Why Your Instagram Affiliate Links Don’t Work – What to Do Instead

Why your instagram links dont work (final)

Okay, you signed up for affiliate programs and you're trying to do affiliate marketing on Instagram but your Instagram affiliate links are not working. In this post, I'm going to explain to you why they may not be working and what you can do instead.

If you read my other article about Instagram affiliate marketing for beginners, you learned how you can use affiliate links in an Instagram post. However, a big problem that I'm seeing with a lot of people is they're saying stuff like “I'm posting my affiliate links but I'm not getting credit for the sales. Why is that?”

First, we need to understand how an affiliate link actually works. An affiliate link is a custom tracking link with a cookie (not like a chocolate cookie, but a website cookie that tracks users' behavior on the internet). Let's refer to Amazon Associates because that's a very popular affiliate program. When you go into Amazon, you can get a custom Amazon link. 

Within your Amazon associates account, you'll see a gray bar on the top of the screen that actually shows you how to make anything into an affiliate link. So, if you were to just click on, let's say, a Eureka vacuum and you found that vacuum on that page, you can copy the affiliate link and paste it on your website.

If I were to share this link anywhere and someone clicked on it and bought that vacuum (or anything on Amazon), I would get paid a commission for that sale. That's how Amazon Affiliates work. The specific link with the random letters and numbers is specifically assigned to you. Amazon knows when someone clicks that link, you get credit for whatever they buy on Amazon.

They also add what's called a cookie to the link. When someone clicks that link, it stores a cookie on their web browser. They can shut their computer down, close the computer, go do something else, go to bed, and come back tomorrow.

As long as it is within 24 hours and they go to Amazon and shop, you will still get credit for whatever they buy within the 24-hour time frame. Because that little cookie gets stored in their computer, the internet knows anytime someone comes to Amazon in the next 24 hours and buys something, you get credit for whatever they buy. After 24 hours, it expires and you no longer get credit.

Other companies have different cookie durations. Some have cookie durations of 3 days. Some have cookie durations of 30 days.

Some have cookies of 90 days-meaning someone could click on your affiliate link, decide they don't want to buy anything today, and 3 months later go back to the website and it remembers that you were the one that sent them there 3 months ago, and you get credit for whatever they buy. That's the amazing thing about cookies and affiliate marketing!

However, let's go back to Instagram and talk about why your Instagram affiliate links aren't working.

To do this, I would click on a link in my Instagram profile and click on the link tree and then click on “Learn How to Blog.”

I go to my website which is awesome and great but there is something to notice that is very, very important when you're considering affiliate marketing on Instagram. Notice where the webpage opens on Instagram. Does it open in Safari? Google Chrome app? Or did it open within Instagram?

If I were to go back, I'm going back to Instagram. If I click on the link, I will see a little pop-up come up. This pop-up thing you'll see on the screen is Instagram. Whatever link I go to, everything that I'm seeing on the internet, is on Instagram.

If I close it, I'm back on Instagram. This is not Google Chrome. This is not Safari. This is Instagram's web browser.

Something to keep in mind with Instagram links is that Instagram's web browser does not store cookies.

So, if you have an affiliate link that says something like they have a 30-day cookie or Amazon 24-hour cookie, and someone clicks on the link such as “buy my hair blow dryer” and they open it on Instagram browser and then they decide not to buy and close it.

The next day, they decide to buy the blow dryer. When they open their Google Chrome, type in Amazon, and go to the blow dryer, you're not getting credit for that sale because that's not in Instagram and Instagram doesn't store cookies.

When you are affiliate marketing directly in Instagram (meaning you have a link on Instagram) in your Instagram story and your Instagram bio, they have to make that purchase immediately.

That is a super, super important detail to remember when you're doing affiliate marketing on Instagram.

If someone clicks your link, opens up a web page (Amazon or whatever it is), they have to buy right then and there. Or, they are going to have to come back on Instagram and click the link on your Instagram. If they don't buy it right then and there, you're not going to get credit for that sale.

Another important thing to remember, I guess this is just more applies to smartphones and computers, is that cookies are browser-specific. So, if someone goes to an affiliate link on the Safari app, let's say that's your default app (example, when I open my email or clicking links, it opens on my default browser which is Safari), and there's a cookie it stores for 30 days, but I don't buy in Safari.

When I decide later I'm going to buy it and open on Google Chrome, it's not going to track that cookie. You're not going to get credit. You only get credit if it is purchased on the same browser.

If you click a link and it goes to Google Chrome and then 2 days later you go to Google Chrome again and buy it, then you'll get credit. But, if you switch to a different web browser like Safari, Firefox, or whatever, you're not going to get credit for that affiliate sale-which is something else to keep in mind.

How do we get around this issue of cookies within Instagram?

If they're not going to buy right then and there, you're not going to get credit for it. Well, a very good way to get around that is to get people to join your email list.

Build An Email List

Start building an email list to your blog or website. That way, you can send people emails off Instagram, off-site, and driving them back to your website or blog post promoting that affiliate product.

The bad thing about that is that it does take a few extra steps for the person to get from click to buy which is not ideal, but it does give you a chance of success with the cookie. Meaning, if they don't buy it right then, they come back later, you could still get credit for it.

Try and think of creative ways to get people to your affiliate links off of Instagram, and onto an app or on the computer which is a better way to find more long-term success with affiliate cookies through your affiliate links.

If you have any questions about Instagram affiliate marketing or about your programs or links with Instagram, leave a comment below this post.

I'll do the best I can to answer any questions you might have with your affiliate marketing strategy on Instagram!

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Why Your Instagram Affiliate Links Dont Work