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.