edit: This is no longer true, as of May 2016. Affiliate links are back on Pinterest!
Affiliate links are no longer allowed on Pinterest. For many companies with affiliate programs, this is nothing new – Pinterest hasn’t allowed Amazon affiliate links for some time, for example. But now they no longer allow even those few companies they had allowed. The pins won’t be deleted, but all tracking information will be removed.
Pinterest says it’s to improve the user experience, although many suspect that it has more to do with upcoming monetization. Pinterest says that’s not the case, however. Affiliate links and redirects can make it harder for rich pins to work accurately.
Of course, all is not lost if you’ve been careful to keep your affiliate links more on your own site, under your own control. This has always been the most sensible way to handle affiliate links, as it builds your own property and your own reputation. When you build on your own property, your links are valid as long as you’re a part of that affiliate program.
It may be harder to promote through Pinterest this way, as you have to come up with the content, but in the long run it can be a more effective strategy. Pinterest can be a part of your marketing strategy, but your focus should always be on your own properties, with social media marketing as a tool to direct traffic to your properties.
It takes more effort, certainly, to build your own properties and content, but the results can be well worth it. You don’t have to worry that you’ll lose your account on a particular social media site, that policies will change there or that it will lose its popularity. While these things can still happen, it’s less important when that site is only a part of how your promote your own, rather than something you rely upon for your income.
This kind of thing can happen on any platform you use that you don’t control. On your own website, you decide when affiliate links are appropriate. All you have to obey are the rules of the hosting company, and those aren’t at all likely to change in ways that harm your online business – it’s too easy to switch someplace new. But the platforms you use to market your business may change at any time. It’s better to direct traffic from them to your website, then to your recommendations, than to put your recommendations where they can vanish at any time.