Instagram Affiliate Marketing Guide
One of the ways in which influencers from all industries are trying to monetize their social media influence is through Instagram affiliate marketing. With Instagram becoming so popular globally and having an active and engaging audience, Instagram affiliate marketing is one of the top ways in which influencers can monetize their social media followings – 1 of 9 ways I outlined in my How to Make Money on Instagram post.
For influencers who utilize Instagram as an affiliate marketer, the goal is to drive as much traffic as possible through their tracked links to their marketing partners’ websites. With Instagram boasting engagement greater than the likes of Tumblr, Twitter and Snapchat – or any other social network for that matter, Instagram affiliate marketing provides a plethora of opportunities once you join, whether as a brand looking to promote product or as an affiliate. If everyone else is marketing on Instagram, so should you!
This post will look at Instagram affiliate marketing from both the angle of the influencer as well as the brand. Since this will be one of my longer posts, here’s a short bullet point summary so you know what to expect:
- How Instagram affiliate marketing words – the basics
- How can you promote links on Instagram when you can’t link on Instagram?
- The benefits of Instagram affiliate marketing for brands
- Which types of Instagram users will succeed in Instagram affiliate marketing
- Popular affiliate marketing marketplaces
- Understanding the laws around FTC disclosures
- Making the transition from Instagram user to Instagram affiliate marketing
Even if you’re not interested in Instagram affiliate marketing, this post should give you some tips on how to yield more influence on Instagram!
So, how does Instagram affiliate marketing work ?
It’s done by establishing partnerships between a user who is the affiliate marketer and placement of some sort of introduction or advertisement of a company’s products or services on the marketer’s website, social media post, or anywhere. The affiliate marketer depicts the product or service in their postings and earns commission on each sale that is made that can be attributed to their post, such as through a URL link that has been customized with unique affiliate code added to the end of it in the description of the post. When these affiliate promotions are being done on Instagram, we call it Instagram affiliate marketing, but affiliate marketing is clearly not limited to Instagram as a platform!
The brand being advertised and promoted gains inherent customer interest and the influencer profile working as the affiliate is used to engage its user base towards the product being advertised. The influencer earns some cut of the sale made by the product being advertised. So, it is mutually beneficial for both the brand and influencers to work together. That’s why affiliate marketing is influencer marketing’s new best friend!
How Can Affiliates Promote Links on Instagram When You Can’t Link on Instagram ?
I’ll cover some more specific advice for affiliate marketers later in this post, but one of the immediate questions you probably have is, compared to blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, et. al., Instagram does not allow you to place a link every time you post a photo. So how can affiliate marketers on Instagram get people to enter a link with their affiliate code into their browser and buy product? There are actually a few ways, once you get creative and think outside of the box:
Affiliate Link in Your Bio (Permanent)
The obvious one is to use the link in your bio to forward people to the site. This works well if you are always promoting the same brand, product or link. You then tell people to click on the link in your bio. Ideal if you are a brand ambassador and exclusive affiliate for one brand.
Affiliate Link in Your Bio (Semi-Permanent)
If you want to promote a different product with each post, you can still use the link in your bio but will need to update it to the latest affiliate URL each time you publish a new post. You can still tell people to click the link in your bio, but if someone should discover an older post promoting a different product, they will land at a different landing page, so this is not the most efficient way to do Instagram affiliate marketing.
Use a Linkable Instagram Gallery App
Large ecommerce brands began using Curalate’s Link2Buy as a way of setting up a virtual shop of clickable Instagram posts in your profile. Over the years there are other tools that have come out offering the same functionality, including the popular Linkin.bio service offered by the Instagram app Later. What happens is that you set the link in your bio to be your personalized Instagram gallery app URL, and then once someone selects that, they are brought to a screen of clickable Instagram posts leading them to your affiliate links. You can actually see my Linkin.bio page for an example of what I mean – you should do this on a mobile phone to see how it would look when clicking on my Instagram bio https://instagram.com/nealschaffer.
Include the Affiliate Link as Swipe-Up in Instagram Stories (Business accounts with 10,000 followers only)
If you happen to have a business account and 10,000 followers, you should see the option to add a swipe-up link to your Instagram Story to make it easy for your followers to visit the website on the other side of your affiliate link. This is a killer reason to upgrade to a Business account, but the potential for getting less engagement because of how the pay-to-play social network algorithms work is what is preventing me from doing so.
Include the Affiliate Link in Your Photo, Photo Description or Instagram Story
This is by far the least effective, but if you use a URL shortener like Bl.ink and create a branded URL that is easy to remember and short enough to type, some of your avid followers just might take a screenshot of your photo or description and then input the URL manually into their browser. If you can utilize a coupon code in lieu of a URL, this will make it easier for your followers to remember.
The benefits of Instagram affiliate marketing for brands
We all can imagine the benefits that Instagram affiliate marketing can have for people, but what about the benefits that it brings to brand to engage in more affiliate relationships?
Increased brand awareness, engagement and following on Instagram
When a picture of a product or service is posted on Instagram, the user (influencer) often tags the brand or service that it belongs to or at least mentions the product and/or company. If it is tagged, people seeing the post can directly interact with the post by opening it, liking it or moving ahead to inquire about it. This is a win-win situation for both the marketer and the influencer as it increases incoming traffic and also creates a potential profit situation if a sale is made. At the least it generates more brand awareness for the product – for free!
From a brand perspective, Instagram affiliate marketing can foster the creation of new relationships with influential users that only spell more and more opportunities. When a brand works with an influencer and sales are generated, it opens up new channels for continued business, not a one-time promotion like most traditional advertising campaigns. These corporate relationships could deliver great benefits to both parties, as brands are eager to get featured on Instagram and its media and users get monetary as well as PR benefits with these partnerships. It is they type of collaboration that not every influencer wants, but there are many who do.
With over 1 billion users, Instagram affiliate marketing offers little choice for marketers to not make a profit out of these partnerships. Nowadays, Instagram has seen a definite increase in in PR and marketing channels over the platform whose sole purpose is to advertise brands and different products. This way, both the brand and a placement platform see increased revenue and higher engagement with followers as Instagram affiliate marketers.
At this point, it seems worth elaborating that in these affiliate partnerships the only thing that is of absolute importance is trust. Trust counts as accountability to your end of the bargain against the other party in a partnership as well as the trust your brand/promotional platform has developed over the userbase. Social media influencers or PR firms look for value in a brand that they advertise for as Instagram affiliate marketers while brands and products only rely on the level of trust they see in the opposite party. So, what are the few ‘must haves’ that should be looked for in a partnership?
Which Instagram Users and Brands Will Succeed in Instagram Affiliate Marketing?
Those that offer brand value to their community
In Instagram affiliate marketing, both partners to the game should have a consistent value of their brand. The Instagram influencer adopting a product to advertise or give shout outs to should be well trusted by its many followers and it should hold a positive influence over them. There should be no negative buzz about them if a user gets to know about your brand through them. Likewise, the brand should have a competitive influence as well and must be a product or service that has inherent value in the market.
Those that have a “good” following
This is particularly important for the influencer. There is no ideal amount of followers that one should have, but a “good” amount of followers to start with would be in the 5,000 to 15,000 followers range, or in engagement terms, receive at least a consistent 100 likes per photo, assuming that their fanbase consists of real people and NOT bots or paid followers. Even if an Instagram influencer doesn’t carry as big a following is others, the most important thing is for those followers to be actively engaged to the influencer’s content and page. These are known as micro-influencers or even nano-influencers (who have less than 5,000 followers) and they have great importance for a new startup product that might not be able to afford working with macro-influencers