Tag Archives: link with love

I think that affiliate links are a great way for bloggers to do business across social media platforms. Yet, they’re not always disclosed as such, and that’s a problem. Our success depends on the integrity of this community. A blogosphere built on trust and authenticity.

Affiliate programs offer the opportunity to share things we love with readers and, if they love them too, the potential to offset some blogging costs by making a small commission. I belong to two and like that I can be specific and personal in choosing what I want to advertise and when – be it a book that inspired me, a pair of shoes I am wearing, or a coffee table I covet.

I list my affiliate info in my disclosure policy, as well as any post that includes links because I believe this transparency is important in the blogosphere. It’s not about the FTC. I talk to bloggers in countries without such guidelines who agree it’s about ethics. It’s about honest relationships between bloggers and readers.

In BlogHer’s 2012 Women and Social Media Study, statistics show that:

“We purchase based on trust, and blogs drive highest percentage conversion from trust to action.”

This trust can’t be taken for granted. I think readers should know when we’re doing business with them.
Every time I see a disclosed affiliate link or sponsored post or an ad on a blog, a blogger reminds me they’re trying to make a living. That’s an honorable thing.

I love that this community can support one another with a click.

The value of time and talent is hard to quantify, but I think most bloggers don’t make what they’re worth. So, the fact I can buy a book on someone’s recommendation and at the same time give them something in return is a fabulous concept. It’s what led me to become an Amazon affiliate myself. I write about and reference books all the time on my blog. It felt like an organic way to support my site.
While I can use these links beyond my blog, and probably could have greater reach, I don’t. Because there doesn’t seem like an easy way to disclose within an update, pin or tweet.

Wait. Let me rephrase that.

I don’t use affiliate links beyond my blog because not everyone else discloses. Rather than worry that disclosure will make people less apt to click through, I choose not to do it at all. I fear they’ll see my disclosed one and judge it negatively, even though they’re clicking undisclosed ones all the time.

FACT: I’m putting the shame in self promotion.

I write If Emily Posted as a netiquette and social media ethics guide. As with all etiquette books, IEP has rules; guidelines to try and make sense of this Wild West Web. I’ve written regularly about the need for bloggers to balance self-promotion with interaction. With tweets, I call it “The 8 in 10 Rule.” In general, for every 10 tweets you send, 8 should be interactive and 2 self-promoting. It keeps things conversational and interactive. I think it applies well on Pinterest and Facebook pages too.

I know that most tweets, posts and pins are for a wider audience than just me, but sometimes it can feel personal when a blogger regularly uses affiliate links on social media platforms without disclosure. In fact, I recently found myself avoiding several sites because they were so far off the 8 in 10 mark that I began to find what they shared nothing more than ads to buy things. Undisclosed ads.

I hate the idea of not wanting to support this community. I hate questioning someone’s motives for not being honest about what they’re doing when deep down I wonder if they’re not disclosing for the same reason I’m not using affiliate links beyond my blog – they don’t know how to do it.

FACT: Affiliate links can be posted across a wide variety of social media platforms. They should be disclosed.

Often, the only thing stopping us from disclosing them is us.

So, here’s my plan:

I’m going to begin including affiliate links in posts and tweets with the hashtag #ad. I love that it’s as simple and as transparent as it can be. It’s already in use, by companies like BlogHer, and I like the idea of taking an existing hashtag and letting it grow until it becomes a reflex to use and no surprise to see.

#ad to say a link is sponsored.
#ad to say that the blogosphere is built on trust.
#ad to say there is no shame in an affiliate link.

BlogHer’s commitment to transparency in disclosure is a reason I really enjoy writing for them. As Susan Getgood, Vice President of Influencer Marketing for BlogHer, says, “The audience needs to be informed about the material relationships of the influencers they follow.” And with that in mind, BlogHer’s “sponsored tweets include a hashtag that identifies the sponsor and/or the campaign as well as the #ad hashtag. We chose the #ad hashtag for Twitter as the shortest hashtag that clearly conveys the sponsored nature of the tweet…We prefer #sponsored for Facebook since it doesn’t have such a strict character limit, but we know that many of our influencers use automated tools to push to Twitter and Facebook simultaneously, so #ad is acceptable.”

I once read an article about disclosure by blogger and attorney Sara Hawkins. One line in particular really stayed with me:

“Disclosure is evaluated through the eyes of the consumer, not what we think we can get away with while being as vague as possible.”

RULE: Every blogger should have a disclosure policy easy to find and read. If you’re unsure where to begin, check out the disclosurepolicy.org free policy generator.

As a blogger, I expect readers to treat my content with respect, and I want to respect the way I present content to them. It’s a two-way street.

If I see the hashtag #ad on Facebook or Pinterest, I’m quite certain I will have greater respect for the blogger that put it there. I might even bookmark that link so that if I want that item at a later date, I can go back and be sure to give them the commission. To thank them for sharing what has value.

I like the idea of #ad being a badge of approval. Like the Good Housekeeping seal.

I believe in taking the shame out of self promotion.

I believe in keeping affiliate links affiliated with something positive.

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link with love keychain alexandra wrote ©alexashersears

Last June, I wrote a post that included this thought:

“I have netiquette conundrums all the time. (What my great grandmother Fifi, my personal Emily Post, would have made of this, I wonder?)”

The rumblings of what would later become something more cohesive with If Emily Posted were slowly coming together. And, it was in that piece last June, that I first mentioned LINKwithlove, excited to have found people were not OK with the notion that EVERYTHING ON THE INTERNET IS FREE.

Because it isn’t. It absolutely isn’t. EVERYTHING ON THE INTERNET ISN’T FREE.

What is mine is yours to see – and only to take if I give you permission.

That was something I never questioned when my writing and photography work were predominantly in print. Online, that fact is mistaken for a sense of entitlement or some sort of greediness. I didn’t believe it then and I don’t believe it now.

And that is how last June, because of this Shrinky Dinks blogosphere, I crossed paths with LwL founder Kal Barteski – artist, designer, wife, mother to three mini-Kal’s and the hand behind the fabulous brush script that is LINKwithlove’s signature.

LINKwithlove

But it wasn’t until many months later that we began to chat and learn how much we had in common, from calligraphy to doppelgänger French Bulldogs (Frenchies look alike, but not identical. One day, I did a double take when I thought I saw Tru in someone’s Instagram feed. It was Kal’s – the resemblance is uncanny.)

Also in common? Kal and I had both experienced firsthand how our work could be exploited and misused because of the web in ways we didn’t experience in our offline creative work. And it wasn’t going to stop either of us from continuing to create online.

I can’t tell you how much I dislike the sort of elitism amongst “real” writers/artists/photographers/blahblahblah about “just bloggers” – I find that talk makes as much sense as dancing about architecture.

But I will tell you one thing that most writers and artists and photographers and other creatives would probably agree on: we know that putting our work online comes with potential risk of being taken advantage of. But potential risk shouldn’t keep us from doing our work and expecting people to respect it. Online or off.

Kal’s created a very cool bit of LwL gear – a give and get. They’re keychains, done in the style of the best friend necklaces like my friends and I traded as girls. Keep one half and then give the other to a friend.

link with love keychain

The first time these limited edition tags were made available, they sold out in less than a week. But Kal whipped up a new bunch. And you can get yours here for $3. That’s two for $3.

I keep one of the tags taped on the big inspiration board above my desk and often use it as a bookmark. They’re good words to live by.

A constant reminder of why I write If Emily Posted. A reminder that there are lots of people who feel the same way.

Get your tags here while they’re still available – and if you do, let me know who you plan to share them with!

I GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS is a new regular feature here on le blog. Because I like throwing dinner parties, introducing new people, sharing talents – let’s make this a virtual dinner party. As Auntie Mame would say, Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!