How Not to Use Twitter for Affiliate Marketing

Brett Chesney Strategies for Success

Posted by: Nathan Hangen, Guest Blogger

I need to get something out of the way…I am a Twitter fanatic. In fact, it would come as no surprise to me if my wife was spending every free minute she has in order to learn how to become a hacker so that she could take it down and have her husband back (I’m really not that bad, but you get the idea).

So considering that fact that I spend a lot of my time learning how to master the art of Twitter marketing and that I’ve even created my own Twitter products, what I am about to say might be a little too close to the bone…even for me.

However, the truth is the truth and if we try to hide from it, then we end up dying because of it. And here it is:

99% of the affiliate marketers on Twitter have zero idea how to market correctly.

Furthermore, many of those that don’t get it are teaching new users how not to get it too, leading to a cycle of spam, crappy auto-DM’s, and accounts that get suspended or marked as spam before they have even had a chance to flourish.

So, what are they doing, and why are they doing it? Let’s tackle the former first.

1. If you want to sell an affiliate product on Twitter, you cannot expect to be able to do it in 140 characters, and yet, that’s what many marketers try to do. Their Twitter streams are filled with blatant sales pitches, so much so that you start to wonder if there is a real person behind the curtain.

Look, if I don’t know who you are, I don’t know where you are linking to, and I don’t see anything but pitches in your Twitter stream, then I am not going to click through. If I do, if you get lucky, you will see me hit the back button before the page even finishes loading.

2. You cannot take over someone’s DM’s (Direct Messages) and have them send out spam on your behalf. Aside from the fact that it is extremely annoying, it takes advantage of people that don’t know any better. You are actually hurting your customer in the process. Hit-and-run business tactics are shameful and will not help you in the long run.

3. Creating a product that only teaches people how to make money on Twitter by promoting your “make money on Twitter” product is, well, just sad. Sure, you might make a few bucks, but what does that get you? Again, it is this type of short term thinking that turns Twitter into a madhouse and creates an environment where marketers are no longer trusted. At that point, you’ve ruined it for all of us. Thanks.

4. Perhaps the most blatant offender is the reply spammer, which is relatively new to the scene. These people reply to popular Twitter users with an affiliate link, and try to trick people into clicking. These reply spammers also try to trick the popular person’s followers, because at first glance, it looks like the Tweet is coming from them. Considering most of these tweets look identical, I simply click the block button and move on. Get blocked often enough and you’ll be suspended. Good luck getting your account back.

So Why Are They Doing It?

1. Most affiliate marketers on Twitter are doing this because they are too lazy to learn how to effectively sell affiliate products. You shouldn’t try to sell someone in a PPC ad; you bring them to your sales page so that your sales letter can do the selling. It’s the same with Twitter. To do this, though, you’ve got to be relevant, which means that not everything you say can be a sales pitch. When it is, though, it has to address the needs of your list. Sending out blanket replies just doesn’t work.

2. Sadly, many people buy systems that tell them that these methods work. To make matters worse, many of them use viral friend adders that help them get recognition and more marketers promoting their products. Eventually, regardless of how faulty the system is, it spreads like wildfire. Everyone gets caught, no one wins.

3. They aren’t interested in helping people. The last category is comprised of marketers that use the same tactics in other venues. They use software to generate new accounts by the dozens, so they don’t care if they get suspended. They aren’t interested in helping people…they simply want to make an easy buck.

So How Do You Sell on Twitter?

I’ve written about this extensively because it is a matter that I am extremely passionate about. I am tired of shady marketers ruining it for everyone and more importantly, I’m tired of seeing new people get taken advantage of.

So here’s the truth:

If you want to sell on Twitter, you have to build relationships and create targeted lists based on interests. Once you learn how to build these networks (which really is easy to do), you can link to relevant affiliate offers without having to worry about getting unfollowed or blocked. The key is to let the content, not a Tweet, do the selling. If everything you say on Twitter is a pitch of some sort, it won’t work. However, if you learn to be relevant and helpful, your random pitch will not only be noticed, but will be appreciated.

People love to buy…we love to consume great content. However, we have to be warmed up before we do it. On social networks, it’s the relationships that sell, not the message. It’s really up to you, though. You can spam people and make a quick buck (maybe), or you can build credibility and build a successful business. In my opinion, taking the latter route is much more efficient.

About the Author: Nathan Hangen writes about web entrepreneurship at, and about how to use social media to fuel your brand at Making It Social . Follow him on Twitter @nhangen.