page title icon How to Cloak Affiliate Links on Facebook

For many small and micro businesses, social media sites are the advertising lifeblood of their business.  Social media advertising is especially true of small and micro businesses that use affiliate links to drive their sales.  However, most social media websites are cracking down on affiliate listings leading many small business owners to ask how to cloak affiliate links on Facebook and other social media sites.

Cloaking links on Facebook is harder as Facebook continues to improve its algorithms that search for affiliate links.  The best approach is not to put the affiliate links in a Facebook post.  Rather, link to your website where your potential customers can click the affiliate link. A landing page avoids Facebook problems and gives you more control.

Why do you need to cloak your links in the first place?  Are you knowingly violating the Terms of Service?  What are you risking by cloaking your links?  What are the downsides of link cloaking for your business? We’ll discuss the answers to these questions.

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The Downside of Cloaking Affiliate Links

There are several downsides to link cloaking that many new entrepreneurs are not aware. Some of these downsides include:

  • Expensive third-party software to perform the link cloaking adding cost to your operation
  • Cumbersome background processes that must run to maintain the link cloaking
  • Added steps to running your affiliate links operation, meaning more time involved
  • Facebook will, more than likely, eventually catch you despite the link cloaking service or software. 
  • The possibility of having your Facebook or other social media accounts suspended or even completely shut down
  • The possibility you are compromising your agreement with your affiliate company

Before you consider attempting to cloak your affiliate links, consider the alternative.  Managing a website with a landing page or funnel can be a better alternative that gives you more control and produces more sales conversions than link cloaking.

What is a Landing Page or Funnel?

In the simplest terms, a landing page or funnel page is a stand-alone webpage where you can direct potential customers and apply several techniques to encourage a purchase.  The landing pages or funnels’ concept encourages your customer to take the final step by clicking the link to purchase your product or move on to the affiliate link you are promoting.

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Why is a Landing Page or Funnel Better than Link Cloaking?

There are several inherent problems with link cloaking on social media sites like Facebook.  The biggest problems you can encounter are legal issues with your social media website and your affiliate organization.  A landing page isolates your affiliate links and avoids these legal problems.  

Read the Fine Print

As an affiliate marketer, it will pay to read the Terms of Service agreements for all the social media sites you intend to advertise.  You should also be clear on your affiliate organization’s marketing or advertising agreement on a social media website.

Follow the Rules

Every social media website has different rules and requirements for advertising affiliate links.  For example, Facebook’s Terms of Service don’t expressly forbid affiliate links.  However, the array of rules and requirements that Facebook mandates can make using affiliate links on your Facebook advertising or posts difficult. For example:

  • Facebook will check your ad for the promises you make or the claims you make about your product.  Avoid bold or specific promises about results a customer will get by using your product.
  • Make sure that you include all the required disclosures.  The Federal Trade Commission has numerous disclosure requirements for many products.  Also, some states have additional requirements.  Finally, Facebook has rules about disclosing affiliate links.  Cloaking links more than likely violates this Facebook rule and, when caught, will put you out of business on Facebook.
  • Some social media platforms prohibit affiliate links to certain companies altogether or in specific categories.  Facebook does not allow Amazon affiliate links in paid Facebook ads.  Since Amazon doesn’t allow their affiliates to link using paid ads on Facebook, Facebook enforces this ban.

Every social media website has a set of rules usually listed in the company’s terms of service.  In the long run, it pays to be familiar with the rules of every social media site on which you plan to advertise affiliate links.  

The Best Way to Avoid Problems

The best way to avoid problems with affiliate links on social media sites is to send your potential customers to a website where you can handle the affiliate links and the sales conversions.  Landing pages or funnels have several distinct advantages over cloaking links on social media sites such as Facebook.

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You Avoid Terms of Service Violations – Selling in Your Own Space

By taking your customer off the social media website to your website, you avoid violating the terms of service.   Once your customer is off the social media site, their terms of service no longer apply.  We are not saying that you should make any false claims or do any fraudulent advertising.  But you do have more freedom to describe your product and the benefits a purchaser may accrue.

More Space to Make the Sale – Getting Your Customer the Full Story

Getting your potential customer to your landing page or funnel gives you much more flexibility in making your sales pitch.  There are no constraints on the post or ad size like a social media website.  Landing pages or funnels are much more efficient at sales conversions than straight affiliate links of social media websites.

More Versatile and Richer Content – Use All the Tools Available

Getting your customer to a landing page or funnels allow you to tell a richer and fuller story about your product.  You can use every available tool such as graphics, pictures, and video to enrich the sales pitch, leading to more conversions.  

Better Control, Management, and Reporting – It is a Business Afterall

A well-designed landing page or funnel gives you much more control over your business.  Custom tracking apps track which links are driving the most customers to your landing page, which links in the landing pages are producing the most sales or click-throughs.  More information means better control and the ability to adjust and tweak your ads and links.

How do I Setup a Landing Page or Funnel?

Setting up a landing page or funnel can be simple and straightforward.  If you are interested in establishing an online business, there are several excellent tutorials and support websites.  Alston Godbolt has one of the best.  For more information on creating an affiliate business and using landing pages or funnels can be found at his website at this link.

Get Creative and Make the Most of Your Online Presence

Facebook and other social media platforms are some of the best places to generate leads for your online business.  However, they should be lead generation tools and nothing more.  Moving your potential customers to your website can result in a higher ratio of clicks to sales conversions than putting affiliate links alone on a social media website.

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Social media sites severely limit how you can present your products to your audience.  These social media websites’ terms of service agreements protect the social media website’s reputation.  The limits these terms of service put on many businesses impair trying to make direct sales.  

In the End, is the Risk Worth the Reward?

Is link cloaking an efficient and effective way to do business on social media sites such as Facebook?  Probably not.   Evaluating the risks versus the payback has some identifiable downsides.  

  • The whole concept of cloaking links probably violates your agreement with your affiliate organization’s social media site.  
  • Link cloaking seems to be slightly shady and gives the impression that you are not honest and above board.
  • You risk being banned from your social media sites and having your affiliate agreement canceled.  
  • Using a landing page or funnel gives you greater control, better reporting, and more efficient management of the leads you generate.  Better management means more conversions.  More sales mean a better bottom line for your business.

Our take is that the best way to cloak affiliate links on Facebook and other social media sites is to don’t.  Don’t try to cloak links. Use a better method that doesn’t put you are risk of losing your business and generally yields better results.

If you’re ready to get started. click here for a free ebook to start an online business today.

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