When most people hear the phrase "social media," they immediately think of Facebook, Twitter, and other profile-based sites. The truth is that video is emerging as the most valuable social media weapon of the day. While Facebook and Twitter can be very effective, they're often best used in support of your video content, rather than as the centerpiece of your social media campaign (i.e., tweeting a video link or posting a short comment on your Facebook and your blog site that links to your product video).
The power of video
Video has become much more inexpensive to make due to more widely available technology, helping to position it as an emerging top social media outlet. Hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide are tuning in to watch them every month. And it isn't just YouTube. There are a ton of sites out there such as Vimeo, Yahoo Video, AOL Video, Bolt, Clipshack, and Crackle, all of which provide a solid platform for affiliates to feature their videos on.
Plainly and simply: If you're not already using video, you could be leaving a lot of revenue on the table.
To get things started, savvy affiliate marketers should set themselves up on at least three of the major channels and start uploading compelling product videos. These videos can be affiliate-made or supplied by the merchant. Merchants will often have this type of marketing collateral in their marketing packages, but they don't actively offer it up to their affiliates. That means it's up to you or your network to acquire these valuable marketing tools if they're available.
If the product manufacturer doesn't have any pre-fabricated videos on hand, you can create your own. (Camtasia is a great tool for creating your own videos.) You'll want to create something that engages your customer and makes them want to pass it on to their friends. Think of it like you're directing and producing a commercial. You can build a skit around the product you're promoting that highlights its unique selling points with humor and style. Or, if you prefer to take a more conservative approach, you can create a catchy product demo that showcases the benefits of your product by using a host who can guide viewers through all the features.
Try to anticipate every potential objection and answer every possible question the consumer might have in your video, so that when the prospects click through to the sales page, they'll already be in a purchasing mindset.
The key objective you want to meet when you create your videos is to "pre-sell" to your consumer. You want to establish a rapport with them prior to the purchase, making your message more compelling through creative use of video. The idea is to go the extra mile to make the product you're promoting stand out in the crowd. It helps to do some research on how other affiliates are marketing the same product and then try to draw out the features that no one else is highlighting.
Once you've created and uploaded your video to a content site, the next step is to start a group that like-minded people can join and share their comments, discuss the product, and participate in a topic-specific conversation with other potential consumers. You never know -- a good conversation can snowball and attract tons of traffic to your sales pages. This is "pre-selling" at its best. The transparency and honest communication surrounding your product will ultimately lead to higher conversions. Make you sure you include clearly visible links to your sales page on the video page so that people who land there know where to go to buy.
You can also post your video in affiliate forums with the topic and a link in the signature file. A third option is to send your video to your mailing list with a short promotional paragraph and a link to the video. Last but not least, tweet your video and post it to a business Facebook account you've created to showcase the product.
Video support tools: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
To support your video work, having a presence on major social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is integral to reaching the widest audience possible. Facebook is a hotbed right now for controversy. The social media giant is starting to crack down on affiliate marketers, but this is primarily to weed out the spammers and "shady marketers."
There is a right way to use Facebook that can be useful to your affiliate business. The key to success when using these tools is two-fold:
1. Be authentic. Don't spam people with friend requests. Build your Facebook apps, pages, and ads to support a strong brand. Don't use a marketing-type voice on your pages, but don't try to be too cool either. People will see through you if you aren't being legit.
2. Engage your consumer directly. The point of social media is to talk with your customer, not at them -- to transcend the traditional marketer's role and level the playing field. Give consumers every opportunity to share their opinions, suggestions, ideas, and comments. Let them know what's going on. Include them in product launches and contests. Point them to useful sites. Don't be corporate, but don't try to be their best friend either. In short, be business savvy without the all the formality. Turn your online business into a social entity capable of carrying a conversation.
On the whole, video and social media tools are some of the most cost-effective affiliate marketing strategies. All it requires is creativity and effort on your part, and the ability to create and maintain buzz. When done right, it has the potential to yield massive returns if your strategy catches fire.
Bobbi Leach is general manager at RevenueWire.
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