I am unimpressed with Shareaholic's attempt to start an affiliate program, and ‘unimpressed' is putting it mildly.
Shareaholic is a WordPress plugin that allows social sharing, following, social analytics and related content recommendations.
Below are 2 screenshot examples of how Shareaholic shows up on a blog.
I've used the Shareaholic plugin (aka Sexy Bookmarks) for many years, but I WON'T be using it anymore.
A few days after I did the latest Shareaholic plugin update, I noticed a strange link in the ‘Related Content' links supplied by Shareaholic.
I clicked the link and it took me off site to a fat burner, diet and exercise site… a topic that is completely unrelated to the content in the post I was looking at and to my site in general.
Shareaholic's ‘related content' links NEVER linked externally before, so, I reviewed the Shareaholic plugin settings to find out why that was happening.
The reason wasn't immediately apparent, but ‘Revenue Generating Apps' as shown circled in the graphic below provided the first clue.
The new ‘Monetization' section at the bottom of the Shareaholic: App Manager page was the next clue.
Although the instructions state “To turn this feature off, move toggle to the left“, neither of the toggle switches (circled in red in the screenshot above), ‘toggled'.
The slider below “Earn Money with Promoted Content” did however slide left and right.
So, my understanding up to that point was that you could choose to show fewer or more ads, but you couldn't turn off the ads completely unless you opened a Shareaholic account — which is what I did next.
The red-circled toggle in the screenshot above did in fact work, so I toggled it into the ‘off' position after verifying my site.
Site verification in itself was a little tedious. First I had to enter the domain URL and name, then choose the platform (WordPress), select a site category (very few from which to choose), and pick a language. Once that was done, I grabbed the setup code and installed it within the document head.
The first verification attempt didn't work because the plugin had already been installed and therefore had its own site ID, which was different than that listed on the Shareaholic site and contained within the setup code. Only by deleting and re-installing the plugin could I get the site ID's to jibe.
So all that done, I thought I'd check out their compensation model. (Note how I wasn't willing to give them a single free click in the meantime. 🙂 ) I found the answer by clicking the ‘learn more' link within my Shareaholic account. The only note regarding compensation stated:
We will be delivering a report with your initial payment distributed on November 1st, 2014 (learn more about payments). We are currently working on a dashboard that will display how much you've earned in Shareaholic Settings. This feature will be available soon – stay tuned!
The “learn more about payments” statement wasn't linked out to more information, so it was impossible therefore to “learn more”.
That said, what was I left with? Virtually the same Shareaholic service that I had prior to entering the fray and I decided that I was not interested in going through the same rigmarole for each of my sites and therefore chose to dump Shareaholic and use the Genesis Optimized Social Share plugin instead.
The Genesis plugin was super simple to install. Just download, activate and you're done. Granted, it doesn't have a bunch of options from which to choose, but it does have the most important social networks, (Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest) and that's all that anyone really needs.
Quite frankly, I think Shareaholic's Promoted Content attempt at revenue generation through affiliate marketing / revenue sharing is a miserable failure — quite scammy, in fact.
I understand that since the initial roll-out, they've changed the default affiliate linking toggle to opt-in, as opposed to opt-out. My guess is that change was made in response to numerous angry users who went through the same discovery process as I did.
What Shareaholic did reminds me of what Roger's Cable tried to do in Ontario Canada with a ‘negative option billing plan' that they introduced back in 1995. Their plan was that you had to opt-out of paying more when they introduced new services, rather than allowing consumers to opt in, or choose to purchase their expanded service.
After severe public backlash and 2 members' bills in parliament, common sense prevailed and THAT practice was outlawed. The underlying theme is that consumers should pay only for what they've agreed to pay.
In summary, if you use Shareaholic, check your settings now. If you don't agree to their monetization plan, choose an alternative now.