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Affiliate marketing on TikTok in 2020


Back in the day, we had sites like MySpace and Bebo.

These were then run out of town by Facebook and Twitter.

TikTok is now stealing key user demographics away from companies like Facebook, and especially YouTube.

Proof that any social media platform can be replaced.

This app is disrupting the market. 

New frontiers are opening up, and marketing opportunities with them.

And there’s always money to be made during any kind of Digital Gold Rush.

So let’s take a close look at how affiliate marketing on TikTok works…or not.

Let’s get started.

Why TikTok?

The first thing we have to deal with is the misperception that TikTok is a social media app “just for kids”.

While that’s kinda true, it doesn’t give you the full picture.

The TikTok app has been downloaded 2 billion times, so far.

TikTok has around 800 million active users, spread across 155 countries and 75 languages.

There are currently an estimated 80 million active TikTok app users in the United States.

So this isn’t just a blip.

Roughly 40% of the overall TikTok audience is between 16 and 24 years of age.

Which means the average affiliate marketer has a potential target audience of 300-ish million people to work with.

All of whom spend at least 50 minutes online per day watching videos on the app.

And that’s when they’re not uploading their own 15 – 60 second videos for friends and other users.

Just remember that your affiliate offers/niches need to appeal to this younger demographic.

As in, you’re probably not going to have much luck pitching retirement plans or home loans, for example.

Or B2B products and services, for that matter. 

Fashion, lifestyle, gadgets, and consumer products are what TikTok app users spend their disposable income on.

So they’re the types of affiliate products you should focus on.

Now let’s take a look at how TikTok can be used for affiliate marketing. 

What is TikTok affiliate marketing?

TikTok affiliate marketing is when you upload videos to TikTok but with the end goal of monetizing your audience via affiliate links in your videos or on an external blog or social platform.

So that all sounds pretty similar to affiliate marketing on any other social network, right?

But what makes TikTok stand out from the crowd is because it’s so new – the app only launched in 2016.

Facebook has been around for almost 17 years now, and Twitter for 14 years.

Facebook Twitter Quote

Even Snapchat is almost a decade old.

And that only means one thing to kids – they’re boomer platforms 

Basically, any social network used by a parent or older sibling will be avoided like the plague by Gen Z’ers.

So they’re moving because they know adults don’t use TikTok.

Ways to make money on TikTok

So let’s look at how you can use TikTok traffic in your affiliate marketing campaigns.

Use organic reach

The first option is to leverage free organic traffic because as of right now TikTok doesn’t appear to throttle how much traffic a content creator gets.

If anything, they’re happy to literally hand you tens of millions of views for free.

For example, here’s what happened 24 hours after I posted my first, and truly awful, TikTok video:

Tiktok Organic Vide Views

480 views for 15 seconds of work.

Go figure.

There are four ways you can use TikTok organic traffic:

  • Link to a URL from your profile
  • Redirect traffic to another social profile 
  • Promote coupon codes/URLs in your videos
  • Add an affiliate URL to your content description

Let’s look at how you can put these options to work for you.

TikTok keeps changing its position on whether or not you can add links to videos.

As of right now, it does not appear to be an option, probably because they’ve started to push their paid ads.

But you can get around this in a number of ways.

#1 Upgrade to a business account

TikTok ‘Personal’ accounts don’t allow you to place a clickable link in your profile.

Tiktok Business Account Settings

But ‘Business’ accounts don’t have that restriction – they’re also free to upgrade to.

Tiktok Business Account With Bio Link

So you can link directly to your website or blog from your TikTok profile, monetizing that traffic with your affiliate program of choice.

#2 Use a bridge page

But what if you want or need to drive traffic to multiple URLs or affiliate offers?

No problem – just use LinkTr.ee.

Linktr Ee Homepage Screenshot

This is similar to Linkin.bio by Later.com, except it works with TikTok.

It also happens to be free.

Once you log in all you have to do is click on ‘Add New Link’:

Linktr Ee Link

Then complete the two fields and slide it from yellow to green to activate your links:

Linktr Ee Link Analytics

This obviously isn’t as neat as being able to link directly from your content, but it’s better than nothing.

You could create a shortlist of the blog posts that are monetized with your most lucrative affiliate offers.

Then just add them to your Linktr.ee profile.

And, no I haven’t tested adding a direct affiliate link…but I’d imagine they’re frowned upon.

Link to your social profiles

TikTok actually makes this remarkably easy.

Tap on the ‘Me’ icon at the bottom of the screen on the TikTok app:

Tiktok Profile Editing

Then tap ‘Edit Profile’.

And voilá, you have a separate field for your Instagram and YouTube profiles:

Tiktok Profile With Social Media Links

Do people actually subscribe to multiple social profiles for the same person or brand?

Absolutely.

Use promo codes

Advertisers understand that the right product in front of the right audience can result in serious ROI.

It’s marketing gold for them.

So they’re usually more than happy to hand out coupon/discount codes to TikTok affiliate marketers and social influencers. 

Using this coupon code can be as simple as mentioning it in your content.

Or some advertisers take this a step further by providing you with a dedicated referral URL for their affiliate program.

So let’s say you’re promoting Manscaped.com

But instead of giving your viewers a coupon code, you ask them to go to this URL instead:

https://www.manscaped.com/authorityhackers

Then any purchases made by your followers at that URL will be credited to your affiliate program balance.

Add URL to your description

This is a clunky method of getting clicks because it relies on users copying and pasting the affiliate URL into their browser.

Tiktok Influencer Account With Bio Link

With that said, I have seen a lot of big TikTok influencers use this approach.

So it’s something to consider.

Because if these influencers are using this method of “linking” then there’s a very good reason for that.

Use TikTok’s paid advertising

Organic reach is fine but sometimes you need to target a specific demographic, or two.

So you’ll need other advertising options.

TikTok does have a paid advertising platform, but:

  1. It’s still in beta
  2. It’s not available in every country
Tiktok Ads Manager

Ireland appears to be one of the countries that ‘TikTok for Business’ is not available in. 

For now.

Also, not all advertising campaign types are available in every country.

So you have to manage your expectations even if you do get approved for a TikTok ad account.

But here’s an example of what their campaign manager looks like:

Make sure you sit down for this one – TikTok video ads aren’t cheap.

Like the $150,000 required for a 6-day ‘Hashtag Challenge’ campaign.

A ‘Brand Takeover’ video can cost upwards of $20k!

These details come from a leaked internal TikTok document…which they have yet to disavow or deny.

Even their cheapest ad packages start at $600, so paid views are far from cheap.

Long story short, their advertising isn’t for an affiliate marketer with a budget of $10 per day – there are better advertising options for you.

If, however, you do have the financial clout here are your options:

  • In-feed –drop into your feed as you’re scrolling, similar to what you get on other social networks
  • Hashtag Challenge – encourages uses interaction with a specific activity matched to a hashtag
  • Brand Takeover – a brand takeover autoplays when you open the app but also takes over the entire screen 
  • Branded AR Content – promoting AR (Augmented Reality) features like lenses, stickers, etc.
Tiktok Ads Quote

Basically, TikTok ads would seem to only be a viable option for businesses or influencers with 6-figure marketing budgets.

Building your TikTok audience

TikTok can only be used for affiliate marketing if you can get enough views on your videos.

So what steps can you take to build a following on TikTok for your affiliate marketing business?

Be consistent 

TikTok is all about short-form videos (15 to 60 seconds long) being posted on a regular basis. So content marketers/video creators need to create a video publishing schedule and stick to it like glue. 

Be smart

Creating a new trend is possible, but it’s also a lot of work. Instead, analyze current trends and see if there’s anything that works for your niche. And then tap into that.

Network a lot

Here comes the same basic advice we give people looking to leverage social media platforms– find people in tangential niches, buddy up with them, and find marketing opportunities to work on together. 

Hashtag less

These aren’t nearly as important on TikTok as they are on say Pinterest or Instagram.  Just keep it to 2 – 3 hashtags per video. Any more than that is overkill. 

Repurpose traffic

Having tens of millions of views on your TikTok videos is great. But what’s even better is “migrating” your subscribers over to a monetized YouTube channel, or your email list via a lead magnet.

And more than anything else remember the target demographic you’re working with.

These are later Millennials and Gen Z’ers  – it’s not the same as marketing to Facebook or Twitter users.

Examples of affiliate marketing on TikTok

Here are some real-life examples of affiliates making money with TikTok.

First up we have GraceakaLittleMama with 475k followers.

Tiktok Affiliate Marketing Example

She monetizes her traffic with a variety of offers, including Amazon and affiliate marketing products.

But she does that by redirecting her TikTok traffic to her YouTube profile.

Next up we have Rachel Meaders with 1.3 million followers:

tiktokTiktok Affiliate Marketing Example2 affiliate marketing example1

She monetizes her traffic through the Amazon Associates program – her angle is short videos of “Things you didn’t know you needed off Amazon”.

Then she uses LinkTr.ee to point users in the right direction.

Tiktok Affiliate Marketing Example

And finally, what blog post on affiliate marketing would be complete without featuring a ClickBank product?

Tiktok Affiliate Marketing Example4

This is a smaller TikTok account, with just 43k followers.

But they’re operating in a narrow niche– woodworking.

The bit.ly link in their profile redirects to a ClickBank product with an average commission of $62 per sale and a massive conversion rate.

This channel probably makes pretty good recurring income from this product, without even trying.

Pros & Cons of TikTok Affiliate Marketing

So let’s do a quick checklist on whether affiliate marketing on TikTok is a good idea or not.

Pros

  • TikTok is the fastest growing social platform right now
  • You can get huge levels of engagement with just a handful of videos
  • Creating content is easy – no video editing experience required
  • Can be very effective as a brand-building tool
  • You can grow your audience on other platforms by tapping into TikTok
  • There’s no throttle on organic traffic

Cons

  • Questionable levels of commercial intent for affiliate marketers
  • TikTok faces an uncertain future in Western markets
  • You can’t add links to affiliate programs in video content

Should you start doing affiliate marketing on TikTok?

So, can TikTok be used for affiliate marketing?

Kinda.

But it should be one of many channels you leverage for your affiliate marketing business.

Not the only one.

There’s no way to add affiliate links directly to your videos, leaving you to rely on a bridge/landing page.

Which makes affiliate marketing there more difficult than it should be. 

And affiliate marketing doesn’t need to be awkward or tough.

In fact, you can see how straightforward it is in our FREE 2-hour web class on the subject.

Just tell us what email address to send your invite to.

But back to TikTok.

They’re literally giving traffic away for free.

And you can redirect that traffic to any of a number of external platforms, like Instagram or your blog.

TikTok is more of a traffic source than anything else, one that I’d make use of right now while accepting that it won’t be around forever.  

It’s an interesting platform that’s currently enjoying its moment in the sun.

But the sun always sets on this stuff.

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