Amazon Gives the Cold Shoulder to Twitter Affiliates

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Cold Shoulder
Why is Amazon giving Twitter affiliates the cold shoulder?
Image from photoplasia.

The holy grail of social media is considered to be the power that comes from a real person giving an honest recommendation of a product or service to people who value the opinion of that person. Although no advertiser or social network itself (think Facebook’s failed attempt at Beacon) has been able to successfully crack this holy grail, it is the direction that most are still moving towards.

Because of the general consensus that the power of social media lies in the scenario outlined above, you would think that affiliate programs would be on board with affiliates using social media tools to promote different offers and products. However, it turns out that this is not actually the case.

Yesterday, Joshua Odmark wrote a post on Search Engine Journal about his experience with Amazon’s affiliate program and Twitter. Before sending out a positive Tweet about a product that he had actually purchased and found to be useful, he decided to use an Amazon affiliate link (which he formatted with a URL shortener before inserting it into his Tweet). Because it was a good product and a genuine recommendation, his Tweet resulted in several people purchasing the product through his affiliate link. However, much to his surprise, the sales he generated for Amazon did not earn him a single cent in commissions!

So, why wasn’t Joshua paid any commissions for his sales? In the canned response he received from Amazon, he was told that it was because it violated the Terms and Conditions of their affiliate program, which state that links have to be from “Your Site.” Obviously, this makes sense in certain situations (such as a spammer hijacking pages and stuffing them with affiliate links). However, it does seem quite outdated in an age when many people are Tweeting far more than creating new posts for their own blogs. Additionally, it’s important to remember that this not only applies to Twitter, but other social media websites like Facebook and Friendfeed (and potentially blogs that are hosted on third-party platforms).

Although this looks like a blow for Amazon affiliates (at least for the time being, since they have not made a response to the SEJ post), Rae Hoffman pointed out that it provides a huge opportunity for another affiliate program to step in and gain some ground:

If Barnes and Noble were smart, they’d make it clear that they have NO problem honoring Twitter commissions… guess who would suddenly find themselves receiving a lot of exposure on Twitter.

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