For the last day of the Site-Building Challenge, I’m going to discuss Social Media, which presents unique challenges along with opportunities for affiliate marketers.

In the 2011 Affiliate Summit AffStat Report, a survey of more than 1400 affiliate marketers, 71 percent of affiliates said their marketing plan included social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. The survey also showed that other social networking sites used by affiliates include the floundering MySpace and popular social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Delicious, and StumbleUpon.

Is it easy to monetize Social Media?

However, the roadmap on how to monetize one’s social media activity as an affiliate marketer is unclear. Some affiliates have taken to creating Twitter accounts, gathering thousands of followers, and flooding their feeds with affiliate links. However, that’s just not a strategy for turning affiliate marketing into a long-term business where one can build an audience, win their trust, and make money from products they recommend. In fact, to most of us, it seems like spam.

So as you’re getting started with affiliate marketing, watch out for the products sold by gurus who suggest that Facebook and Twitter can turn you into a millionaire overnight. The only people getting rich off those products are the gurus.

Use Social Media to build your following

Instead, look at Social Media as a way to build your following and extend your relationship with your audience. While traditional marketing is about making a big splash and getting noticed, social media is much more subtle. And it requires more engagement.

Instead of speaking to an audience, you’re speaking with them.

If you’re able to use social networking tools to have conversations with people and get them involved in a discussion about your brand and niche, you’ll get much better results. According to Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist of Apple Computer and co-founder of Alltop.com, gaining the trust of your audience is one important aspect of getting the most out of your social media followers. And you’re much more likely to gain that trust through conversation than through spam.

Be a leader

So when you’re thinking about your place in all of this, are you ready to be a leader?

Think of this quote from Seth Godin’s Tribes:

Tribes are about faith – about belief in an idea and in a community. And they are grounded in respect and admiration for the leader of the tribe and for the other members as well.

How can you build your standing as the leader of your tribe? Whether your audience is interested in dog training, Internet marketing or travel, can you prove to them that you love and believe in what you do?

That’s really what affiliate marketing is all about.

Over the past month, we’ve covered the specifics about site-building – the nuts and bolts of what you need to do and how to do it. But affiliate marketing requires much more than just knowing how to do the technical things right.

As you continue, focus on establishing your authority, gaining trust and building your audience. Social media can help you do this, but it won’t do it for you.

Now that your site is built, it’s time to build your business.

Additional Resources

Webinar – Check out Guy Kawasaki’s webinar, “How to Use Social Media to Enchant Your Customers”
Hubspot.com – Hubspot is a marketing consulting agency with many resources and training in social media, for companies large and small, including start-ups like yours.
Social Media Widget – This is the best, most flexible social media widget for WordPress you’ll find. It allows you to adjust your site on the fly as your social media presence grows.

Are you having success using Social Media as an affiliate marketer? Let us know in the comments.