The Amazon Influencer Program – Is it Right for You?

The Amazon Influencer Program is a simple and powerful way for social media influencers to harness the power of their channels to make money through Amazon.

It’s similar to the Amazon Associates program, but with a couple of key differences, and can really help social media marketers to further help their audience – and make money in the process.

This article explains all you need to know about how the Amazon Influencer Program works and sheds as much light as possible on the elusive question of how many followers you actually need to be accepted…

What Is The Amazon Influencer Program?

Amazon InfluencerThe Amazon Influencer program has been designed for content creators who use their social media channel(s) to promote products to their audience. As an Influencer, you’ll be given a direct URL on Amazon where you can direct your followers to a personalized storefront from where you earn commissions on your recommended products.

It’s a simple yet powerful way for social media influencers to have a page on Amazon where they can recommend their favorite products – and receive commissions for doing so.

Amazon may ‘…also surface the content you have posted to your storefront to Amazon shoppers, allowing you to grow your followers and earn from new customers.’ (source) This could be a very powerful and lucrative way for you to grow your Amazon earnings through organic search within the Amazon ecosystem.

What’s The Difference Between The Amazon Influencer Program And The Amazon Affiliate Program?

In terms of the way the two programs work, there isn’t a huge amount of difference. The Amazon affiliate program and the Amazon Influencer program share the same commission rates as each other, both for Standard Commission Rates and Special Commission Rates, such as Bounty events. Check out our recent article on Amazon Affiliate Bounties for more on this.

The way the links work across the programs is the same and the 24-hour cookie works the same way. If you’re completely new to affiliate marketing with Amazon, we’ve compiled a list of FAQ’s for Amazon affiliate beginners that will help you to understand the basics.

Given that you can put a normal Amazon affiliate link into a YouTube post, or an Instagram comment, why would you bother signing up for the Influencer program? The main reason is that you don’t need your own website to be approved. You just need a ‘meaningful’ following and an engaged audience.

Example of an Amazon Influencer

Do I Need To Be An Amazon Associate To Be An Amazon Influencer?

No, you don’t need to already be a member of the Amazon Associates Program to join the Influencer program – just sign up through your regular Amazon account. If you are already a member of the Associates program, you’ll need to log in and apply through your Associates account.

Advantages of the Influencer Program

In addition to being able to direct your followers to a specific product, you’re able to link them directly to your Amazon storefront. Having one single page with links to all of your recommended products is a simple and powerful way for you to provide value to your followers and income for yourself.

Once on your storefront, as well as being able to see all of the product recommendations, customers can also choose to follow you natively on Amazon. This allows them to get updates from you as well as improved recommendations from Amazon.

Another big positive difference with the Amazon Influencer Program is that you can use the link to your Influencer Page in emails!

The Amazon Influencer Program Policy states:

Solely with respect to the Amazon Influencer Program, and notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Participation Requirements, you may include Special Links to your Influencer Page in emails; provided, that such emails are in compliance with the Agreement, the Trademark Guidelines, and the Amazon Brand Usage Guidelines. Upon our request, you will provide us with representative sample materials and written certification that you have complied with the foregoing.

This is a big difference from the Associates program, where using any special links in emails isn’t allowed at all. As an Influencer, you still can’t include direct product affiliate links in emails, just the link to your Amazon storefront. But once your followers have clicked through to that, the Session starts:

With respect to Special Links that direct customers to your Influencer Page, the related Session will be measured as beginning when our customer clicks through to your Influencer Page.

So from that initial click-through to your Amazon storefront, anything that the customer buys within the 24-hour cookie period will earn you the relevant commission. Powerful stuff.

The Downside…

As an Amazon Influencer, you’ll be sending your followers from a social media post directly to your personalized Amazon storefront. This means bypassing any contact with your website – if you have one. If building an email list is important to you then this could be an issue and the Amazon Associates Program should be your first port of call.

What Is The Amazon Influencer Program Storefront?

The Amazon Influencer storefront is the jewel in the crown of the Amazon Influencer program. It’s your own customized page on the Amazon store and is completely unique to you.

An Influencer storefront is not to be confused with an individual brand’s Amazon storefront that can be created by Amazon vendors. This is Sony’s brand storefront, which contains stores/ in the URL and is not an Influencer storefront:

Amazon Sony store

Instead, an Amazon Influencer storefront is your custom Amazon storefront. It follows a standard template but is created by you to include lists of Amazon products that you choose to recommend to your followers. It will contain shop/ in the URL and look something like this:

Cocktail Chemistry Amazon Influencer Storefront

As an example, let’s says you’re a sound recordist, heading out into the wilds to record sounds of nature. Your audience love to hear the calls of the wildlife, water bubbling over polished river stones, and echoes of distant rolling thunder.

You’ve used countless pieces of gear during your career and want to recommend those products to your followers (because they’re always hitting you up in the comments and asking you what microphone you used to get those owls sounding so crisp? Or what do you use to avoid the sound of wind ruining what you’re actually trying to record?). The Amazon Influencer program is the perfect vehicle for you to put all of those recommendations in one place – your own storefront on Amazon.

Storefront Lists

If all of the products you recommend were just in one big list it could become a time-consuming and frustrating experience to find a particular item. Thankfully, you can create different product categories (called lists) on your storefront to make it easier for your followers to find what they’re looking for. Breaking items down into lists is the most helpful way of presenting your recommended products.

Laura Fuentes at MOMables has done a great job of this:

MOMables

Continuing our sound recorder example, splitting your gear recommendations into categories for microphones, windjammers, boom arms and shock mounts lets your audience quickly find the specific piece of equipment they’re looking for. Or, they can just as easily open each list and browse through all of the items within, much as we do when browsing in a brick-and-mortar store.

Seasonality

Another thing to consider here is when to show certain items on your storefront. If your business is seasonal – let’s say you’re in the gardening niche – then you could tailor your storefront to reflect what is most useful to your audience at different times of the year.

Seeds, watering equipment, and bug protection items will be popular in the growing months, but almost nobody will buy them from Fall through winter. Instead, those people will more likely be looking for products to help them improve the structure of their garden – power tools, raised beds, and greenhouses for example.

Tweaking your offering to reflect seasonality shows that you haven’t just set up a storefront and left it, but that you’re engaged with what your followers would want to see there at any given time. This helps to keep the trust between you and your audience that has been built through the quality content on your social media channels.

What Is The Vanity URL?

When accepted onto the Amazon Influencer Program, you’ll be given your own vanity URL for your storefront. The structure of the URL is always the same and can’t be changed. For Amazon U.S, it is:

www.amazon.com/shop/yoursocialmediahandle

What comes after this is derived from the name of the social media account you sign up with. If all of your social media handles are the same, then this isn’t an issue. But if you have different names across YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, then it could be confusing for your followers if the vanity URL you share on Facebook doesn’t match your Facebook account.

Your audience could think you’re directing them to someone else’s storefront, which can negatively affect the trust you’ve built with your followers. So this needs careful consideration before applying, and in some cases, it may be best to change your social media handle before applying.

The benefit of having your own vanity URL is that it’s easily memorable for your audience. You can call it out on a YouTube video or a podcast episode and know that it’s easy for your viewers or listeners to type into Google, rather than relying on them looking at the notes below the video.

And you can post in an Instagram caption knowing that although it’s not clickable, it’s easy for your audience to just type that into a browser and find your store.

Which Social Media Platforms Are Part Of The Influencer Program?

Currently, not every social media platform can be used to apply to join the program. At the time of writing the three channels you can sign up with are:

  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Facebook

You can only apply for the Amazon Influencer program with one of your social media accounts. If you have followings on more than one social media platform, it’s important to choose the right one to apply with. Don’t just opt for the channel on which you have the most followers – numbers aren’t everything…

How Many Followers Do I Need To Become An Amazon Influencer?

Trying to find a direct answer to this question is almost impossible. The reason being that Amazon themselves don’t provide specific numbers. Instead, we need to do a little reading between the lines to understand what it is Amazon is looking for and what is meant by a ‘meaningful’ following.

what is an Amazon Influencer

While the lack of clear information is frustrating, it does make sense. The reason specific numbers of followers aren’t given is that in the world of micro-influencers, no two niches are the same. A meaningful following doesn’t necessarily mean a large following.

If we were to compare the two niche examples I’ve used in this article, then it’s pretty safe to say that the gardening niche is going to be far more popular than that of sound recording. So if Amazon were to say in its eligibility requirements that an influencer has to have 50,000+ followers on Instagram to be accepted for the Amazon Influencer program, then the likelihood of many sound recordists being able to join the program is slim.

Other Engagement Metrics

While having a following is definitely an important factor, Amazon is also looking closely at the following aspects:

  • Engagement – having 10,000 followers on your Instagram account and only around 50 likes and a couple of comments per post is unlikely to get you accepted. Having 5000 followers on Instagram with great quality posts and 500+ likes per post with lots of comments – all of which your business has responded to – is very likely to get you accepted. Amazon can see from the latter example that both you and your audience are highly engaged with the content you’re putting out and the subject matter you’re talking about.
  • Relevance – if your niche has lots of products on Amazon that you can naturally promote to your followers, then Amazon can see that there is a benefit for themselves. You might have the best YouTube videos out there that focus solely on guns, with in excess of 100,000 followers, but Amazon would be highly unlikely to accept your application to be an Amazon Influencer because Amazon doesn’t sell firearms.
  • Quality – in exactly the same way that Amazon looks for quality blog posts before accepting applicants for their Associates program, Amazon also wants to see the same levels of content quality on social media channels. Amazon will want to see that your content provides genuine usefulness to your audience, and this aspect can really help an Influencer with lower numbers of followers to be accepted.

Less Can Be More

As you can see it’s not as simple as saying X amount of followers on YouTube and Y amount of followers on Facebook are going to get you accepted onto the program. Having a large social media presence isn’t necessarily needed.

Numbers count for nothing if your followers are not engaging with your social media accounts.

If you’re a solopreneur, having a smaller following of say 2,000 can be more beneficial than having 20,000. Why? Because it’s much easier for one person to reply to comments and really drive up engagement through building relationships with the people who follow you. Relationships mean trust, which means followers are more likely to purchase something you recommend.

According to AMZ Advisers,

Micro-influencers are actually better for sellers to work with, and therefore better for Amazon, because they are considered experts in a niche community. As few as 1,000 loyal followers can be enough.

Ultimately, the only way to find out if you’ll be accepted is to apply to the program. And if you’re not accepted, you are allowed to reapply at a later date. If you do get turned down, go and build more quality content for your social media channel(s), engage with your audience and your number of followers will naturally increase. Then try again.

So, Is The Amazon Influencer Program Worth It?

Having a categorized and seasonally relevant storefront that you can direct your followers to via an easily remembered vanity URL can only ever be a good thing. For social media influencers, Amazon’s Influencer Program is absolutely worth signing up for.

The micro-influencer space is one that has huge potential, and Amazon’s simple approach can be a powerful tool for social media influencers to utilize in order to make more money.

If you have a good following on either Facebook, Instagram, or your YouTube channel, with great quality content and a highly engaged audience, then the Amazon Influencer program is definitely for you. So, if you haven’t already, sign up today!

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