Will Influencer Marketing and Affiliate Marketing Join Forces?

Will Influencer Marketing and Affiliate Marketing Join Forces?

Priest Willis, Senior Global Performance Partnerships Marketing Manager at Lenovo, joins the Social Pros Podcast to discuss having an effective affiliate marketing program and turning influencers into long-term affiliates.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

From Influencer to Affiliate

If you work in marketing, and especially if you work in social media marketing, the terms “influencer” and “affiliate” are likely very familiar parts of your vocabulary. Given the global prevalence of social media today, the efficacy of influencer and affiliate programs is undeniable.

We conventionally view these two approaches as different sides of the same coin, so to speak, but Priest Willis of Lenovo is actually working to bring the two together. Having worked as both an affiliate and affiliate manager himself, Priest has a deep understanding of the value of affiliates. He believes that a successful influencer program shouldn’t stop there but be a gateway into a thriving affiliate program.

It all comes down to content that ultimately supports your business. A successful influencer doesn’t need to disappear after a one-time product review or endorsement. By educating your influencers and investing in them as full-fledged affiliates, you will motivate and excite them as well as open an entirely new stream of creative content.

In This Episode

  • What makes a good affiliate.
  • How affiliate networks work.
  • The difference between affiliates and influencers.
  • How to track the effectiveness of an affiliate program.
  • Why some platforms are more or less effective.
  • How to turn influencers into affiliates.

Quotes From This Episode

“As affiliate managers, you should always be involved intricately with how the affiliates are promoting your brand.” — @priestwillis

“Our attention span is shortening, and Twitter caters to that from an affiliate perspective.” — @priestwillis

“Sometimes people feel disappointed by their reach because it doesn’t look like the other guy’s, but if we had an event in a hotel room and had 1,000 people or 200 people sitting in that hotel room, you would think you had a fairly successful event. We have to rewire thinking about the audience and deliver it to them differently.” — @priestwillis

You have to give a little vision behind why I should be buying a product. Click To Tweet


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Episode Transcript

Jay Baer:Hey everybody it's Jay Baer from Convince and Convert. Adam and I are back after three weeks.
Jay Baer:We are all back together again here on the Social Pros podcast. You've got both of us, myself and my special Texas friend, the executive strategist of Salesforce marketing cloud. He is cool as the other side of the pillow, the one, the only Mr. Adam Brown.
Adam Brown:I love that line. That might have been one of the best intros we've had in the several hundred of these that we've had the opportunity to do. Jay, my friend, I'm doing great. Glad to be back in town. Glad to be back with you. Glad to have had a great, great podcast with [crosstalk 00:00:37].
Jay Baer:Yeah, cool. Yeah, interesting. The subject that we haven’t covered much at all here on Social Pros and probably our fault for not digging in deeper earlier. Today we're talking about affiliate marketing and how social media and influencer marketing are to converge with affiliate marketing and performance-based social. It's a really fascinating conversation with Priest Willis.
Adam Brown:It is. There was so many things I learned. I thought I knew a little bit about affiliate marketing. I realize I didn’t, but the speed at which the whole space is changing and the influence that social is having and I think Priest really does a great job of articulating the last click attribution and how that's not as important in some cases with social affiliate marketing and how has brands like Lenovo and the brands that Priest consults with how they're reconciling that and making sure the rewarding and recognizing the affiliates that may not be the one right before you hit that green buy button but might be one that influenced that green buy button click.
Jay Baer:Yup. This week on the show it's Priest Willis who is the senior global marketing manager for Lenovo handles their affiliate programs but also runs his own company called Affiliate Mission which is an affiliate marketing management agency. That's the topic this week on Social Pros. I think you're going to find it fascinating. Here we go. Hi, friends. This is Jay Baer from Convince & Convert. Thanks as always for listening to "Social Pros." I tell you now in our eighth year doing this show, it simply wouldn't be possible without the support of our sponsors. This week they include Salesforce Marketing Cloud, longstanding sponsor of the show. Social is more important than ever for B2B marketers. Yet, some have a hard time using it effectively or measuring results. There's a new, complete guide, totally free from our friends at Salesforce. It's called "The Complete Guide to Social Media for B2B Marketers." It reveals the best types of content for each segment at each social channel, talks about the role of metrics, social listening, and how to elevate your message and drive results in social for B2B. Really good stuff. No cost. Just go to bit.ly/socialb2bguide. That's bit.ly/socialb2bguide, all lower case. You can download it right now. This week the show is also brought to you by Brand Watch. As you know, there's thousands and thousands and thousands of images shared online every second. It's crazy; Instagram everywhere, et cetera. Brand Watch has world leading image insights that can discover any logo in any picture, and then helps brands measure their visibility within those photos. Pretty cool stuff. They've used this technology to look through - check this out - 250 million images to figure out which logos appear the most, and they've produced the 2018 Brand Visibility Report. This thing is fascinating. It shows you how often the most popular brands are photographed online, how brands are more visible in particular locations, which brands are used more by influencers and their photos, and the sentiment attached to each of the brands' images. Really great stuff, terrific report, lots of smart data. Grab it at brandWatch.com/socialpros. BrandWatch.com/socialpros. No cost for the brand new 2018 Brand Visibility Report. Awesome.
As promised our guest this week on the Social Pros podcast episode of 319 is Priest Willis who is the owner of Affiliate Mission an affiliate marketing agency, affiliate management agency as well. Priest is also by day the senior global marketing manager from Lenovo. We had his colleague Sarah O'Grady on the show three weeks ago talking about all the cool stuff Lenovo's doing. So, to get into Lenovo social media background check out the archives at socialpros.com. Today, we're going to talk to Priest about affiliate marketing and how it interacts and intersects with social and influencer marketing a really hot topic, one we haven't covered enough on the show. So, we are delighted to have you here Priest.
Priest Willis:Thanks Jay, appreciate the time. Thanks Adam. I really do appreciate you guys having me on the show.
Jay Baer:It's our pleasure. How did you get into the affiliate marketing game?
Priest Willis:Yeah. So, I initially started off probably 15, 17 years ago as an affiliate. During that period, Amazon was the only one that I knew of that had any kind of affiliate marketing. So, I built websites with front-page.
Jay Baer:Front page name check ladies and gentlemen. Let's just stop the show right here. It's been about 290 episodes and somebody mentioned front page. So, you know … A lot of you guys don't even know [crosstalk 00:03:07].
Adam Brown:That built your GeoCities sites really.
Jay Baer:Yeah. A lot of people don't even know what we're talking about right now, but do a little Google search to learn the wonders that were front page. All [inaudible 00:03:17] podcast have left the OGR.
Priest Willis:The OGs are the front page. Before that, I used to use notepad. So, if you really want to go-
Jay Baer:There you go. That's hard core man.
Priest Willis:Front page was the dream-
Jay Baer:Building pages just to sell Amazon stuff. Were there particularly things that sold better that were kind of your basket of stuff or didn’t really matter?
Priest Willis:Well, at that time, we were selling anything, but Amazon was really known for the books and CDs at that time and all that kind of stuff. So, that's really what we were pitching on the site. We had a forum. So, if you go on the way back machine on the website, you can actually see the site that I built in the blinking banners of Amazon at that time. So-
Jay Baer:Animated mailbox for the contact us and all that.
Adam Brown:The [inaudible 00:03:59]. Yes.
Priest Willis:Every time you move the mouse, there was something that would snake along with the mouse there. I had the whole bells and whistles there. So, I was an affiliate at that time and slowly transformed into an affiliate manager after building a couple of cookie-cutter sites for costume companies and all that stuff. So, it was kind of an easy transition for me and I still do some affiliate stuff today even.
Jay Baer:You've been on both sides of it, both as an affiliate and as an affiliate manager. What makes a good affiliate?
Priest Willis:I think a good affiliate is somebody that just stays in their lane. Sometimes affiliates, they jump into the space and they get excited about everything, but a guy and this is no knock on anyone but a guy getting into make up subscription boxes for example or maybe can speak or articulate to subscription boxes. So, that's probably something you shouldn’t do as an affiliate. If there is something that is more in your wheelhouse that you would buy ordinarily anyways, that is something that you more than likely should be an affiliate and probably will be more successful as an affiliate doing.
Jay Baer:Just because you understand the content better and you understand the category better so you could probably build better pages and better content videos etc. They're going to attract more traffic, convert more traffic it's because you have a passion for the category?
Priest Willis:Totally, totally. So, I always tell people that if you really want to start something that works for you as an affiliate or you're just getting into a space, start with something that you know where you're already a consumer of versus trying to get into something because the market is saying that it's "hot".
Jay Baer:I need to be a tequila affiliate then. Is there a program that you can set me up with? Some sort of special deal?
Priest Willis:I'm sure there's a tequila in a box program out there somewhere.
Jay Baer:There should be. Man, that's a good one. I think tequila subscription service is actually a really good idea because they're so hard to find good ones. We just need an import export license and only a few states will do it. I'll tell you what, that's [crosstalk 00:05:48].
Priest Willis:That's my idea. So, let's put [crosstalk 00:05:49].
Adam Brown:ATF.
Jay Baer:Adam is in Texas. He's close to the border. He can make this happen. Run for the border.
Adam Brown:Let's do it. I do have a question Priest. I was curious if as you define affiliates. Is it better for an affiliate in the eyes of a branch, and this is probably a little bit of leading question, to be exclusive? So, I'm going to be an Amazon affiliate versus I'm going to have some things from Amazon. I'm going to have some things from Etsy. I'm not even going to disclose it. I'm just going to have my own store front and I'm getting paid on these things because I'm affiliate, but the user doesn’t know where these affiliates are coming from.
Priest Willis:Yeah. Maybe I'll chop that answer up in a couple of different ways. So, first of all, we as merchants so let's take Lenovo for example would love for the affiliate to be exclusive to Lenovo, not sell Dell or HP laptops for example, but that just doesn't happen. We understand the truth is that someone may be committed to tech products or something along those lines and they're going to sell tech or Dell, HP and Lenovo products. That's just the truth of the matter. We should always disclose, when I say we I'm talking about affiliate, should always disclose that they're an affiliate regardless of what product they're selling. There should be a disclosure whether it's in your footer or somewhere in your site letting people know that you're being paid or compensated in some way for selling these products. Depending on how you're looking at it, obviously the merchant would love for you to be exclusive to them, but that's just not the case nowadays.
Adam Brown:The merchants that you work with as owner and director of Affiliate Mission, do they ask you to do any sort of auditing and tracking to kind of what are these affiliates doing? Are they legitimate in terms of how they're disclosing exactly what you said? Are they legitimate in how they're disclosing the actual products that are being sold? Is that an important part of the service that you offer?
Priest Willis:Very important. So, as an affiliate management agency, you're managing the whole ecosystem so you're managing the network piece, the affiliate and obviously you're speaking on behalf of the merchant, but along the way you are talking with the affiliates and you should be getting to know where they're sending their traffic from their site. You should be auditing that in the network so whether you're working with commission junction, Impact Radius or some other network out there that people may be familiar with, you should be constantly policing the brand, always making sure that they’re speaking to the brand so they don't have old logos up or whatever the case is. So, yeah, from an affiliate management perspective, you should always be involved intricately with how the affiliates are promoting your brand, where they're sending traffic from and that whole bit.
Jay Baer:You mentioned those affiliate networks. I'm not as familiar with those as I probably should and I'm guessing a lot of our listeners are not. Could you talk a little bit about those?
Priest Willis:Yeah. So, typically there's a lot of different kind of affiliate networks out there. The big ones are Commission Junction, ShareASale, LinkShare, guys like that. Then there's some more SaaS platforms like Impact Radius. That's one in fact that Lenovo uses. Then there are some just pure software ones and those typically run about $99 a year but when I tell people to start an affiliate program, I typically tell them to shy away from those software-based affiliate programs simply because a lot of more experienced affiliates don't trust the third-party affiliate platform that you may be working with, because there's almost this closed wall between the affiliate and what they can see the merchant doing with the data.
So, if they’re not paying commissions, it's a little less transparent on why they didn't pay commissions where if I'm in Commission Junction for example, we both being the affiliate manager and the affiliate have access to it to see the whole pathing and to see all the performance come through so it's a lot more transparent in terms of performance.
Jay Baer:So, talk about what the role of Affiliate Mission is and you as an affiliate manager? Are you helping those affiliates do their job better? Are you policing those folks to make sure that they're not overstepping their bounds? Are you helping pick affiliates? Is it all those things?
Priest Willis:Yeah, it's really all those things. So, affiliate manager typically what they do is police the existing affiliates of course. When I say police I don't literally mean you're always about looking for the bad stuff. In most cases you are literally helping them be affiliate. So, for example with Affiliate Mission, if we're working with several different brands, there's a subscription box company called Wantable out there that we helped establish. It's a box for makeup and other items. We're out there to teach people so they may know how to be affiliates but they don't know how to be Wantable affiliates or they don't know how to be Lenovo affiliates meaning speaking specifically to the brand.
So, our job is to make sure that you are an extension of the marketing team as if you were sitting in the building, you understand how to speak to Wantable or Lenovo, Wantable in Affiliate Missions case. So, we're more there to help you than police and of course we're there to be the recruiting arm of the company whether it's Lenovo or Wantable so we're bringing in incremental affiliates meaning new sales because affiliate is … what it's not is MLM or ballroom hope if you will meaning this is … affiliate is really tactical demand gen practices that are within this program here. A lot of people see that as bottom feeding where it's just all coupon based but there's so many other aspects to affiliate marketing.
Jay Baer:Historically as you mentioned we would … I did a fair bit of affiliate marketing in the day. You would build a website in your case front page. You would merchandise some products. You would sell some products. You would take a piece of that action. Now in this social media era, how common is it for affiliates to use organic or even paid social as one of the ways that they're generating click and ultimately sales and commissions?
Priest Willis:So, I've seen probably in the past few years maybe a little bit more the market shift within affiliate marketing. So, a lot of people are now becoming … they're less having the websites and the blinky banners that I told you about with the front page and they're much more hey click on my link in the bio within Instagram and typically that may lead to an affiliate link of sorts whether they're selling … I don't know you always shake tea or whatever it is out there for example. There's always some affiliate component to it even on Facebook within your own group for example. If you're always talking about cameras, it might serve people well even the person that thinks that they're not an affiliate to join the affiliate program.
As they talk to their own audience about affiliate marketing whether it's in Facebook, Twitter, wherever it may be to have an affiliate link within there so that your compensated a little bit for talking about it. Again, it's less smarmy because … I don't even know if smarmy is a word. I just made that up right now I think, but it's less smarmy because you're already talking about it anyways. It's something that you're familiar with and you would've shared regardless if you got paid or not.
Adam Brown:So, please just take that insight that you shared and Jay teed up that we've got affiliate marketers that are using social sometimes even paid social to help those products for a particular brand. I'm curious how a company like Lenovo or many of the of the companies that you support handle that intersection? My guess is affiliate marketing probably lives more closer to the sales organization than the marketing or communications organization, but you've got all these affiliate marketers who are using social on behalf of the brand. How does that triangle look between the affiliate marketing team, the social media team and your organization or the affiliate marketer themselves?
Priest Willis:Yeah, that's a really good question Adam, because sometimes we do internally at Lenovo for example we kind of impede within each others brand whether it's from the branding team, the social team or the affiliate team because you're always kind of playing in each other sandbox or at least affiliate is always dabbling in those different sandboxes. So, we literally within Lenovo we have an influencer team that's totally separate from the affiliate component. It’s typically what they've done in the past is send influencers a laptop and say, "Hey, promote this item. I just got this X1 carbon from Lenovo."
Then they would get a free laptop and that would be it for them. So, my job is to actually turn that influencer into an affiliate and say, "Hey, look, you know your post that you put out there whether it's a YouTube video that does unboxing or it's just some content piece that you wrote up, you know that lives out there and organically over time starts to actually build up more traffic. Why not get paid commissions and monetize that over time rather than just the free laptop?" So, I'm now trying to turn the influencers and break down the silos internally within Lenovo to say, "Let's turn those influencers into affiliate marketers."
So, I think there was a period for a very long time where influencers they didn't understand affiliate marketing so they just didn't do it and they were more interested in getting the free product. Slowly what I'm finding within Lenovo is that it's up to us to teach those people that "No, here's how affiliate marketing works. It's not just a big beast that you may think it is. It's really something that we can break down so that you can understand and become an affiliate you get paid for your efforts beyond just the laptop or whatever it is." So, those departments always cross Adam is what I'm saying. It's my job internally at Lenovo to make sure that the people are educated so they can choose if they just want to be an influencer, continue getting the laptop or have the option to be an affiliate.
Adam Brown:Sure but obviously towards sales, getting that influencer who's getting a T&E, testing and evaluation product whether or not they return it or not but then turning them actually into an affiliate also shows a little bit of easier to articulate ROI because you can actually see that affiliate tag on the URL. You can look for the cookie. You can look for the white pixel, however you're tracking.
Priest Willis:Right. Absolutely 100%. That's what it is. You're actually showing them how this works and how they would get paid, introducing them to the network and getting them comfortable with the tracking so that they understand it. Again, that may be the thing that intimidated them originally was that as you bring up the words cookie and UI and all of this stuff, to them that's some other language. Once you say, "No, it's really this simple. You show me your URL say this is the appended piece that goes to your URL, highlight it may be and start to explain the details by it." I think a lot of people will be surprised how easy it'll get for them.
The incentive for us in Lenovo because most people's question is, "Why would you pay these guys if they're going to do it anyways and all you had to do was give him a $600 laptop?" Well the purpose is for us to hopefully that they will create more content and see the value in building around it so that they continue to expand it. Otherwise, they will just put up a post because they got the laptop and then be done, but for me, it's saying, "No, we need to increase their knowledge so that we can get more incremental revenue from that one post or whatever it is."
Jay Baer:One of the things that I would think at least today as we're recording this in 2018 when the differences between sort of an influencer marketing agency and an affiliate marketing agency is that influencer agencies typically measure reach. So, how much exposure did this content get and they're looking at engagement rate and impressions, in some cases clicks and of course affiliates are all about paying out on actual purchases. So, I think there's issues there. One, it's a little bit harder to do an affiliate program for a product that doesn't necessarily transact online, but if you're selling yogurt, you’re Yoplait, an affiliate program is a little weird. I'm going to buy a whole bunch of e-commerce yogurt. It's possible but not super common. So, you got a little bit of a category issue there.
As you're starting to see more and more influencer marketing agencies try to be more performance driven, to say we're not just going to say, "Hey you got this many people click in a heart icon on Instagram post but you actually got click throughs to a landing page etc." As they get more data driven and performance driven, and affiliates get more broad in terms of the categories in the products that they cover, do see a conversion at some point that what's happening on the influencer marketing site and you got a lot of companies with a ton of venture capital behind them and then you got the longer standing affiliate side, do you see that kind of a merger at some point?
Priest Willis:You do. So, I think Lenovo especially our affiliate program is a little bit more intense about our data rate. So, initially some people may think it's overkill but as I mentioned the networks typically spit out their own source of data which is always good to be first click if you will and then internally for larger companies like Lenovo, we have Tableau which is a UI interface that spits out the data for those who may not be familiar with tableau or SAP. Then we have Adobe Omniture which is another data source. So, the reason why I mentioned all those is because from an affiliate perspective if we're just looking purely on last click then you may not fully know if someone from a social perspective is just clicking the heart and what role that ultimately played into the pathing.
If you're looking at all these other data points, you can see that somewhere in there, that affiliate, that social media affiliate specifically assisted somewhere in that sale whether it was through a mention in the post. So, I think it's important from an affiliate perspective that we dig a little deeper into the data attribution as they would say beyond just last click or the reach that you're actually seeing within the pathing and recognizing whether in pay or something along those lines where that influencer assisted in the sale. Maybe not from the last click perspective but they were in that path somewhere.
Jay Baer:To that end, just to clarify that Priest, are you paying out affiliates the same if it's a last click conversion versus an assisted conversion somewhere along the path? If they have a role to play, did they get their percentage or does their percentage differ if it's first click versus last click versus somewhere in between?
Priest Willis:Yeah, good question Jay. So, today Lenovo pays the last click but we are trying to change that a year from now. So, we are literally in the trenches with our attribution with our data. In fact, I just had article that came out on e-marketer where I talked about this very thing. So, we're looking through the data right now and then we'll do some kind of commission segmentation where we begin to pay the affiliates who assisted maybe not the full X percent but they will start to recognize more that they were involved in the assisting. Then at that point I think you'll see influencer marketing in the social media even start to open up more, because that's what I meant by the branding perspective.
I think a lot of these unfortunately and within some other merchants, a lot of these guys that do social media marketing they feel like there was a lot of interaction whether it was the hearts, the retweets, whatever it may have been, but there was really no benefit for them, because there was no conversion. I think merchants are now starting to get smarter that that influencer actually really played a role from a branding perspective and we see somewhere that the sale was done. So, Lenovo is no different. No pun intended but we're trying to get to the heart of that.
Jay Baer:It's fascinating. We'll make sure to find that article on e-marketer and link it up in the show notes. Listeners, go to socialpros.com to get a direct link to Priest's article. You'll find it there.
Adam Brown:Curious Priest, you're exactly right. This is such a fascinating and quickly moving space and what this is going to look like a year from now I think is going to be very different. As we look at it here in May of 2018, one of the things that you mentioned to us right before to show is that you find that Twitter is a better platform for affiliate marketing right now. I'm curious why you say that because it seems that Twitter doesn’t seem to be good for anything if you ask some people these days, but for affiliate marketing, for social customer care it still seems to become the reigning champ. What do you see working on Twitter and why in your opinion?
Priest Willis:At the heart of Twitter, Twitter you know that this isn’t a new statement here, but Twitter is still microblogging. People are still interested and in fact, I would say that someone like myself is even more interested rather than reading 500 words in a blog that I want to see a quick 10, 15, 20 words or whatever with the link.
Jay Baer:So, people's laziness is driving the Twitter.
Priest Willis:Yeah, let's just keep to the heart of this.
Jay Baer:Okay. [crosstalk 00:22:27].
Priest Willis:I didn’t want to say that but Jay, thank you.
Jay Baer:It's okay. It's my show. I can say that.
Priest Willis:Honestly, that we are becoming kind of … our attention span is shortening and I think Twitter caters to that a little bit from an affiliate perspective that people are getting key blurbs in about a product, about an item, about a service and at that point you can tell if people are really engaged or not by clicking and typically that conversion is a lot quicker because either people are going to scroll through your Twitter. Now keep the mind that with Twitter those feeds go by fast and depending on how many people you have and how many people you're following that disappears quick.
So, there has to be a little consistency or strategy on how you do that meaning timing that you're going to make the post and what's your really after. Again, with hashtags and other stuff, I think we've seen it serve really well for us and some affiliates. Twitter specifically, Reddit is another one form that has done really well for some affiliates. I know you asked about Twitter so I'm sort of going kind of a diatribe here.
Jay Baer:No, I think Reddit is a good thing.
Priest Willis:Yeah. I was just going to bring up Reddit. Reddit, now somebody may hear this podcast and say, "Okay, I'm going to go do Reddit and hopefully I'll make $5,000." Keep in mind that Reddit is a very tribal form so people have to be used to you and understand who you are and you may have had to have a voice and maybe a little bit of patience as you post this stuff. You just can't start posting affiliate links and saying, "Buy this now." You should be serving the community and being a part of the community. So, with anything like Twitter, Reddit has a strategy. Facebook may be less so because again you're serving people that you're familiar with, you're putting up your wedding photos, your dog pictures and oh by the way here's a camera whereas Twitter is intimately connected like Facebook would be. I think people are more inclined to engage in places like that.
Adam Brown:So, to that point Priest, let's flip the tables here. You have someone who wants to be on this other side of the equation. They want to be an affiliate marketer but they've got maybe 1,000 followers on Twitter. They've been taking place on Reddit, but again they're only taking action in maybe one or two sub Reddits and not a whole lot of post there. What would you tell them in terms of do they need to get their number of followers up to a certain threshold before they can really consider affiliate marketing or is it better to start small and early and just combine those with as you said the pictures of the dog, the wedding photos, that pictures [crosstalk 00:25:03].
Jay Baer:Sounds like Adams is thinking about maybe a side gig. I don’t know. Asking for a friend.
Priest Willis:So, here's the thing I always find funny. I think I told somebody this last week is that you have 1,000 followers on Twitter. You have 200 on Facebook. You have X amount of people in email. The guy or the gal that is disappointed by that audience, it's funny because if we had an event in a hotel room and you had 1,000 people sit in that hotel room or 200 people sitting in that hotel room, you would think you had a fairly successful event. So, I don't how we translate that to social media and we see that amount of followers or people as a failure. So, what would you do in that case? You would optimize what you're doing. You would find out the best engaging words to put up in Twitter.
Sometimes people because they feel disappointed by their reach because it doesn't look like the other guys, they get a little more messy, a little bit more loose if you will with how they speak to their audience because they think it's nothing in. When my audience becomes 5,000 then I'll talk a little better. No, practice what you ultimately want to be with that audience. To me, again, if that 1000 follower that you have on Twitter was sitting in that hotel room, you would think it's a success. So, we have to rewire thinking about the audience and deliver it to them different.
Jay Baer:Yeah, I love that. Should be cuing the Allen Iverson practice? We talking about practice?
Priest Willis:Cuing that up right here.
Adam Brown:So, does that behoove a brand or a consultant like affiliate mission then to work with the merchants to try to help train affiliate telemarketers on how to do that, how to use linguistic analysis and use the right words, how to write a post, what your frequency should be and is that something that Lenovo as well as your customers are asking you to do? Kind of salesmanship 101.
Priest Willis:So, we, being Lenovo, are always trying to teach affiliates beyond just affiliate marketing. We're trying to tell them best practices of blog writing and of course how you write. Typically we would stay of course having proper English is good but if it's not in your language style and it's not what people are therefore write according to what your audience is and people will be receptive to that. So, again, I think there are some very best practice principles that we all should be looking at to make our profiles a lot better but then you also just need to be clear and genuine about your voice.
So, Lenovo for example we're always again trying to give them the best tools, to be the best affiliates, to be the best bloggers, to do the best they can with their social media, but who knows their audience better than them. Certainly not Lenovo, so we at some point have to let them cater that message to what their audience is. That's a delicate dance. That's where the money spot is in some sense.
Jay Baer:Priest, you talked about Twitter being an effective place to use social for affiliate marketing on the influencer side. So many people think first and foremost in many cases of Instagram. That there's so many Instagram influencers out there it's almost a meme in it of itself. Instagram is a little challenging from an ROI standpoint, a click through standpoint because they don't allow link in bio. Someday that may change but it hasn’t yet. However, it is possible to input links and have them clickable in Instagram stories. So, one of the things I wanted to ask you is, are you seeing more use of Instagram stories, Facebook stories that type of narrative as an affiliate content creation exercise?
Priest Willis:We are but that has been one of … So, Lenovo, at the end of the day we're selling laptops and accessories and stuff like that. That's a little bit more challenging to make sexy for people to link on stories. So, it can somewhat be engaging on still images and we're trying to figure out ways how to kind of create really good stories or work with our affiliates to create really good engaging stories, but that's kind of been unfolding thing for us right now. So, to answer your question directly, I don’t think we've done a really good job at that yet, but that's certainly something that we think about and to see how we can do better.
Now, I also think there's something to be said because Pinterest is another site believe it or not that does really well. I think is really engaging from an affiliate perspective too. So, how can you leverage Instagram to even get someone from Instagram to Pinterest and then grow it from there? So, there's creative ways that you can slice that. Again, the story side, I don't know if we as a merchant maybe there's some fashion sites and others that have done better than us, but I don't know if we've been able to do it well, that being Lenovo maybe my coworker maybe could tell you better. I don't know if we've taught our affiliates how to do it better necessarily, but I know we always try to sell them a bigger picture with Pinterest another thing.
Jay Baer:Yeah. Categorically and I'm sure it's going to differ a little bit from business to business, but you've been doing this a really long time. You've seen a lot of influencer programs and created many of your own. You can either create a utility style influencer program where you're not necessarily going to be terribly overt about selling products on behalf of a merchant, you're going to really lead with content.
You see this with … I just saw one yesterday which I knew was an affiliate program. The top 25 water shoes for summer '18 beachwear, right? I'm going to the beach soon. "I need some water shoes." I'm like, "Here's 25 shoes." Pretty sure, these are all affiliate links. Sort of that content style as opposed to more of a harder sell approach to affiliate marketing. Which do you think works better? That content rich software sell or the harder sell more overt direct way of moving merchandise.
Priest Willis:I think it really depends. I mean there are some things so for example Lenovo had a Jedi campaign that we ran recently. I think there's things you can do within the Jedi that just sells itself because of the brand itself. So, you're free to do a hard sell there because for the most part the traffic that you're getting there is already sold. So, you're just leading them straight into it where there are other things that I think there needs to be a story told. So, we sell yoga lap books or laptops and tablets and other things that I think if you have a story around it. What you're ultimately doing is when you're just putting a laptop on an image, you're telling somebody based on what you see by this product and that's not enough for people.
You have to kind of … the same is different coming into a house and people are staging a home. You have to give me a little vision behind why I should be buying this. That's always something that Lenovo and we're looking at with our affiliates and within our affiliate program is stage your websites if you will. I don’t mean stage it from a fraudy perspective, I mean create an atmosphere where people are looking at it visually and that's where social media comes in heavily where that you're almost leading them exactly to where you want to go. I think your conversion will be a lot better with a story that's wrapped around it.
Adam Brown:Interesting. Again, it's the story that will oftentimes help you find your followers and start to get that audience up. I know affiliate marketing was something when I was at Dell almost 10 years ago we were starting to do. One of the tools that we use Priest to kind of understand which people might be candidates for affiliates or affiliates who had a little more gravitas so to speak was cloud. As we record this, May 18, this week earlier, Lithium decided that they were going to pull the plug on their acquisition of a couple of years ago of Cloud. Curious is clouded tool or was cloud a tool that affiliate marketers use and how without a tool like cloud, although I will say, plug in my own product Social Studio from Salesforce marketing cloud has its own influencer algorithm, but how do you determine who's a great affiliate other than just looking at that column of sales? How do you predict this guy or gal is going to be a good one?
Priest Willis:So, without getting into too much nerd alert stuff, we do have internally that's probably when your nerd alert siren goes off or something else-
Jay Baer:Yeah, we'll add that later the nerd alert siren sure.
Priest Willis:So, I think that we do a lot of stuff internally where we look at the share of voice of our program. There are tools that we use internally to look at people who work at Dell for example, who work at HP as affiliates that we may not have in our program. So, a lot of those guys we're already pre-looking at to say, "You know what, your five guys that work with Dell that we don't have to explain affiliate marketing to them and we don't have to explain tech to them because they're already doing it for Dell. We try to not make them leave Dell but make them become a Lenovo affiliate."
So, that's things that we do internally. We have some proprietary stuff but we also work with some tools to help us gather a lot of that information. That's just one part of it. There's always different ways that you can do passive recruiting and there are some things that we do more intensified recruiting to find affiliates that maybe understand how to do affiliate marketing and that's kind of who we're looking for, but on the passive side, there are people that we're collecting who don't know anything about affiliate marketing but they your podcast like this, they get excited about it, they join and then they fall off at some point.
Jay Baer:If they join, Adam and I are getting a piece of that right? It's that how affiliate marketing works?
Priest Willis:Absolutely.
Jay Baer:We're like a downstream affiliate.
Priest Willis:Absolutely. I told you at the top of the podcast that you guys are getting the slice of whatever we're getting.
Jay Baer:We're getting a piece of all of this. Well I tell you from a Lithium standpoint it's a little hard to make an acquisition for $200 million and four years later like, "Yeah, we're just going to close that business." That's tough.
Priest Willis:Yeah. We never necessarily look at someone's algorithm of how they're ranking in the social media world. There are certain things that we … that are unboxing. You've heard of people, Marques Brownlee and some other top YouTube guys that will reach out to you and say, "Hey, can you just do unboxing for us and something along those lines." Those are very obvious because they have two million subscribers in Unboxed Therapy and guys like that. Then we're even looking for the mid tier to even smaller than that and typically having their subscription, how many subscribers they have is enough indication for us. I've used cloud personally and I don't even think I've looked at it in like three years or something along those lines.
Adam Brown:I think you're like most people and that's why I think are the reasons that cloud is going bye-bye.
Priest Willis:Yeah, exactly. I don’t know if that's been a … would it ever been a sexy indicator for us in terms of how we look at our influencer base.
Adam Brown:Well, Priest here you are. You're a global affiliate marketing manager at Lenovo by day, owner and director of Affiliate Mission at night. We have to ask, how did you get here? How did you become such an expert on this topic? Was it something that you saw and say, "Hey, this is going to be something I'm going to be focus in on." or did it haphazardly happened by circumstance?
Jay Baer:So, it really did happen by circumstance. As I said in the beginning, I'm just trying to earn some side money and that's when the Internet was very early on as far as I'm concerned and before site hustle was a thing, I'm trying to make a little extra cash on a website. Then ultimately I think I'm pretty good at it. Then affiliate manager position comes up and no one is teaching you this at school at this time. So, I went to college. No one said, "Hey, we have a new digital marketing or e-commerce marketing class." There was none of that when I went to school. So, just slowly transitions. People are like, "Hey, you said you were into this at night, why don’t you come in and help us with our website?" Ultimately you're here running a full Lenovo affiliate campaigns at very large scales. It's been kind of a blessing how it's worked out for me.
Jay Baer:I have to ask you about your unusual name.
Priest Willis:Yeah, that's right.
Jay Baer:You told us in the preshow notes that you are named after a famous wrestler which may be a very first on the podcast.
Priest Willis:So, let me clarify that a little bit. So, I know there was Superfly Snuka, I believe his name was.
Jay Baer:Yes. The name Superfly Snuka off the top rope that was his move.
Priest Willis:That was his move but that's not the guy who I was named after. I was named after Superfly who the early 70s … so I was born '74, 72 there was a black exploitation film called Superfly. That guy his name is Priest. So, my dad, I don’t know if he thought I was going to be involved in that atmosphere but my dad was like, "I want something strong and different, try to give him something that would stick in a board room." That's why he said Priest is going to be his name. He was going to name my brother Bishop but my mom said, "You got one." I'm like, "Mom, why did he win with me though?" So, that's how the name [crosstalk 00:38:31].
Jay Baer:I love it.
Priest Willis:Most people think I'm religious and it has nothing to do with that.
Jay Baer:Forget it, that's for sure. Well done.
Priest Willis:Thank you. Thanks.
Jay Baer:Priest, we're going to ask you the two questions that we ask every single guest here on the Social Pros podcast. Just a reminder ladies and gentlemen all eight years of the show, 318 episode before this one, are available at socialpros.com transcripts, audio recordings, links to cool stuff. Check that out. You can lose a whole weekend at socialpros.com real easily. Priest, first question is, what one tip would you give somebody who's looking to become a social pro?
Priest Willis:One tip is I would think before you get caught up in the analytics, the definitions and keywords is I would say just start jumping into it. Just start testing out something. Again, test out something you know but don't get paralyzed by everything you hear about in the space. I would literally say be a guinea pig. Open up social platforms or whatever it may be, affiliate programs to go along with this and just jump in and start working. It's the easiest way I've found to learn new systems, new processes and other stuff.
Jay Baer:Well and especially in affiliate. It's so much about testing and optimization and just like, "Let's try this. Let's change it. Let's try this. Let's change it." You're never really done. You're always tweaking the dials.
Priest Willis:Always. Just when you get that, it changes. Soon as people thought they conquered Google, then there's PENGUIN and panda and bears and lions. So, it's always evolving. So, just jump right in, stop trying to read intensive books and say, "I'm going to get at it in six months. Do it now."
Jay Baer:Last question for Priest Willis who runs affiliate programs for Lenovo and is also the owner of Affiliate Mission an affiliate marketing management agency. Priest, if you could do a video call with any living person, who would it be?
Priest Willis:That's a really good one because there's so many, but I will tell you somebody that I've always been a fan of and I'm especially hooked on recently because of his social presence is Will Smith. I think the guy is killing it like no other in Instagram. Talk about somebody telling stories, not only because of Will Smith and what he represents and being in movies, but he really drops wisdom gems about stuff. Obviously, he's kind of a proven player so I would love to have some kind of video call with him and just glean.
Jay Baer:Nice. Good one. That's I think our first Fresh Prince reference ever Adam.
Adam Brown:I tell you Priest, earlier this week, I watch that video of Will Smith talking about how he got the Fresh Prince gig.
Priest Willis:Yes.
Adam Brown:How he was penniless, his second album had flopped, [crosstalk 00:41:09] broke. The IRS was running after him.
Jay Baer:Yup, divorce.
Adam Brown:Quincy Jones turned it all around.
Priest Willis:Yup. I mean it's that kind of stuff. Especially someone just as you pointed out Adam who has seen failures and then turned it around and then has seen the level of success and now he's turning it into social media which is what we were talking about today. I mean that would be gold for me.
Jay Baer:Yeah, I love it. Fantastic. Priest, thank you so much for being here. Congratulations on all your success. Really appreciate you sharing your wisdom with the Social Pros listeners. It's a fantastic, fascinating episode. I learned a lot so did Adam. Hopefully, so did all of you. Really do appreciate it man. It was great.
Priest Willis:Thanks guys. I really appreciate it. I'm honored to be on. I appreciate you both.
Jay Baer:Our pleasure. Ladies and gentlemen, next week the hits keep on coming. We're going to talk about LinkedIn next week with Melonie Dodaro who is the author of one of the very, very best books ever written about LinkedIn. We haven’t talked about LinkedIn for a while yet on the show. She's going to come in talk about the latest and the greatest, what they're doing, lots of changes over at LinkedIn. They changed profiles again recently. Lots of new stuff there. So, tune in next week for Social Pros podcast to hear Melonie. On behalf of Adam Brown from Salesforce marketing cloud, I'm Jay Baer from Convince and Convert. This has been your very favorite podcast in the whole world. This has been Social Pros. We'll see you next week.
Hey everybody, its Jay Baer from Convince and Convert and this week on the Social Pros podcast we're talking about affiliate marketing and the role of social media on affiliate marketing and how social media influence our marketing and affiliate marketing are all rolled in together to be one thing. Who's on the show? Priest Willis, an affiliate marketing manager from Affiliate Mission. Also runs the affiliate program for Lenovo joins Adam Brown and I on this week's show to talk all about affiliate marketing and social media. Don't miss it. Fantastic and interesting episode right here on the Social Pros Podcast.
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