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July 6, 2021 - By Dawn Allcot

How to Build a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program on Instagram

If you’ve been solely relying on coupon or loyalty rewards sites for affiliate marketing, you may be missing out on a large segment of potential customers. In addition to partnering with shopping plug-ins and publishers that leverage affiliate links, building a robust affiliate program on Instagram can be a crucial strategy to achieving your sales and revenue goals. You can build your brand with a cohesive affiliate strategy for Instagram, relying on influencers on the social media platform to share your links in exchange for a commission on every sale. 

Here’s what you need to know to get started, or to level up your existing efforts. 

Is Instagram the Right Place for Your Affiliate Marketing Campaign? 

If you’re contemplating affiliate marketing on Instagram, first consider these statistics about affiliate marketing in general and specifically on Instagram — the fifth most popular social media platform, with 1.2 billion users worldwide:

  • Affiliate marketing is now a $12 billion global industry. 
  • 81% of brands rely on affiliate marketing to boost sales.
  • More than 67% of affiliate marketers use social media to promote the brands they sell.

Compared to Twitter, Snapchat and other platforms, Instagram has higher engagement rates, ranging from 2% to 7%. Choose the right affiliates, and the platform can work effectively to drive click-through rates to your website and increase sales. 

What Makes Affiliate Marketing on Instagram Different? 

Instagram offers a unique platform for affiliates to promote your brand in a highly visual way. Fashion brands especially may have great success on the platform, because influencers love to showcase their style with compelling photos and hashtags tailored to attract your target market. 

Unlike some blogging platforms or affiliate cashback websites like Rakuten, Instagram has more possibilities for marketing, including videos, images, Stories and user bios, where affiliates can place their unique links. Additionally, influencers on Instagram already have established followings who trust their opinions. With affiliate marketing on Instagram, you can combine the benefits of affiliate and partner marketing with none of the risk of paying for content up-front: Instagram affiliates only get paid when you do. 

How to Get Your Instagram Affiliate Program Up and Running

To set up your Instagram affiliate program, you’ll still want to join an affiliate network, so you can share affiliate links with Instagram influencers. Profit margins and commissions may be different on Instagram than when you’re working with publishers or coupon websites, so you’ll want to do the research to set your affiliate commissions competitively. You’ll also want to set up a standardized discount for affiliates to share via a coupon code in their campaigns, as this is often the best way to drive sales via Instagram. Most affiliate networks allow for “clickless coupon transactions,” that make this process as seamless as possible.

You’ll need to hunt down influencers who reach your target market by searching Instagram. See who’s using the hashtags you might use to promote your products. Make sure that any influencers you pursue adhere to FTC guidelines for disclosing sponsored posts and affiliate links. 

Finally, you’ll want to make sure that your influencers represent your brand in a positive light, that they are relatable to your market and that they are trustworthy. After all, if they structure their campaigns effectively, they will come to be viewed as a voice and face of your brand. 

Take Your Affiliate Marketing on Instagram to the Next Level

Influencers on Instagram have options between partner marketing — where they are paid to promote products, services and websites through their account — and affiliate marketing, where they don’t make money until people click or purchase through their links. 

As you recruit affiliates, it’s wise to acknowledge that they have options. A combination of partner and affiliate marketing could even work best for your brand, as paid content will complement affiliate campaigns, creating more impressions. 

A successful campaign lies in choosing the right affiliates. You may not need influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers if you choose people who are well liked and trusted within your niche. Affiliate marketers can be successful with as few as 5,000 to 15,000 followers, especially if each of their posts gets at least 100 likes. Pay attention to click-through rates, comments and shares to gauge the success of a campaign. 

Stay True to Your Brand

Coupon and cash-back sites, along with traditional publishers, tend to run straightforward affiliate campaigns. They might publish articles or reviews about your products, but most of their Web traffic comes from the deals they offer and referrals from members of their websites. 

Starting an affiliate campaign on Insta can feel a bit like stepping into the Wild West, where you have less control over how your brand is presented in the content. Develop a brand guide for affiliates to guide their content and be sure they are attracting the right audience for the best chance of success. 

Hawke Media Can Help You Craft Your Successful Affiliate Campaign

Hawke Media has extensive experience in launching and guiding affiliate campaigns on Instagram and across the Web. We can help you choose an affiliate network, line up the best influencers on Instagram to promote your brand and manage every aspect of the campaign. Because affiliate marketing and influencer marketing blur together on Insta and other social channels, you’ll want a company that understands both to help supercharge your campaigns. 

Are you curious how Hawke Media can help you increase sales through affiliate marketing on Insta? We’d love the chance to show you how we’ve helped start-ups and top brands alike craft their comprehensive marketing strategy. Reach out today to learn more about our affiliate marketing services and more. 

Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer specializing in technology, e-commerce and finance, and is the owner of boutique content marketing agency Allcot Media and, a travel and entertainment website.


Statista – Global Social Networks Ranked by Number of Users

Neal Schaffer – The Definitive Guide to Instagram Affiliate Marketing