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INFLUENCERS AND SOCIAL MEDIA
Affiliate marketing began with a simple concept involving trackable links which marketers used to generate income for themselves and drive sales for brands. The affiliate marketing model is based on a two-way relationship between advertisers and marketers to promote products and services online, with a commission fee acting as an incentive for the marketer to promote and show the product in the best possible light. Through commission payments, the influencer can commission-based generate income, and the advertiser gets to showcase their products to thousands of consumers.
The simplest way affiliate links work is that the influencer shares the affiliate link with her audience, and if they click on the link and make a purchaser the influencer receives a commission payment. The advertisers are happy because they have someone marketing their product for them, and the influencer can earn money from conversions into sales.
In recent times, affiliate marketing has become more sophisticated, and the strategy has moved from requiring website clicks, to the cultivation of traffic and leads from social media channels and personalities from Instagram and Facebook. Influencers have become pivotal in this collaboration between affiliate marketing and influencers, and have become a crucial element of many large and successful affiliate marketing campaigns. As one of the most widely-used social media platforms, Instagram has over one billion active users a month. As a result, influencers on this platform have a wide-reaching audience.
Advertisers and influencers have joined forces to work together creatively and harness the interest of target audiences. Instagram is the main social media platform brands look to for their affiliate marketing campaigns which are influencer-focused and lead. Not only is affiliate marketing lucrative for influencers, but brands have seen surges in the popularity of their products, increased traffic, conversions, and overall brand strategy success.
A good influencer with a stable and engaged audience can promote products directly to a targeted audience, meaning the brand becomes prominent and popular quickly. For any brand, customer loyalty is key for growth, and increased sales and social media platforms like Instagram have proved to be instrumental in ensuring that brand awareness is maintained, and sales continue to grow.
However, in order for the relationship between affiliate marketing and influencers to maximise results, the strategy needs to be right. Advertisers need to ensure that:
• The influencer conveys the right message
• The product is shown in the best light
• Exposure strategy is formulated at the outset
• Results are measurable and tracked
• There is a balance of creative control between advertiser and influencer
• Collaboration is strategic and driven
WHY INFLUENCER AFFILIATE MARKETING IS SO SUCCESSFUL
In order for any relationship between an advertiser and marketer to succeed, the following components are required:
• Shared vision
• Transparency and compliance
• Audience reach and engagement
Despite being a new form of marketing, influencer-led affiliate marketing has been wildly popular, with proven success rates and this is the reason advertisers and brands love to work with influencers. As more people use social media platforms on a daily basis, influencer marketing has become one of the main advertising strategies for brands. Not only does influencer marketing enhance digital marketing campaigns, it can really propel brand awareness far and wide.
Previously, television adverts were the primary focus of advertisers and marketing campaigns. This has now changed completely and social media platforms are seen as the best way to access consumers directly. Brands are keen to reach audiences and target consumers, but with them being spread over various platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram it can be difficult to have focused marketing campaigns which capture the audience. This is where influencers come in, an influencer with a large following who has a presence of various social media platforms can run marketing campaigns that can capture consumers on different platforms simultaneously.
HOW AFFILIATE MARKETING WORKS
Brands have different affiliate marketing programs and rules, but generally, this is what happens. The influencer:
• joins the affiliate program
• begins promoting the product
• showcases the product on their platform
• encourages followers to use the affiliate link
• makes money when a follower uses the link and purchases the product
• is paid a commission per sale (or click – depending on the program payment terms)
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Influencers should always be mindful of how best to use affiliate marketing. This relates to using appropriate hashtags, quality content, great photos and marketing links placed appropriately and clearly on platforms.
In order to maximise earning potential and generate sales for brands, influencers should review and recommend products to their followers. Affiliate marketing can generate substantial sums of passive income for influencers. Generally, affiliate links will contain trackable codes, meaning the brand and influencer can see exactly how many followers have clicked on the links, and how many sales have been generated.
Affiliate marketing commission is highly lucrative and can earn money for influencers well after the campaign comes to an end. Indeed, for some affiliate links all an influencer has to do is place the link on their platform without even discussing the product.
INFLUENCERS GUIDE TO MONETISING AND MARKETING
Influencer marketing is not available to all influencers. In order to be approached by brands to collaborate with the influencer needs to have a solid following, and engaged follower count, and a niche. You don’t necessarily need huge numbers of followers to use affiliate marketing links, but if you have between 1000-10000 followers who are loyal and trust your recommendations then you can monetise your account.
A recent report stated that 92% of consumers trust influencers when it comes to endorsements or ads. A good influencer and the type brands are looking for is one who has an engaged following. If you have carefully built the relationship between you and your followers you will have garnered trust and loyalty and your followers will trust your recommendations. This means that they are more likely to use your affiliate links and this will lead to sale conversions for the brand.
So, what makes an influencer someone brands want to work with? In order for an influencer to make money through affiliate marketing they need to ensure their social media platform has the following components:
Make sure your profile is attractive, and that is stands out from the crowd. A great profile is about more than nice photos, it requires careful thought into content placements, a good username, relatability, and interesting writing. Whether your platform is on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook or YouTube, an aesthetically pleasing profile will draw in your audience.
As far as content goes, photos are a key tool in any growth strategy for influencers. Good photos draw in followers who connect to influencers through grid photos and content.
Influencers must be good content creators. There needs to be a focus on high-quality content which is relevant to their followers. If your Instagram profile is focused on fitness make sure your content displays this, and then ensure any affiliate marketing links relate to your interests. There is no point in sharing links for lawnmowers if your followers’ main interest is fitness.
• Niche and relevance
Finding your niche means that as an influencer you can draw in followers who have similar interests. You can become someone with specialist knowledge in your niche and focus on honing your skills within your niche.
• Build relationships with followers and brands
When brands want to work with influencers, they will look at engagement rates. There is nothing worse than influencers with fake followers, as this means the success rate of any affiliate marketing campaign is likely to be low. Genuine engagement yields great results for affiliate marketing, so influencers should make sure they are active on their platforms, communicating with followers and fostering an authentic relationship.
Authentic engagement will produce loyalty, from brands and followers and enable influencers to generate a good income from affiliate marketing. If your audience is loyal to you and trusts your recommendations, they are more likely to click on affiliate links, and ‘swipe up’. This is the kind of engagement brands love.
• Stories, Video and IGTV
There are numerous ways in which influencers can build their following, such as stories, videos, reels, and IGTV. Using all these means of communication results in multiple ways for you to maximise your affiliate marketing. The aesthetics of the influencer’s page is what will attract followers, many of whom are consumers. Regular stories and posts will hold the attention of your followers. If you are on YouTube use the medium of video to get your message across to your audience.
One of the key components of influencer affiliate marketing is transparency. There are rules and regulations relating to influencer marketing, and followers expect influencer to comply with regulations. In addition to compliance, any good influencer should be mindful of ensuring that their followers continue to trust them, so transparency is key.
• Measure results
In any marketing campaign, it is essential that both advertiser and influencer are able to use metrics to measure the success of any campaign. Influencers should keep an eye on their analytics and metrics so they can assess the relevance and success of their marketing. These metrics can be used as leverage for future brands and can help influencers fine tune their campaigns.
• Calls to action and reviews and testimonials
Reviewing products in real time is a great way of showcasing the benefits and advantages of a product. The best influencers will link the product review with a great testimonial, fabulous photos, demonstrations, and a call to action. This method of sales funnelling is highly effective when done in an authentic and personalised way. See below how Lorna Luxe uses her Instagram stories to post testimonials and swipe ups for affiliate products.
Testimonials generate clicks
LEVERAGE THE POWER OF INFLUENCE
Influencers can undertake affiliate marketing in various forms. There is a crossover between influencer marketing and affiliate marketing, and when used together they can harness and leverage great power and generate sales. Reasons advertisers like using influencers for affiliate marketing include:
• Access to target audiences
• Unlocks marketing channels
• Cross-platform exposure
• Global audiences for products
• Leverage the power of influence
• Authentic engagement to build brand awareness and loyalty
If you are an influencer looking for affiliate marketing brand collaborations then here are some of the questions brands will ask you before they begin working with you:
• Which platforms are you active on?
• What are your engagement rates?
• How many followers do you have?
• Do you have a marketing strategy?
• How many posts/reels/videos of the product will you provide?
• How will you drive conversions?
• What is the quality of your content?
Remember, it is the conversions that will generate income for you and the brands, so focus your strategy on this area. Brands will want to work with influencers who fit into their product niche, for example, they probably will not approach a make-up artist influencer to advertise real estate options.
Influencers make money in various ways including sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, and e-commerce shops.
THE FUTURE FOR INFLUENCERS IN THE AFFILIATE WORLD
Social media is continuing to gain traction in the business world, and is becoming more shopping friendly. For example, a lot of Instagram influencers make use of Instagram shops. The use of influencer affiliate marketing is only likely to grow, especially if brands want to tap into the young consumer market. Young consumers are on social media platforms in their millions and direct access can be gained to them via influencers.
The real key to successful influencer affiliate marketing is authenticity and trust, these qualities foster real partnerships and help both advertisers and influencers generate income. For influencers with smaller followings of under 50,000 there is still money to be made, and there is a wide variety of affiliate programs out there that can earn influencers money.
TOP TIPS FOR INFLUENCERS WANTING TO MAKE MONEY USING AFFILIATE MARKETING:
• Use good quality content to build a loyal following
• Understand and optimise your traffic hot spots (ie stories, grid posts, videos, IGTV)
• Be genuine when recommending products
• Always ensure you are transparent with followers
• Use swipe ups or links that take followers directly to the product page
• Use analytics and assess your performance