This guide is a summary of proper methods and guidelines for affiliate marketing on social media. This is also a follow up to the first article No Precedence For Social Media: Amazon Hangs Us Out To Dry.
The purpose of this guide is to help affiliate marketers find success and make money with affiliate marketing in social media. Follow this comprehensive guide from start to finish and feel confident in the fact that you are using the proper methods affiliate marketing in social media.
I would like to thank Dave Cotter, head of Amazon’s affiliate program, for contributing to this guide. After writing an earlier social media affiliate marketing article, Dave reached out to me to create this guide to help affiliates all over the Internet understand the proper way to approach affiliate marketing on social media.
Yes, we do. We pay referral fees for qualifying sales generated from social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook. Social Media + Amazon Associates = $$!
As with all other methods of driving sales, Associates have to be sure the method is permitted by the terms of the Associates Operating Agreement and, if applicable, the Product Advertising API License Agreement, as well as the terms and conditions of the specific site on which their links are posted (for example, MySpace does not permit its users to post affiliate marketing links on their profiles).
You can find the Operating Agreement on the home page of Associates Central in the right hand navigation pane. Here are links to both the Operating Agreement and the Product Advertising API License Agreement for easy reference:
Amazon Associates Operating Agreement:
Product Advertising API:
Yes. If you use the shortened URL format offered by Amazon, you can be certain to receive referral fees for any qualifying sales you refer if the URL is formatted properly. Until our shortened URL service is offered through the Associates Site Stripe or another Associates product, you can easily find the right shortened URL format by visiting the detail page of the product you would like to recommend and clicking on the “Share with friends” link. The URL is displayed next to “Permalink” in the pop-up window. For instance, here is the shortened URL for the 6″ Kindle: http://amzn.com/B00154JDAI. To create an Associates tagged link, simply add your Associates tag to the end of the URL like so: http://amzn.com/B00154JDAI/tag=your id.
If you use another URL shortening service, whether your Associate ID is included can really vary from service to service. Generally speaking, when using an outside URL shortening service, your Amazon Associate ID must be included BEFORE you shorten the URL. You should be aware that some services will add their own Associates tag to the shortened URL or remove your Associates tag altogether. Also, please be aware that some shortening services use their shortened URLs to frame the Amazon site. If the links you get from any service do this, or otherwise do not resolve to the www.Amazon.com domain in the address bar, you cannot use them in the Associates Program and you will not earn referral fees from those links.
Also, bear in mind that you need to address any problems with a particular service with the provider of that service and Amazon can’t compensate you for any difficulties you may experience with other shortened URL providers.
Yes – when creating your social network user name and profile, be aware of copyrights and trademarks, both Amazon’s and those of others. As stated in the Associates Operating Agreement, Associates may not take any action that could reasonably cause customer confusion about our relationship with you or misrepresent the relationship between us and you. Using a user name or id which includes Amazon’s Proprietary Terms, like “Amazon” or “kindle,” or using our logos and other trademarked content on your profile may cause confusion by those accessing your profile and also misrepresents the relationship between us and you. Furthermore, as an Associate, you’re also responsible for ensuring that your content doesn’t infringe on the intellectual property rights of others. For more information, please review the Associates Operating Agreement.
In closing, we would love to hear from our Associates community about their use of Social Media. If you have comments or suggestions about the Associates Program and social networking, please write to us.
We hope you understand that you may not receive a personalized response to messages sent to this address.
It is not required to use the Amazon URL shortener to distribute affiliate links on social media. A few alternates that have been tested and confirmed to work with Amazon’s affiliate program are:
A popular way to promote affiliate links through social media is to place the full affiliate link on a website that you control, such as your own blog, or any site that is not hindered by long website links. Once you have done this, you then shorten the website address to the page that you placed the Amazon affiliate link on, and distribute that link.
By doing this, you are creating an extra step in the process, but by doing this, you can be confident that you will be paid for the qualifying referrals that are sent to Amazon’s website.
Sharing links on social media is a straightforward process. But when you involve affiliate links, it can become a bit tricky. As long as you understand a few key points about sharing affiliate links on social media, you can make it a painless process.
The first step in affiliate marketing is to find the product that you wish to promote. Once you have the product in mind, the next step is to find a proper affiliate link to this product.
This step is probably the most important one. Depending on the affiliate program, you must understand what constitutes a proper affiliate link. With Amazon, they make it easy. As long as your affiliate ID is in the query string parameters, the referrals will be tracked to your account. The query string parameter looks like this: tag=wwwsimplyidea-20
iPod Touch – Full Amazon Affiliate Link
iPod Touch – Amazon Shortened Link
As you can see in both of these examples, the bold text above, which is an affiliate id (this is how Amazon attributes the referred customer to your account), exists in both links and follows the guidelines for a proper affiliate link.
iPod Touch – 3rd Party Url Shortener
Above is a third example, which is a shortened link from the URL shortening service 9mp.com. Notice how the affiliate ID is not present in the visible link. However, it is still there. If you click the link and analyze the destination URL, you will see that the affiliate ID is in fact in the website URL.
It is absolutely important to make sure that if you use a 3rd party service that the affiliate ID as described above is present in the link BEFORE you shorten it with a 3rd party URL shortener. You CANNOT add an Amazon affiliate ID onto the end of a 3rd party shortened link (unless they offer a specific service for this).
It is always a good idea to test the link that you plan on sharing by entering it into a website browser and following the link by hitting enter after pasting the link into the website address bar.
Once you have confirmed that your link does contain your affiliate ID in such a way that follows the affiliate providers requirements (in this article as described by Amazon), you can begin to distribute this link to social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook.
As space permits, it is generally a good idea to include a brief description of the link and the reason that you are distributing this affiliate link to your social media audience.
Though it is not required, Amazon does suggest that you should register your social media profiles with your Amazon affiliate account by logging into the administration panel and submitting the link to each of the profiles you plan to use to distribute your valid affiliate link.
Many people have raised concerns over the extent of distribution of a link. For example, if you post an affiliate link to your Twitter profile and 50 people retweet your affiliate link, will you be paid for referrals on these links? The general answer is yes. Which means great things for affiliates.
However, keep in mind that many people who retweet will make changes to your link by swapping the affiliate ID for their own. You may think that your link is the one being distributed, but that might not always be the case.
I specifically asked Dave Cotter, from Amazon, about this phenomenon. His answer was rather encouraging because he said you cannot control what people do with your links. He said if a link goes viral, you the affiliate marketer should be rewarded for something you created being distributed in such a fashion. As long as the viral activity follows the guidelines of Amazon’s affiliate program, which is outlined above, you can expect to receive credit for all referrals.
The purpose of this article is to clarify exactly what is acceptable from the standpoint of Amazon. Since Amazon has been one of the leaders in affiliate marketing, if you follow their suggestions there is a good chance they will also be applicable to other affiliate programs. Please keep in mind that in order to be sure, you should read the guidelines for each affiliate program individually.
A good rule of thumb is, if you think it is possible that you could be denied the referral commission for the usage of affiliate links, it is probably not a good idea!
If you have any questions about this guide, please feel free to contact me directly or post a comment.
Again, a big thanks to Amazon for their contribution and willingness to help out the affiliate marketing community.
Joshua Odmark is a technology consultant at Simply Ideas LLC and also blogs for Performance Marketing Blog. Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.
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