Bulkly has scheduled over posts for the smartest social media marketers.
Get your 7-day free trial and automate your social media in minutes.

What Is Social Media Affiliate Marketing?

  • Blog
  • What Is Social Media Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is an effective internet-based advertising model that predates modern platforms like social media. It’s an old concept that remains useful today primarily because it enables brands to generate revenue without spending big. It’s a beneficial strategy that many studies believe could grow even further.

But what is social media affiliate marketing?

One market research found that affiliate marketing spending could reach 8.2 billion US dollars this year in the US alone.

Meanwhile, social media continues to be one of the biggest channels for advertising a brand. With the emergence of content creators and stronger online communities, social media might be the perfect platform for affiliate marketing.

Keep reading below to learn more about this timeless advertising model. Plus, find out how to execute successful affiliate marketing with social media.

Understanding Affiliate Marketing

What Is Social Media Affiliate Marketing

Image Source: Pexels

Affiliate marketing’s history dates back to the years after the birth of the internet. In 1989, William Tobin founded an online flower shop called “PC Flowers and Gifts.” The store mainly sold flowers online, but it also pioneered the affiliate marketing we know today.

That same year, Tobin launched his shop on the Prodigy Network. It was an online network that offered subscribers a wide range of services. PC Flowers and Gifts paid commissions to the platform every time they made a successful sale from it. Years later, affiliate marketing runs the same, with more outlets available.

Generally, affiliate marketing is where an individual earns a commission by marketing a product or service. It starts with a brand setting up an affiliate program that marketers can join. Typically, this program involves a traceable link or code affiliates can use during their promotion. If their efforts result in a sale, they get a profit in return.

Commissions vary depending on the brand and its offer. Generally, affiliates can earn as much as 50 percent while promoting a brand. Meanwhile, some programs offer flat rates instead of a percentage of the sale.

What Is Social Media Affiliate Marketing - What Is Social Media Affiliate Marketing? - 1
Image Source: Pixabay

Benefits of Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing remains an effective tool today for many reasons. The following are some of its notable benefits.

Low starting and ongoing cost

Launching a program requires little budget from brands since it relies on the efforts of affiliates. Since it’s a commission-based advertising model, brands will only have to spend money every time affiliates bring in sales. That means affiliate marketing offers low starting and ongoing costs.

Furthermore, affiliate marketing doesn’t need extensive marketing or advertising team effort. Once affiliates start with your program, they can take care of the rest. All you have to do is wait and pay them accordingly.

Minimal risks

Using a commission-based model helps brands minimize various risks. Generally, marketing efforts tend to cost more and have no guarantee of success. Affiliate marketing can be an excellent option for newly-formed businesses.

With affiliates, you invest less, which means you minimize your financial and branding risks. You only spend money if you see results. That means every payment is an outcome of a successful marketing effort.

Quality traffic

Generally, affiliates have an established influence over a niche audience. Tapping the right one means connecting with potential customers. Because of this, you ensure that you get quality traffic to your website. That also means you get a high chance of converting visitors.

Since affiliates can guarantee targeted traffic, they can also ensure a higher return on investment (ROI) than any other marketing strategy.

Better brand reputation

Tapping credible affiliates with authority or influence in the industry also helps boost brand reputation. Because they’re a trusted source of information, they can put you over as a reputable brand to your target audience.

Competitive advantage

In the end, all benefits of affiliate marketing point towards having a competitive advantage. This model offers low cost with excellent audience reach. Both factors are vital for a successful marketing campaign.

This competitive advantage makes affiliate marketing one of the best models today.

Types of Affiliate Marketing

In 2009, author and renowned affiliate marketer Pat Flynn categorized the practice into three groups. These types of affiliate marketing depend on how close the affiliate is to the product or service they’re promoting.

Below are three types of affiliate marketing:

Unattached affiliate

Unattached affiliates have no connection to the product or service they’re promoting. That means they have no authority or expertise in the brand’s industry. They also don’t make any claims about using the product or service.

Unattached affiliates only get commission by displaying the brand’s ads, regardless of whether they fit the niche. Typically, they run Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads on their websites, hoping that shoppers will come across them and purchase.

One example of this affiliate is a fashion blog running a PPC ad for a tech brand. They don’t correlate, yet the site shows the ad in case a potential customer visits.

Ideally, the unattached affiliate model is for those interested in making a passive income. Because of its lack of commitment, it requires no investment in any product. Plus, marketers don’t have to build customer relationships.

Involved affiliate

Involved affiliates are those with a direct relation to the products or services they’re promoting. They use personal experiences in their content to convert potential customers. That means they provide product reviews and recommendations instead of running PPC ads on their sites or pages.

The main advantage of involved affiliates is their authority in the field. They have an influence over the target market that brands are hoping to reach. An example of this affiliate is a known fashion blogger who talks about clothing and accessory brands in their content.

Related affiliate

Related affiliates are a mix of unattached and involved affiliates. They have a connection with the niche audience without necessarily using the products or services they promote. Still, these individuals have established authority and influence on the target market, which brands can use.

Like involved affiliates, these individuals can also promote brands directly to their target audience. For instance, a fashion blogger can advertise a particular item without using it. The only difference is that they can only highlight key features of what they’re promoting since they don’t have firsthand experiences. However, they still offer credibility since they’re a trusted source in the niche.

Affiliate marketing vs. Influencer marketing

Many confuse affiliate marketing with influencer marketing. However, the only similarity of these models is using the influence of other people to market their products and services. Affiliate marketing and influencer marketing differ in many ways.

The most significant difference is the way they compensate marketers. Affiliate marketers gain profit through commission. That means they get a share of the revenue for every sale they help make. Meanwhile, brands generally pay influencers depending on an agreed-upon flat rate. However, influencers can also charge based on the number of content required by the brand. Other times, influencers could request free products or services in exchange for content. This is called an ‘X’ Deal.

Furthermore, influencers are more focused on brand awareness and engagement. Meanwhile, affiliates aim to increase traffic and generate sales.

While influencers have established authority and following, tapping them could be more expensive. Brands only pay affiliates every time they make a sale, offering a more risk-free marketing solution.

Why use social media for affiliate marketing?

Social media platforms offer little to no starting cost and access to a vast market. They allow brands to work with established content creators and tap more potential customers. Plus, social media platforms enable various forms of content, from blogs to images to videos.

Generally, affiliate marketing in social media works the same way as in other channels. Content creators could use their social media pages to promote any unique link or code the brand provides. Every time they help make a sale, they earn a commission.

Additionally, involved and related affiliates work best in social media. They have an established following in the industry and a reputation as a trusted source of information in the niche.

What Is Social Media Affiliate Marketing - What Is Social Media Affiliate Marketing? - 2
Image Source: Pexels

Tips for Setting up an Affiliate Program on Social Media

Setting up an affiliate program is manageable and has low risks, regardless of the marketing channel. The following are some helpful tips on using social media for affiliate marketing.

Choose the right platform

Brands could tap into various social media platforms for their affiliate programs. Besides Facebook and Instagram, some of the best social media platforms for affiliate marketing include TikTok, Youtube, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Each platform serves a different purpose from the other.

For instance, B2C businesses would benefit more from visual-centric platforms like Instagram. Through such channels, potential customers could make an impulse decision while scrolling through their feeds. Meanwhile, B2B sales take time to generate. Potential customers need more information to make a decision. That’s why platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook are perfect because they offer an outlet for sharing articles and infographics.

Furthermore, the target audience may also dictate which platform brands should use. According to social media demographic research, Gen Zs (1997 – 2012) are highly invested in TikTok and Snapchat. Meanwhile, Millennials (1981 – 1996) are most active on Facebook and Instagram. LinkedIn remains the top platform for young professionals.

Finally, your ad type could also matter when choosing a social media platform. As mentioned, some channels rely more on visuals, while others allow more text. Ensure that your desired content will align with the network you’re targeting.

Select the proper affiliate

The best thing about using social media is that anyone can be an affiliate. You can tap influencers, existing customers, or industry groups to help you out.

Furthermore, the key to looking for the right affiliate is tied to your chosen social media platform. Remember that each channel has its own advantages and type of audience. For instance, never make someone an affiliate on LinkedIn if their content is more suited to Instagram.

If it’s your first time looking for social media affiliates, try checking your brand’s public mentions. You’ll likely find a user or two positively reviewing your products and services.

Additionally, you should be aware of affiliates working with competitors. Of course, no rules limit the number of brands affiliates can work with. It’s still best if yours promote only your brand.

Stay ahead of the curve by gathering data about your competitors and the affiliates they work with. It’s better to tap your ideal content creator first than wait for them to come to you.

Improve user experience

Remember that affiliates are limited to inviting people to your brand. It’s always up to you to convert them to customers.

Generally, you have to improve your customer experience to generate a successful conversion. For instance, if you’re running an online store, it has to run smoothly. It must also be mobile-optimized to allow visitors to shop on any device.

Offering a poor user experience will also affect the affiliate’s credibility. Improving your store is one way to support them and ensure their efforts convert.

Keep an open communication

Apart from commissions, you can also provide exclusive knowledge to your affiliates to help boost their credibility further. Offering details that potential customers are unaware of turns affiliates into reliable sources of information, which helps bring more sales.

Furthermore, educating affiliates ensures they don’t provide the wrong information that could damage your brand and the affiliate’s reputation. Working closely with affiliates benefits both parties. That’s why keeping them in the loop on any news that could boost their efforts is vital.

Provide access to your creatives

In addition to supporting your affiliates, providing them with the materials they need can boost their efforts.

Social media is mainly a creative channel. Offering support in that area could provide a competitive edge to your affiliates. These include images, videos, and infographics. Providing them with such materials can help increase their authority and influence over the niche audience.

Maximize Affiliate Marketing Through Social Media

Affiliate marketing remains an effective advertising model that could still go head-to-head with emerging platforms today. It offers an affordable marketing solution with fewer risks but excellent returns.

Because of how flexible this model is, brands can leverage other channels, like social media, to maximize their affiliate programs. Thanks to social media, affiliates can reach more people and generate more sales.

Content creators and social media platforms offer an effective way to execute affiliate marketing. However, brands should always carefully research the proper channels and creators to achieve a successful program.

Like this article?

Leave a comment

Scroll to Top