The Definitive Guide to Running an Affiliate Program on Instagram

The Definitive Guide to Running an Affiliate Program on Instagram


Instagram Affiliate Marketing is a smart way to grow your business through social media influencers. Affiliate marketing enables influencers to earn commission for every referral they achieve for a brand. Since 78% of influencers already use Instagram as their primary platform to post original content, it’s an attractive program for them to join. They simply have to post original content, which they already do, and insert a trackable link or coupon code to their post.  

The definitive guide to running an affiliate program on instagram pic1

With over 1 billion users logging into Instagram every day, you’ll have a sea of new customers to introduce your brand to. We’ve come up with a 5-step guide to get your Instagram Affiliate Program up and running. 

How to start your Instagram Affiliate Program

1. Join an affiliate network

There are a lot of moving parts that go into launching an affiliate program. You will need tracking, reporting and payment tools to efficiently manage your affiliates. Luckily, affiliate networks provide all these great tools! What’s best is that you get exposure to thousands of influencers who are already signed up on their platforms. 

Rakuten Affiliate

Source: Rakuten Advertising

The dashboard on Rakuten’s Affiliate Platform

Affiliate networks like ShareASale, CJ Affiliate and Rakuten have the essential technology to provide trackable links that are able to track clicks and sales, and attribute it to each influencer. Most importantly, you are able to collect data and turn results into actionable insights. 

2. Create a compelling offer

There are many types of affiliate programs, which means you need to design yours to stand out. Ask yourself “if I’m an influencer, would I join this affiliate program?”


Source: ZAFUL

ZAFUL offers a 30% commission rate to encourage affiliate to sign up and start posting

A great way to encourage influencers is to offer a tiered program where affiliates can unlock rewards for more results. Another method is to offer high commission rates for placing on top of an affiliates leaderboard. 

We recommend creating easy-to-follow templates your affiliates can share on Instagram Stories. Use Instasize, an all-around photo-editing app, to create Instagram templates your affiliates can take inspiration from. Edit colors, add filters and even edit videos in this handy tool. You can download Instasize on the Play Store and App Store.

3. Determine your commission rates

Affiliates earn by collecting a commission for every successful click or sale generated through their personalized tracking link. There are two most-used commission structures for affiliate marketing: pay per click or pay per acquisition. A pay per click model means that you’ll earn a small amount for every click that you drive to a website, while cost per acquisition only pays when an actual sale is made.

Warby Parker - Share-a-sale

Source: Warby Parker on ShareASale

For every action, Warby Parkers offer a different commission rate that suits their business model

Once you’ve selected your preferred model, you’ll need to set your commission rates. Review your finances and analyze how much profit margin you are willing to trade for higher sales. Look externally and perform a competitor analysis. Check if other brands within your industry have an affiliate program and compare their offers.

4. Reach out to influencers

Hand-pick influencers to kick off your affiliate program. This way, you are certain these influencers are on-brand and have the right target audience as your company. Offer it as an invite-only program to make it more appealing for them to join.

pura vida

Source: Pura Vida

Pura Vida markets their affiliate program as a Brand Ambassador Program to attract more influencers.

When you’re looking to expand this network, you can run referral programs to connect with undiscovered on-brand influencers. Be sure to review every influencer to ascertain they have a positive reputation. 

5. Measure and optimize your program

Launching your program is the first step. You’ll have to measure and optimize your program in order to get the best results and grow your marketing channels. 

CJ Affiliate Reporting Dashboard

Source: Affiliate Program Management

CJ Affiliates provides data about how much revenue you’ve earned and clicks to your website you’ve gained among other important metrics

Affiliate networks provide detailed reports sharing the number of affiliate links generated for your brand. You can also track clicks, successful acquisitions, and your total sales volume. 

With this data, you can pinpoint high performing influencers and investigate unusual activity. If there were surprising results like a sudden spike in performance of a particular influencer, they may have been misrepresenting your brand to get sales. 

If you’re still not convinced, we’ve outlined just a few of the major benefits of running an affiliate program on Instagram:

Benefits of an Instagram Affiliate Marketing

Increase Brand Engagement

Olivia Rink

Source: @oliviarink

@nordstromrack is mentioned not just on the caption, the company benefits from the conversation in the comments

When an influencer posts a photo of your product on Instagram, the best practice is to tag your brand’s Instagram business account and include a branded link in the caption. Their followers will become curious and click on your tagged account to discover more about what you’re selling. If they are interested in what’s being sold, they will  copy and paste the branded link to your website. Not only does your brand get more engagement and traffic, but it will also lead potential customers deeper into the sales funnel.

Reach New Customers

Influencers and bloggers have an established base of loyal followers from a particular demographic and interest group. Use this to your advantage. Recruit affiliates from every niche and industry you are looking to break into. Similar to how you can set up targeting for paid ads on Instagram, you can target users based on location, age and interests of the audience of your affiliates and reach a new group of customers. 

Increase Revenue



Instagram shoppable tags make it easy for the customer to find and purchase your products

With more than 1 billion users on Instagram, it’s hard not to earn through influencer partnerships. Not only is the sheer number of users a selling point, Instagram has added numerous features for businesses such as the shoppable tags and easy swipe-up tab in Instagram Stories.

What’s practical about an affiliate model is that it’s performance-based – you only pay for results. You are able to dictate the rules of how affiliates earn commission and get a bang for your marketing bucks. 

Build new relationships and strengthen old ones

Introducing an affiliate program to your existing roster of influencers only strengthens your working relationship.  They will be happy to post as many photos of your product as long as they can earn a commission for every converted customer or link click. 

Untapped influencers will be open to working with your brand. An affiliate program offers an accessible platform for them to use your product to create personal and on-brand content on their Instagram page.

Building a whole new program can seem daunting. Social media adoption is growing faster every day. Just imagine how much your brand can grow once you’ve successfully launched your Instagram Affiliate Program.

Author Bio 

Denise Langenegger is part of the team at Instasize – a content creating tool kit for anyone editing photos and online content on mobile.

Related Reading:

This blog post is about:

  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Instagram Affiliate Program
  • The Definitive Guide to Running an Affiliate Program on Instagram
  • How to Run an Instagram Affiliate Program