Your Complete Guide to Instagram Affiliate Marketing (Part 1)

Affiliate marketing is a popular way to grow brand awareness and revenue. However, as online marketing continues to shift toward social media, overlooking these platforms could mean missed opportunities to find quality affiliates.

Whether you’re starting a new affiliate program or revamping an existing one, social channels such as Instagram provide a fountain of opportunity. By engaging the right platforms, you can make the most of this marketing strategy.

In this post, the first of two parts, we’ll explain what Instagram affiliate marketing is and why it’s worth considering for your business. Then we’ll walk you through three tips you can use to get started and find quality affiliates on this platform. Let’s jump in!

An Introduction to Instagram Affiliate Marketing

Instagram affiliate marketing is pretty much what it sounds like. Essentially, you can partner with users who have a relevant following – also called influencers – and compensate them for successfully promoting your products on their accounts:

An Instagram influencer account.

Affiliate marketing is performance-based. The goal is to have your audience interact with your products or brand. Therefore, it makes sense to leverage Instagram, considering it's the social platform with the highest engagement rates.

Instagram affiliate marketing lets you capture the attention of the people who will most likely be interested in your products on a platform they're already browsing. In this sense, using this particular network can be a gentle yet effective way of boosting awareness and driving conversions.

In this age, consumers can be skeptical of celebrity endorsements and commercial ads. However, Instagram influencers can help increase trust and provide an element of relatability and social proof to your promotions.

Research shows that one-third of consumers are more likely to purchase a product from a non-celebrity blogger over a celebrity. Plus, 70 percent of millennials value influencers who they consider peers:

An Instagram post from an influencer's account.

More businesses are turning to influencer marketing because of the authenticity it offers. People often follow these affiliates because they admire and respect them, and therefore value their opinions and suggestions.

3 Tips for Finding Quality Affiliates on Instagram

Given the above information, it's not difficult to see how influencers can help boost sales. The challenge is finding quality affiliates who can do this effectively. Here are three tips to consider when seeking out partners for promotions.

1. Choose a Very Specific Niche and Research Influencers in that Sector

One of the most common mistakes new affiliate marketers make is casting too wide a net. The goal isn't to reach as many people as possible – just the ones most likely to convert. Choosing a specific niche narrows your focus and makes it easier to find effective influencers.

If you don't already have a niche chosen, you might consider employing analytics to narrow down your target audience. For example, you can use Instagram Insights to learn about audience demographics, interests, and behaviors.

Once you know who you're targeting, it's time to research potential influencers you could recruit to be affiliates for your products. To do this, you might consider using a tool such as Modash:

Modash Influencer Discovery dashboard.

This is an influencer identification search engine. After creating an account (which you can do with your email or Google profile), you can filter your search based on location, interests, follower count, engagement rates, and more.

This will help you narrow down a list of prospects. When you're first starting out, you might consider focusing on “micro-influencers” who have between 5,000 and 10,000 followers. They'll be less competitive to partner with but still have a large, relevant audience.

2. Don’t Overlook the Power and Importance of Quality Engagement

When you're researching influencers, it can be easy to focus on likes and engagement rates. However, relying solely on these numbers and vanity metrics can be deceiving.

The problem is that some influencers use trade tactics to inflate their follower and like counts. Some signs to look for include:

  • Lots of comments that only use a single emoji
  • Severely disproportionate ratios between followers and likes
  • High follower counts with low engagement rates

A large following and lots of impressions don't necessarily mean someone will make an effective affiliate. The goal is to focus on quality engagement. Look for users with meaningful comments and replies, as well as a realistic balance between followers and likes.

A helpful tool you can use for this is the Instagram Money Calculator by Instagram Marketing Hub. According to this site, the average engagement rate for influencers with over 10,000 followers is 4 percent.

You can use this to gauge the engagement quality of prospective affiliates. Simply search for a specific Instagram influencer to see whether their engagement rate falls below or above average:

Instagram Money Calculator tool by Instagram Marketing Hub.

In your search for quality affiliates on Instagram, it's critical to focus on influencers who have an authentic audience. The last thing you want is to promote your products to robots rather than real people.

3. Seek Out Affiliates Who Also Have a Website or Blog

Many social media influencers use affiliate marketing as a passive income. While that's entirely okay, they may not be as motivated as those who promote products as their primary source of income.

This is why we recommend looking for influencers who also have an affiliate blog or website. These publishers are likely experienced with promoting brands already. Plus, a site paired with Instagram content means multiple channels for spreading awareness of your products.

When you're researching Instagram influencers, take notice of their bios and, more specifically, what links they use. Note if they include a website address:

An Instagram influencer's bio with a website link.

If you visit their website, check to see if they have a blog. Exploring their posts can give you a feel for their content style, as well as the methods they use to incorporate affiliate links:

Blog posts on an influencer website.

This can help further narrow your search by revealing which influencers are well-versed in affiliate promotions. It's also an effective way to determine whether their content and audience align with your goals.

Conclusion

Getting started with affiliate marketing can feel a bit overwhelming at first. However, it can become significantly easier (and successful) when you have the right platform and affiliates on your side.

As we discussed in this article, there are several tips you can use to find quality affiliates on Instagram, including:

  1. Choosing a very specific niche and looking for influencers in that sector.
  2. Not overlooking the power and importance of quality engagement.
  3. Seeking out affiliates who also have a website or blog.

Do you have any questions about Instagram affiliate marketing? Let us know in the comments section below!