If you're familiar with the philosophy QUALITY over QUANTITY – it very much applies in this scenario. Be VERY SELECTIVE about who you onboard as affiliates. Find affiliate partners that have experience in affiliate marketing and have audiences that relate to your products. In most affiliate programs, 80% of your sales are going to come from the top 20% of your affiliates. My advice is to focus on forging relationships with partners that could be in your top 20%. Building 10 quality affiliate relationships can be more effective than recruiting 1000 random affiliates.
Don't let anyone join your program. An affiliate can ruin your good name. They are your brand ambassadors and what they do reflects upon you. So make sure to only onboard affiliates who are experienced at maintaining a solid reputation of their own. You don't want to recruit a bunch of spammers into your program who are going to ruin your brand or search engine placement with nefarious methods of marketing. Quality control is extremely important.
To help you with quality control, you'll want to create simple rules of engagement for your affiliates to follow. The obvious ones include:
- No Spamming, Link Farming, or Engaging in “Black Hat” Marketing Practices
- Following FTC rules by disclosing affiliate status (basically they have to mark the posts as #sponsored or #affiliate or something to indicate that they have financial incentive to promote this product)
- No bidding on trademarked terms. You don't want them competing with you on Adwords and ultimately driving the bid price up against each other. And you also you want to be in control of those paid search queries.
- Restricting use of certain hashtags, etc.
Over time, you'll develop your own rules that relate to protecting your brand and communicating with your prospective customers on your behalf. Always encourage truthful marketing and transparent business practices. Create an Affiliate Terms of Service to explain these rules and the consequences of breaking them, which could be immediate termination depending on the severity of the action.