Until recently, the job of the affiliate marketer was one that was focused almost exclusively on websites and email lists. The conversion pathway from search-engine to purchase was simple and predictable. Users would land on a squeeze page, and then, depending on the keywords that sent them there, either open up their wallets or their email inboxes after being wowed by they saw on your site.
Things have changed a lot in recent years. Websites are bigger and more complex, users expect more from every website they visit, and social media has changed how customers engage with brands. This means that affiliate marketers have to change how they do business too.
Taking Advantage of Social Media
Social media solves two of the biggest problems that affiliate marketers’ experience:
- Building trust
Discoverability is a huge issue for any online company. No matter what niche you’re in, you probably have a huge list of competitors, and many of those competitors are more established than you are. How can you, without spending an absolute fortune on advertising, make your target audience aware that you even exist? Social media is a great way to reach people. The way people use social media makes it easy for great content to go viral, so if you engage with your friends and people in your niche, your content will spread. Viral marketing may be an over-used buzz word, but the principle is sound, and while you may not get a million YouTube followers from your first social media campaign, you will get good exposure for your brand.
Building trust is an essential part of persuading people to buy in to whatever it is you have to offer. Most people need to be exposed to a brand name several times, and hear their message or tagline, several times before it sinks in. It’s hard to get someone to bookmark your website or join your mailing list, but persuading them to like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter is easy. Those actions require only a couple of mouse clicks, and most Internet users are far less protective of their social media accounts than they are their email addresses.
Once you have a way into their timelines and Twitter streams, use it wisely. Post useful content, and keep business and personal content separate. Post frequently so that users get accustomed to seeing your brand name in their timeline. Aim for a ratio of about 15 “engagement” posts per purely promotional post, so that your followers do not get annoyed with you for spamming.
The Dangers of Social Media
Social media marketing can backfire, however most of the “dangers” are not exclusively related to affiliate marketing. The most common problems with social media related to poorly managed accounts, for example:
- An account gets hacked or hijacked, causing damage to your brand
- A well-meaning social media manager posts an update that offends your users
- Your company gets caught out for using spammy services to acquire fake followers
There are, however, some unique challenges in the affiliate marketing space:
- Some products, such as medical supplies or payday loans are not compatible with social media marketing
- Some products are one-off purchases, so taking advantage of the repeated exposure of social media is difficult
To overcome these challenges, get creative with what you use social media for. Instead of using your page to talk about payday loans, share general money saving advice. If you run a site that sells one-off products, such as double glazing installation, promote related consumables (e.g. DIY equipment) too. It’s always worth staying in touch with old customers, because they may help you with word of mouth marketing.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Dan Perry