How to Achieve Affiliate Marketing Success Using Instagram

How to Achieve Affiliate Marketing Success Using Instagram
Over one billion people use Instagram. It’s the largest image-focused social media platform in the world, and the third-largest multimedia platform in the world, behind Facebook and YouTube.

Instagram combines its massive reach with incredible retention and industry-leading engagement. The average Instagram user spends 53 minutes on the platform every day. That’s more than Facebook (38 minutes per day) or YouTube (40 minutes per session), which most people often think have the best engagement of any social media platforms.

So, why aren’t you using Instagram to promote your affiliate offers?

You may already have an Instagram account, but you’ve hit a follower plateau. You might have no knowledge of Instagram, beyond a vague idea that it’s “the one with the photo filters.” You might be looking for a few ways to monetize the followers you already have.

No matter where you are in your Instagram journey, you’ll find something useful here. It’s a quick and efficient guide for successfully promoting affiliate offers on Instagram, for everyone from Insta experts to social media first-timers. Let’s get started with the basics...

Build an identity instead of promoting a brand

You’re not a brand, except in the sense that you are a brand — a unique and interesting person with neat stuff to share on Instagram.

Don’t try to pretend to be Johnny Limited-Time-Offer or Molly Multilevel Marketing. We’ve mentioned the importance of authenticity before, but it bears repeating here. Many people make the mistake of trying to build “brands” around specific affiliate products, rather than building authentic accounts worth following. Instagram — like other social media platforms — is full of dead or discarded affiliate-focused accounts with a handful of followers.

The world has been online for over 20 years now, and most users are pretty savvy. People can smell a sales pitch from miles away. If you only use Instagram to post canned inspirational posters and staged product shots, people will catch on.

Popular Instagram accounts promote sponsors and/or affiliate offers all the time. This might seem like it contradicts everything you just read, but it really doesn’t. Popular accounts tend to make their promotions look like another aspect of their day-to-day activity, rather than the focus of their efforts. A fitness influencer might post affiliate links to weight-loss products. A financially-focused Instagram account might post affiliate links to stock-trading courses or newsletters. These promotions take place in between posts that have nothing to do with affiliate marketing or trying to make sales, so they look more natural.

Social media success, whether on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, or anywhere else, tends to be built around personality and authenticity, not promotional work. People like buying stuff, but they don’t like to feel like they’re bombarded by sales pitches all the time.

You’ll find it much easier to be authentic and build connections on Instagram if you enjoy it. Of course, it’s easier to enjoy social media if you’re sharing stuff you’d like regardless of its profit potential...

Niche down and stay focused

Have you ever had a plumber try to sell you software? Did the last food blog you found pitch gardening tools at the end of its recipe guides?

Of course not. It wouldn’t make sense. If you try to sell affiliate offers that don’t fit your niche, it won’t make sense to your audience, either.

If you already have a successful Instagram account, it’s important to promote offers that make sense for your “brand,” so to speak. Health and fitness accounts have a ton of options, but savvy affiliate marketers can find ways to promote relevant offers in any niche. Check out our Campaigns database — we’ve got over 200 offers you can promote.

If you’re just starting to build an Instagram account, you’ve got a whole universe of affiliate offers to choose from. This allows you to dial in a combination of valuable offers and natural interest.

If you find a lucrative niche in which you enjoy creating content, it’ll be easier to create a persona that can organically sell all sorts of related stuff. You can even specialize in international niches — we have French and Spanish offers in our Campaigns database.

Follow and learn from others in your niche… but don’t copy them!

Whatever you do, you won’t be the first to do it.

Did you find a baby squirrel in your driveway and raise it as a pet? I did once. There were already a dozen pet-squirrel accounts on Instagram by the time I started mine. Days after I made the account, he was gone, back to the trees as nature intended. I was very sad because I miss him, and he made some great content.

Every one of those dozen pet-squirrel accounts were (and still are) incredibly popular. You’d think watching squirrels play would get repetitive, but those little buggers are super entertaining. If you can be entertaining, your audience will trust you much more when you have something to sell.

The top influencers in your niche, whether it’s pet squirrels or apocalypse-survival tips (we’ve got affiliate offers for that niche, too), know how to make interesting, engaging, and entertaining content. Watching and learning from them can be as good a crash course for Instagram success as the expensive Instagram training guides and mastermind groups.

Don’t try to imitate their success. Understand it. Ask good questions and keep track of your answers:

  • When are they posting?
  • What “style” are their posts?
  • What do they write for their posts?
  • How are commenters responding positively (and negatively)?
  • What are they promoting?
  • Are many accounts promoting the same (or similar) offers?

These are some questions to help you start, but you might have others, depending on the niche you’ve chosen and the influencers you find.

The goal of studying your competition, so to speak, should never be to copy them or imitate them — although you may decide to parody them if you’ve got strong comedy chops. Every great artist has their own style, whether they’re working in ink on canvas, food or baked goods on plates, or Instagram filters on staged workout photos.

The adage “good artists copy, great artists steal” makes an important distinction, and it’s worth noting. If you copy popular accounts, frequent users will notice, because those popular posts will probably show up within minutes of scrolling past yours. If you take the best ideas from your competitors and remix them in a way that’s authentically yours, people will still enjoy it.

For example, both Lord of the Rings and Avengers: Endgame both had magically-superpowered armies appear out of nowhere to save the day at the last minute, but you probably didn’t think about that similarity before you read this. That’s because Endgame’s superhero army was authentic and distinctive to the Marvel universe, while Lord of the Rings had a bunch of ghost zombies saving the day.

Go ahead and steal ideas. Everyone else does. Just don’t copy-paste everyone else’s posts into your account.

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