Leveraging Social Media Within Affiliate Marketing


Social media can seem like a delicate marketplace


Social media can seem like a delicate marketplace full of folk who will vociferously object to any attempt by a company they see as manipulative or too commercial entering their space, no matter how benign. Sometimes, they will work to have that company removed from the system and the more aggressive will hound these companies off all related areas. Social media is also often seen as time intensive and, thus, too difficult to properly engage over. While social media is not as easy as traditional push media to enter, there are opportunities for affiliate marketers to stand out within this area, and effectively leverage social media.

Beyond the media

There are many social media platforms

- far more than those usual suspects
- Facebook. Twitter. Del.icio.us, Stumble Upon, Reddit and Digg. Wikipedia has a page on social media sites and it is huge with a short description for each one. Filling the needs of everyone from eco-warriors to vampires and werewolves, these social sites may not all be suitable for affiliates looking to engage with potential customers unless your demographic fits the meme of the site.

Beyond making Facebook friends, following people on Twitter and bookmarking things in Del.icio.us, there are other methods of engaging with your target audience. The key thing to remember is to not blast the same message repeatedly and to not pretend to be someone you aren't. The former gets you ignored and the latter is a aiminal offence.

Blogging

Blagging is a much used and abused form of creating fresh content to get a rankings boost in Google, usually by scraping the content of other people's niche sites and repurposing it for their own. This could be for a simple blog, which sells as space, or for a link farm. Whatever the reason, it is unlikely to create engagement. A blog can only create engagement if comments are turned on, and if the author is engaging.

Blogging is about communicating in a personal way. Companies have tackled this particularly well in some cases, with different employees blogging about life within and outside the company, adding a personal touch to a corporate message. Blogging should communicate and engage, not dictate and broadcast. This can seem to be labour intensive; however, if a scheduled time is set aside each week, soon, blog ideas will be flowing.

With a blog, be aware that people could post negative comments. These people may be just trying to stir trouble or they may be genuine. Do allow some negative comments on your blog, as only positive posted messages can look suspicious. Engage these people by email, or by other means away from the blog as well, to ensure their complaints, if legitimate, are handled.

Forums

Forums have been around for a long time. They started back in the days of newsgroups, BBSs (Bulletin Board System - you dialled in to post messages and interact with people) and related technologies. Selling over these systems needs to be done more indirectly for the effort to be effective. Generally, a signature file is allowed which enables the person posting to self-identify. Usually, there is also a profile page. While it is important to not be too sales-y within these two spaces, building brand awareness and authority can be done.

Forums provide an opportunity to engage, display expertise and meet part of the community you sell to, which can help with how products or services are displayed and described, what additional products could be added to the mix or how to better entice players on to a particular forum. Moving beyond forums specifically aimed at gamblers to ones demographically similar to the gambling consumer can help capture people not currently playing but who are open to the possibility. While this form of marketing is much more labour intensive and requires interests outside the direct affiliate channel be leveraged, it can also be extremely effective.

Yahoo! Answers is one of the most abused systems for spam with some people engaging in practices now illegal under UK and EU law. This is a forum where users can ask a question and have it answered by other users. In this sense, it is answering questions through the wisdom of the crowd method. There are examples of the same person going on as one user, asking a question, then logging on as another user and answering it to get exposure.

Yahoo! Answers is best engaged over as an expert. To engage in this way, a suggestion is to create an account as an expert or player of a specific type of game and answer questions posed on how-to, strategies and techniques. Links from Yahoo! Answers are useful and if voted best answer, the answer and link becomes highly visible.
 
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