A number of groups have popped up on Facebook in recent months along the lines of “ Best X Deals”. E.g. “Best X Deals Y” (replace X with a popular online marketplace and Y with the country you are based in).
And so here, in return, is a short something I feel compelled to get off my chest:
In many cases, these groups exist solely so that the founder(s) can monetize the community by repeatedly posting affiliate links!
Duh you might be saying.
But trust me — not everybody realizes this.
Actually, from what I have been able to tell, the majority of posters in these groups do not.
We Spam You, You Don’t Spam Us
The most outrageous facet of many of these groups to my mind is that regular ‘groupies’ (non-admins) are expressly prevented from sharing links themselves.
Yes, you read that right.
People, in their thousands, are voluntarily agreeing to serve as affiliate marketing pawns and are not even afforded the small luxury, in exchange for their commission dollars, of being able to spam the group in return!
Talk about chutzpah!
Not only that, but in many cases the “recommendations” being proferred to the crowd are patently absurd — such as recommendations that people buy what they could find down the road through a local version of a global marketplace — and the product, of course, will have to arrive in the mail, which will need to be paid for!
At other times, these groups post recommendations that people buy products which two minutes of (independent) research could demonstrate are terrible purchasing decisions and/or at a terrible price.
A Few Home Truths About Facebook Affiliate Marketing Groups
To those perplexed by these uncanny Facebook phenomena and who have not yet deduced the obvious, here are the explanations that I hope will put your mind at rest:
a) The group admin(s) don’t really care what they send over your news feed or which “finds” they show you. Yes, sorry to break the hard news, but you’ve been taken for a sucker. Typically so long as the links are affiliate links and they have determined that there is a likely market for them among the (captive) demographic in the group they will share them. And if you’ve ever seen how hard some of these group owners promote their own pages you’ll understand why it’s a numbers game: more people in the group + more products “recommended” = more impressions = more commission.
b) You are getting almost nothing out of being a member of these groups except making yourself a captive audience for somebody else’s profiteering. And why would you do that? It’s like not eating for days before taking a long-haul international air flight just so that you can get price-gouged at the airport! If the admin has enabled discussion but disabled link sharing (common) and is policing the comments to ensure that members don’t share their own affiliate links it’s only to create the semblance that you are part of a “community” — but really you and all the other non-admins talking among yourselves are doing so solely so that as many of you as possible will hopefully click an affiliate link (which, ironically, you cannot share yourself)! Nice scam, hah? Don’t believe me? Try sharing your own affiliate link and seeing how long it will take before an admin or moderator removes it. Explanation: the pyramid scheme must serve its purpose and only the admins’ links are permitted!
c) You can probably find better product recommendations by asking people that don’t have a financial incentive in giving you advice who will base their determination on what they think is actually best — not what has the highest commission. I occasionally post product recommendations on my blog. Like my recommendation to buy these Etymotics. On principle, these are not affiliate links and I go to pains to highlight that in the posts. Why? Because although I stand behind the few products I publicly recommend doing so, for me, is not a business endeavor. It’s part of blogging for fun and trying to help people make good purchases with the limited knowledge that I have accrued over the years. And if you’re really intent on buying something from Amazon you could, you know, just browse Amazon/Aliexpress/Ebay yourself….
Do Your Own Research
Is this a pop at those running deceptive and disguised affiliate marketing Facebook Groups?
You bet it is.
But I only went out of my way to write this post because:
a) Unlike the (many) transparent sham Facebook groups which exist solely to promote their founder’s book/training series/etc these groups are being highly deceptive at luring people in to what they believe is a bona fide curated source of recommendations. Make no mistake. They are not.
b) Many people that operate these groups will repeatedly lie to their followers just to get them to stay in the group — such as tell them that a non-existent product launch is happening soon and stay tuned for more etc. I’m not naming names here although I have written this post with specific examples firmly in mind. But suffice to say that this is something which I have observed many times over.
Despite the title this is not a post against affiliate marketing.
I believe that affiliate marketing can be a legitimate enterprise in limited circumstances and so long as a few basic tenants are adhered to by affiliate marketers:
a) Those operating affiliate marketing websites are transparent about the fact that they are earning commissions from the products that they are endorsing. Most professionally-run websites sharing affiliate links are pretty good at displaying a prominent albeit cookie-cutter disclaimer to the effect that they may earn commissions from the links they publicize. On the contrary, many of these Facebook Groups contain absolutely no acknowledgement of this fact — or the group owner does so sporadically so that somebody who happens upon the group for the first time will probably not come across the fine print.
b) Those curating recommendations actually believe what they endorse and share truthful information. Needless to say, lying and claiming that terrible products are good just to entice purchases is immoral and inexcusable.
Not All Affiliate Marketing Is Deceptive
Unfortunately, far too many people have recently latched onto the passive income bandwagon and have started deceptive affiliate marketing groups on Facebook along the lines of what I have tried to describe here.
These groups contribute absolutely nothing to the world besides enriching their operators’ pockets.
And in fact they make it harder for consumers to find real, independent reviews of the products they are interested in.
Real independent reviewers exist.
But so do countless “communities” operated by online hacks (sorry — harsh but true!) whose sole interest in setting up these pages and groups is to run a get-rich-quick scheme to make a quick buck off the back of people’s interest in online shopping.
And when people like your grandmother (or 1,000s of them) — who couldn’t tell a legitimate Facebook recommendation page from a fake one to save their lives — end up wasting their hard-earned cash on the dud merchandise you recommended just to get your kickback it becomes a little more than a harmless dabble in passive income.
Would you tell your own grandmother to buy a product knew was rubbish (or had no idea whether it was good or not) just because David in the electronics shop promised you a commission if you sent him a customer?
Great. So don’t do it to other grandmothers. And if you wouldn’t do it in real life, don’t do it online.
TL;DR: I think that these disguised affiliate marketing groups are disingenuous and a scam.
Find your own stuff online.
Or ask people that are not making money out of you for recommendations.
Originally published at https://www.danielrosehill.co.il