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What’s the Difference Between an Influencer and an Affiliate?

Last Modified: February 28, 2023

What’s the Difference Between an Influencer and an Affiliate

Affiliate marketing has changed a lot since it first came onto the scene. At first, you sent someone an email or handed them a business card, directing them to your site, where they bought the products you were promoting. And that was that.

The digital explosion brought on by the growth of the Internet permanently changed the game. Internet ads started to become more relevant than traditional ones, like billboards, television, and print. Affiliate marketing became more than a niche, blossoming into its own industry.

What is an affiliate?

An affiliate promotes a product or service through an online presence that can take several forms. Bloggers, and those with popular Facebook pages can all leverage their presence to earn commissions for referrals and purchases.

How do you become an affiliate?

Companies can pull affiliates from their best customer pool. If you love a brand and repeatedly patronize them, you could receive an email offer to become an affiliate. This is a good strategy because a company’s best customers will be the most excited and/or knowledgeable about what they sell. As a happy customer, you’re the best candidate to represent this business to your friends and followers. If you have a robust social media presence and high engagement with your followers, you’re an ideal candidate to become an affiliate.

You can also approach companies and offer to promote their products. Be careful with this, however. The people you go to have to reside in an online space compatible with yours. You shouldn’t approach an outdoor accessories brand if you’re a gaming nerd, for instance.

Most importantly, familiarize yourself with Refersion’s Marketplace. Here, you can search for offers from brands, look at the perks they offer, and see if you match what they’re looking for. This is a great way to find and compare a multitude of offers all in one place and find the partnership that’s right for you.

What is a social media influencer?

Affiliate marketing, under the power of social media, has evolved to produce a new kind of rep: the influencer.

Are you a social media trailblazer who tries out and reviews new products and recommends them to your followers? If you already do this, even if you’re not being paid, you’re an influencer. If your brand choices are an integral part of your personal identity, you’re on track to represent your favorite brand as an influencer.

If you love the idea of influencing others in your social circle into adopting your brand choices, becoming an influencer may be right for you. You can build a community identity that revolves around your favorite brands and discover new products along the way. If being an influencer is your dream job, the idea of becoming an affiliate is just the icing on your social media cake.

What is a micro-influencer?

influencer on a podcast

Though as an influencer, you may have a small presence (typically 2,000 to 10,000 followers), your social media circle is likely to be highly engaged. This means that your conversion rate is primed to be higher than those with hundreds of thousands of followers. The intimacy of a smaller group can make your influence more real and direct. You’ll also cost less to work with than social media stars who may demand higher commissions or even flat-rate fees per post. That’s part of what will make you attractive to potential partners.

What is a super influencer?

Social media users with more followers can use their larger presence to market products or services in a slightly different way. To be considered a “super” influencer, you generally have to have more followers than a “micro” influencer, but that range can span tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of followers.

The biggest aspect of being a “super influencer” isn’t just your follower count, however. It has to do with how well you engage your audience and whether you have a part in shaping industry trends. If you’re someone who discovers brands, products, and the latest styles and quickly spreads the news to your inner circle, you’re a natural-born influencer.

Affiliate vs Influencer: which are you?

work on a road

Affiliates are in the business of promoting things to make money. Having influence is part of the process, but if they weren’t getting paid for it, they wouldn’t be doing it. Affiliates are in business first, and influencers second. They may be willing to promote things they aren’t passionate about simply because it’s their job. This isn’t a bad thing, because professional affiliates are often very good at what they do. But their methods will vary from those of an influencer, and they will appeal to a different target audience.

Influencers, on the other hand, are enthusiasts first and marketers second. They love getting the word out about great new products, brand discoveries, and recent innovations. They’ve already cultivated a loyal following that is highly motivated to listen to their recommendations. Influencers often occupy niches that other marketing channels may not reach, and micro-influencers make up for their smaller followings by having better engagement rates.

Which one is right for you?

Ultimately, whether you choose to work as an affiliate or an influencer will depend on your social media presence and end goals. If you’re a big name, you can help a company raise brand awareness even though you may have lower engagement rates.

If you’re more of a micro-influencer, you will appeal to smaller companies looking to raise their conversion rates and keep their costs low. If your gig is a general approach that can raise sales levels and brand awareness across the board, choose to work with a brand that needs your skill set.

Are you an influencer looking for to-notch products to introduce your audience to? Look no further than the Refersion Marketplace. Join for free and browse quality products from today’s top D2C companies.

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Written by

Ruthie Carey
Ruthie Carey