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The Ironic Future of Affiliate Marketing: MLM (Part II)

  • By Jeff Molander

Can marketers practice “social marketing” in a responsible manner within realms like Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn et al? As discussed in Part I, Jay Weintraub says yes… BUT.

Amway’s vote is in and it says “yes!” ( After wiping Beacon egg from its face, Facebook says yes with its RadicalBuy program — converting Facebook-ers into eBay style affiliates. All while eBay launches social shopping networks and ho-hum affiliate networks Commission Junction, DoubleClickPerformics and Linkshare sit on the sidelines.

IBM’s Mike Moran, author of Do It Wrong Quickly says yes too…

“We’re all direct marketers now. The Web is one big direct marketing machine and everyone is invited to the party.”

Do it Wrong Quickly Mike Moran

Yes, he’s bullish on the commercialization of digital media yet he also understands more. Mr. Moran is out to share the secrets of a powerhouse, digital business culture — the most opportunistic people our world has ever seen: The “Internet Elite”. These middle-men are cashing-in on the chaos created as digital media rapidly disrupts the traditional media ecosystem. How do they do it? Mr. Moran tells us part of their secret sauce as he coaches marketers to speed up processes and take more risks.

“… try anything and measure everything and do it all over again twenty minutes from now based on what we learned… (doing so) will change our culture from trying to be perfect from the outset to doing it wrong quickly. “

Mr. Moran is on to something here. Marketers have been fairly un-willing to jump in and test the digital marketing waters — fail, learn, try it again and perfect. Indeed, marketers remain out of touch with how to measure digital/Web success. If there is one thing the Internet Elite DO understand it’s how to execute, fall on their face, change, optimize and drive results. Not to mention having guts!  Marketers themselves have been relative failures.

Yet is Mr. Moran’s vision realistic? Is this going to end up as a big, happy direct marketing machine? Is this what everyone wants from the Internet? Scott Karp has his doubts when he watches Google move towards monetizing social media through a “cost per acquisition” (affiliate) cost model…

Scott Karp

“The game is now to manipulate consumers not only to click, but to take some further action. And I don’t use the word ‘manipulate’ arbitrarily.

This is about turning the web into one big pile of junk mail, aimed at getting you to sign up, buy, or commit to something that you hadn’t necessarily wanted.”

Indeed, many of us have such concerns. Dave Oliver of affiliate marketing management firm, AMWSO asks questions similar to those offered by Dee Wilson. At the heart of their comments is a concern that social marketers will not have aSocial Media Marketers Risk fully honest, transparent and authentic approach to marketing/selling in these social environments.  This will end up risking the very foundation of their most valuable relationships. In other words the heard of sheep (people using social networking sites) aren’t that stupid — they can pick out the wolf pretty easily. Be careful!

At what point does a “social networker” want to cross the line into “social marketer” and how — exactly — does trust (motivation behind recommendations) factor in when financial compensation is involved? Hmm… this makes me wonder does compensation need be cash-based?

How might recognition fit in as a means to compensate a marketer seeking to penetrate social realms?

Today, advertisers are not leveraging “social affiliate marketing” in a meaningful way. They’re sitting on sidelines; looking for a quick fix. Advertisers want a means to effortlessly access the massive sea of bloggers and social network users out there.  This is how they see the goal.  They remain focused exclusively on scale — something that relationships don’t really call for.  The result?  Facebook’s Beacon blunder is a perfect example of a rush to monetize through scale that trounces permission and privacy of users — trounces existing relationships.

Yet the longer advertisers wait the more they stand to lose.  What to do?

Savvy advertisers are taking action and getting hands dirty by rounding up the Mavens out there. Advertisers don’t need to access the mass sea of bloggers and social network users out there — they need to find and build relationships with the Mavens who control the opinions of those socially connected, un-tapped masses. Of course, they need to find a fair and equitable means to compensate these Mavens, as Jay Weintraub points out.

Social shopping pioneers are also moving and moving fast. They’re not waiting on someone else to figure out how to track and measure “shopping influence.” Next, I’ll back this statement up with examples and explain what incumbents like Valueclick (Commission Junction’s parent company) are, so far, missing out on.

About Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on starting sales conversations online. He teaches a proven, effective and repeatable communications process to spark buyers curiosity about what you're selling. He's a sought-after sales prospecting trainer to individual reps, teams of sellers and small businesses owners across the globe. He's an accomplished entrepreneur, having co-founded the Google Affiliate Network and what is today the Performics division of Publicis Groupe.

Jeff also serves as adjunct digital marketing faculty at Loyola University’s school of business. His book, Off The Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You, is first to offer businesses a clear, practical way to create leads and sales with platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs.

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Leave a Comment:

Carsten Cumbrowski says

Hi Jeff,

I started out to write a comment for your post, but it became a bit longer than I first thought so I posted it at ReveNews instead. 🙂

Here is the link to my post at RN titled: The Future of Affiliate Marketing is not Written Yet.


Future of Affiliate Marketing: MLM, Facebook, Amway and Social Media says

[…] following is part of a MULTI-PART SERIES (see Part II […]

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