Social media influencers – like Instagram stars or YouTube celebs – often promote products they like, either as part of a brand relationship or as means of generating income through affiliate sales. Now, Amazon is looking to get in on this action as well. The company has quietly launched the “Amazon Influencer Program,” which is currently in beta testing as of a couple of days ago. Similar to the Amazon Affiliate program, the new program will offer influencers commission on products sold, but is not open to the public.
One of the key things that makes the new Influencer program different from Amazon Affiliates is its exclusivity.
Today, anyone can sign up to be an Amazon Affiliate, which lets you build links and shopping ads that you can use on your own website or blog. When a reader clicks through to buy the product, the affiliate receive a commission on those sales, which varies by product type.
Amazon Influencers, meanwhile, must submit an application to be considered for inclusion.
According to the program details page, only those influencers with “large followings” will be accepted. In addition, Amazon considers other metrics, like the fan engagement on posts across a variety of social media platforms, quality of content, and the level of relevancy for Amazon.
The company says there is not set a cut-off in terms of follower count that guarantees an influencer will be let into the program, and that influencers across “all tiers and categories” will be represented.
The Influencers are given a unique vanity URL on Amazon’s domain that will be easy for customers to remember and find.
Here, shoppers will be able to browse through the curated selection of products that the influencer recommends. The URL could be placed in the comments section of a YouTube video or in Instagram, for example, to reference the products mentioned.
Basically, it’s a more exclusive step up from Amazon Affiliate linking, and offers a better browsing experience. Amazon has not disclosed if influencers are receiving higher commissions than Affiliates, however.
For example, this popular YouTube channel,What’s Up Moms, aimed at moms mentions their new Amazon shop, which has the URL format: amazon.com/shop/username.
Clicking through, you’re redirected to a page featuring thumbnail images of the suggested products, their pricing, their Prime status, and a brief description.
“We are really excited to be a part of this new program,” said Liane Mullin, President and COO of WhatsUpMoms, when asked about their involvement. “As the #1 Parenting Network on YouTube, we are constantly asked by our community for product recommendations and about the products used in our videos. Now that we have our own Amazon store makes it much easier to have a curated collection all in one spot,” she added.
We understand that Amazon is in no way working with the influencers on product selection, vetting products, nor providing free products. Brands are also not working through Amazon to reach these influencers either. Instead, the selection of products – which can be anything sold on Amazon – are entirely the influencer’s choice.
Of course, influencers may have relationships with brands outside of this program, but Amazon does not get involved with that aspect of the influencer’s business.
The program only launched a couple of days ago, and is really meant as a test to see how customers will responded to curated pages of products, and what impact that will have on sales. At present, only a small group of influencers have joined.
Amazon declined to comment.