Structured like a social network, Amazon Spark is designed for product discovery and recommendations, similar to Pinterest or Instagram. While still in its infancy, the app feature—by its very design—is catered to influencer marketing but it is designed to allow Amazon to hold all the cards.
Amazon Spark is already in the Amazon iOS app, but hidden away under the Programs and Features section. Photo-based product reviews and stories are enhanced with interactive links that take users directly to that product’s page on Amazon. The number of such links is displayed at the bottom of the photo with a shopping bag. While anyone with the app can browse categories that interest them—each corresponding to a shopping category on Amazon—only Amazon Prime members may post or comment.
The new platform is designed specifically to showcase reviews—positive or negative, Amazon claims—and allow users to ask questions from verified purchasers.
A new way to discover and purchase goods and services sounds great for brands, especially since these image links are more direct than shopping links on other sites. Don’t invest in your big Amazon Spark campaign just yet, however—users are forbidden from sharing promotional messages or paid endorsements. Affiliate links to earn commission on purchases aren’t allowed either, leaving brands unable to utilize the new platform at this time.
So where are these #sponsored posts on Amazon Spark coming from, you may be wondering? They’re linked to an invite-only influencer program the company quietly began testing in March, which allows participants to earn fees for purchases they drive through social media. Unlike its Affiliate Program which allows anyone with a blog or website to apply, Amazon influencers must have a “large following” across multiple channels.
Active reviewers in the community are called Enthusiasts and must meet certain guidelines to earn and keep this title. Amazon has already established a massive network of product reviewers, so a lack of content isn’t likely to be a problem on Spark. However, Enthusiasts are influencers in their own right within this established community, so not being rewarded for their efforts on the new platform may result in unexpected tensions.
Is Amazon Spark friend or foe to brands? It’s highly unlikely users would abandon Instagram for Spark anytime soon, but Amazon is making it so that brands will need to find a creative way to be part of a seamless shopping experience other social networks can only dream of. All the more reason for brands to build long-term relationships with right creators who will opt to show off their products through Amazon Spark if they become Enthusiasts. Yet another reason why finding creators that share values and goals with your company is so important.