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Since its inception, Instagram has offered a unique opportunity for users to grow a highly engaged following by sharing photos and videos of their lives and the things they love. Instagram has also been a great option for affiliate marketers, and many Instagram influencers have found great success by partnering with their favorite brands and products for a mutually beneficial relationship. In this post, we will talk about the best ways to use Instagram for Affiliate Marketing, from optimizing your account to the type of content you should share.
Setting Up Your Instagram Account
The first step to getting started with Instagram affiliate marketing is to set up your account. You will want to choose a username that is simple and easy to remember and spell. Your username will be what people will see most, so you want it unique and recognizable.
On Instagram, YOU are the brand. You choose the colors, fonts, filters, and vibe to make your account uniquely yours. Your followers will come to love you, trust you, and go to you for tips and ideas related to your niche. Whatever you love and are passionate about, your audience will be too. This is what makes Instagram such a great platform for affiliates.
Depending on your niche and what you want to share, you can build your personal brand to make your account more recognizable across social media—even without your own website. You can use your colors and fonts on your posts, highlights, and reels, while using your filters and presets on your feed. Don't overthink this—pick your favorites and roll with it! It is ok for your brand to evolve over time.
The next step is to choose which type of account you want to use. Instagram offers three types of accounts: Personal, Business, and Creator. Each type offers different benefits and drawbacks.
A personal account is just that—personal. This account option is for those who want to use Instagram for its most basic use, which is sharing content with friends and family. This is not recommended for affiliates because it does not offer any of the tools that are useful in growing an audience and income.
A business account offers analytics and insights into how your content is performing with your audience. Business accounts allow you to see information such as reach, audience metrics, and activity. In addition, with a Business Instagram Account, you can add links to your stories if you have over 10,000 followers* and have the ability to run ads.
A creator account is designed for influencer marketing and content creators. An Instagram creator account has many of the same insights and analytics that the business account does but also gives more flexibility to be creative with your profile and content. A creator account also allows you to choose a category for your profile, such as blogger, content creator, video creator, and more.
To choose which account is best for you:
- Visit your profile page and tap on the three horizontal lines in the top right-hand corner.
- From there choose Settings and then Account.
- Scroll to the bottom where you will see “Switch Account Type” in blue.
Once your account is set up, you will want to create your profile. Your profile is where you will highlight what a potential follower can expect to see from you. Use this space to show off your personality and topics you love. Use emojis to help tell the story in a fun and creative way.
Your profile photo should be a clear and bright picture of you. Your audience will come to know you and follow you, not a brand or a logo or your pet.
The Name field can be up to 30 characters long, so use them as an opportunity to tell more of who you are. The Name Field is completely separate from your username, and is searchable, meaning if someone is looking for a “fitness expert,” and you have that term behind your name in the Name field, there is potential for you to show up in search. Use strategic keywords to help your ideal audience find you.
Your Username is what makes you unique on Instagram. This username determines your URL (ex: https://instagram.com/yourusername) and should be simple and easy to remember. Once you set your username, it should not be changed, as that would “break” any links you have to the original username. Your audience will see this username in their feed.
Your Bio is the next element on your profile and offers 150 characters to share WHO you are, WHAT you do, and WHY someone would want to follow your account. In the Bio, you want to show off your personality and what makes your account unique. Are you a #GirlMom or a Court Reporter? Will you be sharing Fitness Tips? Keto Recipes? Fashion Trends? Are you sharing your journey of something? Use this Bio to show why someone would love following your account.
Your Website is incredibly powerful as it is the only place you have a clickable link on your profile. There are several options for this link, and remember you can change it as often as you would like.
If you have a blog, you can use this link to go directly to your homepage or to a customized Instagram page just for your Instagram followers. You can also link to a specific post that you want to promote, like a giveaway or a sponsored post.
Regardless of whether you are linking to a blog or one of the Apps, here are some ideas of things to include:
- Your best content or blog post
- Your favorite affiliate products (using affiliate links and coupon codes if you have them)
- Email newsletter opt-in
- Other social media platforms (TikTok, Facebook, etc.)
- Your own products or your own affiliate program
- Amazon Associates storefront
- Facebook Business page
Remember, when you join a new affiliate program, make sure you add your new links!
Depending on the type of Instagram Account you choose, you may have additional options to add to your profile, such as contact information, your own Shop Page, and more.
Your Instagram Feed
Your Instagram Feed is where you will show chosen photos and videos to your audience. These are mostly permanent posts that your followers will see in their feed scroll. The feed is where you will put more “curated” content, while Stories gives the opportunity to show more of a behind-the-scenes, off-the-cuff look at your life.
In previous years a popular way to grow your Instagram following was to have a very curated aesthetic to your Feed. Recently, showing a more authentic, less filtered feed has grown more popular. That being said, you still want to choose for your feed the best photos to show off your content. New followers will often visit your profile, and you want your most recent Instagram Posts to be engaging and entertaining, giving even more encouragement to follow your account.
According to Instagram, you should post content to your newsfeed 3-5 times per week for the best engagement rates.
The Great Hashtag Debate
Hashtags are an important part of Instagram, but there is much debate on how many and which ones to use. Common advice in the past suggested using up to 30 hashtags on every single post, but more recently, Instagram came out and said that 7–15 is better. The one thing that stayed the same is that the hashtag relevance is most important – and that using more hashtags just for the sake of hitting 30 is not advised.
When determining the best hashtags to use for your post, there are a couple of strategies to make the most out of each one. It may take some trial and error to find out what works best and resonates most with your existing audience while helping you grow and reach new fans.
Instagram users can follow hashtags, so using good relevant hashtags that have reasonable competition is best. When you begin to type in a hashtag to your caption, let Instagram auto-populate and scroll to see the suggested hashtags and their usage. Look for hashtags that have more than 50,000 but fewer than 500,000 posts. This gives you a greater opportunity to show up in the “Recent” section of that hashtag and to be chosen for one of the featured feed posts for that hashtag.
The Power Of Instagram Stories for Affiliate Marketing
Instagram Stories are the most lucrative aspect of using Instagram for Affiliate Marketing. You want to think of Stories as your very own reality show. While you want your Instagram Feed to be somewhat curated, your Stories should be the “raw” you. Since Instagram Stories disappear after 24 hours, you want to make sure you are showing up consistently and sharing often.
Instagram Stories are where your audience will really get to know you. They will come back day after day to see what you are up to and to engage with you by leaving comments, participating in polls, answering questions, and more. You can build strong relationships with your followers by sharing Stories regularly and engaging in conversation daily.
For affiliate marketing, Instagram Stories are a great way to expand brand awareness, show off new products, and encourage your followers to click through and buy or use your code to purchase.
Instagram recommends that you share 8–10 Stories per day.
Best Practices For Instagram Highlights
Instagram Highlights is a great extension of your Bio and should include your best content from Instagram Stories. If you share recipes, consider creating a Highlight for each of your top favorite recipes. If you are on a fitness journey, consider a highlight of your progress. If you are in fashion, maybe create a highlight showing off your favorite looks for each of your favorite stores.
Instagram Highlights is an easy way to save your best Instagram Stories and keep all of your favorite affiliate product features together. Saving your affiliate products to your Instagram Highlights and encouraging your followers to check them out is a great way to grow passive income.
Instagram Highlights are featured on your Instagram profile in chronological order, so it is important to add to your Highlights to keep the content fresh. You can add up to 100 stories to a Highlight and can have an unlimited number of Highlights.
The Deal With Reels
Instagram Reels are the hottest new tool for the social platform and have been shown to reach a large audience quickly, putting you in front of potential customers for your affiliate products. Instagram Reels are similar to TikTok and allow you to piece together 15–30 second clips that you can then share to your Instagram Feed, Stories, or Reels tab. Reels are now also being shown on the Explore page.
Reels let you show off your personality, your favorite products, tips and “life hacks” to help others, favorite locations, funny pet antics… anything, really. The great thing about Reels is there are no limits to what you can share, which means there is no limit to what may come from them—a new audience, new opportunities, and of course, a new affiliate marketing strategy.
To create Reels, choose trending sounds and music to reach a broader audience, and create your own voiceovers and funny clips that others can use as well. Best practices also suggest you create Reels “Covers” that tell what your Reel is about so that users can easily scan your Reels tab for the content they find interesting. You can take this one step further and include your favorite colors on every Reel for additional branding.
Best practices suggest posting four to seven Reels per week.
IG Live for Affiliate Marketing
The last tool for Instagram is IG Live, the ability to go “live” on your account for up to four hours. IG Live is great for showing lengthy product reviews and tutorials, sharing live events like concerts or conferences, teaching, sharing a DIY, or other special things that you want your followers to tune in live to watch.
Live videos have priority in the newsfeed, so when your audience logs in, they will see your live video first in the top left hand corner where Stories are displayed. In the settings, you can set your IG Lives to save directly to your Stories, allow your IG Live to be shared, and even automatically save your IG Live to your camera roll (which is great for sharing on other social channels). Additionally, you can choose to only show your IG Live to certain followers, which is great if you want to limit who sees your Live video.
You can also include others in IG Lives by using the “Add A Friend” feature. This is perfect for live interviews and discussions, as it's shown to both your audience and the audience of the “friends” that you add to your Live.
Every IG Live should have a purpose and give value to your audience. If you are teaching or showing how to do something, make sure you have thought out the steps you plan to show ahead of time. Place your phone on a tripod or stand to avoid constant movement. Make sure your area is well lit and that you can close enough to your phone that you can be heard. Engage with your audience's comments, ask questions, and have fun!
The world of Instagram is an incredible opportunity to build your brand and share your favorite things while offering the opportunity to make a significant income from product promotion and affiliate marketing. By being consistent, authentic, and providing value to your audience every single day, you can use this free platform as a money-making tool just by being you.