What Affiliates and Merchants Should Know About Pinterest Links

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Everyone is buzzing about Pinterest and with good reason. The social sharing site has grown very popular over the last six months and marketers are seeking ways to benefit from the attention. People are talking about how best to approach the Pinterest community and garner traffic for ecommerce. It’s a great idea! I’ve had the same idea myself and spent some time playing around on Pinterest to discover how it works and how merchants and affiliates might make it work for them.

After a few small experiments, I discovered that a pin that linked to one of our merchant clients was swapped out for a SkimLinks affiliate link as I was passed from Pinterest to the source page of the pin. I know that there are many affiliate marketers that are exploring Pinterest as well, so I did another test in which I modified the URL of my original pin with an affiliate link. I was pleased to discover that the affiliate link I had placed was not overwritten by SkimLinks when I clicked on the pin and was transferred to the merchant site.

The Pinterest/SkimLinks relationship seems fairly new, but isn’t completely unknown according to the Compete.com blog. (The post at Compete.com is no longer available.)

It shouldn’t surprise me that Pinterest has an angle to monetize the links being created. What surprised me was that it didn’t seem to be public knowledge yet. There doesn’t seem to be a discolsure of any kind on the Pinterest website that informs users of the link swap. I’ve seen many merchants posting their own products to Pinterest, even inventing contests in order to generate repins and thereby more traffic for their online stores. I wonder if they know that they are potentially creating links on behalf of an affiliate and subjecting themselves to a commission payout on any traffic they receive from Pinterest. Perhaps it’s comparable to an ad buy in some ways, but it seems like the merchant is doing a lot of leg work without knowing the consequence.

It is important for merchants and affiliates to be aware of this link swapping that Pinterest and SkimLinks are doing. Again, at this time it appears as though affiliate links placed directly in the URL field of a pin, when editing a pin already placed, are not overwritten and the original affiliate link is left intact. To maximize their earning capabilities, affiliates monetizing using Pinterest should ensure that they include their affiliate links on a pin. It is not possible to include an affiliate link on the initial pin through the normal pin methods. You must edit the URL after pinning something and include your affiliate link then. If a pin is repinned by others prior to an affiliate link being added, the repins will retain the original non-affiliate link. So, replace your link quickly.

How are you using Pinterest and will this information affect your plans?

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