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8 Tips for Affiliate Marketers on Using Twitter

Posted By Darren Rowse 11th of October 2008 Social Media 0 Comments

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.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. “5. Link to Affiliate Products Indirectly”

    This is always an important practice. If you are too direct about a product, whether you believe in it or not, you run the risk of losing your impact as ‘just a blogger who happens to believe in a product.’ Readers want to feel that you have their best interests in mind when you mention any possible purchase.

  2. Great Post.

    Yesterday I posted similar post on my blog,


    Great advice you are sharing here.
    thank you.

  3. I like the last tip, Be USEFUL…If you are not promoting useful product you are actually losing money as well as trust of your audience too.

  4. Thanks a bunch for yet again another diamond in the rough of affiliate marketing tips. However, if you are using twitter as a marketing tool, can’t your account be blacklisted?
    Just asking a ?

  5. “2. Personalization Matters”
    “3. Genuine Recommendations”

    I feel that not only are these two points very important, but they go hand in hand. I think we all prefer to take advice from someone we feel is truly considering our best interests. Personalized and genuine recommendations are a definite way to make readers feel comfortable and safe with following them.

  6. Great tips, Darren. I like how your advice was positive (what to do) and not negative (don’t do this). Otherwise, we would get all bogged down on the details of how it’s done (automated or not, etc.).

    In its simplest form, what you’re saying here is the ultimate goal of successful affiliate marketing of any kind: the affiliate offer is simply another form of value you are providing to an eager audience. Everything you’ve said above speaks to that, and it needs to be said.

    Trust is so important. It’s so hard to build and so easy to lose. Poor decisions about affiliate marketing where greed wins out over the needs of your audience will guarantee that trust evaporates in a flash.

  7. Hi,
    As much as I agree with what you say on twitter
    It’s traffic is good and targeted yet it is limited to the number of Followers….which today stands on 2000…
    Yet the conversion there is good :-)
    Cheers, Gingi

  8. Great post as always. Make it the Featured post.

  9. Solid tips as usual Darren, and a nice follow up to the last couple of posts regarding Twitter and affiliate marketing.

  10. Great tips, Darren. I also encourage users to check out our list of best practices for Internet Marketers who use Twitter on our blog.


    Keep it up!


  11. I do quite a bit of successful affiliate marketing on my websites. But other than marketing indirectly through my posts that go up through twitterfeed, I’m just not going there on twitter. I see twitter as a way to network, socialize with friends, and stay more in touch with readers. I don’t want to start trying to turn it into a directly monetized venture. I think the risks of alienating people is too high and the potential monetary gain not all great.

  12. Personally, I reckon to be successful with all web 2.0 sites, you need to build strong relationship with the community, give good advise and add value to it.

    Our mindset must change – “Affiliate sales are just the side benefits”, relationship should be position before sales.

  13. One of my tips would be don’t do it. People on Twitter hate spammers so why would you want to become one of them. I think anyone trying to market a product just so they can make some cash off of it is a Twitter spammer. I thought most of us talked about at this would be bad for Twitter and a Twitter would have to start suspending people to stop it.

    Are we all okay with affiliate marketing on Twitter now? Twitter is supposed to be about building relationships within whatever industry you are in. Once that is broken than Twitter has no purpose for any of us. It will just become a big spam web site. I think it is ridiculous to even give people ideas on how to become a good affiliate marketer on Twitter. I know these are tips to help people become good affiliate marketers on Twitter without spamming, but you know these people are going to spam anyways. Most people do not even know what spamming is so when they are doing it they don’t realize they are doing anything wrong.

  14. One of my tips would be don’t do it. People on Twitter hate spammers so why would you want to become one of them. I think anyone trying to market a product just so they can make some cash off of it is a Twitter spammer. I thought most of us talked about at this would be bad for Twitter and Twitter would have to start suspending people to stop it.

    Are we all okay with affiliate marketing on Twitter now? Twitter is supposed to be about building relationships within whatever industry you are in. Once that is broken than Twitter has no purpose for any of us. It will just become a big spam web site. I think it is ridiculous to even give people ideas on how to become a good affiliate marketer on Twitter. I know these are tips to help people become good affiliate marketers on Twitter without spamming, but you know these people are going to spam anyways. Most people do not even know what spamming is so when they are doing it they don’t realize they are doing anything wrong.

  15. I know there is a lot of potential with these “web 2.0” things, but people have turned it into a whole spamming circus. I think the best piece of advice I could give anyone is to just honestly use it the way it is supposed to be used.

    People don’t exactly respond to spam.

  16. Great follow-up Darren. Interested in seeing how this convo evolves.

  17. Those are all really good tips! When I am social networking, I make sure to stay on the topic. Many affiliates make the mistakes of advertising on a social network that has nothing to do with their product. If you were selling jewelry, would you advertise on a traveling blog? Good post :)

  18. The best that you can do is to be the first on talk about that product/offer.

  19. Darren, #7 and #8 are absolutely *key* to understanding the “Twitter difference” for marketing on Twitter. And, please, be human. No one wants to tweet with a blog or a product: I want to tweet with a human being.

  20. so you agree then, using twitter as new source of advertising. me also not reject 100%, but when one start, it will lead to another and another, so all people will using and it will kill the twitter purpose.

    but maybe if it use in right way like some of your tips, it will be just fine.

    but will twitter do nothing about it?

  21. I think the best way is to create something usefull for Twitterers and to give it to them on Twitter, like my QuickBacks service – background generator for Twitter. It’s made for people who don’t have a Photoshop or are not graphic designers and want to make some informative background. The rule #8 :).

  22. Affiliates on Twitter may catch on soon but now its kind of early. Twitter is cool in a lot of ways. 1 of the things that makes it cool is the fact that you can post short rambles or rants about whatever. Linking to you blog or site is still the way to go for twitter based affiliate marketing.

  23. Will using affiliate marketing on Twitter ruin the effectiveness of that media, similar to what happened with Digg?

    I think Twitter needs to define what it is intended for~ if they include affiliate marketing, then it opens to the door and clarifies the issue. That way no one gets disappointed and takes their ball and goes home mad.

  24. I like number 5. Link to Affiliate Products Indirectly, if you are linking to your own website that may have a relevant post or entry to the topic at hand. There should be a lasting effect if the tweet presented value, you may gain a new frequent visitor and future affiliate commissions.

  25. “will begin to ’switch off’ and become blind to your promotions if you hit them too many times with marketing messages”

    My estimate is that newcomers who don’t get it are the ones going against the rules of Social Media, twitter and email marketing included.

    Twitter is a great community and if you move around with respect and willing to make a follow worthy presence you will certainly reap. But you have to sow first.

    By the way, if you click on my name you will be directed to the post “Making the Most out of Twitter”.

    I am @katalink there and would be glad to start a conversation with you.

  26. I agree with the last thing too. You should promote best product on twitter.

  27. wow, I did not realize that you can use Twitter like that. I wonder if I can use it for my type of blog. If anyone has suggestions, please feel free…

  28. I am new on twitter, so what’s acceptable, what’s not. Thanks so much for the post, it will help me no how not to promote affiliate products. Thanks Darren for keeping me in the loop.


  29. I feel that Twitter is not an appropriate setting to blatantly push affiliate products, nor do I feel that it would be effective. I feel you would be much better off instead sending your messages to push your site which pushes a product.

  30. I find this post extremely helpful. I have found that most affiliate marketers use the marketing tactics that they are taught in the program to which they belong. Most of these strategies are wrong, wrong, wrong. I teach my affiliates (I have another website that offers an affiliate program) that it is much better to sell yourself, your image, trust in you than it is to try to sell the same product that thousands of others are flogging.

    The objective with twitter and other social websites is to gather people who want to know what you have to say not what you’re selling. These social sites offer a great opportunity to build a community of trusting friends who will most often consider what you recommend.

    Thanks for this post!

  31. the risk of getting kicked out versus the benefits from projecting your brand is too great. if you push your brand your product will follow.

  32. interesting post — and I enjoyed reading the comments. I love Twitter, it’s a great tool.

  33. Johnie says: 10/13/2008 at 8:01 am

    Hi Steve,

    Thank You for this post…I’m BRAND NEW to marketing myself on the web. I’m thrilled with how my followers are building on Twitter, and I wouldn’t want to do ANYTHING to blow it with them…I totally agree with you that Twitter IS NOT the place for shamless self promotion!!

    Sometimes I get so VERY tired of seeing ENDLESS promotion, on blogs, in foreums etc.

    When I go to a blog or forum I’m expecting to be able to get some help…or offer help to others.

    So you hit the nail right ON THE HEAD with this one.

    Johnie (I prefur my nickname when I’m among friends)


    [email protected]

    Learn Insider Secrets That Will Explode Your Business, No-Matter What Company Your With, go to http://www.preMLM.com/profile/JohnetteMcInerney

  34. Indirect affiliate is the best way as direct link is now not the way anymore.

  35. I`m sure affiliate marketers can succed following the tips above, what is sad that most of them are using way worse techniques in their advantage.

  36. true. moderation is important. it’s so easy to tune things out, and when readers begin to tune you out, you have a problem.

  37. Interesting post so far. I will bookmark it and come back once I have a few more followers.


  38. Interesting post, I’d never considered using Twitter as a marketing tool before.

  39. Great tips! I belive that as long as people do it tactfully selling or promoting on any social network is great! However balance it out and don’t focus on sales. The conversions will be much better when it is occasionally over constant.

    Serena Carcasole
    Your 1STOP Business Service Shop
    Outsource your way to success!

  40. I would not ever tweet specifically to sell a product, I don’t think there’s enough money to be made to justify that kind of annoying behavior. On the other hand I frequently tweet books I’m reading if I find them interesting. Before I knew about affiliate programs I frequently linked to products just to illustrate what I was talking about, now whenever I do that I use affiliate links. If any traffic does end up coming from my post I figure I deserve a piece of the pie for it, but I certainly wouldn’t go around posting things just trying to make money, that goes back to the best advice I’ve found for twitter newbies, “don’t be a dick.”

  41. I am new to Twitter as well agree that blatant posting of affiliate links is not a good idea and would be very annoying, however recommending products or services that are tried and tested can only be good for everyone.

  42. I’ve only just begun to use Twitter – never really understood it’s power in the affiliate marketing world until recently – but when Mashable can single handedly drive enough traffic to a site that it crashes, it’s application becomes obvious. I think developing enough credibility for people to click your links is one of the hardest things to do on there though.

  43. I am brand new to Twitter. As a fellow affiliate and owner of an Advertising Web site, i am not sure what to think about twitter as yet? I would like to be able to be constructive and add value to those people that need help establishing there own campains or affiliate selling. If anyone decides they would like to check my site and see if there is a product or tool that you would like to use then go for it.

    I offer free help to those that need it but you will need to join the mailing list on my website to get it:) thankyou.

  44. Don’t abuse it. Don’t use instant DM’s to new followers to market goods. Be careful; You might just isolate your niche and market at a brick wall. Follow those who offer you something of value.

    those would be my tips to those who wish to market on twitter

  45. Great post and lots to consider, i think that affiliate marketing via twitter is fine, so long as it doesnt impact on real engadgement at other times.

  46. I am sure nobody want’s to appear to be as spammer. So do the promotions and announcements in a way that benefits to the people reading the Tweets.

    As Darren, rightly said don’t just flaunt for some quick bucks !

    Thanks for a great post !


  47. Great article and tips many need to read. I love that you are always focused on your reader/follower/subscriber first.

  48. Thanks Darren.

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