Instagram Beta Tests Affiliate Marketing Features


Instagram is one of the world’s most popular social media platforms, with an estimated 1.074 billion users logging in every month. This makes the social network an incredibly useful channel for marketers across a range of different spheres, developing brand identity and bringing in user traffic. The visual aspect of Instagram has also put it at the forefront of the burgeoning influencer marketing movement — an industry that is reported to be worth around $13.8 billion.

But, as far as social media affiliate marketing is concerned, Instagram has not traditionally provided a positive environment. The platform is not alone in this — competitor platforms such as Facebook do not allow affiliate campaigns. However, this appears to be changing.

A Changing Approach to Affiliate Marketing for Instagram

At the end of September 2021, Instagram announced that it would be beta testing a new affiliate marketing tool. This would allow Instagram affiliate campaigns for the first time — something that could prove lucrative for users with a large number of followers, as well as for their affiliate partners. 

Social media affiliate programs have long been something of an open secret. As mentioned above, many major platforms have traditionally not permitted this sort of campaign, although affiliate marketing has certainly taken place. Previously, users have had to hide their affiliate links, disguising them as organic links or as links of a different kind. If the trials are successful, Instagram users will no longer have to engage in this kind of secretive behavior and will no longer risk having their accounts closed or limited due to violations of terms of use.

A Range of Different Results from Beta Testing

But, while the latest move from Instagram certainly opens a few doors for social media affiliate marketing, interested users should not expect to immediately begin making large amounts of money on the platform. Instagram has not commented on affiliate marketing commission rates, but has said that it is up to brand partners to set their own remuneration levels according to “their own marketing strategies”.

Research conducted by Business Insider found that commission rates varied dramatically. One user with 80,000 followers received around $58 for a single post advertising her affiliate partner’s products. Another user with 335,000 followers made $16 for an affiliate post, while a third user — with 38,000 followers — reported making only “a couple of dollars” from her first affiliate post.

The Future of Instagram Affiliate Marketing

While Instagram did not comment on these rates, a company spokesperson stressed that the low-level test is still in its infancy, hinting that a larger scale roll-out is a significant possibility in the future;

“This is a small test that we are actively scaling,” Instagram’s representative said. “Our long-term goal is to make this tool available to creators everywhere.”

While, up to now, the beta test has not been the runaway success that affiliate marketers may have hoped for, it does represent an interesting development. Marketers now have another channel upon which to diversify their strategy, while Instagram aficionados who have not yet explored affiliate programs may find themselves with a new income stream.

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