Staying on top of any emerging or growing social media trends is an absolute must for any successful Internet marketer. You need to know how to best utilize Instagram Stories to build your brand, for example, or how Facebook Live video can be immensely useful in reaching out to your audience on a much more authentic, genuine level.
Things don’t always work out, of course — does anyone still remember Ello? — but even if you don’t hurl yourself deep into these new channels, it pays to know about them in case they do take off… even if it’s just to squat on your preferred username or vanity URL. And it’s even more important when these new platforms are backed by some of the biggest names online.
A somewhat perplexing example of this is Amazon Spark. It was quietly announced to the world in summer 2017, but barely anyone has noticed. Everyone knows about Amazon Associates at this point, but not too many people know about the Amazon Influencer Program either. Maybe they’re still testing the waters before they want to gain more visibility. What this means, though, is that you can get in on the ground floor and get a head start on all the other influencers and Internet marketers out there.
Seemingly inspired by Instagram, Amazon Spark enables users to post stories, ideas and images to their feed. This can include informal polls too, and then users can “smile” the post (i.e., “like” it) and add comments. The key difference is that Spark is very much product-focused with direct product links for where people can go to buy the products mentioned. That seems like such a natural fit.
There’s a little bit of a Pinterest flair to this, because it is about product recommendations and it’s integrated with the Amazon review system, but the single column feed layout is more like the web-based Instagram. Amazon has been paying influencers to populate the platform with compelling content, but there does not appear to be any built-in monetization at this time.
That seems like a wasted opportunity, given how much more Amazon integration there is already, so why wouldn’t you link an influencer’s Spark profile with his/her Associates account for some product affiliate links? The hope is that this will be implemented at some point in the future.
Another big sticking point is that it’s actually quite difficult to find actual user profiles on Spark. Instead, the platform is much more product focused. You enter the product categories that interest you (kind of like following hashtags on Instagram) and your feed is then populated with relevant posts. You can’t actually search for specific users and, as far as I can tell, no vanity URLs have been issued. Instead, if you see someone that interests you show up in your feed, you can then click on their name to follow them. That again feels like a wasted opportunity.
Despite some negative initial experiences by people who have been using the platform, there is definitely a lot of upward potential here, especially if you’re already heavily invested in the Amazon ecosystem.
For starters, while the official page says that Spark can only be accessed through the Amazon mobile app on iOS and Android, it does seem to load in any web browser at amazon.com/spark too. That’s at least a step in the right direction.
And one of the potential drawbacks of Spark could also be one of its advantages. You need to be an Amazon Prime member to post anything on there and, in effect, to have a real Spark account. This limits your reach, to be sure, but it means that everyone on there has already self-identified as a frequent Amazon shopper (or at least frequent enough to warrant a Prime account). There are about 80 million people with Prime membership and that number continues to grow.
For now, it’s probably not worth your time to dedicate too much time, attention or resources to Amazon Spark. The platform is still in its infancy and there’s really no money to be made until they (hopefully) integrate it with the Associates program. However, you should definitely keep it on your radar, because with Amazon’s backing and solid infrastructure, Spark could prove to be the next big battleground for influencer marketing.