In case you haven’t heard about it yet, earlier this month Pinterest decided to ban all affiliate links notifying select “power pinners” to re-focus their monetization elsewhere. There is a lot of good coverage of (and opinions on) this situation around the web. The goal of my today’s post is to see what affiliates can learn from this incident and improve their marketing going forward.
I believe there are three key takeaways to highlight here:
1. Beware! Rules Do Change
Quite a number of affiliate marketers are actively using social media for dissemination of their marketing message(s). If you are one of them, you should understand (and appreciate) that third-party online properties — or those of them that owe their success to agility and strategic genius — will never stay inert. Rules will change. Terms of Service will get tweaked to adapt to the external changes, challenges, and opportunities. It’s always going to be about what works best for them (not for those who seek to use their platform as a monetization venue). So, be it Twitter or Facebook, Pinterest or any other third-party property, be ready for an overnight change.
2. Don’t Build on Rented Land
Five years ago, in his article on “The Role of the Company Website in Today’s Social Web” —
coincidentally written just a few months months after Pinterest’s birth — Paul Chaney emphasized the importance of focusing your marketing efforts on your own website. Here is an important quote from that write-up of his:
The others you rent and … the landlord can be notorious for making changes with little notice. It would be ludicrous to build your entire web presence on rented land. That’s purely common sense. [source]
So, just as you won’t build your house “on rented land” do not focus your marketing on platforms which you will never be able to fully control.
3. Diversify for Sustainability
I love how Dr. Shijie Liu (who teaches at the State University of New York) defines “sustainability.” He writes:
Sustainability is the capacity to endure or maintain at the longest timescale permissible. In other words, sustanability is the ability to mainain continuum. In ecology, the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. [source]
To build sustainable income affiliates, too, need to diversify. Don’t put all your eggs in one basked. Use diverse marketing channels, diverse websites (the bulk of which you want to control yourself), diverse marketing methods and techniques.
I’d love to learn what you think we can learn from the Pinterest situation that we’ve started with.