The always-interesting Jeremiah Owyang (analyst for Forrester Research) over at Web Strategy has a fascinating post today titled, It's About Intent: Affiliate Links in Twitter, that looks at how some people on Twitter are using affiliate links in their Twitter stream to make a couple of bucks.
Did you just throw up a little bit in your mouth? I did.
Owyang offers up these four tips to make it work (it should be noted that he does not condone this type of activity):
- Make sure it lines up editorially with your personal brand, promoting a product that people don't associate you with will raise eyebrows.
- Disclose it's an affiliate link, perhaps with a hashtag #affilliatelink.
- Be sincere about your recommendation. If you truly love that product you're promoting, perhaps write a review on a blog first, explaining why.
- Be fully transparent before people follow you: Create a link from your Twitter profile page that is up front about how you use Twitter, and explain your intentions when it comes to product recommendations and affiliate links.
Here are my four tips on how to make affiliate links in Twitter work:
- Don't do it.
- Don't even think about doing it.
- If you think about doing, forget that you thought about doing it.
- Slap yourself if you're still thinking about doing it.
This goes back to my whole personal revolt about pay-per-post Blogging (see here: This Space (Is Not) For Sale).
These are bad Marketing ideas.
They are short term tactics that generate very small and inconsequential overall revenues and growth, but have huge ramifications against your personal and corporate brand in terms of credibility, influence and professional stature in the long run. Of course disclosure and transparency are critical, but that has little to do with the bigger issue: if we turn Social Media into this penny-for-your-action shill game against our personal online social networks, there will quickly be a revolt against this channel. The sad part will be that these social channels were created, grown and fostered on the premise that these "conversations" were authentic - real interactions between real human beings - not a conversation "brought to you by the good people at Ford" (Ford does not do this, it's just an example).
The more people keep trying to monetize their online social networks instead of using these channels to communicate, build, share and grow trust for themselves and the brands they represent, the faster we'll see this channel get the same kind of marketing credibility as Spam and telemarketing.