Instagram for affiliate marketing – Part 1

This is part one of our three-part series on Instagram for affiliate marketing. Follow along to learn how to make money using affiliate marketing on Instagram, for advertisers and publishers (both established and new!). 

Whether you’re a content creator or a service and products provider, affiliate marketing on Instagram can be a great way to boost revenue. The best part? You don’t even need a huge following (or budget!) to make it work. 

And with 1 BILLION users, there’s definitely room for everyone. So even if you’re not the biggest name in your niche, it doesn’t actually matter. The playing field is leveled.

Head to the link in bio for part one of our beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing on Instagram! Just kidding. In this blog post, we’re taking a quick look at the intersection between affiliate marketing and Instagram. How it compares to influencer marketing, and whether it’s too late to add it as part of your business strategy.

What does affiliate marketing on Instagram look like?

If you’re reading this, chances are you know what affiliate marketing is and how to make money with it. But what does it look like on Instagram? If you’re on Instagram and follow some accounts, you already know how it works. 

In a nutshell, Instagram affiliates promote a product or service to their followers. 

“…But wait. How is that any different compared to influencers?”

-you right now

That’s a good question and I admit, the difference is pretty subtle. 

Influencers primarily aim to drive awareness for a brand. Sales can also be used as a KPI, though they aren’t the main focus. They also influence the perception and in some cases, the overall sentiment surrounding a brand. 

Affiliates, on the other hand, are more interested in making sales for their partners. They do this by using a unique Instagram affiliate link that tracks the visitors they refer to a seller’s site. That way, whenever a follower (or referral) makes a purchase through an affiliate link, the content creator receives a commission.

You’ll usually see the affiliate links and promos wherever links can be clicked: in Stories, IGTV descriptions, Reels, and of course, in the good ol’ “link in bio”.

Screenshot showing affiliate links can be placed in the bio on Instagram for affiliate marketing purposes.
Instagram affiliate links can be found in the account’s bio…
Screenshot showing affiliate links can be placed on Instagram Reels for affiliate marketing purposes.
…or in other places like in the description of a Reel.

But here’s the thing…

…affiliate marketing, influencing, or whatever you want to call it, on Instagram isn’t new. Content creators have been hustling on The Gram for years, mass generating FOMO in exchange for dollars. 

Content creators of all different types are already promoting products, filling our feeds. They’re capitalizing on current events to remind us that they exist. That they ‘care’. Aesthetically pleasing posts with strategic product placement. Persuading their followers that the key to their perfectly decorated home boils down to the brand of paint they use, because #sponsored. 

Accounts with massive followings in the millions, to small niche accounts with engaged audiences in the thousands. I mean, just look at the screenshots below – see how many posts have #ad, #partner, or #affiliate included? 

Screenshot showing the number of posts tagged #ad.
Screenshot showing the number of posts tagged #partner.
screenshots showing the number of posts tagged with #ad #affiliate and #partner

That’s a whole lot of posts competing for eyeballs and conversions. 

It’s also a whole lot of earning potential.

Is it too late?

So is it too late to join the party? Well, no.

Instagram officially launched back in 2010. Instagram Shopping beta-launched in 2016. Some might think that the platform is too saturated. That they missed the chance to capitalize on being an early adopter before Instagram’s explosive growth. 

But here’s the good news. 

According to official statistics: 

  • 500 million users use Stories every day
  • 130 million users tap on shoppable posts every month
  • 50% of people have visited a website to make a purchase after seeing a product or service on Instagram
  • 81% of users use Instagram to research products and services
  • 83% of users said Instagram helps them discover new products and services

However you feel about social media addiction, Zuck, or the state of the world as we know it there’s no denying that Instagram is pretty deeply ingrained in our everyday use.

The photo-sharing app once used for sharing food and pet pics has grown up (and branched out)! Keeping in touch with friends, connecting with brands, shopping your favourite celebrity or influencer’s closet. It’s clear that people are using Instagram for a variety of reasons. And there’s no stopping the potential for growth, especially considering it has the smallest user base in the Facebook family of apps. 

With so many people flocking to Instagram for their dopamine hits, it’s a no-brainer for merchants to tap into the platform’s growing audience.

Partnering with influencers and other content creators through affiliate marketing helps sellers reach more potential customers than relying solely on their own social efforts.

It also comes off more organic. Less sales-pitchy, more “oh look what I stumbled upon during my scrolling session!”. Plus, with such a huge influencer pool, no matter how niche the offering, the merchant or advertiser is bound to find one that fits their needs.

And for content creators…well, there will always be demand from followers for valuable content in any niche. And with Instagram leaning into ecommerce with features like shoppable posts, Instagram Shops, and Instagram Checkout…the potential for making money on Instagram is huge. 

Affiliate marketing on Instagram offers a ton of potential for affiliates/content creators and advertisers to increase revenue and get the life they want.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned at AdCenter, it’s that the affiliates who are too risk-averse to try new things (traffic source, platform, offer, etc)… the ones playing it safe, refusing to experiment…are the ones who stay at the same level. They’re the ones who won’t grow. We’re in an industry where learning and growth are vital for long-term success. 

To quote our Senior Account Manager Ken, who’s been working with AdCenter affs to scale their accounts for 4 years…

“The key to this game is growth.

As long as you are growing, you can’t lose, and growth in our business requires a little elbow grease.”

— Ken B., Senior Account Manager at AdCenter

So roll up those sleeves.

Next up, how affiliate marketers can use Instagram to boost their earnings .

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