Social Commerce Launches First In-Facebook Affiliate Marketing Program; Everything Old is New Again [screenshots], in partnership with Columbus Internet, recently launched the first in-Facebook affiliate program through their joint app “Hotels WithMe.” Facebook page owners can install the app and earn revenue when bookings are made through it. At this time the app is only available in the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Sweden and Germany.

How “Hotels WithMe” Works

The “Hotels WithMe” app, which first launched on the UK Facebook page in September 2010, allows groups of friends, colleagues or families to search all hotels among the 140,000 establishments listed on the site

Selected friends can be invited to join a “trip,” from where they can search for hotels together. Members of the trip can perform a hotel search and show all the results to other trip members who can pick any hotel they like and add them to a shortlist of potential hotels that everyone can vote on. All trip members can discuss the hotels they’re looking at by using the integrated chat.

The app automatically keeps track of prices and the availability of all the hotels on the shortlist. If a room-type becomes unavailable or the price changes, the updated information is shown immediately. Once all members of the trip agree on the hotel, a click on the “book” button links through to the booking page.

With this new version, the app can be installed by the owners of Facebook pages who receive a 4% commission for every booking made ​​through the affiliate program, which is managed by the AffiliatePerformance GmbH.

What This Means for Brands

Affiliate marketing programs have been around almost as long as the internet has been in existence. (The first such program was launched by in 1989 through the Prodigy Network.) It’s a tried-and-proven marketing approach that gives brands the opportunity to generate leads and sales through a network of websites that run banner and text ads on their behalf. Individual affiliates receive a percentage of any transaction that results as a click from their site.

With this new socially-inspired version, however, two questions come to mind: “why?” and “why not?”

The “why” is answered in this respect – the app puts friends sharing with friends as the priority, not unlike Travelocity’s “Ask a Friend” app or Delta’s “Away We Go” app, each of which facilitates social sharing among friends. In that sense, it is inherently social and a good fit for Facebook.

As to the “why not” question, well, why not. Brands are attempting to harness the platform in a variety of ways, from Facebook pop-up stores to social games to full catalog implementation. In this age of experimentation almost anything goes, so why not add affiliate marketing to the mix?

Having both managed affiliate programs and been an affiliate marketer myself, I would assume affiliate marketers who target the travel industry will be excited about this opportunity. For brands that use affiliate programs as part of their marketing mix, it opens the door to discovery by new customers, and enables them to take a long-established marketing practice and infuse it with new life.

With affiliate marketing done Facebook-style, like the song says, “everything old is new again.”

Hotels WithMe app

Hotels WithMe affiliate program

Hotels WithMe app allows friends to shop and book hotels with friends

9 Comments Add New Comment

  1. What a great article Paul. “Why” and “Why Not” are indeed the core questions. I was an early and long time contributor at Linkshare, still one of the premier affiliate networks. What stands today stood in the early days of affiliate marketing….to be an affiliate you needed to know at the very least the details of building and hosting a website to surface the merchant offers. Today, with Facebook (although focusing only on Facebook I think is limiting) the average consumer has powerful tools to publish offers, placing them in front of people that likely have similar tastes. Ignoring that opportunity would be like declining the top affiliates into your typical affiliate program. Why however limit it to just those who own a Facebook page? All Facebook users have a newsfeed, a timeline and a ticker, while a much smaller group have a page. They also might likely have a twitter account as well as a tumblr, both massive publication channels as well.

    Affiliate marketing has always worked because the brands provide the affiliates with the tools they need (links, offers, creative, marketing content) and then get out of the way. They allow the affiliate sites to do their jobs, driving qualified traffic to their site. We believe social commerce has to and will move towards this same model. No Facebook version of a brand’s ecommerce site will ever sell their product as well as their own can. Give the consumer (the new affiliate) the tools and reason to publish your content over all of these new channels. Allow them to find even more qualified leads than the affiliate model (true friend to friend word of mouth over deal hunters hitting an affiliate site looking for a coupon code for a site they already plan to visit). When they do, let your own site do the selling. We believe that with the correct adjustments to the affiliate model, consumer driven affiliate marketing will be the answer to social commerce.

    Greg Doran | | CEO |

  2. This is a very thorough article on affiliate marketing. I have been at this for a long time and can tell you first hand that it does not happen overnight. You must work very hard for a long period of time and it will pay off. The key is never give up. Thanks for the article. Well worth the read.


  3. is the worst booking website ever! I needed an invoice for my booking and their customer service is just ignoring me since 4 weeks. I already wrote them 20 times and they answered me only once to ask for the booking reference which I had alreday provided. :(, you are soooo bad

  4. Have you ever considered about including a little
    bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is
    important and all. Nevertheless just imagine if you added some great graphics
    or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with pics and clips, this website could definitely be one of the greatest in its niche. Terrific blog!

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