Affiliate marketing is by no means a new concept for brands.
With the massive growth of social media and online platforms becoming quasi-societies, affiliates have an all-new power. No longer is it limited to a celebrity “endorsing” your brand in an advert. Affiliate marketing can cover anything from paid social to referral links to coupon codes.
So, you want to know how your company can use social media for affiliate marketing? You’ve come to the right place.
Table Of Content
- Why Should I Use Social Media For My Marketing Strategy?
- What Is Affiliate Marketing?
- How To Use Social Media For Affiliate Marketing?
- Making A Plan
- Choosing Affiliate Marketers And Platforms
- Leveraging Social Media: Solved
You can directly jump to a section of your choice or keep scrolling.
Why Should I Use Social Media For My Marketing Strategy?
If you’re sincerely asking this question, then we may have to consider the possibility that you are a dinosaur.
Social media’s a brilliant marketing platform because it comes at no base-level cost, and you have instant access to a huge market. For context, Instagram (one of the most commonly used platforms for affiliate marketing) has around 1 billion users as of 2021.
Not only do these platforms have huge audiences, but it’s also extremely easy to filter down that population and target your content towards those who fall into categories of who would be your likely customers. For example, if you were an eCommerce enterprise designing children’s clothes, it would be logical to target people who show interest in family-lifestyle brands.
This can be done with the use of hashtags, or with paid social, you can limit the age range of those targeted to people of a certain age.
To get a more quantifiable idea of the value of social media, make sure you keep up to date with social media statistics. This will help you know which platforms are trending at any one time, and where you should focus your efforts. Your company can use social media for brand affirmation and to build an audience of its own, but it is also a great platform to engage with affiliates on.
Image Source: Pixabay
The rise of social media has also brought with it the rise in social media influencers. These are individuals who gain a huge following on social media due to the widespread appeal of their posts. Different influencers tend to focus on different areas, for example; beauty, fitness, art, or fashion. These influencers have become a stronghold for affiliate marketing, as by collaborating with them, you can reach the influencer’s audience directly.
As you can see, social media is in its very nature an excellent starting point for your marketing strategy. It is cheap, easy to use, and popular. What more could you want?
What Is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing can be seen as a collaboration between two parties: the affiliate, and the brand.
The affiliate could be a social media influencer, as mentioned earlier, but it could also be a customer or a blogger. In essence, an affiliate is a person who promotes your company or brand in return for a commission. Some affiliates will receive a flat fee for their promotion, as well as the commission, while others may simply be paid dependent on a successful referral. Either way, this relationship is mutually beneficial, as the affiliate earns money, while the brand receives recommendations from a trusted voice, as well as new customers.
An excellent example of successful affiliate marketing can be seen between the brand Sugar Bear Hair and the Kardashian family. Sugar Bear Hair, a vitamin brand, has at various times used almost all of the Kardashian family to recommend their products. With over 1 billion followers between them, this brings a massive audience to the brand and likely lots of leads, while the Kardashians also made a few bucks.
This is an example of affiliate marketing using influencers or celebrities, but affiliate marketing can also be used with creators who have smaller audiences. These could even be a brand’s own customers. In return for the customer vouching for a brand they already use, like, and trust, they get perks or a small income. This can help build relationships between the brand and customers, all while getting additional marketing.
It is no surprise, then, that spending on affiliate marketing has continually grown in the US over the last 11 years, coinciding with the rise in social media during this same period.
Image Source: Statista
How To Use Social Media For Affiliate Marketing?
When it comes to affiliate marketing, there are many different channels of communication you can use. Affiliates could write blog posts where they recommend your brand or product, or they could post a video or podcast episode to YouTube that has been optimized according to how the YouTube algorithm works, which your company has “sponsored”.
Throughout this article, we’re going to focus on leveraging social media for affiliate marketing.
There is, perhaps, a mistaken tendency for brands to not take social media marketing as seriously as other forms. Social media, as a relatively new concept, and one that is dominated by the younger population, can seem more frivolous.
This could not be more wrong. While there is not necessarily the same base-level cost when posting an image or advert to social media as there would be a billboard poster or TV advert, social media marketing should still be carefully considered and targeted. This attitude must also extend to affiliate marketing.
Making A Plan
What would be the first thing you would do before creating - say - an email marketing campaign? You would make a plan. Before diving into using affiliates, create a clear marketing plan, considering the SMART principles:
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What is it that you want to accomplish with your affiliate marketing? Perhaps you want to expand your own social media presence and build a community around your brand. Perhaps you simply want more sales this quarter. Or maybe you’re attempting to raise awareness for a new product or service your company is offering.
What rate of success are you expecting or aiming for with your affiliate marketing? Do you want 10% of those who engage with the affiliates post to make a purchase? Or, maybe you want to gain a percentage of the affiliates’ followers for your own page.
How you intend to measure your success (conversions) is essential to know whether the marketing was successful. This can be monitored in a variety of ways, by looking at social media metrics, for example looking at the use of promo codes or referral links. This information is also how you will calculate and manage commission, so it is worth looking into the different sales commission structures out there.
Is this goal something that your company/brand can deliver? This is where you should consider the actions you’ll take to ensure success. This can be carefully vetting affiliate posts beforehand, using your marketing team to create strong and effective copy, or building a strong relationship with your affiliates so they are encouraged to work hard for you.
If your goal feels completely out of your control, it may be a good idea to rethink the plan and find something more concrete.
This will depend on your company size and your possible budget. The more followers an individual has, the more money they’ll likely demand per post. For smaller brands, it may be more realistic and more effective to approach affiliate marketing with your current customers. While the reach each time will be smaller, it will slowly grow a loyal customer base.
Make sure your plan is realistic by having clear set boundaries for your budget, how much commission you will offer affiliates, resources, and expectations.
How long will you try the affiliate marketing strategy before reviewing its success? This is a good marker to have in place before commencing, so you can make any adjustments to the affiliate marketing according to which posts are bringing the most success.
Image Source: Pixabay
Choosing Affiliate Marketers And Platforms
As previously mentioned, affiliate marketers are not limited to influencers. How to find affiliate marketers will also vary according to the type you pursue. It’s also important to consider, before choosing your affiliates, which social media platform you intend to use. Your platform choice will depend on the types of ads you want to produce, your target market, and your sales process. Some of the most common social media platforms are as follows:
Each of these platforms serves a different purpose. YouTube is mostly used for longer-form videos, though it does have a “shorts” tool. TikTok videos are short, snappy, and generally aimed at a younger audience. Instagram’s primary pull is through photographs and images. LinkedIn is dominated by professionals, while Facebook tends to lean on real-life connections between people.
Because of these differences, who and how you’re targeting them will affect the platform you choose. For example, if you’re primarily marketing B2B, you’ll want to focus on platforms where other businesses have a profile and will engage with you. If you’re a beauty brand, a platform like Instagram would likely be more appropriate (particularly if you come up with original Instagram content ideas).
Now for the different kinds of affiliates you can work with, and how you can find them.
Image Source: Pixabay
As previously mentioned, influencers are so-called for their widespread influence. They usually have a brand of their own, in that they’re known for a certain type of content, or aesthetic. Their followers usually have a mutual interest in the content the influencer posts. This is important to bear in mind as if you’re a beauty brand, you’d also want to choose an influencer who creates content focused on a beauty niche.
Influencers often have relatively low engagement rates, but it can still have a significant impact on a company as the followings are so massive, even 3% engagement would have an effect. Similar to influencers are micro-influencers. The same concept, but micro-influencers have smaller audience pools, and usually in direct correlation, higher rates of engagement.
These can both be found with a little research on social media, and a scroll through relevant hashtags.
Turning to your customers for your affiliate strategy is easy to overlook, but is an extremely effective way of marketing. People tend to believe and give value to the recommendations of those in their lives, so using customers can reach enable you to get a high-value recommendation to people in their immediate circle. The incentives you offer your customer can also improve the relationship between them and your brand, ensuring they continue returning.
Industry groups are full of people with mutual interests, making them an excellent place to find affiliates and encourage affiliate posting.
Tracking social media
Keep a close eye on your social media mentions. This can help you see who is interested in your brand, and what platforms it is most relevant to. It could also be worth monitoring your direct competitor's social media mentions for some insight into what they are or are not doing. It is always worth getting some free advice on what is working for other brands.
For more information into the depths and complexities of social media in general, it could be worth looking into marketers’ guides to social media.
Get the content right
Image Source: Pixabay
Once you’ve chosen your affiliates and your platforms, only one thing remains; the content. Some brands prefer to take a backseat with affiliate marketing and prefer it when the affiliate's personality shines through. Others carefully construct the copy and give clear direction surrounding the content. This will very much depend on your companies brand and goals.
Content can just be text-based, but in general, photo or video content tends to garner more engagement as it’s visually stimulating. You can get creative with this - perhaps allowing your affiliates to make amusing short videos related to your brand, or maybe posing in unique locations while wearing your merchandise. This is between you and the affiliate to decide.
Another idea for your affiliate marketing strategy is introducing competitions. These have high engagement rates and give your company great publicity, usually in return for handing out a few freebies - definitely a fair deal.
Leveraging Social Media: Solved
Overall, affiliate marketing on social media is a great way to get your brand out there in a way that is backed by recommendations. It’s reasonably cheap, given that the platform itself is free, and payment can often only be on a commission basis, meaning you never pay for something you don’t receive.
Knowing your brand, and how this relates to a social media presence, makes optimizing your affiliate marketing quick and simple.
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