There’s a ruckus in the social marketing space with some analysts like Jeremiah Owyang talking about the repercussions (mostly negative) about embedding affiliate links in social media (Twitter for example), while internet marketers like Shawn Collins, Linda Buquet and Lisa Barone basically saying that going the additional step of labelling every affiliate link with a (aff) as being pretty silly/stupid. So what’re we supposed to take away from this? Can affiliate link disclosure go too far?
Brian Clark has also stepped in with the legal perspective on what’s kosher and what’s not, when it comes to “word of mouth marketing” AKA social media.
So taking a look at social media for a moment, the medium is very personality-based – we follow individuals (or maybe Britney Spears’ manager firing out tweets on her behalf), and hence there’s greater inferred trust in the communication. This means that when someone is promoting/recommending something, you’re more likely to trust/believe them.
By embedding third party links for products or services you might not be familiar with, and are receving a kickback/commission/payout from, you’re essentially selling your goodwill, for a couple of bucks at best.
Even if you don’t buy the whole “polluting the internet” social argument by participating in this process, you should take a look at it from business and profit perspective.
If you’re buring your credibility promoting potentially second-rate products, you’ll be associated with these class of products. Soon, your followers will realize, you’re at best a promoter of iffy, if not inferior products…and they’ll take their business elsewhere.
In that light, isn’t it better to choose to promote only products you personally use or believe in?
When it comes to disclosure, I likewise think it’s pretty silly to label your links with (aff) or [AFF]. What’s the point?
I’ve not stepped into a store and seen price tags labelled with a “We may earn a profit from your purchase” disclaimer on it.
When it comes to the net, it’s safe to assume that someone is earning something off your purchase. Even if it’s a donation to a charity via it’s website, the payment processor is still earning a couple of cents processing the transaction.
Now that we have that out of the way, can we work towards something that makes sense and doesn’t involve ugly, huge disclaimers plastered all over affiliate-run sites?