If you want to invest in influencer marketing and you sell product on Amazon, it is only natural that you would want to work with an influencer who is an Amazon affiliate. Recently, Amazon introduced their own Amazon Influencer Program in the realization that influencer marketing is here to stay and to also provide influencers with their own virtual storefront to help them monetize their platform and associated community.
The result is something that both brands AND social media influencers should be interested in.
Especially if you’re new to marketing, there’s a good chance you don’t know that Amazon has an influencer marketing program . After all, Amazon started out as one of the original e-commerce websites, and it’s still mainly focused on selling things.
However, the site has branched out a lot over the years.
Prime, which once did little more than let you pay a subscription fee for quick shipping, now includes access to music, videos, and more. They also developed the revolutionary Kindle e-reader and smart speakers with Alexa. What do these innovations mean? Well, in short, they mean that Amazon has evolved from merely selling books on the cheap into a behemoth that distributes its own products. And, at the same time, they’re offering small companies the opportunity to sell their items through the site’s marketplace.
Given all these changes, it’s probably unsurprising that Amazon has an influencer program.
Amazon is so invested in its influencer program that they recently flew a dozen TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram influencers to a fancy resort in Mexico to sell them on joining the program as an Amazon influencer and Amazon affiliate.
So how does it work? Let’s take a look at how businesses can benefit from the Amazon influencer phenomenon.
What Exactly is the Amazon Influencer Program?
Most of us know about Amazon’s affiliate marketing program. You know, those links that people post on their blogs or similar sites that provide them with a commission on items bought through the link. Usually, they’ll pitch a certain product like the book they wrote or maybe a product they enjoy. Maybe the affiliates will talk a lot about the products they are marketing, or it could be a collection of products related to their niche that they think readers might enjoy. For bloggers, being an Amazon Associate is a great way to pay the expenses of having a blog. A few Amazon associates will even make more money than they spend on running the blog. It’s also open to publishers and content creators with their own website.
However, the Amazon Influencer Program is something different. Rather than being geared towards people who exert influence through their own websites or who do publishing, this program is intended for the social media crowd. Think about it as influencer marketing on steroids. Why? Because influencers are invited to promote items that will be sold on Amazon. Basically, influencers set up a custom store front that offers products that they endorse. This storefront then offers the opportunity to purchase the product, just like a typical e-commerce site.
What’s in it for influencers?
Like the Amazon affiliate program, the influencer program is a way for people to make money by promoting things that are sold on Amazon through their social media platforms. Essentially, Amazon is using influencer marketing to sell product, but with a twist. While some of the things that get sold this way, like Kindle or Alexa devices, are an Amazon brand, a lot more of them aren’t. Influencers, therefore, are able to help promote items from multiple companies under one agreement. And, both Amazon and the brand make money when things are purchased this way.
A win-win-win for Amazon, the brand, and the influencer, right?
How Does the Amazon Influencer Program Differ from Amazon Associates?
Amazon’s influencer program differs from its associates program primarily in the shopping experience presented by Amazon influencers. While associates simply link to items and earn a commission when that specific link is used, Amazon influencers have a specific storefront that shoppers can use to purchase items. These storefronts are typically divided into specific categories, and although the purchases of products remain the primary form of making money for influencers, the product recommendations are created with a specific niche in mind, with direct access to all of the products. This is useful for several reasons: both the influencer and Amazon can get a larger chunk of products delivered to customers, and social media influencers do not have to focus on embedding links during content creation. A storefront is a clean, simple way to deliver product recommendations.
The influencer program allows influencers to create collections of products in a single space, in keeping with the niche in which they are evolved. While product listings can be used in all types of content, an Amazon storefront allows people to browse through entire collections of products recommended by their favorite influencers.
Further Reading: The Definitive Guide to Instagram Affiliate Marketing
Who Can Join the Amazon Influencer Program?
The Amazon Influencer Program application page is clear that they accept applications from “all types of influencers.” That being said, at the present, they are looking for the following when evaluating your application:
- you have an account on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook
- you have a decent number of followers on your account(s)
- you have decent engagement metrics on your account(s)
Part of the application process requires you to authorize Amazon to access your social media accounts, so if you don’t have reasonable engagement from your followers, Amazon will be able to figure it out pretty quickly.
Generally speaking, Amazon works with people who have a track record of driving product sales through social media. In other words, Amazon looks for people who already have a fairly large social media following and put out high quality content.
What this means is that social butterflies and more experienced influencers will probably be the most likely to get themselves approved, whether they focus on video content or imagery.
Generally speaking, the Amazon influencer program is considered an exclusive opportunity. Arguably this isn’t surprising, because Amazon is a huge marketplace with tremendous reach and thousands of brands, and not just anyone is invited to benefit from commission on sales made through a dedicated storefront.
That being said, if you qualify as a nano influencer by having at least 1,000 followers on any of the 3 mentioned social networks, I wouldn’t hesitate to apply, as Amazon is always looking to expand their platform through viable social media personalities.
Further Reading: How to Become an Amazon Influencer – A Step-By-Step Guide
How Do You Create an Amazon Store?
Once accepted into the program, Amazon influencers build a custom storefront that is made up of their favorite things. Depending on their preferences, influencers might stick close to their niche or branch out a bit into the things they like otherwise. This is different from traditional influencer marketing, because it allows for a wider variety of items to get promoted by the same person. With that in mind, how is a storefront set up?
First, Amazon will give the influencer a unique URL, and this corresponds to their storefront.
Unlike the affiliate program, Amazon gives influencers complete autonomy to choose what they promote through the store. In most cases, items are chosen that represent an influencer’s area of expertise and audience interests. However, an influencer is free to put other items on the storefront as he or she thinks it is appropriate.
Next, you will need to fill in the basic information for your store, such as a name and your contact information.
With this done, Amazon asks for payment and tax information, which is required both for practical reasons and legal compliance. From here, you can customize the storefront, which looks a lot like a Facebook or Instagram profile. That’s partially because you can add pictures and other personal touches to the storefront, rather than having to be content with a generic look.
After the storefront has been set up and customized, it is easy to add products.
This is done by searching for things in the store’s toolbar. Select products to promote and add them to the storefront. Later, you will be able to organize products by category as appropriate. Over time, it will sometimes be necessary to take things down if they stop being available on Amazon. Of course, new items can always be added, too. Think of this as running an e-commerce shop without the shipping, stock, or risks: you’ll earn a small commission for every sale through the storefront as a low-risk source of revenue for your personal branding.
Lastly, it’s easy to track commissions through the influencer dashboard. Just look under reports, and you can access a wide variety of sales information and evaluate how effective your Amazon store is in providing you with passive income.
How Can You Promote Your Amazon Store?
Once an Amazon influencer store has been created, it’s time to start promoting it everywhere you can. The first thing to keep in mind is that there is a custom URL given to each influencer, and this is one of the best promotion tools out there. Each influencer has a different approach, but in most cases the custom link is placed in different places online–including social media posts.
Integrate Your Amazon Store with Your Website
For instance, a kitchen and home blogger with her own website is part of both the influencer and affiliate programs as pictured below.
Her approach is simple: there are specific products she sells through affiliate links, but the items she picks herself go in the store. On her website there are several links to the store, including in the menu along the top.
Integrate Your Amazon Store with Your Social Media Presence
Another influencer has a “shop” link attached to her Facebook page, as well as including it on her Instagram link page. In this way, she is cross-pollinating between the different social media networks that she uses.
Leverage Amazon Live
Amazon live is much like the other “lives” offered on social media sites, but with a heavier focus on products. On Amazon live, influencers can livestream product reviews, do product unboxings, and even just engage with potential customers in real time to discuss the products they recommend, or answer any questions or concerns followers may have. Amazon live may not have the same substantial views of lives on Instagram and Facebook, but it can still serve as an important way to engage with customers and encourage purchases.
Note that once people check out your Amazon storefront, it is possible for them to “follow” the page for changes. This way, Amazon will let them know when you’ve added cool new stuff. Who doesn’t like that?
Just one more thought on promotion. Unlike most other influencer marketing campaigns, it isn’t really necessary for an influencer to create content to make money. Instead, the storefront can be populated by things that they have bought or that people sent to them. It’s almost like an extension of the “normal” shopping process we all go through. Unless a brand reaches out about placement in the store, this is one of the most organic influencer marketing methods out there.
Best of all, from an influencer’s perspective, the program pays big with minimal time commitment.
Are Influencers Successful At Promoting Their Amazon Store in the Amazon Influencer Program?
Generally speaking, yes.
While some influencers will do better at promoting their stores than others, if the program didn’t work, then Amazon would pull the plug. That’s no different than any other type of influencer marketing: if an influencer doesn’t deliver, they lose the opportunity. Except that the campaign includes a virtual army of influencers, covers thousands of brands, and runs continuously.
With that said, let’s take a look at influencer success.
With commission rates up to 10%, ease of use, and a wide variety of promotion options for nearly every situation, influencers are bringing in plenty of money. From an influencer’s standpoint, this is easy money. However, that isn’t the end of the story, because Amazon, any third-party seller, and the brand all win. Amazon is huge for a reason, and part of this is the tremendous value provided to brands and customers alike.
Although the program is fairly new, all indicators point to its being a huge success. Influencers work hard to drive as much traffic to these stores, which then pay an excellent return for their effort. It’s also a situation where influencers are paid for results, rather than getting paid to produce content. You might say that the influencer gets a double reward for his work: the payment for sponsored posts, and the revenue that results from followers checking out the store.Nice side gig for an influencer? Sure, but at the end of the day people are making real money. Some numbers have become available recently. For instance, one influencer managed to make $12,000 promoting a single small item on Amazon. If he made that much money on one item, one can only wonder how much the entire store earned him. Clearly, there is huge money for influencers to make on Amazon, just like there’s lots of money for brands to make.
How Can Brands Find Amazon Influencers?
From a marketing perspective, it is great to know that Amazon influencers have the potential to make a lot of money. Think about it: even at significant commission rates, an influencer still has to sell a healthy number of units. Since those products are made by someone, brands would do well to cash in on this trend. But how? Leaving it to random chance that a major influencer will love your product and endorse it on Amazon isn’t the only option.
1. Check Out #FoundItOnAmazon
FoundItOnAmazon displays links to influencer storefronts in a variety of niches. This is a great place to look for Amazon influencers who already have their own storefronts and see how you might be able to work together.
2. Browse Amazon Live
Savvy Amazon influencers are leveraging Amazon Live and shoppable livestreams to push products and earn commissions. If you go to Browse All in the menu, you can search through Amazon influencers in different niches.
3. Search Influencer Marketplaces That Include Amazon Influencers
There are some dedicated Amazon influencer marketplaces like Referazon that make it easy to find potential Amazon influencers as well as some general influencer marketplaces like Intellifluence that will tell you which creator has an Amazon influencer store. These services give you an idea of how many followers they have and provide other metrics. Brands are told what the influencers specialize in, and let you take a look. More importantly, they will give you access to those individuals for a fee. In this case, brands can reach out and try to convince an influencer to “sell” the item on their storefront.
Further Reading: The Top 15 Influencer Marketplaces for Your Next Influencer Campaign
4. Survey Your Customers and Fans
Every brand should be creating their own brand ambassador or influencer program that brings together their customers as well as fans. Knowing who these people are in more detail will allow you to reach out to them and see who already has a storefront on Amazon. As the Amazon Influencer Program becomes more popular, expect that more and more of your influencer collaborators to have storefronts and welcome the chance to work together to promote your brand’s products there.
The Amazon Influencer Program is Here to Stay
Although the program has been around now for 5 years, it is clear that Amazon continues to invest in this channel and more social media influencers and creators continue to apply to the program, open up storefronts, and host Amazon Live livestreams talking about their favorite products as well as offering live product reviews.
Whether you are an influencer looking to better monetize your community or a brand looking to promote more product sales on Amazon, the Amazon Influencer Program is a promising program that should be part of anyone’s influencer–or influencer marketing–strategy.
Hero photo by Daniel Eledut on Unsplash
Amazon Influencer Program FAQs
Amazon has two different programs: Amazon Associate and Amazon influencer. Anyone can sign up to be an Amazon Associate, but becoming an Amazon influencer is a bit harder. Either you will apply as an Amazon Influencer, or get invited to be one. To qualify for the Amazon influencer program, you must have an active Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube account. Amazon checks your number of followers, engagement rate, and content type you are posting.
Yes, Amazon influencers get paid — mostly through affiliate programs. The commission structure for the Amazon influencer program is the same as the Associates like you can receive Bounties when your followers sign up for Prime or Audible. Most participants say they are earning from a few dollars to more than $1,000 monthly. Amazon influencers get paid every month via Amazon affiliate payment.
Amazon’s qualifications do not say the minimum follower count needed to be an Amazon influencer. It just says you need an active and growing social media account and they will do the review of your platform. The general agreement following the “Nano-influencer” category is 200 for the lowest count while others say 20,000 followers and above.
Nano-influencers as defined, are influencers with between 1,000-10,000 followers. It is the smallest category of influencers according to the number of followers. Hence, you can be an influencer with 1,000 followers. If you are an aspiring influencer, it’s important to choose a niche you will focus on and create content about. It will be best if the niche you will select is something you are passionate about and have a great interest in.
There isn’t a specific follower count needed to earn money from influencer marketing. It still depends on the brand. Some brands look into your number of followers, while others look into your engagement rate. It can be anywhere between 1,000 to 1,000,000 followers to get paid. What is more important is that your content is getting noticed by your followers whenever you post. There is no sense in posting content if your following is not engaging with it.