Instagram affiliate marketing isn’t much different from affiliate marketing on websites—advertisers pay affiliate marketers on Instagram when one of their viewers or followers purchases a product using the affiliate link. Using Instagram as an example, you can still do affiliate marketing without a website.
But what makes affiliate marketing on Instagram an attractive side hustle?
For one, half of all Instagram users purchase something they find on the platform every week. Secondly, affiliates can show their followers images and videos of products, making marketing a product much less clunky than marketing on a website.
If you’re wondering how to do affiliate marketing on Instagram, here’s a five-step guide that breaks it down in detail.
How to Do Affiliate Marketing on Instagram in 5 Steps?
Instagram affiliate marketing may not entail writing and publishing several search-engine-optimized blog posts a month. Still, it requires effort in taking pictures, creating video content and writing descriptions, among other things.
Here’s how you can Do Affiliate Marketing on Instagram in five steps
You will need to start posting content to build an audience before you can find and promote products
Step 1: Garner an Audience
If you haven’t done affiliate marketing on Instagram or garnered an audience on Instagram before, the process can seem daunting. However, you won’t be able to convert viewers into customers if your account doesn’t have the social capital – followers – to make you stand out as a trustworthy source.
Here’s how you garner an audience in five steps
1. Pick a Niche and Post Engaging Content
There are over a thousand Instagram niches, so it is unlikely that the niche you pick will be one that no one’s ever posted in before. When picking a niche, you must bear in mind three things:
- If only a thousand people are interested in a niche, posting content in the niche will not build your following.
- The niche doesn’t need to be uber popular for you to choose it, and you can expect competition in every niche.
- Picking a niche only because the commissions are high for the products in the niche is not the right strategy. You will only be able to connect with your audience if you post engaging content, and your content won’t be interesting if you don’t care about the niche.
Posting engaging content is the most important aspect of Instagram affiliate marketing since it’s your only means to connect with your audience on the platform.
The meaning of “engaging content” is different in different niches. For instance, if you pick the finance niche, you must create and post enticing, text-heavy images. But this tactic will not work in the travel niche, for which high-quality image posts are best-suited.
Before you establish a motif for your posts (it’s always a process and doesn’t happen in a day), you must find the content format that effectively helps you connect with your audience.
2. Optimize Your Instagram Profile
Instagram users will not come across your Instagram profile and its content unless you optimize it for searchability.
The first thing you need to do is make your account a Creator account. Doing this is as simple as navigating to the Account page under the Settings menu in the app and tapping on the “Switch to a professional account” button.
Next, tap on the “Creator” option and pick a category that best describes the niche in which you intend to market affiliate products. Finally, plug in your contact information and hit “Submit.”
Switching to a Creator account will give you access to audience demographics and simplified messaging features. Besides, you need to have a Creator account for affiliate marketing on Instagram.
After your Creator account is set up, take the time to keyword-optimize your profile.
This includes your captions and alt-text, your bio (put secondary keywords here), and your name and username.
Using a primary keyword in your name and username is an excellent way to ensure Instagram picks up on your profile and content.
3. Use Hashtags
Hashtags can be a good organizational tool when using Instagram for affiliate marketing. Additionally, Instagram users can follow hashtags, so using the right ones will make your posts appear in your audience’s feed.
However, since Instagram is constantly updating its algorithm, it’s important to do your due diligence and learn the best practices.
Earlier, Instagram recommended using 30 hashtags for each post to optimize it for the platform. But the number eventually went down to 15, and Instagram recommends using three hashtags per post maximum.
Hashtags don’t find as much utility on the platform as they used to, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them. Putting branded hashtags and niche-relevant hashtags will allow interested audiences to find your posts easily.
If you want to be a successful affiliate marketer on Instagram, you will need to create a steady stream of new eyeballs and followers on your account. People grow bored of similar content quickly, so you cannot count on your followers to always remain engaged.
Using hashtags ensures that your content is visible to more and more people on the platform. Remember that your content speaks more to your audience than the hashtags, so you must prioritize your efforts accordingly.
The best way to start finding Instagram hashtags is to research your competitors. Whether they are brands, bloggers, or publishers, all accounts use hashtags to maximize their reach. Look at both the caption and the first comment on their posts to find some good ideas.
You could also use tools such as SparkToro, SISTRIX, or Inflict to find the right hashtags.
It’s vital to double-check that the hashtags in your shortlist aren’t prohibited on Instagram. You’d be surprised to know that simple-sounding hashtags like beauty bloggers are not allowed on Instagram.
Accidentally using one of these hashtags could lead to a shadowban, wasting a lot of the effort you put into posting content.
4. Engage with the Community
Being friendly is a vital prerequisite to growing an audience on Instagram. Besides engaging with your audience in the comment section, you could make friends with the other popular accounts in your niche. Running IG lives has been a very successful tactic to increase reach and engagement for both accounts.
You can engage with the community on Instagram with these tips
- The easiest way to come across collaboration opportunities is to like and comment on the accounts you find interesting in the niche.
- Don’t be shy to reach out and leave a compliment, strike a conversation, or send a useful resource their way – you never know what it could lead to.
- Ideally, you must figure out when your audience is active and time posting new content only at those times. You can find these details in Instagram Insights.
- It’s also important to keep most of your content on the platform non-promotional. It is the only way to maintain your credibility with your audience.
Seasoned affiliates on Instagram keep roughly 95% of their content non-promotional.
5. Remember that Consistency is Key
You must post content on a regular schedule. How credible you look as an affiliate on Instagram entirely depends on your relationship with the audience. If you post regularly, your followers will engage with your content regularly.
When affiliates first start posting on Instagram, it can be easy to overestimate the amount of content you can pump out. For this reason, it is important to think of a sustainable posting strategy.
Not all of your content needs to be 100% new – there are many ways to repurpose the content you’ve created.
It would help if you always remembered that your audience would be more interested in you and your content than the brands and products you promote. For this reason, you will need to set a standard and be selective about what you promote.
The brand or product you promote shouldn’t be unusual – refrain from promoting products that won’t appeal to your audience. Only promote products that you feel your audience will find genuinely helpful.
Step 2: Pick the Right Affiliate Partners
Finding the right products to promote is vital to growing an audience.
You can find affiliate products to promote on Instagram in two ways:
- Joining affiliate programs: Businesses across niches engage in affiliate marketing to increase their reach and sales. Companies such as Amazon and Shopify offer affiliate programs that enable you to promote the products on their marketplaces.
- Joining affiliate networks: Affiliate networks are online platforms where advertisers and publishers can sign up and find each other. The network facilitates commission tracking, payout management, and link generation for both parties. You will find programs across niches with varying commission rates on affiliate networks. The best-known affiliate networks include ShareASale, Awin, and CJ Affiliate.
Affiliates will need to rely on these two monetization methods in the initial stages of running an Instagram account. However, as the account becomes more popular, affiliates can pitch brands in the niche they love and endorse their products for big payouts.
One nice way to attract the attention of brands is to prove that you’re a loyal customer to your audience.
Step 3: Strategically Place Affiliate Links
Instagram is loaded with features to help creators and offers several linking possibilities, allowing you to monetize with affiliate marketing through your account optimally.
The places you can paste your affiliate links include:
While Instagram users can use links in the bio, they can only put one link there. Instead of putting up the link to one product, you could make a link landing page using a tool like Linktree.
This will provide your audience with one permanent link where they can find all of the offers you promote.
You could put the same link in the bios of the accounts on other social media platforms.
Many affiliates place links to their other social media profiles in their Linktree link to grow their other profiles.
Story “Swipe Up” Link
Using a swipe-up link in your Instagram stories is one of the most enticing ways of getting your audience to go to the offer page.
It’s important to remember that this feature is only available on accounts with more than 10,000 followers. Accounts that are using paid ads also get access to the feature.
Link Button in Stories
Affiliates can also put clickable links in their stories using the “new link” button.
The nice thing about this feature is that it has no minimum follower requirement. All users have access to the “new link” button.
Using the Story Highlights features allows you to save your stories beyond the 24-hour period they’re designed to last.
Putting a discount code link in your story highlight or providing a coupon code is a proven way to drive leads and sales from Instagram. You’ll be surprised to learn that 88% of US consumers use coupon codes when shopping online – and they’ve come to expect a discount.
Since the coupon codes won’t disappear from your story highlights, you will be able to monetize first-time profile visitors by showcasing the discounts you offer on great products.
Besides, the story highlights feature also doubles as an excellent organizational tool for directing your audience to your content categorically.
Instagram is now desktop-compatible, which means you can put affiliate links in the captions of your posts. The users that see your content can copy and paste the link to get their hands on the product.
Using short and memorable links is the best way to go since they will make it easy for the user to type the link out in their browser if they’re on their phone.
Alternatively, you could also put the link in your Linktree link to make the product easy to find and ask the users to find it in the bio.
Step 4: Keep Your Followers Aware of Where the Links Are
Once you’ve placed the product links across your profile, you must keep reminding your audience where they can find them. Instagram’s feed is driven by an algorithm, which means your followers won’t always see your newest post on their feed.
For this reason, you shouldn’t shy away from experimenting with using different content types to promote your products. You want to attract as many new eyes as possible to your profile.
A nice way to remind your audience about the product links is to accompany every post with a story. Regardless of whether you post a picture, video, or reel, post it on your Instagram Story with a link to a relevant product.
Step 5: Build Relationships with Brands
Instagram affiliate marketing is a lot different from conventional advertising since the platform facilitates personal engagement through likes, comments, messages, and shares.
In this way, Instagram encourages a people-oriented approach to advertising rather than the old-school business-oriented approach.
Modern businesses understand this, which is why there is a lot of opportunity for affiliate marketing on Instagram. Working with a brand in your niche and helping the brand grow will allow you to build a strong relationship with the brand.
One of the best things about Instagram is that you do not need several thousand followers to form relationships with brands. Smaller accounts with highly-engaged audiences of fewer than 5,000 followers are considered gold mines by brands.
When you garner a community that loves your content, you will have a lot of leverage and can work with many brands and establish long-term relationships.
Four Tips for Better Instagram Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing on any platform involves a continual learning process, and you must consistently answer the call of hard work.
Here are four tips to follow when affiliate marketing on Instagram:
1. Label Posts with Affiliate Products as “Paid Partnerships”
The Federal Trade Commission has strict rules pertaining to relationship disclosure for affiliate marketers on Instagram.
Instagram supports its creators with its “paid partnership” label, helping creators disclose their relationship with the brand they are promoting. It indicates to the users that the affiliate marketer is incentivized to promote the product endorsed in the content.
You can use this label on your posts and your stories on Instagram. Besides being the FTC’s good books, you will also avoid users mistaking your content as deceptive and spam.
Being authentic with your audience is the best thing you can do to establish a strong relationship with them. If the audience perceives that you have a strong commercial motive for posting content, they won’t look at your content or follow your account.
2. Build an Instagram Affiliate Storefront
June 2021 was a big month for affiliates on Instagram since the company announced some new features for affiliate marketers. One of the stand-out features announced was the in-app storefront.
The storefront is similar to the “Instagram Shops” on the platform, but after the update, creators on the platform can make storefronts for themselves.
Instagram makes it easy to showcase the products you’re promoting on your profile. Clicking on the “View Shop” tab shows users the recommended products.
The storefront feature is in the beta-testing phase and hasn’t officially been made available yet. However, it should arrive for US creators soon.
3. Post Demonstrations
If you build a credible account with a few thousand followers, garnering a positive community will not be difficult, and those that see your content for the first time will trust you enough to buy products.
But the number of leads or sales you drive depends on how well you promote it. The most effective way of showing someone the appeal of a product is to show an authentic demonstration of using a product. Your content must all the questions the viewer might have about the product.
You could post demonstrations on stories, make a comprehensive video and post it as a reel, or go live to show off the product.
It’s important to remember that the best affiliate content is more like a recommendation for a product than a sales pitch.
An authentic recommendation will tell your audience why you like the product and how you use it in real life. People want to see how it solved a real-life problem for you. If you make your content accordingly, the interested viewers will think about making a purchase.
It’s worth mentioning that product tutorials are especially attractive content for Instagram carousels. All you need to do is make a simple video breaking down how to use the product step by step. It doesn’t have to be comprehensive, either. You can stitch together some photos and make a presentation-like video showing off the product.
4. Track Your Performance
When you make your account a Creator account, you will get access to Insights, which is Instagram’s analytics feature. You can analyze the collected data to measure the success of your affiliate marketing:
- Brand awareness: The Post Insights will allow you to understand where users find your content – on their feed, the explore page, or directly from your profile.
- Profile activity: Instagram keeps track of the number of people that have clicked on the link in your bio. You can find that information in the Insights section of the Instagram app.
- Engagement rate: You can evaluate your audience’s engagement rate by content, offer, and format. The clear data will make it simple for you to understand what content works best for your account, and you can invest your efforts into making similar content moving forward.
The app will provide you with a range of different data. While you won’t be able to track individual followers that used your affiliate link, you will have access to data indicating the most and least purchased products and the conversion spikes during periods of heavy Instagram promotion.
Learning how to do affiliate marketing on Instagram is not very challenging. As long as you follow our guide, post content consistently, and grow your account, you should be able to do affiliate marketing on Instagram and drive leads and sales for commissions in a matter of months.