Amazon may have pioneered social proof as one of the most substantial marketing tools in digital media. But if digital marketing requires an immersive customer experience in 2023, it's largely the result of social media marketing.
But as effective as social media platforms are, it's not just the platforms themselves that allow social media marketing to maintain what's currently a 33 percent share of all digital marketing efforts.
It's the influencers.
Affiliate Marketing and the Rise of Social Media Influencers
Despite claims to the contrary, what happens on Amazon doesn't necessarily have to stay on Amazon.
Affiliate marketing isn't necessarily anything new, But its strength has never been fully realized until the rise of social media influencer marketing—a market now estimated to be worth $16.4 Billion in 2022.
While Amazon has long used affiliate marketing, the results have never been all that consistent for brands. Campaigns may drive minimal short-term sales, but more often than not, they can be marked by a lack of customer engagement, rigidity, low return and high competition.
More importantly, they're marked by inauthenticity. Affiliate marketing campaigns may not always be paid advertisements, but they can seem just as misleading in both their tone and their content.
Social media posts from an influencer account, on the other hand, speak directly to an audience from a perspective they can already relate to. Influencer marketing establishes trust because an influencer isn't selling or dictating customer needs. They're reflecting them.
The impressions and awareness generated by influencers can sometimes be as critical to driving sales as paid advertising, leading to conversion rates of nearly 7 percent in some cases. But traffic from social media influencers don't just drive sales. They can help drive both legitimacy and visibility to influencers themselves.
What to Know About the Amazon Influencer Program
The Amazon Influencer program was recently launched as an extension of their Amazon Associates affiliate program, which incentivizes affiliates through sales commissions of anywhere from 1 to 10 percent.
But the difference between the two is a significant one.
The Amazon Associates program is primarily for bloggers to share affiliate links on their own site. It can be an additional stream of passive income, but it's rarely consistent and rarely sustainable.
The Amazon Influencer program is for large following influencer content creators interested in developing their own custom Amazon storefront. But why should an influencer who's already successful choose to participate?
Social proof is everything. And testimonials from social media influencers can help make or break a new product. The Amazon Influencer program doesn't just allow influencers an additional channel for exposure. Nor is it just an additional revenue stream.
It helps inspire their audiences by providing product recommendations in one convenient link, while adding an additional boost to their reputation as experts in their own chosen niches. The program doesn't necessarily require Amazon influencers to give positive reviews. Quite the contrary. The program insists on thoughtful, independent reviews—ones that will inform and educate their audience.
But it isn't for everyone. While the program is only open to influencers who have an established social media presence, simply having a high amount of followers isn't enough.
Frequent and consistent posts drawing a high level of engagement are more important than the amount of followers (although, rest assured that will be taken into consideration.)
How to Apply to the Amazon Influencer Program
Currently, the Amazon Influencer Program is only open to Facebook, Instagram and YouTube content creators with an established following.
While Amazon has not indicated the bare minimum number of followers an eligible influencer can have, it also hasn't indicated other minimum engagement metrics.
Current Amazon Associate members can apply through their existing account, or create a new account on the Influencer sign up page.
From there, they can check their eligibility by linking to the Instagram, YouTube or Facebook page where they have the most followers. Approval can be reportedly instant for some Facebook and YouTube users, while Instagram may take up to five days before confirming eligibility.
Assuming you're found eligible:
Enter the name on your profile, a short bio and how you position yourself as an influencer as well as any other social media accounts.
Enter your storefront name, tagline and upload both a profile image or logo as well as a banner image.
Enter your Amazon account information (your influencer earnings payout will be kept separate from your shopping account.)
From there, you'll be taken to your Amazon Associates dashboard where you can begin stocking your influencer storefront.
Note: for Instagram users, you must follow @amazoninfluencerprogram before your approval is completed.
Is the Amazon Influencer Program only for Amazon Brands?
Any brand that's currently being sold on Amazon can be reviewed through the Influencer program.
Amazon's fully aware that third-party sales make up the majority of their revenue—close to 60 percent in 2022. And they're also aware that the competition between third-party sellers can be cutthroat.
Rest assured, Amazon is not going to jettison their own brands anytime soon. But contrary to popular opinion, they're not looking to jeopardize the status of third-party brands any time soon, either.
An informed customer is a satisfied customer. And frequently a returning customer, as well.
What the Amazon Influencer program encourages is a neutral environment for influencers to both promote a brand as well as provide constructive criticism which can inform, educate and entertain.
An environment that extends to video, as well.
What is Amazon Live?
Amazon Live is a live video streaming platform which allows brands and influencers to showcase and introduce new products and directly engage with their followers on Amazon—all in real time.
User generated content (UGC) may have been consistently on the rise for the past seven years, with an estimated 79 percent of consumers indicating consumer developed content ultimately impacts their purchasing decisions. Shoppable UGC is simply the next level of UGC, allowing viewers to automatically purchase the very same products they're viewing.
Shoppable functionality has already been a widespread function throughout social media for the past few years, with TikTok, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all reporting successes which bolsters the claim that shoppable UGC can result in up to 4 times higher click through rates.
That's fine for social media platforms. But what can retail platforms expect?
A 75 percent lift for brands utilizing shoppable UGC, for one.
How Do I Get Started with Amazon Live?
Getting started with Amazon Live is a fairly simple process of downloading their free app, reviewing basic introductions and tips and recording your first live stream. But as with all things Amazon, there are a few catches first:
The Amazon Live app is only available for iOS users. Amazon hasn't indicated whether or not they have plans to allow Android functionality in the near future
Amazon Live is currently only available in the US for Brand Registered sellers and Vendors, with no indication that it will extend to other markets
Due to bandwidth consumption, Amazon has recommended that only the device that creators will be using during the length of the stream should be connected to WiFi, and that WiFi connectivity isn't shared.
While Amazon Live users can begin to create content almost immediately, it is recommended you work out any potential quirks using their practice mode prior to streaming.
Promoting Your Amazon Influencer Storefront
Don't make the mistake that your followers will simply assume you'll have an active Amazon Influencer storefront. It's still a relatively new program; and its success can also help indicate your success as an influencer.
Including or pointing to a link in your bio page on Facebook or Instagram is a great way to help promote the Influencer program and drive traffic to your storefront, while YouTube influencers will probably want to make a quick promo video. But you can also drive traffic from Twitter from a quick tweet or announce it on your blog or podcast.
The key to promoting any affiliate link is transparency, however. Be upfront with your audience that you're part of the Amazon Associate program. Their trust is not worth violating FTC endorsement guidelines.
That doesn't necessarily mean you have to actively promote a product. It simply means you're offering an independent testimonial.
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