Instagram is one of the most popular social networks worldwide. It’s a potential goldmine for anyone who wants to make money online, including affiliate marketers. If you want to learn how to crush Instagram affiliate marketing, you’re in the right place!
According to statistics, Instagram has over 1 billion users, of which more than 130 million are from the United States. By comparison, Facebook has over 2.6 billion users, of which more than 190 million are from the United States.
Instagram may be smaller than Facebook, but that doesn’t mean Facebook is better. The general consensus is that Instagram has much higher engagement rates than Facebook.
Affiliate marketing on Instagram works very differently from affiliate marketing on Facebook. Both platforms belong to Facebook, Inc. However, as you’ll see in this article, Instagram is in many ways the better platform for an affiliate marketer – as long as you use it correctly!
Instagram Affiliate Marketing Tips
Here are our top 10 Instagram affiliate marketing tips. For the best results, start with #1 and #2 before you even think of creating your page on Instagram.
By following these tips, you won’t have to waste money on expensive ads that will often only cost you money. You’ll be able to significantly grow your followers and make money from the brands you’re promoting without spending a cent.
Let’s get started!
1) Choose the Right Affiliate Programs to Promote
Instagram is a visual experience. It’s all about photos and videos. You need to promote affiliate programs for brands where you can post engaging content that your target audience will love.
In case you’re new to affiliate marketing, it’s all about promoting the products of a third party to potential customers. You’ll be given an affiliate link and sometimes several affiliate links. When someone clicks through and makes a purchase, you earn a commission on the sale.
Using Instagram for affiliate marketing is a great way to reach a massive audience. You can make a lot of money if you’re willing to put in the required time and effort.
But what should you do first?
Focus on finding programs within a specific niche.
With Instagram, you’re targeting a specific audience and your content should be 100% relevant to that audience. To get started, look for affiliate programs and brands that fall within your niche.
Let’s assume you’re interested in dog training. Every Instagram post should be directly related to dog training. Don’t expect your page to become popular if you sprinkle in photos of cats and birds on a dog training page.
Note: If you have any problems coming up with niche ideas, we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a great list of 1,452 niche ideas you can download for free!
Make sure you can generate enough content to post on Instagram.
Becoming a successful Instagram affiliate marketer requires you to post new content on a very regular basis. Posting a couple of times every month won’t cut it.
Make sure you’re able to make regular posts based on your niche and the affiliate programs within that niche. Think of what photos you can post that will appeal to your target audience.
Choose a niche and affiliate program that will make it easy for you to post visually appealing content.
Some of the best affiliate networks are:
Amazon is our #1 affiliate network.
Amazon has millions of products from top brands you can choose from to promote. Amazon is also a visual platform where photos play a huge role. It makes Amazon a good fit for Instagram!
We’re not suggesting you copy and paste photos from Amazon on Instagram. There are many ways you can get photos you can use. For example, you can order products from Amazon, do a review, and post photos or a short 1 minute video.
You can also find many brands or products that are on Amazon in local stores. Most of the time nobody will mind if you take some photos of a brand or products.
Note: The best way to promote Amazon products on Instagram is to have your own website you can send people to. This way, you can provide them with additional information, reviews, and product recommendations – and it’s all in your control. Even better, you can capture the name and emails of your fans for future promotions.
ClickBank is a massive affiliate marketplace, mostly known for digital products that pay high commission rates.
Using our earlier example of dog training, you can find many products to promote on Instagram.
Tip: Sort products by “gravity” to find the most successful products for affiliate marketers.
In the above example, this product pays an average commission per sale of $31.59. It also has a very high gravity of 199.2, so it’s popular with affiliates and the offer converts well.
According to ClickBank, gravity is:
“Gravity refers to a ClickBank-generated performance statistic that indicates how many affiliates have successfully promoted the product. The measurement is an approximate and relative value, with a higher score signifying more conversions.”
Pro Tip: A very high gravity score isn’t always good. It can signify that you’ll be competing with many other affiliates. As a rule of thumb, focus on products that have a gravity between 15 and 70.
ClickBank isn’t a visual platform like Amazon. However, it’s often not that hard to find photos you can use on Instagram. For example, for our dog training example, you can always take photos of your own dog(s).
There are also many free stock photo sites such as Pixabay and Unsplash where you can legally download photos without spending a dime – and then use Canva or Photoshop to customize it and make it your own.
ShareASale hosts over 3,900 affiliate programs across 40 different categories. It’s a great platform to search for affiliate programs from top brands in your niche that you can promote on Instagram.
Besides the above platforms, there are many private affiliate programs that are not hosted on a platform. Just search for them on Google, using a search phrase such as:
[NICHE] affiliate programs
Best [NICHE] affiliate programs
2) Research the Competition
The correct use of keywords and hashtags will play a big role in how successful you’ll be on Instagram. You want to use popular keywords and hashtags. But at the same time, you don’t want to have too much competition.
The best way to establish the competitiveness of your niche and keywords is to search by hashtags. Find a good keyword (hashtag) that doesn’t appear in more than 1 million posts. Ideally, look for hashtags in the 200,000 range or below.
In the above example there are 4,155,656 posts for dog training. This is way too many. Rather focus on “dog training tips” or “dog training advice” that are not as competitive.
Click on a hashtag such as #dogtrainingtips. You’ll be taken to a page where you can see the top posts and recent posts for that hashtag.
In the above example, you see related hashtags you may want to consider using. It also gives you a good idea of what’s popular on Instagram based on the engagement rates.
Follow your competitors. It’s good to keep an eye on what they’re posting from your Instagram feed. There is also another, more important reason.
You want your account to be 100% focused on your niche. By following other accounts in the same niche, it shows Instagram what you’re all about. For example, if your keyword is dog training but you only follow celebrities, it can confuse Instagram’s algorithm.
Don’t only follow large competitors. Follow smaller ones as well. It’s more likely that a small competitor will follow you back than a large one with 100,000+ followers. By getting followers in your niche, it shows Instagram your content is relevant and that people want to see it.
This is one of the reasons why you should never pay for fake followers. Your engagement will be practically zero and Instagram will consider your account to be of poor quality.
3) The Right Way to Add and Optimize an Account
Once you’ve found a niche, a good affiliate program, and relevant keywords/hashtags, you’re ready to open an account.
You can have up to 5 accounts on Instagram. You can even switch between them without having to log out and log back in.
If you don’t have an existing Instagram account, it’s quick and easy to get started.
You can download the Instagram app from the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play Store (Android). Alternatively, you can visit Instagram.com if you’re using a computer. If you have a Facebook account, you can sign up using your Facebook account details.
We recommend you switch to a business account as soon as you’re ready.
With a business account, you’ll get access to useful analytics about your posts and followers. You’ll also be able to promote posts as ads. Once you have 10,000 followers, you can add links to stories, which is very beneficial for Instagram affiliate marketing.
The most important part is your bio information:
Your username will become your Instagram URL, e.g. Instagram.com/username. Choose it carefully, as it’s a keyword that people can search for to find your Instagram account.
It should be relevant to your niche and the affiliate program you wish to promote. Try to keep it as short as possible. The maximum length is 30 characters, but try to stay well below that.
It’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to find a popular keyword to use as your username. It’s fine if you use a variation such as “dogtrainingtips247” where you add “247” to the keyword. You may also add periods or underscores.
If you want to build a brand, you can use your personal name or business/website name. It may be more difficult for people to stumble upon your account if you’re unknown. Building your own personal brand can be a good long-term strategy though.
Note: Instagram doesn’t allow usernames that end with .com.
This is another important place where you should use a relevant keyword, as it also shows up in search results. Unlike the situation where your ideal username may not be available, you can choose any name. Just make sure you stay away from registered brand names!
You may want to consider using a different keyword to your username. This will increase your chances of being found in search results.
If you’re using your personal name as your username, you can use the name field to add a keyword. For example, if your username is “johndoe” you can use “John Doe Dog Training” as your name. This way you can build your personal brand and use a relevant keyword.
Your bio is limited to 30 characters. If you’ve already used a relevant keyword as a name or username, don’t include it again in your bio.
In your bio, you can link to another Instagram account using @youraccount, if relevant.
You should try to include a strong call to action for people to click on your website URL.
Use line breaks to show short text snippets and add emojis to attract more attention.
Your profile photo is only 110 x 110 pixels. Upload a bigger image such as 500 x 500 pixels to improve the quality and clarity of your photo.
Don’t use a “busy” image with too much detail as it won’t stand out from other images. You want your image/brand to be easily recognizable.
Instagram allows an affiliate link in your bio so you can link directly to the offer you’re promoting. Since most affiliate links are long and look ugly, use a URL shortener such as bitly to shorten your link.
We do recommend you send visitors to a landing page where you can capture their contact details. This way you can include them in your sales funnel and send them follow up emails.
Having your own affiliate website with helpful, original, and search engine optimized content is our #1 recommendation. It will give you the opportunity to drive social media traffic straight to your site, while also diversifying traffic sources with organic traffic from Google.
Note: If you’re not a good writer, or don’t have the time for it, we can help. At BrandBuilders, we can provide you with premium quality SEO optimized content for your website or blog.
4) Post Content Your Audience Loves
One of the best ways to grow your followers on Instagram is to post content you know in advance they’ll love. In case you’re thinking you don’t have a crystal ball, don’t worry. It’s actually not difficult at all.
Step 1: Search for your competitors.
Run a search for the keyword you’re targeting. For example, let’s assume you’ve found a great affiliate program on ClickBank for woodworking. By searching for woodworking on Instagram, you’ll see many pages ranking for that keyword.
Make a list of the top 20 pages, based on their number of followers.
The above page has a decent number of followers.
Step 2: Find posts that got 3x more hearts compared to the average.
Go through the images on the page. Using your computer, just hover over a photo and you’ll see how many hearts and comments it has. You’ll quickly get an idea of the average number of hearts a post receives.
Look for the most popular posts that have about 3x as many hearts. Take a screenshot of the photo, read the caption, and have a look at the comments. This is the type of content your audience loves. It’s the type of content you should be posting as well.
Step 3: Replicate great, popular images.
If you can replicate popular images or create something similar, you’ll be giving your target audience exactly what they want!
You can also simply repost popular posts from time to time, as long as they add value to your page and followers.
As mentioned earlier in this article, your posts (photos and videos) should be 100% targeted to your niche. If people open your page and look at your content, without looking at your bio, your niche should be obvious. There should be no photos of your son’s birthday party or anything that’s not relevant to your niche.
5) Post Consistently and Frequently
One of the secrets of social media marketing in general and Instagram marketing in particular is consistency. You won’t grow your followers if you only make new posts a couple of times per month.
Successful brands add at least 2 new posts every day. The most successful brands with the highest number of followers add between 3 and 8 new posts every day.
Try to post during the hours your target audience is active on Instagram. Don’t try to add all your posts in 1 hour – spread them out over the course of the day.
Even if the link in your bio is only for one affiliate network and one brand, you can post many different images. The most productive way is to create many different images in advance for later use.
To grow your followers and make money from affiliate marketing with Instagram, it’s crucial that you post consistently and frequently.
If you’re not able to stop what you’re doing to post several times a day, you do have some options. Take a look at the next tip.
6) Pair With Another Platform
Can’t post consistently and frequently on Instagram? You can still increase your number of followers and affiliate income by pairing it with another platform.
Instagram wasn’t designed to be used as a search engine. It has a search function and its own algorithm, but it remains a social media platform.
So, a great way to boost your number of followers is to use YouTube. Although YouTube is considered to be a social media platform, it’s used by many as a search engine. People are a lot more likely to search for something on YouTube rather than on Instagram.
Add a call to action in your YouTube videos and description for people to follow you on Instagram. It can significantly boost your Instagram followers, especially if your YouTube videos are popular.
These are people that would more than likely never have found you on Instagram!
You should also encourage your website visitors to follow you on Instagram. If you have a SEO optimized website that ranks well in Google, it can help you gain many new followers.
Have your own podcast? Active on TikTok? Use it to get more followers on Instagram.
7) Work With Instagram Influencers
Working with influencers on Instagram is a key marketing strategy for many large brands. They pay carefully selected influencers to promote them or give them a shout out. They can make a good return on their investment.
Can affiliate marketing for Instagram work using an Instagram influencer? The answer is yes, if done correctly.
There are a couple of ways you can succeed with affiliate marketing on Instagram, using an Instagram influencer.
Method 1: Personally reach out to influencers in your niche.
This method does require some time and effort but can work very well due to the personal approach.
Step 1: Find influencers that would be a good fit.
- Focus on smaller influencers. It will be very difficult to get the attention of an influencer with 100,000+ followers unless you’re prepared to throw a lot of money at them. Look for smaller influencers that have between 20,000 and 50,000 followers.
- Does the influencer have a good engagement rate? Working with an influencer whose posts only get a couple of hearts and a few comments is a red flag. They either post really crappy content that nobody’s interested in, or they bought their followers.
- How often does the influencer post? You want to find influencers that are currently active on Instagram. If they used to be active but now only post occasionally, find a more active influencer.
- Are you a good fit? Based on the content these influencers share and their engagement rate, would you be a good fit for their followers? By looking at their posts, you’ll quickly find out what content is the most popular with their audience.
- Check out the link in their bio. If an influencer is already doing affiliate marketing, chances are they won’t work with you. Why would they give you a shout out? They can just sign up as an Instagram affiliate for the same affiliate marketing program or brand you’re promoting?
Step 2. Reach out to suitable influencers.
- Have a clear goal in mind before you contact an influencer. What do you want to achieve? Do you want to get affiliate sales or do you want to get followers? The best affiliate marketing strategy is to get more followers. Instead of expecting an influencer to share your affiliate links, focus instead on how you can get more followers.
- What’s your value proposition? Why should the influencer care about you? Unless you want to pay for a shout out, what can you offer influencers in return? Things to consider include a sample product or ad space on your blog. If it’s a small influencer that’s more interested in sharing great information than money, that would be first prize.
- Send the influencer a personalized email. None of us have time for spam emails. If you want to work with influencers, take the time to get their name and email. Have a look at their website. In your email, explain why you think you’re a good fit. Don’t just post a generic message.
- Follow up with a direct message (DM) on Instagram. Keep your message short and to the point. Just let the influencer know you’ve sent them an email and look forward to hearing from them.
Method 2: Use a service to reach out to influencers.
Looking up suitable influencers and sending them personalized messages can work well. It can be very time consuming, though.
There are services you can use to reach many influencers within a short period of time. It’s not very personalized and the vast majority of these influencers would expect to be paid.
If you’re promoting an affiliate program or brand that pays high or recurring commissions, this affiliate marketing strategy can work.
One of the best known influencer marketing platforms is Upfluence.
Upfluence has a list of 3 million+ influencers. They offer many search criteria that makes it easy to find the right influencers.
For affiliate marketing, instagram influencer platforms can be an expensive option. We recommend you start off by manually reaching out to potential influencers in your niche.
You can always scale your marketing efforts to reach more influencers as you become more successful with Instagram affiliate marketing.
8) Hashtag Strategy
Using hashtags is a good marketing strategy to use to be found on Instagram. You’re allowed 30 hashtags per post, but that doesn’t mean you should use your whole quota.
Many people make the mistake of cramming as many hashtags as they can into every post. What they don’t realize is it can actually hurt them more than benefit them.
- Plan your hashtag strategy in advance. Don’t just post random hashtags as an afterthought.
- Don’t use irrelevant hashtags. Your hashtags should be specific and be a good match for the content you’re posting.
- Images should be relevant to the hashtags you’re using. For example, don’t use the hashtag #selfie when you post a photo of a sunrise.
- Don’t include hashtags in your bio. Hashtags in your bio won’t help you to get found on Instagram. You’re only allowed 30 characters in your bio, so don’t waste them on hashtags.
- Maintain a good mix. Sort your hashtags into low competition, medium competition, and high competition hashtags. Whenever possible, use a mixture of low competition, medium competition, and high competition hashtags in a post.
Note: Low competition is typically 200,000 or fewer posts. Medium competition ranges between 200,000 and 1 million posts. High competition is normally 1 million+ posts.
9) Post Viral Content That’s Very Shareable
In tip 4, we discussed the importance of posting content that your audience loves. As an Instagram affiliate marketer, one of the best things that can happen is for a post of yours to go viral.
Posting what you know your audience loves can help a post go viral, but it’s often not enough. Fortunately there are things you can do that will increase the chances of a post going viral.
“Tag a friend!”
Post something witty, funny, or motivational and say, “Tag a friend who needs to see this!” This will encourage people to share your post and tag their friends. If their friends do the same, your post can quickly go viral.
Hold a giveaway
There are several ways you can benefit from giveaways. For example, if people share your post and leave a comment you can message them a link to a special ebook. You can also ask people to simply leave a comment if they want to receive your ebook.
The more popular your post, the more likely it is that Instagram will show it to more people.
This brings us to our final tip.
10) Give Instagram What They Want
There’s a lot of competition between social media platforms. Google owns YouTube, Microsoft owns LinkedIn, and Facebook owns Instagram. Their rivalry is intense.
They all want the same thing: TIME and ATTENTION.
You want visitors to your blog to stay on your blog for as long as possible, right? Well, they want visitors on their platform to stay for as long as possible too. If you give them what they want, their algorithm will allow you to receive more attention.
You can significantly boost your affiliate marketing efforts if you keep visitors on the platform for longer. This should be a key component of your affiliate marketing strategy.
There are several ways you can accomplish this.
Instagram allows you to post up to 10 photos or videos as a swipeable carousel. It keeps people on Instagram for longer. And, they’ll show the second slide if they think someone missed it the first time. This gives you another bite at the cherry!
Engage with your audience
Heart comments and respond to every comment. Where relevant, ask questions. This way, people spend more on Instagram.
Post longer captions
Instagram allows 2,200 characters in a caption. You don’t have to use all 2,200 characters. However, longer captions allow you to share more benefits or information which keep people on the platform for longer.
Use Instagram stories
Many people prefer looking at Instagram stories compared to regular posts. Although stories disappear from public view after 24 hours, they often have very high engagement rates.
Making money from Instagram affiliate marketing can be very satisfying. Like most affiliate marketing methods, it takes time and commitment before you’ll see results.
One average, you need between 2,000 and 15,000 followers before you’ll start seeing good results from Instagram affiliate marketing. This will obviously depend on your niche, the brand or brands you’re promoting, and the time you invest.
The biggest downside to using Instagram for affiliate marketing is that it’s not a way to make passive income. If you’re not able to post frequently and consistently, you won’t get good results from it.
It can play an important role in your marketing strategy, but it should only be a part of your marketing strategy. Don’t rely on Instagram to promote the products and brands you’re an affiliate for.
There are many other platforms where you should also be marketing the products and brands you’re promoting, including the most important one: your own website or blog!
Regardless of how great other platforms may be, you don’t own them. You can go from hero to zero overnight and lose all your hard work.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
If you’re ready to take control over your affiliate marketing business with a website and custom content, get in touch! We are pleased to offer you a 30-minute coaching call. Book the call now and let’s explore how BrandBuilders can help you grow your affiliate marketing income, starting today.