Social Media Marketing For Affiliates

August 10, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Heya, friends! Hope you’re not too full from lunch because it’s time to snack on some affiliate marketing goodness with the boys who do it better than anyone. Seriously, this panel is just pure sexy. We have Neil Patel, Brent Csutoras, Todd Malicoat and new dad Chris Winfield.   Sadly, Chris didn’t bring Vi with him. Maybe next time.

Even without a cute baby to lure people in, this room is absolutely packed.  I feel bad for all those standing. But not badly enough to give up my first row seat. Sorry, late comers.

Up first is Chris Winfield.

Chris says you need to try different things with social media.  Just because everyone is talking about Twitter, doesn’t mean its your only solution. It’s not. You have to find what’s right for you.  With all the new sites/mediums, make sure you use what works for you. Social media shouldn’t be different from any of your other marketing channels. You should be looking for ROI. You should be tracking what you’re doing. Don’t do it just for the sake of doing it.  Facebook Fan pages won’t work for everyone. If you’re boring, people won’t want to be a fan of you (burn!). But you can create Facebook groups around those people or around an idea.  For some people, you may be better off in an active forum than on a site like Twitter.  Forums are ignored because they’re not sexy, but there can be a lot of value there if it’s suited for your business and what you’re trying to accomplish. The biggest isn’t always the best.

Strategy: Join communities and participate. You get out what you put in.

  • Be active.
  • Be helpful.
  • Provide good content
  • Don’t be overly self serving

Work to hit your goals for a set medium. Don’t use Twitter just to tweet. Mix your Twitter account with your blog to leverage it even further. Promote your YouTube videos on Digg. Promote blog posts that link to you. Mix it all up to get good engagement. Inform your customers.

How large social sites work

Digg:  The visibility you get means more than the traffic.  So many people go to sites like Digg. If they go there, they may see a site they’ve never heard of. From there, that site gets links from the mainstream media. Then it gets picked up in more social media outlets. Then others bloggers find it and link to it.  At some point, traditional news outlets find it. All of sudden, people who never knew about your Web site are now finding you all over. The snowball effect creates a huge amount of visibility.

Niche sites:  Pick sites that match your niche and become a contributor. You’re gonna get less people to your site, but you’re going to be able to do it easier and it will be a lot more targeted.

Some small sites that may work for you based on industry:


Commerce Sites

  • Iliketotallyloveit
  • Dealigg
  • ThisNext


Art & Design

  • Design Float
  • Pixel Groovy



  • Test to find out what works
  • Scrap what doesn’t
  • Be active and helpful in the communities
  • Leverage everything together
  • Go niche

Next up is Brent.

Social media is supported by the search engines as a way to build links. The only other white hat ways to get links are to beg, hope and pray.

Creating Content For Social Media

Content is your method to success. Every part of the process in social media is important, but the content is really what you’re getting the visibility for and hoping people link to. It has to be really good,

  • Lists: Mix it up. Use negative lists. Lists are very effective. The only thing he suggests is that you make sure your list is comprehensive and valuable. People have saturated the social media industry with lists. Mix it up. Mix your numbers. When you write it, realize that it has to appeal to everyone.
  • How Tos: Most people are looking for how tos when they’re trying to accomplish something. It’s a good opportunity to draw someone in for a sale because how tos often show people how hard it is to do something. It has to be really valuable. Be helpful, make it easy to read and be visual. Videos are the most effective How Tos.
  • Current Events: Sites like Digg care about current news. It’s about the most popular stuff on the Web right now. When you get into current events and news, you can’t put a lot of steps in the process. You need a separate policy for dealing with current news because your window is a lot shorter. You need to act fast and to research so that you can tell a better story than the source did and BECOME the source. Be accurate.
  • Offbeat/Extreme: Most fun to write, but the hardest to sell. You have to always think about your brand and what line you’re willing to cross. How far are you willing to go from your product? If you’re willing to take a couple of steps, those things are hooks like no other. They pull everyone in.
  • Image: Another very successful tactic. Make sure you’re following the site’s terms of service. Host your own image. Be unique. Use within a post.

Coming up with a strategy

You need to step back and identify your social goals, your desired keywords and your related keywords.

Research: Take time to research what has already worked. Go find out what people have done before. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Find a way to make old tricks new. All social sites have search engines on them. Search your key phrases, other domains, etc, to find out what’s been successful in the past. Then, take your competitors’ URLs and  put it in the site search. You can see how successful they’ve been and what they’ve already done.  Do searches for things like “top [your keyword]”, “best [your keyword”, etc.

Lost of ideas…now what?

  • What’s the most likely to succeed?
  • What would be most beneficial for the site? What would your regular readers be most interested in reading? What’s good for the brand? What’s best for conversions?
  • What’s most likely to get links?
  • What’s good for the writers? Make sure the writer has the experience to write it.

Quick Tips

  • Involve your staff
  • Use current events
  • Plan for success
  • Don’t accept crap

Last up is Todd. Everyone say hi to Todd.

Tracking Social Media

  • When do you track?
  • What do you track?
  • How do you track it?

When do you track? Start with your research.  That gives you a chance to set up your tools and to know what you’re going to be tracking. You do that beforehand. Go through the social sites and see what was already popular on Digg/StumbleUpon, etc.  Search Most Dugg, Most Stumbled and Google for titles.   Then, go out and check out the search results. Do it on some of your competitor sites. Use the social search engines. 97th Floor has Social Media for FireFox.

Research your market. Use Quarkbase to see what was successful for certain keywords. It will show you what worked before.  Search the sites for your keywords.

Stretch relevancy: You want global link popularity. Your link bait doesn’t have to be 100 percent relevant to your site. Don’t be afraid to be off topic. You can stretch relevance.

When do you track? Before you launch. Set up your tools and get your baseline metrics to see where you were before and where you are after.   Stuff to look at it – number of feed subscribers, total page/site links, ranking for targeted keywords. Track after 7 days, 30 days, 90 days and a year.

What do you track?

  • traffic: unique visitors, page views, time on site, etc.
  • awareness: brand mentions, article/campaign mentions
  • links: inbound links to the page/section, trust of links, authority, and anchor text
  • engagement: comments on site, comments off site, length of comments, number of contact emails.
  • conversions: lead generations, sales, etc.

How do you Track?

Traffic: Google Analytics


Links: Linkscape, Site explorer

Engagement: Manual, Spreadsheet? Intense Debate WordPress plugin.

Conversion: Google Analytics. Salesforce.

Question & Answer

Any rules for Twitter etiquette?

Todd: Don’t follow and unfollow people.

Chris: Don’t auto DM people. They don’t like it.  Don’t send links to viruses.

Should you tweet blog posts automatically?

Chris: If you’re just using Twitter as a feed, unless you’re CNN, you’re not going to get a lot of traction.

If you’re doing a new blog on a topic, would you do something on a new domain or would you use Blogger or WordPress?

Chris: Unless you’re looking to churn and burn, he’s not a believer of using Blogger or WordPress. The tradeoff isn’t there. There are way more cons than pros.

Brent: It depends on your product or your brand. Are you really commercial with a bunch of “buy nows” buttons? If so, you may need to create a second platform, but never do it on someone else’s host.

What about responding to people on Twitter. Do you do it online with a lot of @ replies, or do you take it out of sight with DMs?

Chris: You want to have a nice balance.  If you’re trying to diffuse a situation, than you should take it out of sight.

[To be fair, Twitter’s new @ policy pretty much handles this since you won’t see replies to people you’re not following.]

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