Marketing Pulse Blog

Instagram Maneuvers Affiliate Marketing Tool to Track Revenue

Written by
Sue Cahaly

All of us have borne witness to the frenzy of social media throughout the pandemic, but the boom has had special significance for marketers, as consumers moved most of their purchasing online. 

Affiliate marketing skyrocketed like never before, leading marketers to shift spend and reallocate budget based on available data. While numbers like post traffic, engagement, and checkout codes provide ample indications, tracking affiliate channels’ return on investment (ROI) in real dollars and cents has always been a challenge.

But now, marketers can look forward to a more effective way to map influencer ROI at least on one platform, thanks to a new affiliate marketing tool by Instagram that should make following the money easier for everyone involved.

Let’s ‘Tok Platforms

In the last year, world- and news-weary people turned to the spritely entertainment vibe of TikTok, whose membership ballooned over the second half of 2020 (nothing like a proposed ban to set anything’s popularity on fire). 

TikTok’s influencers and micro-influencers engaged live audiences, joined challenges, grew followers and, more to the salient point, sucked in consumer dollars like nobody’s business. By Q3, TikTok was the #2 app for consumer spend, outside of gaming, with Youtube still nabbing the top spot.

Meanwhile, YouTube is set to lock down its reigning position by putting its money where its monetizing is. Last month they announced a $100M investment to reward popular creators using their Shorts offering to “delight” audiences. 

So, What’s Instagram Up To?

As hard as it is to think of Facebo-,  um, Instagram as a plucky challenger trying to stay in the game, they’re introducing a new wrinkle in their offerings, and not a moment too soon. Evidently, not willing to cede any more attention or influencer ground to TikTok or YouTube, Instagram (Face-tagram?) ratcheted up its caché last week with the announcement of a new native affiliate tool that could be a big win for influencers — and for brands trying to get a read on their influencer spend ROI.

The new tool will allow creators to tag products they like, racking up commissions on the purchase traffic they drive. Influencers can browse items through discovery, or simply tag partner brands’ items to recommend to their fans. They will be able to keep track of the revenue they drive right within Instagram, with purchases happening through the app itself. 

Win-Win for Influencers, Brands … and Facebook

The new native affiliate marketing tool is handy for influencers but also a plus for the brands who partner with them. Tangible tracking on Instagram has been a missing link thus far, with marketers relying on a cadre of cues, like swipe-up links and post engagement. Knowing who is responsible for which sales is just about the brass ring for marketers looking to show concrete attribution and ROI for clients.

Instagram has rolled out the functionality to a handful of key accounts, with the plan to be available to all later in the year. 

With the dwindling window for tracking third-party cookies, it’s no wonder that Facebook (via Instagram) wants to keep its hands on as much of that sweet, sweet data as they can, to continue to provide valuable and viable reporting to their advertisers.

On the Purchasing Horizon

Social media’s clout in swaying consumers has more than doubled between 2019 and 2020. One of the exciting developments to watch for this year is how brands will allocate budgets for the holiday push and where they’re most likely to find success. 

Between the growth of influencers and micro-influencers on consumer opinion, the reopening of brick-and-mortar locations, and individual channels grabbing as much of the action as they can, 2021 should see a holiday shopping season like no other. We’ll keep you posted.

Do you want to know how to maximize your ROI on influencer campaigns? Let’s talk.

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Written by
Sue Cahaly

Sue Cahaly is WITHIN’s Content Marketing Manager. She and her husband live outside of Boston in a house full of kids, dogs and music.


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