Social Media Affiliate Marketing: 6 Steps to Get Started

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How to Get Started With Social Media Affiliate Marketing

Do you want to use social media affiliate marketing to build brand awareness and drive sales?

You probably see examples of affiliate marketing every time you browse your favorite social platforms. Whether it’s a video review, a tutorial, or a coupon promo, social media influencers thrive by partnering with brands like yours to promote your products.

Because it’s free and easy-to-use, social media has made it so virtually anyone can become an affiliate of your brand. Affiliates are no longer required to have a well-known blog or celebrity status to successfully promote your products. Instead, social media platforms provide affiliates with the tools they need to create quality content and seamlessly share referral links to their built-in audience of followers.

In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know to grow your businesses with social media affiliate marketing. I’ll go over some basics and share 6 essential steps for getting started.

Affiliate Marketing Overview

Affiliate marketing is a digital marketing strategy where affiliate partners earn a commission for promoting your company’s products or services. Social media is one of the top ways that affiliates promote your brand.

There are 2 sides to any affiliate marketing strategy:

Affiliates are the individuals promoting your business and earning commissions for their referrals. Affiliates can include existing customers, bloggers, influencers, industry experts, etc. They promote via social media, email, websites, and blogs using referral links and discount codes to drive traffic to your site. Affiliates usually get paid a percentage or a flat fee for every purchase made through their referral link.

Merchant & Brands are the businesses looking to promote their products and services by expanding their audience. Affiliate programs work for almost any business with an online presence, regardless of size or industry. Each brand manages its affiliate program, provides affiliates with tracking links to its website, and pays commissions.

Here’s an example of successful affiliate marketing on YouTube. The dermatology channel Doctorly includes affiliate links to skincare products in the descriptions of all their videos:

YouTube video description on a video from the channel Doctorly. The description includes multiple referral links to skincare products. The description includes the disclaimer "Affiliate Links Generate Revenue for the Channel."

This type of promotion is a win-win for both the affiliates and brands.

Affiliates earn money for promoting a product they love, and they generate passive income through their content creation.

Brands are able to reach targeted audiences using unique, user-centric promotions. And as an added bonus, the pay-for-performance model makes affiliate marketing very cost-effective. You only pay if it works.

The rest of this article will focus on how merchants and brands can leverage social media for their affiliate programs. If you’re interested in earning revenue by becoming an affiliate, check out this article:

Learn MoreWhat Is Affiliate Marketing? How to Make Money While You Sleep

How to Get Started With Social Media Affiliate Marketing

Next, I’ll be sharing steps and tips for getting affiliates to promote your brand on their social media channels.

Why should you listen to us?

Here at OptinMonster, we have plenty of experience with our own affiliate program:

Screenshot of OptinMonster's affiliate program webpage. It says "Make Money Referring Others to OptinMonster. It's really easy! Anytime someone purchases a subscription using the unique referral link we'll give you, you'll receive a 20% commission!" The CTA button says "Start Making Money Now!"

Content creators get their own referral link, which they can share throughout all their content channels, including social media:

YouTube review of OptinMonster. There is an affiliate link in the video description

Our lead generation software is used on over 1.2 million websites, so we know a thing or 2 about how to partner with affiliates to promote our brand. We’re sharing this article so you can also benefit from our experience.

Here are our tips for using social media for your affiliate program.

1. Set Up Your Affiliate Program

If you haven’t done so already, start by setting up your affiliate marketing program. Need some help? I’ve written an in-depth guide here:

Bonus GuideHow to Create an Affiliate Program & Increase Sales

I won’t retread everything in that article, but here are a few important points to remember:

Choose Affiliate Management Software. There are plenty of tools available that allow you to manage your affiliates, create referral links, track conversion metrics, and send out payments. If your site is built on WordPress, we suggest AffiliateWP or Easy Affiliate.

You can also join an affiliate network like ShareASale. Affiliate networks help connect you with high-profile affiliates, therefore cutting down on some of the leg work of setting up your program

Choose What Conversions to Track. Essentially, what user behavior will your affiliates earn a commission for? For eCommerce retailers, this is typically when a referred customer makes a purchase. A conversion could also include an email signup, free trial registration, or successful subscription payment. Whatever you choose, those will be the conversion rates that determine your payouts

Decide on a Commission Structure. How much will affiliates earn for each conversion? This could be a flat rate or percentage of a sale. Additionally, it can be a one-time commission payout or recurring commission rates. For instance, if your product is a monthly subscription, you can decide whether to offer a one-time payment or a commission on each monthly payment,


Affiliate Promotions

2. Choose the Right Social Media Platform

Next, you’ll need to decide which social media platforms will be most beneficial to your affiliate marketing goals.

Here are a few of the most popular social channels for affiliate marketing:

  • YouTube: The world’s top video platform is full of product reviews, unboxing videos, tutorials, and more types of videos that can spread the word about your brand. Viewers are very used to looking to video descriptions to find referral links for products mentioned in videos. Nearly all online businesses can benefit from including YouTube creators in their affiliate networks.
  • Instagram: This visual platform is a popular choice for influencers looking to promote lifestyle brands. Instagram doesn’t allow hyperlinks in post descriptions or comments. However, affiliates can include your referral link in their bios or in Stories.
  • Facebook: Facebook offers opportunities for promotion through text, photos, and videos. It’s not as popular with Gen Z and younger, but it can be a great affiliate platform if your target audience is in their 40s or above.
  • X (formerly Twitter): Since it’s focused on sharing short content and links, X can be an excellent affiliate platform for some industries.
  • TikTok: This platform for short videos is extremely popular with young consumers. If your product is particularly trendy, TikTok may be the best social media platform for your affiliate program.
  • LinkedIn: The professional networking site offers plenty of promotional opportunities for B2B (business-to-business) brands. It’s a great place to find industry experts to recommend your product or service.
  • Reddit: With subreddits for practically every topic and niche, there’s certainly one where your products can be promoted. Plus, Google is favoring Reddit in search results, making it a good platform for SEO (search engine optimization). However, Redditers tend to dislike overpromotion, so use this platform carefully.
  • Pinterest: According to Pinterest’s own data, 80% of weekly pinners have discovered a new brand or product on the social platform.

As you start choosing which platforms to focus on, there are 3 things to consider:

  1. Your sales process
  2. Your target audience
  3. Your content type

Sales Process

Who are you selling to and how long is the sales process?

If you’re B2C (business-to-customer), the sales process can be pretty short and even impulsive. You just have to get the customer to decide to buy your product.

If you’re B2B, it’s likely that the sales process is much more than a click of a button. The process is typically longer with more decision-makers involved. Businesses require a more in-depth analysis before settling on a product or service.

This is an important factor in deciding which platforms are the best fit for your affiliate marketing efforts, as different platforms offer different ways to share content and reach customers.

For example, image-centric platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok are great for B2C sales, particularly eCommerce.

Brands can easily showcase their products through images and videos, and the shorter sales process means customers are more likely to buy the product on the spot.

On the other hand, these platforms are probably not as effective for B2B sales.

Generally, B2B sales take longer and require more context, so it’s unlikely for a customer to make a purchase while mindlessly scrolling through pictures on an app. Instead, B2B should consider platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, as they are better equipped for sharing in-depth posts and articles, as well as reaching industry-focused groups.

Target Audience

Who is your target audience and what social media platforms are they most engaged and active on?

Again, each platform has different approaches to creating and sharing content. As a result, the users on each platform are made up of different demographics.

Gen Z and Gen Alpha have fully embraced newcomer TikTok. On the other extreme, college-educated professionals account for the majority of LinkedIn users.

Consider your audience makeup and where they are most active on social media. Key demographics include:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender (depending on industry)
  • Income & spending habits

Not only will this help reach your target audience more accurately, but it will also help you recruit new affiliates for your program.


What types of promotion does your brand use and what content is best for engaging your audience?

There are several ways you can use ads and content to promote your brand. Common affiliate social media promotions include:

  • Text/Posts
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Reviews
  • Tutorials
  • Live streams
  • Tweets/X posts
  • Pinterest Pins

Think about the best ways you convey your brand’s products or services, and how this aligns with the different social media platforms.

For example, if your product can easily be displayed in an image, like fashion or travel, promote via influencers on visually appealing platforms like Instagram or Pinterest.

If your product is best shown in action, like tech gadgets or fitness equipment, partner with YouTubers to create tutorials and “how-to” videos.

And if there’s a lot to say about your products, like detailed product descriptions or customer success stories, consider working with affiliates in niche groups who can write long, descriptive posts.


If your business uses Facebook, X, Instagram, or YouTube, you can we recommend taking a look at Smash Balloon. This plugin lets you add live social feeds to your website. You can embed your own feeds, or you can add a hashtag feed. Then, if your affiliates use a specific hashtag when promoting your products, you can have a live feed of those social media posts right on your site.

smash ballon social media feeds plugin

Smash Balloon offers social media plugins that are beautiful, powerful, and customizable. This means that you can show off custom social media feeds on your website that match your brand. Plus, SmashBalloon is responsive and SEO-friendly!

3. Explore Your Social Media Mentions

Next, it’s time to start specifically looking for content creators to approach to be affiliates. The easiest way to start is to simply track your online social media mentions to see who is already talking about your brand.

Facebook post from Lakefront Living Franchise that says "With a constant flow of visitors to our website, we've made it our goal to turn that traffic into leads and sales for our Partners. OptinMonster's conversion marketing platform has supercharged our lead generation campaigns and helped us monetize our website traffic. This is an invaluable resource for our Lakefront Living Realty Partners. "

If people are already talking about your product, then they’re likely to be happy to promote you even more. And they’ll be even more excited at the chance to earn revenue in the process.

In addition to monitoring social media, you can use tools like Google Alerts to get notifications every time your brand is mentioned on a website or blog.

4. Recruit Affiliates a Various Levels

Here are some key types of affiliates to look in social media:

Influencers With Large Followings

The most notable affiliates on social media are the “influencers”. Influencers have the ability to reach wide audiences and can be great for brand awareness.

The primary social networks for influencers are Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. Most influencers are within a certain niche, whether it be fashion, makeup, skincare, fitness, travel, wellness, tech, DIY, and so on.

While there are agencies and databases to find influencers to partner with, you can also do your own search. Use social media hashtags and trends to find users posting content related to your brand. For example, you can search #beautyblogger or #mua for influencers in the cosmetics industry.

As you search, look for the following:

  • Which platforms they actively use
  • How well they fit your brand
  • The quality of their content
  • How many followers they have
  • How engaged their followers are


An influencer doesn’t have to have millions of followers to be worth your time.

Micro-influencers are content creators with 1,000-100,000 followers. And they often  have highly engaged followings.

Meltwater’s 2023 State of Influencer Marketing Report, found that micro-influencers average a 5% engagement rate, compared to 1.6% for influencers with more than a million followers.

This statistic is important for any business to know, and it’s especially encouraging for small businesses and startups. You don’t have to catch the attention of big names to grow your business. Smaller influencers with engaged followers can be some of the most effective affiliates

Your Customers

It’s easy to be drawn to the affiliate with 100k followers, but don’t dismiss the power of your customers on social media.

Customer promotions can be very powerful. In fact, 83% of Americans say that they’re more likely to purchase a product that’s been recommended by a friend or family member.

Using their personal social media accounts, customers can promote and share referral links to your site. Promotions can include posts about why they love your product, images of the product in use, and reviews of their overall experience.

So although it might not have the same glitz and glamour, customers can promote your brand authentically and genuinely. And a simple Facebook post shared with a few hundred friends could have more of an impact than expected.

Industry Groups and Experts

B2B brands can target their audience by recruiting industry experts and groups to promote their products.

Platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Reddit can be especially good platforms to look for potential affiliated to your industry. Those affiliates can promote relevant content, with valuable tips and referral links to products.

5. Use Incentives to Encourage Engaging Affiliate Content

The main advantage of affiliate marketing is having unique and engaging promotions. But how can you encourage your affiliates to create high-quality content to promote your brand?

Here are 3 easy ways to get the most out of your affiliate program:

Give Freebies to Review

Some affiliates are just as excited about getting free stuff as they are earning revenue. Give them free products in exchange for a review or other content. The content can take the form of:

  • Video reviews
  • Blog reviews (linked to on their social channels)
  • Unboxing videos
  • Inclusion in gift guides or “best of” lists
  • Tutorials or product demonstrations
  • Social posts recommending your product

With affiliates creating the content, there are endless possibilities for how they promote your brand. Affiliates will be able to customize promotions to fit their audience. But it all starts with them getting access to your product.

Provide Exclusive Coupon Codes

You want your affiliates to create great content, but it’s just as important to provide incentives for their audience, as well. The easiest way to do that is to offer exclusive discounts to people purchasing through the referral link.

Here’s an example of a YouTube creator offering a 10% discount by providing both an affiliate link and a special coupon code.

Screenshot 2020 05 08 at 13.30.46

This type of special offer is another win-win. The affiliate adds value to their own content, helping them reach more people. In turn, your brand also reaches more people, and you’ll win more sales.

Run Contests or Giveaways

Giveaways can be some of the most effective ways to build brand awareness, generate leads, and build your email marketing list.

In fact, KnivesShipFree added 5,000 addresses to their email list through a single online contest. The contest also directly led to over $10,000 in sales.

You can multiply the power of giveaways by including your affiliates.

The easiest way to do this? Simply provide your affiliates with free products that they can give away through their own contests. Doing so can guarantee more engagement and shares, and it’s a great way to get your affiliate’s audience excited about your brand.

If your affiliate isn’t interested in managing a contest themselves, you can simply ask them to share information about any giveaways you’re running. They can still use their referral link to drive traffic to your site, and you’ll also reach more potential customers with your giveaway offer.

Need a simple way to host your own contests?

RafflePress is the best WordPress giveaway plugin. Its drag-and-drop giveaway builder is perfect for beginners who want to create and manage a viral online contest.

RafflePress has several social media integrations, is mobile-friendly, includes 1-click fraud protection, and integrates with your marketing and CRM platforms. What more could you want?

Get started with RafflePress today and create a viral online contest in minutes.

6. Continuously Optimize Your Program

As we all know, the internet moves fast, and the trends on social media are constantly changing.

So once your program is up and running, you’ll want to continuously evaluate your social media promotions.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Regularly update product information, including sale and promotion details.
  • Create specific landing pages for your affiliate referral links. Optimize them through A/B testing.
  • Seek out new affiliates and opportunities on new platforms.

Most importantly, keep finding ways to grow your affiliate program.

With tools like OptinMonster, you’ll easily reach out to new affiliates through solid email lists.

OptinMonster can help you grow your email list quickly and easily with exit popups, floating bars, fullscreen welcome mats, and more!

optinmonster campaign examples

With OptinMonster, you’ll have a strong email list full of people you love your products. So when you need to find more affiliates, you can email your most engaged users to see if they’re interested.

Get Started With OptinMonster Today!

And that’s it! Now that you understand how social media affiliate marketing works, you’re ready to start using it to grow your business, generate leads, and drive traffic and sales.

Want to learn more about affiliate marketing and social media marketing?

Check out these resources:

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that we believe will add value to our readers.

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