Hot or Not? Affiliate Links in Twitter

fence

image by mamnaimie

Don't ask me why, but I've always felt a little strange about making money.

Why can't the cash just appear in my account and automatically replenish itself? Oh yeah, that's why we work.

Back in March, I asked you all how essential twitter was to your blog… and mentioned I had been doing some experimenting with affiliate links in twitter. At the time, I didn't really think much about whether it was ethical to use affiliate links, because I only tweeted things that I really loved. In the end, the experiment got sidetracked as the IFB relaunch came closer, I was lucky to tweet that I was still breathing, on occasion.

I didn't think about the ethics until I read some recent articles about an affiliate backlash in twitter, some have figured out how to script automatic affiliate tweets, others reprimanded for recommending products they personally own with affiliate links (that's rather extreme…but it happened).

Because of the conversational nature of twitter, the people who really love twitter want to keep the conversation authentic, leaving the business out. Using twitter as a marketing tool only devalues the network making the users wary of spam and distrustful of the network in general. I know I've been inundated with spammy tweeps so much so, it makes me dread going through my new twitter followers, because it takes so much time figuring out whether to follow or not. And the abundance of spammy tweets makes it more difficult to find the tweets from the people I want to hear from. So indeed, there is a point where money and marketing devalues a network.

However, twitter gained the popularity, mostly because it's usefulness as a marketing tool. For some, it may be a personal thing, not for everyone. I'm sure Oprah isn't tweeting for personal reason, I'm not even sure it's really her. Personally, only a small percentage of my followers are personal friends, as much as I love you all, the truth is, we know each other through the blog. Though I do make a great personal investment, my twitter presence isn't necessarily personal, it's more professional… though some of you may wonder about my professionalism after seeing tweet about the doggie washing machine.

A mountain out of a molehill?

Honestly, I find doing the affiliates in twitter difficult, tweets are searchable, but most people just click on the most recent tweets. Where posts might be searched, tweets are more ‘present' meaning, no one that I know of, keeps a selection of tweets they always go back to for reference. Do  you? Maybe I'm missing something here, but I always thought of twitter as sticking your hand in the river, you only experience the stream as it is at that one period of time.

Back to my experiment.. for a while I did an eBay vintage pick of the day. I wear vintage clothing in some respect every day, or most days, and I love vintage. I used to run an ad on my blog with my daily pics, and it got quite a bit of traffic. So when I moved it to twitter, it got a pretty good response. Did it make the kind of money the ad made? No.. not really, a little, but not much. But people enjoyed my daily eBay picks, as far as I knew anyway.

Honestly, I don't have too much of a problem with affiliates in twitter. But like affiliates in blogs, as much as people say that it doesn't affect the editorial weight of their content, I have a hard time believing that. On the other hand, I want to support other bloggers through affiliates. Just yesterday, I made a purchase through a blogger affiliate link, it made be feel good to support her. The thing with affiliate links, it, if it sucks, no one's going to buy it, no matter how it's delivered.

So, now you know I'm on the fence about this… what do you think about affiliate links on Twitter?

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15 Responses

  1. Ashe Mischief

    You know, I have really mixed feelings about this…

    On one hand, it didn’t bother me that your ebay picks were fixed to an affiliate code. If PrincessPoochie did a daily shoe pick with an affiliate code, I don’t know that it would bother me either. Maybe because I associate vintage with the Coveted (though not exclusively) and shoes with the Poochie brand.

    If I were seeking a product & asking for testimonials, I’m not sure HOW I’d feel if I received responses with affiliate links in them. It’s possible I’d doubt their sincerity for the product, if I didn’t know the person well. If I knew they did, and it was likely something I’d go with, I might not have a problem using the link (as I love to support other bloggers).

    Even though my blog post today has affiliate links in it, I tend to feel shaky using affiliate links in my posts. It’s great because I can earn some money back if people use them, but I never, ever try to use them for things I wouldn’t myself bu, or that I don’t think are quality & wouldn’t recommend (even if not necessarily my taste).

    I’m really eager to hear others thoughts on this!

    Reply
  2. Bryan

    I sometimes feel the way you do about making money online especially when it’s on a blog I’ve cultivated friendships on.

    With regards to affiliate links on Twitter, I don’t do it but I don’t think I have a problem with it either. I just link to my blog posts that contain the affiliate links. I personally don’t like the sleazy looking make money online spam links.

    Twitter is still evolving in many ways as people learn how to adapt it to their needs. Those forward leaning people that are trying to make money are usually the early adopters of tools like Twitter and are trying to get as much out of it as they can. There are always people out there who will have problems with how a social networking tool is used so there will always be issues.

    Reply
  3. grechen

    i’m with you jennine – i’m kind of on the fence w/this one. i think i’ve used affiliate links once or twice, but forgot the SID so had no way to track sales (d’oh). one thing i do always do is link back to my blog(s) if i’m tweeting about a code or sale or something, so at least i get some benefit from it.

    i think about this like i do w/affiliate ads/links on blogs: if all you’re doing is posting stuff from affiliates, i’m not interested in what you’re selling. that, to me, is a clear indication that you’re more interested in the money than providing a service to your readers. same with twitter, although it’s harder to weed out the affiliate links with tiny urls

    we all work hard at what we do, we should make money from it, but i do think there are ways to do it better than others. over time, you can tell which bloggers really have their heart and soul into what they do, and the ones who just regurgitate celeb fashion or affiliate sales/links. i personally have built up my blogs and reader base over the years by only posting things i would buy or use myself, whether or not they’re through affiliates. my blogs are about what i love and what i think my readers will love, not about what makes me the most money. and that’s how i do make money ultimately….

    Reply
  4. Denise @ Swelle

    This is a great discussion topic. Jennine, if you promoted affiliate links it wouldn’t turn me off because I know what you’re about and that it’s not the basis of your motivation to connect with us. And you would bring us things of interest and balance it well. If someone I didn’t know was doing it that’s another matter, it’s kind of a case by case thing for me. I find that some people I follow are aggressive with self promotion alone (telling us repeatedly to subscribe, check out their shop, etc). and it’s getting old. We’re all here to promote ourselves but there’s a way to get the message across with subtlety and integrity.

    Can I explain my position as someone who needs to make money from my blog: I have ads on my blog because I quit my day job a year ago to concentrate on freelance writing and consultancy for web content development and I need any help I can get. I spend hours daily developing and keeping up my blog because I absolutely love doing it and being a part of the fashion bloggers community, but it also serves as a major piece of my writing portfolio – it’s work as well and it needs to sustain and justify itself. I hope my readers and potential readers understand this. I will occasionally post about items from a particular advertiser or mention a sale because I was doing so before they were an advertiser and I’m a regular customer. I support those significant to me. However, I’ve had to explain to potential advertisers who ask for editorial along with ads that I don’t write about anything unless I have a personal interest; I’ve turned down money. The integrity of the blog and its content always comes first or it’s not worth doing. It actually never occurred to me to tweet for the purpose of promoting advertising/affiliates. I’m personally not comfortable with doing it myself but as I mentioned earlier, it’s a trust issue so my reaction is dependent on the source.

    Reply
  5. Jennine

    ❤ ashe… yeah, i’m not sure i would know how to feel is someone coughed up an affiliate link for a recommendation, unless the personally owned it.. but that’s always hard to tell on these interwebs. but affiliates… it depends on how you do them, i guess.
    ❤ bryan, great point about early adapters. i’d like to see if anyone’s become an affiliate expert on twitter, like how they were able to do that without being accused of spam
    ❤ grechen.. the affiliate queen! it does make more sense to have your tweets go back to your post, i mean, how much can you say in 140 characters… though affiliates would come in handy for like your grechens codes in twitter. that could be something tweeps would find useful. i totally agree that it’s easy to spot who blogs for money and who blogs because they have passion for their subject. personally, i don’t think it’s worth it to blog for the money. not that i don’t love blogging, but i woudn’t do it, for money, because I make a lot more money doing other things.
    ❤ denise… i always thought that people who were blatant self promoters always missed the point. like who cares what YOU think? (not you denise…the general ‘you’) we all read blogs because it adds value to our lives… i don’t know like most things, very counter intuitive…. and i dont think there’s anything wrong with having ads on your blog!
    🙂

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  6. Retro Chick

    I’m really interested in this.

    Personally I feel that the key is in the way people use them, and the network in general.

    I stop following people if they fill my tweet stream up with links or repeatedly message me or only ever tweet to tell me to go to their shop, blog or subscribe to something. At the same time most of the people I follow ARE on Twitter in their professional capacity and therefore I have no problem with them making money from it.

    Ultimately I think Twitter is about building professional relationshops for me, so as long as people show an interest in me, or others, and don’t solely use Twitter for affiliate links I have no problem with it.

    Personally I Tweet my new Ebay listings and blog posts, as do many others, and I use affiliate links when I Tweet listings. My blog and shop are my only business, and my only way of making money, so I had to fight to overcome the guilt we all seem to feel about making money, as I need it to live! If I thoght it upset people on Twitter I would stop because primarily I still use Twitter to communicate and build relationships rather than as a sales tool.

    Reply
  7. Erica

    Personally, I don’t see the point of Twitter except as a marketing device for a blog/business. My blog features a lot of sales and celebrity fashion and I tweet every time I make a new post because my followers like to know info about sales as soon as it is posted. On a marketing level, Twitter is genius and has definitely upped the traffic to my blog, causing me to make more money with my affiliates. I have never tried posting an affiliate link directly on Twitter. I don’t think I would ever do that because it removes the authenticity of my blog and, essentially, just makes me a middle man to whatever product I’m promoting. The link wouldn’t even direct readers to my blog, which makes no sense and completely defeats the purpose of having a blog.

    Except for a few random tweets, I really only use Twitter as a marketing device. Sometimes I’ll integrate personal with marketing (like mentioning that I’m at the mall shopping for whatever then throwing a promo of the product, with an affiliate link, on my blog). Like I said before, there’s no point, in my opinion, to use it for my personal life. I’ve tried making random posts on what I was doing throughout the day but, in the end, didn’t understand why anyone needed to know. I don’t like the idea of people knowing what I’m doing during every moment of my life. “Going to the grocery store now…” “Going to the gym now…” “Taking a crap…” – who cares?!

    Reply
  8. Erica

    As a follow-up to my post above, my blog does not ONLY feature sales and celeb fashion – there’s a lot of content in it, too. But, even if did only feature sales and celeb fashion, that’s what I love posting about and my main motivation for the creation of my blog and, essentially, shopping in general. That being said, it doesn’t mean that I’m only interested in the money I can make from those postings. It’s just what I like to post about. So saying that blogs that only post about celeb fashion and coupon codes are only interested in the money and not the content is not really fair. Every blog has it’s identity and there’s room for everyone!

    Reply
  9. Stylish Thought

    I personally don’t have an issue making money on my blog or helping other bloggers make money through their blogs. I think the issue that comes in is if affiliate links become common practice they run the risk of being overused and twitter will simply become a big marketplace, so to speak.

    I don’t mind affiliate links that much as long as it is in accordance with what you would own or already own or your blog’s brand (as Ashe said). The problem comes in when everyone is pushing any old thing just to make money. Part of the issue with affiliate codes is that you have to make sure the product is good enough to warrant your promotion.

    Reply
  10. Eileen at daisyfairbanks

    It’s all about context.
    It’s much easier to trust any recommendation when it comes from someone with whom we are familiar. We all make recommendations to our friends – restaurants, shops, mechanics, etc and we don’t get anything out of it but I don’t think that people who knew and trusted us would feel badly about it if we did.
    For me, the same goes for using links online. If it’s a link posted by someone I’ve read before and have come to an understanding of what they represent, I don’t mind it at all. If it gives you a cookie, then good for you. I don’t click on links posted by twitterers I haven’t become familiar with, and if that’s all they’re posting I un-follow them anyway because it’s just not interesting.

    Reply
  11. Michelle

    I think it probably really depends on what you view Twitter as – to me, Twitter is about conversations and having sort of a community feel with like-minded bloggers, if that makes sense? So when all someone posts is links, whether affiliate links or links to their blog, I’ll unfollow them, even if I might still read their blog on a consistent basis. If they only occasionally post links, I’m much less likely to care whether it’s an affiliate link or not.

    Michelle’s last blog post..Links a la Mode May 21

    Reply
  12. Gabrielle

    This is how i see twitter:

    Great way to converse, build a readership, make contacts, and drive traffic.

    If someone posts the occasional affiliate link then that’s fine with me because if I follow you, I know that as your audience, you will be sending me links that suit my tastes.

    That being said, it’s still important to give good consistent content. I think if you put out an affiliate link you should also post at least 10 decent or entertaining tweets. That’s a fair ratio.

    A better way would be a link to one of your blog posts, which would contain the affiliate link there. Like Erica said, tweeting an affiliate link would just make me the middle man and wouldn’t drive any traffic to my blog.

    I hate when people post random affiliate links just for the sake of making a quick buck. I’ll definitely unfollow someone for that reason alone.

    Gabrielle’s last blog post..Fascism Still Prevalent In Italian Education System

    Reply
  13. Retro Chick

    Gosh, going back to an old post from May!

    It seems that eBay affiliates at least have made this decision for us. There was an update to their terms and conditions released yesterday that means that you can only use affiliate links on websites you own.

    So their terms and conditions now prohibit the use of links on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Craigslist and anywhere else you might post them.

    Ho hum,
    .-= Retro Chick´s last blog ..DIY – Recycling Vintage Scarves. =-.

    Reply