A brand’s guide to influencer affiliate marketing

Blog cover: Social media Affiliate Marketing

The boom of social media over the past ten years has led to the rise of a powerful, new marketing tool for brands:

Influencer affiliates

With large and engaged followings, influencers can leverage their social media presence to reach and connect with potential customers for your company. Working with them is an opportunity to build your brand awareness, create more authentic ad content, and, most importantly, generate high-quality leads, clicks, or sales.

Because of this, influencers can be a great addition to your affiliate marketing program.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about influencer affiliate marketing for brands, including

  • What influencer affiliate marketing is
  • Why you should include influencers in your affiliate marketing plan
  • What you need to consider when you partner with influencers
  • Strategies to get top influencers to promote your brand using affiliate marketing

What is influencer affiliate marketing?

Influencer affiliate marketing is a marketing strategy that encourages individual influencers (sometimes called affiliates) on any social network to promote your brand in exchange for a commission on sales, lead signups, or clicks.

Why your brand should use influencer marketing

Why you should include influencers in your affiliate marketing program

Affiliate marketing and influencer marketing overlap in many ways. Both marketing strategies involve using brand advocates to promote your products and services. Given the similarities, influencers can easily be welcomed into your affiliate marketing program and begin promoting your brand.

Here are some of the top reasons why you should include influencers in your affiliate marketing program.

You can unlock a new marketing channel

Influencers have taken their social media presence and turned it into a marketing machine. With built-in followings, influencers can directly put your brand in front of targeted audiences on specific platforms like Instagram, Youtube, TikTok, and more.

Sell more with social proof

Audiences follow what influencers do. So much so that eight out of every ten consumers purchased something after seeing a recommendation from an influencer.

Create engaging content

With fewer consumers trusting advertisements, influencers can promote your products or services in a more valuable and authentic way with content like how-to guides, product reviews, and influencer commentary.
Connect with your audience

Influencers use social media to share their life with others, and as a result, audiences feel the same connection as they do with friends and family.

Video Content for Affiliate Marketing

3 things to consider when partnering with influencer affiliates

Before sending your affiliate pitch to influencers, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here’s what you should consider when starting affiliate marketing for influencers.

What is your marketing strategy?

What is your brand’s marketing strategy? Do you want to build brand awareness? Do you want to increase your conversion rate? Or are you specifically focused on increasing your average order value? Set clear goals that you can track further down the line.

What will you pay your influencer affiliates?

While affiliate marketing, in general, uses a pay-for-performance model, influencer affiliates can (and do) ask for a different payment structure. These are the most common payment models:

No upfront fee, and pay for results only making it a low-risk investment
Pay a small fee and give them your usual commission rate
You pay a higher fee and give them a lower commission rate

It can also be a hybrid version, depending on the influencer.

What type of ad works best for your brand?

Consider how your brand, and the types of ads you use, fits with social media platforms.

E-commerce brands are typically best shown in images. Finding influencers on Instagram who can model and display your products in a visually appealing way can be highly effective promotional material.

SaaS brands can’t easily be shown in an image but are great for video content. For example, partnering with a YouTuber to create video tutorials around how to use software is a great way to show your product in action.
Read more about choosing the best social media platform for affiliate marketing here.

Influencers affiliate marketing niche influencers

What to consider when partnering with influencers

Before sending your affiliate pitch to influencers, there’s a few things to keep in mind. Here’s what you should consider when starting affiliate marketing for influencers.

What is your marketing strategy?

What is your brand’s marketing strategy? Do you want to build brand awareness? Or are you specifically focused on driving conversions?

Affiliate marketing focuses on driving conversions, with affiliates using referral links to directly lead audiences to your site to make a purchase.

Meanwhile, influencer marketing focuses more on brand exposure. And without referral links, there’s no way to directly see the result of an influencer’s post and a purchase on a website.

What will you pay influencers?

Influencer marketing generally requires an up-front fee, as 2/3rds of influencers said they preferred to be paid up front for their sponsorship. This requires a considerable amount of research into the ROI and negotiating between your brand and the influencer.

In contrast, affiliate marketing takes a pay-for-performance model. You only pay for actual results — whether that be clicks, sign ups or purchases. This makes affiliate marketing a low-risk investment.

Which social media platforms do you use?

Affiliates and influencers are quite similar, both use content to share thoughts, trends and advice within a given niche.

For example, if you are in the travel nichel you share where to take a trip to. If you are in the fitness niche, you share workout tips. If you are in the fashion niche, you share style trends.

The difference is in how influencers and affiliates promote. Affiliates tend to have blogs or websites. Influencers stick to social media sites like Instagram and YouTube.

Using the example above, a travel affiliate would have a blog to detail their trip itinerary. A travel influencer would post pictures of the spots they visited on Instagram. Or a fitness affiliate would have a website with workout guides. While a fitness influencer would post workout videos on YouTube.

Now, of course this is not mutually exclusive. Affiliates can use social media, but it is likely to be an extension of their blog or website. But generally, influencers use social media as their main or only channel.

What type of ad works best for your brand?

Consider how your brand, and the types of ads you use, fits with social media platforms.

E-commerce brands are typically best shown in images. Finding influencers on Instagram who can model and display your products in a way that is visually appealing can be highly effective promotional material.

SaaS brands can’t really be displayed in an image, but are great for video content. Partnering with a YouTuber to create video tutorials around how to use software is a great way to show your product in action.

Read more about choosing the best social media platform for affiliate marketing here.

how to find influencers

How to get top influencers to promote your product

This growing industry provides an excellent opportunity for affiliate marketing, so there’s no better time to start finding influencer affiliate partners. Here’s how you can get started.

Seek out influencers that fit your niche

Influencers can be social media personalities, industry experts, thought leaders, trendsetters, niche bloggers. They can range from large-scale celebrity influencers with millions of followers to micro-influencers with niche audiences.

Unless you plan to partner with celebrity-level influencers, it is best to find influencers that fit your brand and share the same target audience.

Fern & Petal Affiliate Program

A good example is Fern & Petal who partners with influencers to promote their store’s wellness products. Along with being in the wellness niche, the influencers are also local to Vancouver, where Fern & Petal is based. Combining large social media followings and connecting to the community makes these influencers the ideal affiliate to reach the store’s customer base and promote their products.

Search social media to find top influencers

Since social media is where most influencers share their content, this is a great starting point for your search.
Start by searching hashtags related to your brand’s niche. For example, find influencers by searching for #travelgram or #wanderlust for anything tourism-related if you are in the travel industry.

Industry-centric hashtags: Begin with high-level industry-centric hashtags like tech, beauty, fashion, fitness, cooking, travel, parenting, auto, photography, for example.

Product hashtags: Try hashtags related to your products, like #eyeshadow for makeup brands.

Brand hashtags: Search hashtags for your brand or branded products, for instance, #nikon or #nikon750.

Competitor hashtags: Look at the hashtags for your competitors, such as their branded name or any hashtags they promote, to see who is promoting their products.

Location-based hashtags: For local businesses or ones looking to target a specific region, look up hashtags and locations of certain areas to see who is popular in the area. Even if they are not necessarily in your niche, they may have more influence just by being known in the local community.

You can also search affiliate marketing hashtags like #affiliate or #ad to see influencers already familiar with affiliate marketing. However, we would suggest using caution when taking this approach, as you may find low-quality affiliates or spam accounts in the process.
Sites like Hashtagify can also help you find the most popular hashtags for your particular niche.

What to look for when searching for influencers

There’s likely to be a ton of results from your hashtag search. Generally, social media platform’s algorithms will show popular content at the top. But popularity does not necessarily mean they are the right influencer to promote your brand.

With this in mind, there are a few things to look for when you are searching, including:

  • The platforms the influencer actively uses
  • The quality of their content
  • How many followers they have
  • How engaged their followers are

Make sure there is a “fit” with your brand

Beyond the number of followers and engagement, it’s essential to look at how well they fit your brand.

Lifestyle influencer and blogger @maduhlyn_ explains that this is a two-way partnership for both affiliates and brands. Her advice to brands is to look for creators whose messaging aligns with their own so that the collaboration is a natural fit.

If I see that a brand is only looking for affiliates to shill products, I turn them down. Sadly, there are a lot of brands like this out there. I don’t think this is an effective marketing strategy for the brand or the affiliate. I think - or at least I hope - that most followers are clever enough to see when an affiliate does not have a genuine connection with the brand they are promoting.

One way to ensure this is by pitching your affiliate program to any influencer that has ever submitted user-generated content. If they are already mentioning social media, there’s a very likely chance they’d like to become an affiliate and begin earning commissions for what they are sharing.

How to get top influencers to promote your product

This growing industry provides an excellent opportunity for affiliate marketing, so there’s no better time to start finding influencer affiliate partners. Here’s how you can get started.

Seek out influencers that fit your niche

Influencers can be social media personalities, industry experts, thought leaders, trendsetters, niche bloggers. They can range from large-scale celebrity influencers with millions of followers to micro-influencers with niche audiences.

Unless you plan to partner with celebrity-level influencers, it is best to find influencers that fit your brand and share the same target audience.

Influencer instagram post

One way to ensure this is by pitching your affiliate program to any influencer that has ever submitted user-generated content. If they are already mentioning social media, there’s a very likely chance they’d like to become an affiliate and begin earning commissions for what they are sharing.

Unlock the power of micro-influencers

While most large-scale influencers are not likely to participate in a pay-for-performance model, micro-influencers are more open to this type of compensation, making them an ideal affiliate for your program.

Micro-influencers are social media influencers on a smaller scale, with somewhere between 1,000 to 100,000 followers. They tend to be more niche-focused with expertise in cooking, traveling, gaming, makeup, for example.

A bonus of micro-influencers is the level of engagement they generate. Impact found that an increase in followers results in a decrease in engagement, and influencers with 1,000 followers had engagement as high as 85%.

How to get influencers to promote your product using affiliate marketing

Once you have completed your research and have a target list of influencers and micro-influencers, the next step is asking them to promote your product as an affiliate.

How do you do that?

By sending them a slightly different version of your company brand pitch email. Your email should be personalized to the influencer and include:

  • A good subject line
  • A compliment about one of their social media posts or their social media in general and why you like it - be specific
  • An introduction to your company - they might not be familiar with your brand
  • How you would like to work with them and an explanation of affiliate marketing
  • What to do if they are interested in working with you
  • A call to action - include a link to your affiliate marketing

Learn more about how to optimize your affiliate recruitment using Tapfiliate

Strategies for adding influencers to your affiliate marketing program

Influencer promotional content

Provide a detailed brief

From the very beginning, you and your influencer should have a clear understanding of your expectations so that nobody is disappointed. You can do this by providing influencers a full brief with your expectations and guidelines.

Here’s what influencer marketing expert and CREAM Founder Lauren Brown says to include in your brief:

  • Campaign overviews
  • Deliverables
  • Set deadlines
  • Product information
  • Key promotional messages
  • Visual references
  • Branding do’s & don’ts

This way, you are both aligned, and there is no ambiguity around what your brand is looking for, decreasing the chance of reshoots which are a waste of time for both parties.

Work closely to create unique content

One of the best parts about partnering with influencers for affiliate marketing is the opportunity for unique content that connects with audiences authentically. Work together on the creative process to provide worthwhile material to their audience and better promotions for your brand.

Lauren from CREAM says:

The most successful partnerships adopt a collaborative approach between the influencer and brand. The best way to work is to brief an influencer then hand over creative control to them, as they know what will perform best for their audience.

  • Product Placements
  • Giveaways & Contests
  • Tutorials
  • How-To Guides
  • Product Reviews & Rankings
  • Favorites & Best Features
  • Unboxing Videos
  • Podcast Interviews
  • Styling Sessions

An emerging trend in influencer marketing is educational content. Rather than just posting a product picture, influencers use their platform and expertise to provide in-depth content that teaches audiences about products or services.

influencer content idea

A great example of influencer content comes from YouTuber Danksy. Danksy has created around 500 tutorials on how to use Adobe software. The content ranges from beginner level “How to use Adobe Photoshop” to advanced web design like “Create A 3D text effect in Illustrator”.

The content isn’t simply a “Buy Now” message. Instead, it shows the capabilities of Adobe software and what users can do with it. Then each video has an affiliate referral link in the description section to buy Adobe software to take his audience directly to Adobe’s website.

With 60% of YouTube viewers saying they follow a YouTuber’s advice on what to buy, this type of content is proven effective.

Provide influencers with marketing materials

Start by providing influencers with all the essentials they need to promote. The more materials you equip influencers with, the more opportunities there are to create something unique and aligned with your brand.

You can help influencers be successful by providing:

  • A branding kit
  • Color scheme
  • Your brand’s ad copy
  • Product descriptions
  • Pricing lists
  • Press mentions or awards

Hashtags

One critical marketing material to provide influencers is your branded hashtag. You’ll want to ensure that your hashtag is consistent across all channels and that your messaging is clear regardless of who promotes it.

For example, Frank Body got the word out about their brand with a combination of hashtags, influencers, and user-generated content. The brand actively encouraged their fans to use the brand’s hashtags #letsbefrank and #thefrankeffect for Instagram. Now, their customers have uploaded over 100,000 images happily covered in the brand’s signature coffee scrub.

Social-media

For example, Frank Body got the word out about their brand with the combination of hashtags, influencers, and user generated content. The brand actively encouraged their fans to use brand’s hashtags #letsbefrank and #thefrankeffect for Instagram. Now, over 100,000 images of customers happily covered in the brand’s signature coffee-scrub have been uploaded.

Use coupon codes for affiliate influencer promotions

Generally, affiliates will use links in their blog posts that will take customers to your site.

Because most social media posts don’t get designed to share links, one way to make this work with influencers is by creating content accompanied with coupon codes or links in bios.

For example, a YouTube video could focus on how you use a product with a demo. Then there would be a link to that product in the video caption. You can can learn more about using youtube to promote your brand here.

An Instagram affiliate post could show your brand, with a caption including a coupon code as a way to track referrals from that promotion. Make sure the coupon code is short, simple & easy to remember.

Consider giving free samples and product previews

If possible, consider giving your affiliate previews of new products, services, or launches.

Influencers can provide “insider” details about the launch, giving their audiences a sneak peek. Giving your influencers a “first look” is a great way to generate excitement and create FOMO, so customers are ready and waiting when your new products go live.

Influencer holiday promotions

Using the sneak peek tactic is especially useful in the holiday season for content like wish lists or holiday guides. Your affiliate influencers can give a sneak peek into holiday specials or must-have buys for the season.

Plan ahead

Planning is essential for any marketing campaign. It is especially true for influencer marketing, as you’ll want to make sure influencers have enough time to create valuable content.

Lauren from CREAM says:

Influencers often work on multiple campaigns at once, so the longer they have to create the content, the better. Additionally, a long lead time allows the influencer enough time to get the best result possible and gives contingency for any delays with shipping or reshoots.
Allow influencers to trial products ahead of the collaboration to familiarize themselves with the brand, enhance their product knowledge, and see whether they like your product.

Influencer marketing cream creators

Find more tips about influencer marketing management on @creamcreators Instagram page.

Get Started

With likes, shares, and influencers continuing to multiply, affiliate marketing programs have the opportunity for broader exposure, more leads, and potentially higher conversion rates and sales.

And with influencers as part of your affiliate marketing strategy, you are positioning your brand to gain more exposure and your site to be clicked on by a new, engaged audience.

Start your affiliate marketing program today with Tapfiliate. Get your 14-day free trial by signing up here.

Jessica Rangel

Spending my days writing marketing content, cycling around canals in Amsterdam and attempting to master the Dutch language.

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