Through our last discussion about Forbes’ social media top influencer list, it’s evident that social media marketing is a firm reality that companies need to consider. In fact, the intimate, personable nature makes it a great candidate for companies looking to build relationships with consumers. In a way, online communities are “echo chambers” of thoughts, and the ability to penetrate these echo chambers and join the conversation is infinitely beneficial (Shayon, 2017).
A company that has been ever-present in the social media marketing world is Amazon. My last blog post discussed social media Influencer Zoella providing affiliate links in her video’s description boxes. Those links were by Amazon. When a viewer clicks through to buy the product, the affiliate receive a commission on those sales (Perez, 2017). Just a few weeks ago, Amazon released its new phase in affiliate marketing, the Amazon Influencer Program, combining affiliate marketing with the growing influencer culture. The new Influencer program differs because of its exclusivity. You may apply to become an official Influencer, however Amazon will only accept those with “large followings” (Perez, 2017). Amazon also considers metrics such as fan engagement, quality of content, and the level of relevancy for Amazon. After being accepted, the Influencers are given a unique vanity URL that is easy for customers to remember and find. On their personal Influencer page, they may create a curated selection of products that their followers can scroll through.
For example, the YouTube channel “WhatsUpMoms” has been one of the first Influencers invited by Amazon. WhatsUpMoms is a collaboration among a group of parents who share parenting tips, recipes, life hacks, and they have over 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube (Perez, 2017). Their new Influencer URL is amazon.com/shop/whatsupmoms. You will be led to a page featuring thumbnail images of the suggested products, their pricing, their Prime status, and a brief description.
“We are really excited to be a part of this new program. As the #1 Parenting Network on YouTube, we are constantly asked by our community for product recommendations and about the products used in our videos. Now that we have our own Amazon store makes it much easier to have a curated collection all in one spot”. – Liane Mullin, President and COO of WhatsUpMoms
Through this program, Amazon is not working directly with the Influencers on product selection, nor are the brands working through Amazon to speak to Influencers. Amazon is simply providing the platform. Although brands often have separate relationships with the Influencers outside of Amazon. Perhaps, the next step is for Amazon to also provide this “middleman” service.
It will be interesting to see the new Influencer program unfold and watch for Amazon’s next moves. For consumers, it is important to grow more discerning as well. There is a high level of trust between consumers and the influencers they respect (Hall, 2010). Knowing that companies highly covet these relationships and are willing to pay, consumers should grow even more aware and consciously alert of their purchasing decisions. On the other hand, companies have the opportunity to explore the possibilities of social media and affiliate marketing. If utilized correctly, they will gain access to pre-defined new markets of passionate consumers. And these consumers are willing to listen.
Shayon, Sheila. (April 11, 2017). Forbes Announces First Class of Social Media Influencers. BrandChannel. Retrieved from http://brandchannel.com/2017/04/11/forbes-social-media-influencers-041117/.
Perez, Sarah. (March 31, 2017). Amazon quietly launches its own social media influencer program into beta. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/31/amazon-quietly-launches-its-own-social-media-influencer-program-into-beta/.
Hall, Taddy. (2010). How consumer attitudes and behaviours are shaped in social media. ARF Experiential Learning. Retrieved from https://www-warc-com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/SubscriberContent/Article/How_consumer_attitudes_and_behaviors_are_shaped_in_social_media/97460