Produced by Dr. Micael Wesch and his team at Kansas State University – via David.
Two days ago I asked Does Affiliate Marketing belongs on Twitter. The conversation that has emerged from that question has been rich – thanks for your contribution.
At the end of that post I said that I would post some tips today for affiliate marketers on how perhaps they should engage in the practice on Twitter (if at all).
As I mentioned in the previous, post I’m not anti affiliate marketing or doing it via new media – but I think the ‘method’ and ‘attitude’ of the marketer is very very important. It can mean the difference between conversion or not – it can also mean the difference between keeping followers and losing them.
Before I get into some Twitter specific tips let me share a previous article with some general affiliate marketing tips for bloggers.
Let me also say that I’m still not convinced that Twitter is the best place for affiliate marketing. However if you do choose to do it on Twitter here are some starting points:
Tips for Promoting Affiliate Products on Twitter
1. Relevancy is Key
One of the things that I noticed earlier in the week about those who were promoting the affiliate product on Twitter (an AdSense tips product) was that quite a few of them were not normally writing about anything to do with AdSense. Adding a link to an affiliate product that has little to do with what you normally write about on Twitter is not smart. For starters it won’t convert and secondly it potentially will annoy your readers. If you’re going to directly promote products from Twitter make sure they are relevant to the followers you have.
2. Personalization Matters
Another obvious flaw in many of the tweets that we saw in the example mentioned in the previous post were that they were identical to everyone else’s. We saw Joel Comm set up a system where he pre-populated tweets with a script that simply told those reading it to go download a product. Joel actually stopped by my previous post and reflected (among other things) that those who personalized their messages converted better than those who did not. I think this says a lot. A personal recommendation is going to get a much better response in terms of actual conversions and it is far less likely to hurt your relationship with your followers as the tweet will be in your voice and hopefully out of your experience with the product.
3. Genuine Recommendations
My policy with affiliate marketing is to only recommend products that I have used or have had someone close to me who I trust use and recommend. This is again something that will add weight to your recommendation and increase conversion – but it’ll also help your reputation and stop you from promoting products that are rubbish. Recommend a product that doesn’t work and your own reputation and any trust you’ve built up with those who follow your advice will suffer. Don’t sacrifice your own brand for the sake of a few quick dollars.
4. Be Conversational
I have used affiliate links directly on Twitter on three occasions (from memory). In each instance they were Amazon Associate links and they were a part of a conversation that I was having with other Twitter users (from memory they were at times when followers asked me for recommendations on products). The links that I left were relevant, the conversations were started by others and they fit naturally into the conversation. From memory I declared that they were affiliate links on at least two of those occasions. The opposite of this ‘conversational’ tweeting is the ‘cold call’ tweet which comes out of the blue.
5. Link to Affiliate Products Indirectly
If I were to recommend one tips above others it would be this one. I think it would be much more effective and less intrusive with the culture on Twitter to tweet a link to a post you’ve written on your blog that includes an affiliate link – than to tweet the affiliate link directly. Write up a review of the product on your blog, give a balanced review, share why the product is relevant to your readers, tell them who would benefit most from it etc. And THEN tweet a link to the review. The problem with Twitter is that you’ve got 140 or so characters and to really do the product you’re promoting service and to give your readers a well balanced review you need more than that.
6. Moderation is Important
In any affiliate marketing (and perhaps all types of marketing) those who you are speaking with will begin to ‘switch off’ and become blind to your promotions if you hit them too many times with marketing messages. This will especially be true on Twitter where I see the audience is highly skeptical to marketing messages, are attuned to transparency and where they can very quickly opt out of receiving future communication with you. Not only can they opt out when your messages get too much – they often subscribe or follow you on the basis of what you’ve already written. If all you ever do is promote products (or yourself) you’re unlikely to grow a readership or become anyone with any kind of influence on Twitter.
7. Listen to Your Followers
The thing I love most about Twitter is that it a listening device. A lot of people use it and promote it as a broadcasting tool (which is can be useful for) but I’m increasingly finding it to be a fantastic way to hear what people are thinking – both about life in general but also you. If you engage in affiliate marketing on twitter make sure you stay in tune with how people respond. This doesn’t just mean watching what people ‘reply’ to you but also means watching what happens to subscriber numbers after you tweet and also watching what people say about you without using your @username (you can set up an RSS feed on Twitter search to watch for keywords like your name).
8. Be Useful
This is a fairly general Twitter tip but it applies to affiliate marketing. If you’re going to promote a product on Twitter make sure it’s highly useful to your followers. This is connected to being relevant – but goes beyond it. I find that the more useful my Twittering is the more positive feedback I get from followers. The same is true from blogging and interestingly enough it applies to the products I’ve promoted over the years. The best feedback that I can possibly get after an affiliate product campaign is from someone who bought the product and thanks me for recommending it because they found it useful. To me this is the ultimate feedback because it means I’ve not only made a little money, but more importantly I have a reader who is happy, who remains loyal and who is perhaps even more loyal than they were before I made the recommendation. This really comes down to smart selection of products to recommend – make sure that they are the best!
There you have it – my guide for Affiliate Marketing on Twitter.
Have Your Say about Affiliate Marketing on Twitter
I’m aware that some will still be pretty anti the idea of promoting affiliate products on Twitter (and I remain unconvinced except through the indirect method of promoting links on your blog rather than direct ones that I mention above) but IF you’re going to do it – those are my starting points.
I’d love to hear more discussion on this topic though. Marketing on Twitter (and all kinds of social media sites) will only continue to happen more and more so the more we discuss it the better!
update: Get more posts like this at my new blog TwiTip: Twitter Tips.
Yesterday I logged onto Twitter and find a little addition to their sidebar. It says ‘Get some Perspective’ and contains a link ‘Watch Hack the Debate‘.
Here’s how it looks.
So I have two reactions to this.
1. How much more politics does Twitter need?
I’m sick of the ‘election bar’ that continues to appear when I visit Twitter. I’ve closed it many times but it continues to appear. I thought perhaps it was just me or at least just a frustration that other Non US Twitter users had seeing that Election promotion – but when I tweeted about it I only had 2-3 out of 50-60 responses that were positive about the election bar (including US Twitter users).
WIth the election bar and now a sidebar link Twitter seems to be moving away from their ‘what are you doing’ type focus. Sure a lot of the world is ‘doing’ elections but a large number of the world is also sick of them.
I do think that the US election is important but I’d love to see them give us the choice to opt out of this type of ‘promotion’ or at least to know if it’s an ad or not. But maybe that’s just me?
2. Is this a partnership, paid link… or?
My first reaction when seeing the link was that it looked a lot like an advertisement. There’s no marking of it as such but it does seem a little odd to just have an unexplained link to a political site just sitting there on the sidebar of a social media site under one’s stats.
When you look at the ‘source code’ of a twitter page you see that the link is tagged as a ‘promotion’ (click to enlarge the source code):
Interesting…. but what is a promotion?
On the site it links to (Current.com) it says that Current and Twitter have ‘teamed up’ – so it looks like some kind of ‘partnership’ but that doesn’t really explain it fully.
Now I’ve got nothing against Twitter monetizing with advertising, but I’d love for them to disclose whether that is actually an ad or not. If it is – they might want to ‘nofollow’ it or they might just find themselves penalized by Google for trying to game them (or for helping someone else game them at least).
What do you think?
Update – Evan Williams from Twitter has kindly commented below clarifying the situation. You can read his comments here. The most important clarification (in my mind) is that the link is not a paid link at all but a voluntary link. Thanks Evan!
What do you think about affiliate marketing on Twitter?
Lately I’ve noticed more and more affiliate marketers getting onto twitter. There’s been a real buzz about it actually in many internet marketing circles – almost like it’s the latest ‘new’ thing (I guess it is relatively new).
The unfortunate thing is that the model I’m seeing some internet marketers use on Twitter is quite spammy. Some have spammed Twitter so much directly that they’ve been booted off.
Today I got an email from Joel Comm. I’m one of his affiliates and have promoted some of his books and ebooks previously. We’ve met in person and I admire his knowledge of internet marketing greatly. However todays email didn’t really sit that well with me and I’d love to hear your opinion on it.
Joel is currently promoting an AdSense Secrets ebook. I actually like his writing on AdSense and some of what he teaches helped me a lot in the early days of getting into blogging.
I’ve promoted his AdSense stuff before and would probably do it again – but not in the way he’s asking his affiliates to do it this time.
The promotion he’s asking people to do is to Tweet a link to his book. Not only has he asked us to tweet about it (something I wouldn’t be anti doing to some extend) he’s given his affiliates a link to make the whole process automated.
All you have to do is click the link and it sets up a tweet in your own twitter account (if you’re logged in) and it embeds an affiliate link into the tweet automatically for you so you can earn money if people make a purchase of one of Joels products as a result of clicking on your link ($10 a month for each month they stay in his program).
Looking at Twitter Search just now it seems that his tactic is working – to some extent.
I wouldn’t call it a raging success (yet) but with 30 or so people tweeting about it (largely using the automated script Joel’s provided) there’s been some take up of it.
Now on some levels I don’t have a problem with Joel’s campaign. I am not against affiliate marketing, I’m not against promoting products in new media – however there’s something that has been playing on my mind about this all day.
To be honest I’m not completely sure why I don’t like it (as I say above I don’t have a problem with some of the principles behind it) but there’s something that doesn’t sit well with me about this.
Risky Behavior and Spam
I think one of my main problems with it is that it almost seems like Joels asking others to engage in a little risky behavior for him and putting them a little at risk. Twitter is pretty anti spam and while he’s not done it directly the search results do look quite spammy when you line them all up and see the exact same message over and over and over again. I wonder how Twitter will respond to this and who will suffer? Joel or those who tweet it?
Another thing that I am reacting against with this strategy is that the tweets Joel is suggesting seem very impersonal.
“Download Joel Comm’s Adsense Secrets For FREE! “
This just doesn’t resonate with me as the type of message that would do well on Twitter. A message out of the blue about someone encouraging a download. I’m not sure it’s where affiliate marketing is going online either.
My own experimenting with affiliate marketing over the last few years is that it works best out of relationship and trust with those that you recommend products to. I find that promoting products do best when you are able to give an honest review of them, when you’re able to tell people who they are best suited for etc
This is actually why I think blogging is an ideal message for affiliate marketing. It’s a great place to build trust, fully review a product and give a balanced recommendation – 140 or so characters just doesn’t seem enough to do much to do most of that.
I guess what I’m coming to is that a tweet like this doesn’t really sit comfortably with my style of affiliate marketing.
What do you Think about Affiliate Marketing on Twitter?
But that is just me – what about you? Does affiliate marketing belong on Twitter? If so – how would you do it?
To be clear – I’m not wanting to start an anti Joel Comm thread of discussion here – like I say, I like the guy and don’t have anything against his products, but I am interested to hear what you think about the topic of affiliate marketing on twitter (and other forms of social media). Over to you….
How Affiliate Marketers Should Use Twitter?
It’s pretty easy to say you don’t like affiliate links on Twitter and not say anything constructive. So tomorrow I’d like to attempt to put forward some ideas on how Twitter (and other social media sites) could be used by affiliate marketers appropriately and effectively. Keep an eye on my RSS feed over the next 24 hours to see when the post goes live.
I just found out that later this week Aweber (the newsletter delivery service that I use) is adding a new feature that will allow their publishers to automatically send an update to their Twitter account when they send a new broadcast/newsletter. The tweet will link to an online version of the newsletter so that your twitter followers will get to see what you’re sending out to newsletter subscribers.
This new option will appear in the ‘Syndicate’ section of the admin area of sending out new newsletters.
It’s a cool little feature that should help publishers extend their newsletter reach.
A few months back here at ProBlogger I held a social media love-in experiment where I asked readers to submit their social media profiles so we could all get to know one another in different social media settings. The result was fantastic with lots of great connections.
One of the other popular type of profiles submitted was Facebook. So over the last week we’ve constructed a list of Bloggers who use Facebook (or at least those who participated in the ‘Love-In’). You can see it here there are 270 included in the list).
Today Mark Hayward shares some lessons on how to use social media to launch an online venture.
Are you getting ready to launch a new project? Have you worked for months, or possibly even years trying to complete your vision and make it ready for the big launch day?
If you find yourself in a similar predicament to the one that I was recently in, your final, self-imposed project deadline is looming on the horizon and you really hope to spread the message about your new venture to as many people as possible. However, you lack the proper funds to finance a press release campaign, which would get the word out to the world that your ‘baby’ is now active, ready, and online.
Surely, you don’t want to fall short now, do you?
Everyone who participated in the project either donated their time or worked at greatly reduced rates. Yet, when it came to the launch day we didn’t have a budget to pay for newswire services. Press release submissions are quite expensive and can cost up to $400.00.
Additionally, paying for press coverage sort of goes against part of our mission, which is to use the tools that are available to us online for free and to show people that with a little creativity and innovation you can create projects that will help to address global crises.
Thus, our best option for launching Train for Humanity was to use various social media networks that we had at our disposal.
The question then becomes, what social media sites should you target?
During phase one of our pilot project we are really keen to spread the message of what ‘we’ are about and we also want to build a community of like minded people who support this new concept of getting fit (exercising) and using blogging and the internet to raise awareness and funds for humanitarian issues.
In order to help us spread the word on launch day we decided to focus our efforts on Twitter, StumbleUpon, Plurk, and triiibes. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go into the process blind, as we were able to refer to the following ProBlogger resources for assistance:
- How to Use Twitter – Tips for Bloggers
- Plurk 1 Month In – Small Can be Good
- How to Draw StumbleUpon Users Into Your Blog
Our launch day was September 9, 2008 and although it went pretty well I learned quite a few lessons along the way that either supported what I already believed, or that I will be certain to implement next time I have a new business or website to promote.
Five Social Media Launch Lessons I Learned
1. Timing is key - the hour of day (and even the day) that you choose to announce your launch is critical. Particularly with sites like Twitter and Plurk. Because Leo lives in Guam we wanted to accommodate his workday, which meant that we launched at 7:00am U.S. east coast time. This time worked out really well in the Australian and European markets, but most of the American workforce was still at home. In hindsight it probably would have been better to have the flurry of ‘tweets’ and plurks start at around 10:00am.
2. Utilize community influencers – have well regarded ‘trust agents’ within the various communities help to get your story out. We were fortunate to have StumbleUpon power user theNanny612 submit our site to SU. Likewise, Chris Brogan was kind enough to ‘tweet’ the launch announcement on Twitter. If you follow this ‘trust agent’ strategy, I don’t think emailing them out of the blue (if you have never interacted before) and asking for a tweet or stumble works very well. Spend the time and get to know people before you ask for a favor. Actually, it is probably best to follow Jeff Pulver’s social media model of giving 95% of the time and asking for assistance 5% of the time.
3. Make your time count – during the weeks leading up to the launch I was really busy running my full time business here in the Caribbean, as well as, putting the final touches on Train for Humanity. Unfortunately, my participation and interaction in both the Plurk and triiibes communities just about ceased. When I posted the launch announcement on both sites, neither garnered much attention. Think about it, you wouldn’t just show up to a bar or other social spot that you have visited a couple of times and start asking people to help promote your new business would you? Certainly, it’s my fault that the launch announcements in both locations did poorly as I had not invested enough time. Whatever sites you decide to target make sure you are an active participant.
4. Prepare your message - people are busy so when it comes to launch day have your message ready and make it easy for people talk about you. We created a special page called, “Spread the Word” which contained a link to an informative sample blog post about what Train for Humanity is and we also had written a “tweet” and plurk that supporters could easily copy and paste to get our message out.
5. Have redundancy in place – you might not think that reliable internet service would be an issue in this day and age. Please, when getting ready to launch, make sure your internet provider isn’t going to bail on you and also try to have a backup plan ready. This might sound easy or even elementary, but I live on a small 10×3 mile island and when a thunder and lightening storm passed over us at 4:00p.m. on launch day, I was suddenly without internet and would only have intermittent service for the next three days. Not really a great strategy when you are relying on the net and social media for your launch.
I always like to think that key to social media , whether you looking to use it as a springboard for your next launch or just be an active participant, is “being human” and that the most important aspect is to interact in a constructive, non-confrontational manner just like you would in any other day-to-day social situation.
Next time your ready to launch a website or new business and don’t have the proper budget for a press release, why don’t you consider using social media.
Have you launched any of your ventures using only social media? If yes, what were some of the lessons that you learned?
Mark Hayward, along with Dan Clements, Leo Babauta, and Andrew Flusche, is the creator and co-founder of the recently launched Train for Humanity. Their mission is simple: getting fit + social media + blogging = social good. During the pilot project they are hoping to raise awareness and funds for orphans and refugees in Darfur.
It’s ironic that arguably the biggest challenges for a blogger come when they are least experienced–when their blog is just a few weeks or months old.
Any blogger will tell you that turning a new, undiscovered blog into a hot piece of web property is not easy. The Darren Rowses, Leo Babautas and Yaro Staraks of the world went through this same difficult teething period, like everyone else.
The accepted idea is that when you first launch your blog, growth will be very slow because you’re only able to toot your own horn to gather new visitors, by commenting and leaving links back to your blog, by asking for links and by guest-posting.
All these actions will help your blog grow, but it might take several months before your blog generates any kind of real traction and things start happening without you to push them along.
But what if there was a way to grow a new blog quickly?
I want to suggest that there is one method for growth of a new blog that can be more effective than any other, yet it’s commonly overlooked. It is very possible to grow a young blog with very little starting traffic mainly on the back of StumbleUpon. Here’s how.
How would you feel about receiving 1,000 visitors on the first day of your new blog’s launch? How would you feel about receiving 1,000 visitors on any day? This number might seem unattainable to you at the moment, but it isn’t. Not with a little preparation.
The ingredients for this strategy are:
- A network of at least twenty active StumbleUpon users.
- Stumble-worthy content.
Did you know that you can use the StumbleUpon toolbar to send pages to your StumbleUpon friends with a little message asking for a quick stumble? If your network of SU friends knows you and likes you, and the content is good, they’ll be more than happy to oblige. Each stumble can bring several hundred visitors to your blog. Reviews arguably carry even more weight when determining the amount of traffic that is sent to your content.
If you can get 20 people to stumble a single page you send to them, you could receive not just one thousand visitors, but possibly more than that. If your content is good enough to go viral on its own, you could receive several thousand, or several tens of thousands!
That’s all well and good, but it’s also easier said than done. And like most things that are easier said than done, it’s very much worth doing. You might have found yourself a little troubled at the two ‘ingredients’ outlined above. After all, how do you ‘build a network of at least twenty active StumbleUpon users?’ What can you do to make sure your content is ‘stumble-worthy’ (whatever that means)?
Photo by Toronja Azul.
First, let’s deal with building a network of StumbleUpon friends. Once your blog takes off you’ll find this easy. Readers will ‘friend’ you and, because they like your stuff, will probably help you whenever you ask for it, as long as you’re willing to do the same in return. The problem is that your blog hasn’t taken off yet, so how do you create your network?
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t StumbleUpon. It’s not a great place to meet new people on its own. Instead, try emailing other bloggers who are also in the same situation and working to get their blog off the ground, and ask if they would like to be friends on StumbleUpon. If you want to increase your odds of that blogger actually being on StumbleUpon, look for a link to their profile on their About page. You could even go through the comments at ProBlogger. I expect most ProBlogger users know the value of having a StumbleUpon account by now!
The truth is that if you befriend people in this manner (being, for mutual benefit) you’re going to have stumble their stuff as much as they stumble yours. If you’re getting friends from anywhere you can, you’re not always going to like what they send you, but you should still be willing to stumble it as an investment in your own blog. Social media purists will disagree with me here, and if so, you’re welcome to build a network by other means (spending five to ten hours on StumbleUpon a week will do it).
If you have some choice as to who you add to your network, try to collect people who consistently produce content that you like.
You should expect this networking strategy to be successful because most bloggers feel guilty about sending their stuff to people for stumbles but really wish they could do it. Some do it anyway. I don’t know many bloggers, particularly new bloggers who are also going through a challenging ‘baby blog’ period, who wouldn’t welcome the approach of someone who is more than happy to stumble their stuff.
The logistics of this aren’t immediately obvious but they’re quite simple once you remember them.
Sending pages to others
To send pages, you have to install the StumbleUpon toolbar.
Once you’ve navigated to the page you want to send to another user, click ‘Send to’ on the toolbar and select the target user from the drop-down menu. You can send a message to accompany the page. Generally you should ask for the specific action you want (stumble, or occasionally a review), and most importantly, offer to help out the other person in return.
If you’re always asking for stumbles and never giving them, people will tire of you quickly. That being said, you should be vigilant to make sure the people you send pages to are actually stumbling your stuff. If not, there’s no need to be angry as it’s their choice, but you should work on adding a new, active user to your network in their place.
Creating content that works with StumbleUpon
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, you need to build your ability to create content that is well-optimized for StumbleUpon. If you are continually getting stumbles on content that is clearly not suitable for social media then the StumbleUpon algorithm is likely to stop sending traffic to your blog all-together. If all your stumbles are coming from mutual friends and not from unaffiliated users then this is a pretty good sign that your content is not actually stumble-worthy.
If it sounds scary, it isn’t. As long as you provide genuine value for others, your content should generate some stumbles without your help. Best of all, there are a few solid principles you can follow to create content that is consistently well-optimized for StumbleUpon traffic.
Here are two posts I’ve written previously at ProBlogger about writing great Stumble-worthy content and converting the resulting StumbleUpon visitors into loyal readers:
While pursuing this strategy, continue to expand your network of SU friends and send content to different people each time. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest StumbleUpon’s algorithm rewards blogs that are stumbled by a wide variety of users, rather than the same people all the time.
Try this strategy and see if you can get more traffic than ever before. Good luck!