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New Study: One Word Describes Affiliate Marketing via Social Networks – Craptastic!

If you’re an affiliate marketer, 2009 doesn’t hold much growth for you, but Forrester predicts a healthy rise in spending after that–through 2014. In fact, US affiliate marketing spend will increase to $4 billion over that 5 year stretch, realizing a very healthy 16% growth rate.

However, if you’re hoping Facebook, Twitter, and others social networks will be your secret to success, you may wish to think again.

Sixty-two percent of US online buyers use social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace.com for communicating and keeping up with friends. Only 2% of US online buyers have purchased products through social networking sites. Affiliate sites get paid based on transactions they drive, not simply click-throughs. Thus, affiliate sites currently experimenting with social networks may be getting traffic from these sites, but they are sending very few qualified leads to marketers. Little money will therefore change hands in this scenario.

In fact, Forrester says that we shouldn’t rely on social networks to drive purchases anytime in the next five years! It says it will take at least that long for consumers to change their shopping habits and social networks to offer better shopping tools.

Anyone want to dispute this? Are you having great success with affiliate marketing with social networks?

  • http://twitter.com/Ed Ed

    I’d love to say that spraying affiliate links in social communities
    will simply get you hated.
    And in broadlooms of quality folks, it will.

    But there are corners of the internet where the audience is just as craptastic as the “friend” spamming.
    These sales won’t make it to Forrester’s numbers.
    And they wouldn’t have a great impact, anyway.

    But friends who already trust you, will use your link for things they need [or want] if you’re a genuine full-time part of the village.

    Anyone want to check out a free trial of Trackur? ;)

    • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

      Good point Ed. I know plenty of folks on Twitter that drop affiliate links now and then. I don’t care, because they’ve built trust with me. Outside of that group, I tend not to click on affiliate links.

      And you’re right. That 2% (or whatever the number is) of affiliate marketers that have success with social networks, will likely have GREAT success.

  • http://pelpa.posterous.com/ Riccardo Campaci

    I think Forrester is right just if we talk about non-targeted affiliate marketing actions on social networks. Concerning targeted promotional action, referring to specific groups interested in specific offers, social networks could be the way.
    .-= Riccardo Campaci´s last blog ..Creta, il Mare e l’Europa =-.

  • http://wellontop.com/ Sean Weigold Ferguson

    The reason most affiliate marketers haven’t had success with platforms like Facebook Ads is that they have a tendency treat them like AdWords campaigns. New tactics are necessary for success in the social realm. In my experience, social media campaigns require a lot more work (and skill) than search PPC. However, the rewards can be immense.

    Right now, social media isn’t scalable on the level that attracts and holds super-affiliates (which is why local businesses are thriving there). Most small/medium level affiliates lack the guidance, patience, and/or skill to succeed in this new environment.

    Of course, things are changing. Facebook is getting ready to release a new Ads interface that will be highly scalable. It is only a matter of time before affiliate advertisers wake up and discover the power of effective social media marketing.
    .-= Sean Weigold Ferguson´s last blog ..Website Traffic – Are Competitive Intelligence Tools Accurate? (Survey) =-.

    • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

      I tend to agree. I think the biggest problem is that marketers look as social networks as another distribution channel, and fail to realize that you need to develop a real connection, in order for your ads to be successful.

  • http://www.jebcommerce.com Jamie Birch

    You are totally right on this one. More affiliates need to build stronger relationships with their customers before they will be able to take advantage of social media to drive sales. They need to develop their “personality” in a stronger way and make a stronger connection with their customers/friends, otherwise it does just seem spammy when they throw out affiliate links.

    Now I have been told by some of our clients’ affiliate partners that they have had success on facebook and twitter, but only because their brand has a bit more personality than simply selling at the lowest price. There is someone behind the brand that the customer identifies with, an emotional connection of sorts with their users.
    .-= Jamie Birch´s last blog ..CJU Wrap Up =-.

  • http://techcrunchies.com Anand Srinivasan

    Agreed that social networks is not a place where you can try to sell me affiliate products. But having said that, I disagree with your argument that it is craptastic simply because only 2% buy products from social networks.

    2% is a good number. Maybe 0.005% of people buy from spam selling stuff, but that doesn’t stop people from spamming a good huge bulk of the people..as long as communicating to thousands has a low cost to it, the conversion rates does not matter.
    .-= Anand Srinivasan´s last blog ..State of Internet in Mexico =-.

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  • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/joann-forrester/b/764/940 JoAnn Forrester

    Instant market success does not just happen. If you are using Social Media to build your busienss this needs to be one of your marketing tools…not your only one. A good marketing campaign includes as many ways possibe from electronic… to a simple hand written thank you note..to the face to face meeting and handshake. Your marketing message needs to be carefully & creatively conceived and consistenly carried through.