referral link

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A referral link is a link to a product or service with a code (like a URL parameter) to provide credit to a particular site or entity, typically to provide some amount of income or other benefit as a result or portion of a sales to users following that link, and some IndieWeb sites publish referral links as a source of income.

Referral links can be a form of advertising. Often companies will provide financial incentives for referrals in the form of discounts, commissions, and free products.

IndieWeb Examples

Silo Examples

  • Instagram influencers sharing "swipe up for link" recommendations
  • invitation.codes is a silo for finding and sharing invitation referral links

Types of Referrals

Affiliate Links

Typically provide a commission on store sales by site visitors directed from a link. Typically uses cookies for tracking who referred the sale.

Sign Up Bonuses

Many services provide incentives when users share the service with friends. This can include discounts or free trials of premium content for the referrer and/or the person being referred.

Benefits

  • Referrals tend to be seen as a more trustworthy form of advertising due to trust in the people referring products
  • Referral links don't rely on user data for targeting
  • Referral links can be an easy way to monetize on online presence

Criticism

  • Some blogs with titles like "10 products for X" provide little value and are only focused on monetization
  • Referral incentives may sway a person's judgement
  • Product referrals may have been minimally vetted
  • In the US, many affiliate links fail to provide adequate disclosure as required by the FTC

Considerations

  • Posting a list of services you use could be used against you in a spearphishing campaign
  • Most referral programs have limitations which could invalidate rewards
    • Amazon requires clearly disclosing affiliate relationships (terms)
    • Venmo prohibits sharing referral links with people you don't know, though social sharing is allowed (terms)

See Also