Social media has provided affiliates with a whole new landscape to promote products and services. It is a fundamental shift in the way people communicate. Whether it is through video product reviews on YouTube, fan pages on Facebook, 140 character messages on Twitter, or tags on Flickr, the opportunities available on social media websites continues to grow.

Highlighted in a video produced by Socialnomics author Erik Qualman, are some fascinating social media stats including:
• Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the US
• YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world
• If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 3rd largest
• 25% of search results for the World’s Top 20 largest brands are links to user generated content

With social media becoming such a major media player and influencer, it is important that affiliates learn how to tackle this burgeoning area. Following are some important tips and rules that affiliates should keep in mind when developing their social media campaigns:

Keep up to date on the changing advertising policies on each social media site. Social media channels are monitoring their sites more closely. If they suspect suspicious behavior then you run the risk of getting your account suspended. Play by the rules!

There are several tools available to help you track who and what is being said about you and the message you are putting out. Free tracking tools include blogsearch.google.com, search.twitter.com, search on Facebook and search on Youtube. Paid tracking tools are also available including Brandwatch, Whitevector and Synthesio which provide better accuracy. Listen to your followers, you can learn from what they are saying.

With growth comes competition.
The rise in popularity of social media channels has led to a rise in price in CPCs/CPMs. However, pricing can be managed effectively by utilizing high converting creative and ad copy.

Learn and address privacy issues. For example, people have mixed reactions towards ads that highlight/speak to private demographic information that they have included in their profiles, especially when this information does not relate to the product you are promoting. There is a fine line between being effective and being obtrusive, make sure to look at things from an advertiser as well as consumer prospective.

Make sure to engage and interact with your followers.
Social media is all about being able to have an open communication with your consumers. Listen to what your followers are saying and focus on building trust, goodwill and loyalty with them. Accept the good with the bad, address any negative comments immediately with a genuine response. In the end, you will be more respected for it!

Finally, have fun, get creative and make the best use of these tools to engage your new audience!

Written by Jill Solomon, Online Marketing Manager, Direct Agents