THE RULES OF THE GAME


Understanding your place in the social environment as an affiliate.


THERE WILL ALWAYS be opinions about the scrupulous extra-marital affair that affiliate marketing has with social media. You might want to debate over the ethic or value-orientation behind this relationship. As it has always been, the legitimacy of marketing tactics has invited a great deal of concern. It increases further for affiliate marketing because it thrives on tracking people to your platform by guiding their browsing behaviour. However, the fact is that affiliate marketing and social media are bound to co-exist. The non-commercial expansion of social media and its vast scope makes it irresistible to affiliate marketing.

A few years back, some Twitter users were found participating in a certain ad network, paving for posting affiliate codes. There was quite a backlash, fuelling worries that social media would eventually become plagued in the hands of marketers. What followed were recommendations for the obvious and exclusive affiliate practices for marketing via this media. The vast platform of social networking was too lucrative to be ignored by any marketing individual. At the same time, many were opposed to affiliate marketers using social media at all, concerned by their 'faceless' image. The discussions then were aporetic, but a lot of water has since passed under the bridge and social media has grown to Goliath proportions. Affiliate marketing has mixed with social platforms, swimmingly.

Basic principles

Although the association of these two mediums has been conveniently placed into the bracket of the 'inevitable', it doesn't mean that the responsibility of an affiliate marketer towards his target crowd has lessened. The basic principles have not changed; you have to be honest. If you are promoting something that could eventually earn you revenue, the people who are receiving these promotions must be made aware. The movement of many people on these platforms is intended for general communication, which is totally non¬commercial in nature, and this 'naпvetй', as such, provides a test of integrity for affiliate marketers.

Let's assume you have a blog containing original information. People reference this information for their decision-making in a particular domain. Now, you might want to post affiliate links on that blog with disclosures. If your reader is using information provided by you on your blog and in return obliges your affiliate link, you might consider it as compensation for your hard work. However, posting any link just to milk your readers' base would only dilute your viewer's loyalty and your own credibility as an author. While marketing a product, your own reputation must not become tasteless.

"In order to create longevity in the social space, you must comply with the rules of the game. "

Discretion

The whole purpose of marketing revolves around profit, and social media has lots of opportunity for that. Besides, affiliate marketing is one of the most economic ways to reach to an unimaginable volume of mass. Tracking what we do is difficult with such a plethora of platforms lying before us, but that does not soften the need to be prudent. There is a difference between building a content site to promote affiliate programs and inserting affiliate links into social communications. Discretion is the key.

Every affiliate marketer has to guide his own ethical conduct. In this case, a personal checklist should act as a mantra for any affiliate marketer to recite before every campaign. To help, we can start with a few basics:

• use simple and comprehensive disclosures
• post relevant links
• your purpose must not contradict your professional responsibility or your own personal reputation
• post something that will be of value to the end user
• last but not least, propagate clean and transparent content and do not create social spam

Disclosures are a powerful tool for any marketer, which could stand them apart from their competition and earn them much coveted trust. Disclosures are not just about being transparent in telling people that you are an affiliate for a company that sells something; it is making sure that your audience is under no illusions as to who you are.

Social media is a platform built on trust and acquaintanceship and is thriving on human nature to build, value and maintain relationships. If you want to be successful and, more importantly, create longevity in this arena, you must comply with the rules of the game. Present the product that earns you credible word-of-mouth, trustworthy recommendations, and establishes a self-sustaining system of promotion for itself, where the product quality brings its user back, again and again.
 
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