Affiliate Marketing on Twitter — Is it OK?

twitter bird Affiliate Marketing on Twitter    Is it OK?I imagine many people have probably at least heard of the micro-blogging service named Twitter. However, probably a smaller number of people actually use it to grow their business. In this entry, I’ll share my perspective on affiliate marketing on Twitter and whether it’s ‘acceptable’ and provide best practices for marketing your business via Twitter. 

Darren Rowse from Problogger has posted a great entry about whether affiliate marketing belongs on Twitter. He points out a growing trend in commission-based marketing and its sprawl on social mediums such as Twitter. Within the 100+ comments, there are a hot debate between the ethical and practical uses of this newer form of marketing.

I’d like to step back for a moment and help clarify the spirit in how (and why) Twitter exists. Much like social networks, many users of Twitter have attracted to minimize the “noise” often found on the Web and their e-mail. Twitter users also appear to endow a certain amount of trust in each other since you’re supposed to follow people who are your In-Real-Life (IRL) friends. Having that said, a majority of Tweets consist of reputation and status-based discussions which usually describe what someone is doing, reading, writing, thinking about — all personal in context.

The fact is, there are many passionate marketers out there who are creative in how they market their brand, products and service. On the same note, there are just as many users on Twitter and additional social networks who defend their territory — as a community — and take offense to any unwanted advertising on their turf.

twitter shot Affiliate Marketing on Twitter    Is it OK?

This is Infusionsoft on Twitter. Click to check it out and follow us!

As a professional marketer, you must take steps to laser target your audience to people who are truly interested in your messaging. Instead of targeting the medium, focus your efforts toward your audience, the people. As I mentioned above, Twitter users typically are very sensitive to broad “blasts” which happen to include them, in addition to unsolicited follow requests.

Is Infusionsoft against Twitter usage? No way! We encourage all our clients to go ahead and use Twitter and interact in the variety of discussions out there. This is a Web 2.0 world and we know consumers have choices and manage their experiences. As a small business owner, you have an advantage in that you get to attract, interact and build strong relationships with customers and prospects on virtually any service. However, we advise clients to be aware of what they are sending and consider the potential adverse affects of sending large quantities of messages over Twitter.

Now that I have shared my perspective on affiliate marketing on Twitter, I want to share some tips which will make the best of the dynamics on Twitter and many other social media networks. Bear in mind, these are best practices and they’re flexible.

Best Practices for Marketing on Twitter:

  • Establish Your Brand – Establish your company’s brand and make it closely blend with the theme and style of your existing Web site. First step is to register and get on Twitter, second is customizing your Twitter theme.
  • Be Active – The only way to establish interest and attract new prospects is to be active. I strongly recommend posting messages that are informative and provide value for followers.
  • Shorten Links –When posting Web links, be sure to shorten them so you can maximize the words in your Tweet. Links can be shortened automatically with Twitter applications or you can use services like TinyURL, Cli.gs, etc.
  • Be Mindful of the 140 Chr. Limit – Be mindful of the 140-character limit imposed on Twitter. The limit is there so your words become more important. Use abbreviations when appropriate and slang, if possible.
  • Interact – Leverage the use of the reply feature by pre-pending the @ symbol before another Twitter user’s name. For instance, if you want to reply to Infusionsoft, you would use @Infusionsoft in your message.  This will help your followers observe who you’re interacting with and vice-versa when they reply back.
  • Be Yourself – While it may be a challenge when dating, it shouldn’t be on Twitter. Relax and feel comfortable to share personal thoughts over your small business’ account. This will help your followers get to know you.
  • Search and Follow Twitter Users of Interest – It’s a good idea to routinely seek out your industry peers and colleagues to connect with them. To do that, you must be logged in and click the “Follow” button under their avatar. However, don’t follow users blindly if you really have no idea who they are.
  • Use the Tools Pros Use — Once you feel comfortable with the relatively simple Twitter interface and fundamentals, consider using tools the pros use such as Twhirl, TweetDeck, Twitter Search, Twitturly and more. These will aid you in keeping track of the interactions on Twitter.

Having said all that, remember the landscape in Social Media is always changing, so what was great yesterday may not be great today. Every marketer should always test, analyze and adapt to the needs of their users.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on marketing via Twitter and perhaps your usage of Twitter thus far. Share your comments below. icon smile Affiliate Marketing on Twitter    Is it OK?

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  • http://www.customersystemsinc.com Chris Lee

    Joe,

    One of the points you made was Twitter providing a way to communicate while eliminating the noise on the internet. At any time you can follow & un-follow (tune down the noise) people so I think your tweets need to be interesting/germane or at least not irritating. Throwing in some marketing/promotion here & there is bearable.

    I think the whole concept of emotional bank account comes into play. If a person consistently tweets interesting or valuable info, I can deal with an ad here & there. If that’s all they tweet, I won’t follow for long.

    I get that not everyone has an unending pipeline of breaking news or earth shattering comments. For me, if folks I follow at least have comments that I usually find interesting (oftentimes personal), then I’m happy to read them.

    Regarding the tactics mentioned in the post on Problogger, I’m not a big fan. While I think they might be effective, if I saw a pattern of those from folks who didn’t tweet much else, I definitely wouldn’t follow. I’d also lose some respect for the person originating the tweets.

    Another thing that is a big factor for me in determining whether I follow someone is the the About Me page on the site (often blog) that a user’s Twitter profile links to. When someone follows you, you want to know who they are & why they might be connecting to you.

    Interesting stuff, Joe.

    Chris

  • http://www.myfastype.com Terry Green

    Great blog post about Twitter. I don’t know that I use it to actually market my business … more to connect with people I know or even just acquainted with and would like to get to know more about. As silly as it seems, it’s turning out to be a great networking tool. Oh, and I love your “best practices” list. I just switched from using OutTwit to TweetDeck because OutTwit was so distracting that it was hard to do anything but tweet. TweetDeck is awesome. I guess I need to get on board and see about customizing my Twitter theme though.

    Thanks!

    Terry

  • http://www.infusionsoft.com/ Joe Manna

    @Chris Lee — Thanks for the comments. I agree that we all have emotional banks that need deposits and the occasional withdrawal. Some tactics demonstrated in the Problogger entry I personally disagree with, but it’s a new landscape and it’s only a matter of time until marketers jump on it.

    @Terry Green — Glad to hear you enjoyed the best practices I mentioned. I also find Twitter to be a great networking tool. It’s also a great way to voyeur into the conversation and gain insight into what people are talking about “right now.”

    Thanks, folks for your insight.

    ~Joe

  • http://www.thelettertwo.com Ken

    Joe – this is a great post and offers some great insights into how to use Twitter for marketing usage. I agree that you need to interact and be yourself. Twitter and social media are not one-way means of communication. It’s just another way to have a conversation. Thanks for the post!

  • http://www.solecontrolsolutions.com/blog/ Dag

    Does anyone else have any experience with this?

  • Affiliate

    Well said, finally a good report on this stuff

  • stevenhettema

    Joe, I appreciate your approach to the pro's of using social networks like twitter to develop prospective clients but only by actually adding to the culture instead of only taking advantage of it or abusing it. I will be conducting training with my 84 affiliates to ensure NSIC and our representatives are acting in a contributory fashion.

  • http://www.iintense.com backlinks

    nice post, thanks for the share!

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