Those who thought social media was just a passing fad have over the years seen just how versatile social media marketing can really be. In the affiliate world, social media is not just important for the merchant, but also for the affiliate and even the affiliate network too. There are few platforms where the same could be said, one type of channel can provide so much diversity, yet ultimately it’s serving the exact same purpose across the board; to connect, build and reinforce relationships.

What Makes Social Media so Unique?

There are many different social platforms offering completely different ways of connecting and sharing, but what makes the whole of social media such an important tool? Well, as a result of easy access and quick sharing, buyers have never been so well informed, customer support is just a tweet away and ‘word of mouth’ doesn’t take quite as long to disperse in to the masses.

Social media is closing the knowledge gap; as a result we are now witnessing a power shift from seller to buyer. A clever marketing message is no longer enough to sell a product, buyers are being challenged about their products or services, about their customer support, and even down to their brand values.

Affiliates offer merchants a way to back-up their marketing message across social media, particularly strong social influencers who are respected and viewed as authority figures in their niche. Affiliates are utilising social media in a completely different way to the merchants themselves; ultimately they are offering an extension of discussion around that product or service. It’s important that an affiliate adds some extra value for the visitor rather than just replicate the merchant’s social strategy; this is the only way to ensure long term success, re-orders and successful re-connection.

Social Influencers

The most valuable ‘social affiliates’ are the ones who are discussing products and services that actually matter to them, social media is ultimately about the conversation, and this discussion and sharing of events, ideas and passions goes hand in hand with affiliate marketing. As consumers we look for guidance from our idols and acceptance from our peers before we make purchases. Social media platforms provide us with the perfect setting to do this, meaning that social influencers are the perfect affiliate investment.

Social media can turn just about anyone or anything in to a strong online influencer when it’s used correctly. Bloggers, Vloggers and Podcasters are taking the social scene by storm as they market their personal brand across platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. These influencers and social leaders are among some of the best affiliates and the smart merchants are the ones profiting from this.

Often affiliate marketers can emerge as a result of their online presence on social media, and this is brilliant. However, more often than not affiliate markers are looking for success in the social media world to back up their existing marketing strategy. This is the real challenge for affiliates and merchants alike, because they are not natural social influencers.

What Is the Big Secret?

Social media works much better on a ‘human’ level, the clue is in the name. You can’t be successful in social media marketing unless you are actually a ‘social’ brand. Affiliates, merchants and even the affiliate networks’ need to put themselves out there to connect with customers, clients and partners, in a way that says, ‘we can relate to you’, ‘we understand you’ and ultimately ‘we are just like you’.

The key to delivering this kind of message is to be real, share real things that are going on with the brand directly and talk about real matters that are close to the brand. Customers no longer want faceless people selling faceless brands, they want personality, a brand or person they relate to and ultimately, an informal setting to connect and have a voice.

For example, an affiliate who reviews a product and shares those reviews via a YouTube video is connecting with the consumer on their level. ‘Beauty Gurus’ are a perfect example of this. They offer advice and tips about different beauty products and then they include an affiliate link for the viewer to purchase any of the items if they so wish. They are demonstrating that just like the consumer watching the video, they are also interested in the products, they use these types of products and they have a lot in common.

It’s also important to have a clear social strategy in place with defined goals and a good understanding of which platforms your audience are using and which ones will add no real value. If you’re looking for success in social media, remember that a passion for the products and the industry is vital and the most successful affiliates share things that are actually happening to them personally, or at least to their brand. Understanding the point of social media and how it fits in to the affiliate marketing world is half the battle.