What do Mark Cuban, Jillian Michaels, and YouTube star iJustine have in common? They're all part of Amazon's influencer program, according to a new Business Insider report that came out on Thursday.

People with significant social media followings get commissions on the links they post if they have a "qualifying YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook account," according to the program's webpage.

In retrospect, it shouldn't be a surprise, what with $500,000 premium product pages, the merchandising hoopla that is Prime Day, and the company's massive affiliate program. Amazon markets extensive and, usually, effectively. It seems to be doing the latter.

TechCrunch reported on Amazon's beta test of the influencer program in 2017. But, given some of the names it's attracted, influencers have been an important promotional outlet.

According to the deal terms report that Business Insider obtained, commissions run anywhere from 1 percent to 10 percent, with the highest amounts for Amazon's private fashion line, which makes sense. Margins should be higher on private label goods, as will the benefit to the company of getting higher market share for its items. Influencers get their own storefronts on Amazon. For example, Cuban's page features a couple of his books as well as products from companies he's invested in.

Aside from the bigger names, the program has reportedly also targeted "microinfluencers," with anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand followers but who might have stronger connections. Reportedly, "thousands" of such people have been signed up.

"There's people that make $100 a day -- it's just for side money, it's not something to get rich off," said Samuel Torres, an influencer who is in the program, to Business Insider. Side money being an extra $36,500 annually at that rate. And some apparently make much more.

Influencers can also make money promoting services like Amazon Prime, Audible, and Amazon Fresh. Reportedly, a successful Amazon Business referral is worth $15, while an Audible or Fresh signup pays the influencer $5.

What makes the approach particularly interesting is that it neatly sidesteps one of the big problems with other influencer programs. There have been many cases of influencers renting fake followers and then charging higher sums for mentioning a product.

Amazon's approach undercuts any of that potential downside. Unlike other influencer marketing, the company isn't paying people to deliver a message. They have to bring in paying customers. Only then do they get the commission. Influencers only get paid to the degree that Amazon sees revenue.

One final note. Hopefully we've all learned over the past few years that you have to be up front in social media promotions. If not, it could become something the Federal Trade Commission could get involved with.

Published on: Jan 10, 2019