critical.
- Tweets are served to a smaller group of users to measure engagement first.
- Being a member of the community and interacting with others will start placing your tweets in others timelines as long as they are following you.
- People are also more likely to find your content if you post consistently
- the more people engage with your content, the more each of your following posts will be more credible in the eyes of the algorithm.
- direct messages then that will get your content ranked higher
Moreover, every platform but Instagram (Instagram is kind of an oddball, you’re going to learn), you need to share not just your own content but content from others. It’s not necessarily because people feel you’re being promotional; it’s because they like a variety of content sources. They want to see the sites that you’re reading, the websites that help you come to an informed decision on different issues and things like that. So mix it up because they want to know what you like.
The other key to pretty much all social media platforms, except for Instagram (oddball, remember), is that you need to post every single day which can be really hard for many people. One of the ways around that is to schedule things in advance. At Ultimate Bundles we schedule our posts using Buffer. We aim to post once a day, as long as we think it’s valuable content.
You can find several different options depending on the social media platform you are focusing on. That consistent posting each day builds up your influence in the algorithm if it’s Facebook or Pinterest. Instagram does need to be consistent but not everyday as the other platforms so scheduling here is beneficial as well. Win-Win!
This becomes really, really important for those short sales. If the sale has already started and you haven’t done anything for social media, you’re starting from zero. So, plan ahead and start working on this before crunch-time.
Also, keep in mind, you need to be relational and conversational. People want to follow people so keep it relevant but also true to you. If you’re posting things that aren’t relevant to your brand, your target-people are going to stop following you because they’re not interested in that.
A Side Note: Don’t be afraid to post things that upset people. If you’re a real food blogger, and you post an article that’s all about the additives in school lunches, that’s going to get your following upset. People are going to get engaged with that post.
They’re going to comment on it, they’re going to share it with others. And that’s what you want. You don’t want to be afraid of upsetting people who see nothing wrong with food additives and school lunches because that’s not the target audience for your brand.
Individual Social Media Platforms
Every platform is different. It has its own way of delivering content, its own type of content in some cases, and different overall strategies. Pinterest and Facebook both have an algorithm that rewards more engaging posts as well as high post frequency. Twitter and Instagram depend on you to interact with others on their platforms in order to gain followers and engagement. The key is understanding each.
So let’s talk about everybody’s favorite. You either hate it or you love it. It’s Facebook. The key to Facebook is to post something engaging every day, even if it’s just one post. You can use the insights tab for posts to find the best times for posting for your page. It breaks it down on average and, by days of the week as start off, if you’re starting from scratch, with just a few posts a day. Then from there, increase to find a good number that works best for your page and is a number that you can manage. Here are some important points to remember:
- Facebook prioritizes advertising posts because it brings in revenue.
- However, they understand that showing nothing but promotional posts will drive away users.
- They strive to have a balance of engaging content and paid content.
- Video has historically been a successful content tactic for Facebook.
- Facebook has traditionally given greater visibility to video to combat it’s rivalry with YouTube.
- You, as an affiliate marketer, can take advantage of this.
- Be authentic, post engaging and useful content and you’ll see great results.
- Keep videos between a minute and a half to three minutes and include an actionable link.
- Paid advertising is best kept to Dark Posts or Unpublished Posts rather than boosting a post from your timeline. The article by MavSocial does a great job explaining the benefits
- Lookalike audiences can be generated from the people who are already following your page or subscribe to your newsletter. HootSuite has a great article including tips for getting the best results
Pinterest is going to be key to drive traffic to your site. They like pins that are pretty much always relevant such as evergreen or cornerstone content. Plus, they do not allow affiliate linking or sponsored pins. Here are some important points to remember:
- Pinterest is a highly visual system
- Engaging images are critical, keywords come second
- Vertical images tend to perform better than horizontal (because of mobile users?)
- The best performing dimensions for a Pinterest post are 600px * 900px or any 2:3 ratio
- Keep text on your image simple using Ariel or Helvetic font
- Include your keywords in font descriptions
- Keep in mind long tail keywords are easier to rank for, so aim to use longer and less specific keywords in your descriptions, Yoast has a great article.
- If you need more detail on picking keywords, CoSchedule describes the algorithmic process search engines use in this article
- Use a full-length pin description for best results
- Set up a business profile by converting your personal profile and making sure your domain URL is verified
- Set up “rich pins” for content from your website
- Take advantage of the analytics Pinterest offers to track your performance
Twitter’s peak thus far was Q1 of 2018, however, still shouldn’t be ignored. Like Instagram, it’s real time, and rewards mobile-friendly video content. The difference with Twitter is you need to do a whole lot more interacting with other people to get them to interact with you. So, for best results, increase your engagement and visibility by following people, replying to them, retweeting your favorite tweets. You also need to post the same thing multiple times a day so that everybody or most people who follow you will see it.
Twitter is all about the hashtags. Well, not all about the hashtags, but they have a huge role. Hashtag are used as a method of indexing keywords to help facilitate good search results. Key points to remember:
- They should contain only one word without spaces.
- No punctuation should be included
- Include the hashtag within or after your message.
You don’t want to get too specific because if people are looking for things related to green tea, they’re not going to be searching for #greenteacookies. They’re going to be searching for #greentea. Hashtags are also great for special events like conferences and weddings because they help people connect with other people who attended, and those who couldn’t be there. Twitter does have their own analytics to analyze your success, though it may not play as much of a role as it does on Facebook.
Instagram has been growing in popularity over the past several years. However, keep in mind that it’s owned by Facebook and shares some of Facebook’s traits. Use hashtags, just like Twitter. Interact with people, just like Twitter. Don’t repost things multiple times a day though. One thing I really want to make sure that you know about Instagram is that there’s no way for people to click on a link within your post. The most common way around that is to put the link in your profile and simply tell people to click on the link in your profile or us a hashtag such as #linkinprofile.
Instagram is a great tool to increase your engagement on other platforms. It can be linked to your Facebook, your Flickr, your Twitter within the app and on Facebook you can either link it to your fan page or your personal profile. So that’s great for increasing Facebook page engagement cause people are seeing something personal from my life and people love seeing pictures of my dogs. So those are the posts that I usually push out to my Facebook page. There isn’t any built-in analytics, but there is a third-party tool called Iconosquare that does allow you to track your growth on Instagram.
So, that’s a wrap
Remember, post, analyze, and adapt. When it’s sale time, don’t be afraid to increase your posting numbers per day, double it. If you’re able to do that, go ahead and do it. Focus on those top posts. Use your analytics to figure out what does well on social media as far as your own blog content.
Moreover, don’t be afraid to network with people and figure out what’s going on with social media for your target audience and how you can help each other out. Remember, Ultimate Bundles has a thriving Facebook community that’s available to all of our affiliates. If you’re interested in free marketing training, generous sales commissions (40%+) and a supportive network, then click here to join now.
So that’s it. I hope that this wasn’t too overwhelming, and you’ll be able to take some of these things and figure out how you can better reach your ideal followers and help them figure out if they want to buy the things that you’re promoting or not. Now get out there and go rock those sales!