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Twitter, Social Media and Affiliate Marketing: Not As Easy As It Looks?

March 17, 2010 (CAP Newswire) – As we’ve heard a million times before, as affiliate marketers, we’re now living in the age of Twitter and Facebook, where every website is working to leverage more money from a social media presence.

But is that a good thing? Is there too much marketing on Twitter? There’s no doubt that the line between legit “tweets” and marketing spam is getting blurrier every day. And that hurts the whole Twitter community, as well as social media’s overall reputation. After all, the more Twitter becomes the dumping ground for basic marketing spam, the more the community tends to shut out more legitimate marketing efforts.

Twitter itself agrees, and has even set up a new unit to filter out the bad kind of marketing: “The unit, headed up by Del Harvey, who came to Twitter from Perverted Justice, a group that helped Dateline NBC with its To Catch a Predator series, is tasked with keeping tabs on potential fraud via Twitter, and also with keeping tabs on legit marketing that could be perceived as spam,” writes Rick Johnston at

“We aren’t trying to do away with affiliate marketing on Twitter,” Twitter states in Johnston’s article. “One successful rule of thumb is to engage the people you are trying to sell stuff to. If you are creating a dialogue with people and not just touting things because you want to make a buck, you are going to have a network of people that value your input.”

Translated: Many Internet marketers, online casino brands included, aren’t using Twitter properly — at least, not in the way they should to get the most bang for their buck. backs this theory up. “As is the case with all internet-based industries, social networking has the potential to revolutionize the online gambling market. Unfortunately, it seems as though professionals in the field have yet to grasp the concept of social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. … As it stands, nearly 50% of the online gambling-based Twitters are used solely to solicit business to online casinos.

“The online gambling industry has the wrong idea of social networking sites, placing less emphasis on the ‘networking’ aspect.  … Instead of using Facebook and Twitter to attempt to acquire players, these applications should be used to take advantage of their intended purpose – networking.”

And this complaint is at the heart of a larger attack on the benefits of social media from other online business experts. The Wall Street Journal sites a survey of 500 small-business owners in the U.S. that “found that just 22% made a profit last year from promoting their firms on social media, while 53% said they broke even. What’s more, 19% said they actually lost money due to their social-media initiatives.”

So why is the ROI for social media estimated to be so low? Probably, it’s because online marketers may not really understand how to leverage the new social media medium. Stating that it’s often a lot of work for little results, the WSJ article also points out that many online marketers approach online marketing with the wrong mind-set. As the Twitter study above shows, Twitter is not like traditional advertising and marketing, where you simply put your message in front of consumers and expect them to respond. It’s about interacting with your audience, networking and building relationships —  winning trust in your website by interesting conversations and info that actually helps others.

So take the time to put in some more work buidling your social media network, rather than just sending out occasional marketing blurbs. After all, it’s worth a bit of time to master this new marketing art, just as SEO takes time to master. (Few online marketers would debate SEO’s importance, right?) And really, isn’t the Internet itself just one big form of social networking?

And for those still not convinced of the great revenue potential behind social media, check out this report that Facebook may now be getting more search engine hits in the U.S. than Google (!).