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Part 1 in a 3 part series about the Social Media and Search 3.0

In his March 30 article on Advertising Age, Peter Hershberg talks about the influence of Social Media on internet Search and the three types of connections that are emerging within Social Media.

“DIRECT CONNECTIONS: People who are connected based on the relationships they’ve built in the real world. This is the hardest network for marketers to get into, because it implies some level of connection and trust.”

My friend Heather in British Columbia has a blog about boating called “Boating in Beautiful BC.” She blogs about her adventures with her family and dog and her opinions about all things boating. I know her, like her and trust her.

Following Hershberg’s theory of Search 3.0, if I want to know the best time and place to go boating in BC, I’ll turn to her. Or, since I’m in either London or San Francisco, I’ll turn to her online presence. I’ll search her blog and send her an email. If I put the question out on Facebook or Twitter, I’ll trust her answer when it comes back.

Herschberg says that, “this is the hardest network for marketers to get into, because it implies some level of connection and trust.” If you are outside of the marketers’ personal network then yes, this will be a difficult circle to enter. But it’s also an incredible opportunity for affiliate marketers.

Because affiliate marketing is based on personal networks, connections and trust from the outset, this kind of network marketing is something that affiliate marketers already do. In direct connections, we trust people either because of personal interaction or because we see that lots of other people trust them. This is similar to how LinkedIn, Twitter Followers, and Facebook Friends operates.

Affiliate marketers who have been successful have a network of affiliate partners and customers who already trust them and their business connections. To create and cultivate direct connections in the Social Media & Search 3.0 era, affiliate marketers need to find a way to display this kind of trust background. On one level trust comes from being in the social media game for a long time, as is discussed by Chris Brogan’s concept of Trust Agents. But beyond being a Trust Agent is being an effective networker with direct connections.

If my friend Heather recommends something, I’m probably going to go with it. By the same logic, if she is part of an affiliate network, I’m probably going to trust her affiliate network. And, by extension, I’ll probably trust the people she is connected to that are part of an affiliate network.

The social currency of trust takes on new meaning for affiliate marketing. But in the world of Search 3.0 it’s not about placing a banner ad or sending out enough emails. It’s about cultivating the trust of direct connections and making sure that you have the social media presence that people in your network can point people in their network to.

That is the the power of direct connections in social media with Search 3.0.
See also www.socialmediamarketing.co.uk