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Peter Hershberg’s March 30 article on Advertising Age, “What Social Media Means for Search,” is an excellent primer on the growing importance of social media for marketing. In essence, he says that Search 1.0 was about keywords, Search 2.0 was (is) about links, and that Search 3.0 is about the personal network. He’s right.

After examining the convergence of traditional search and social media, Hershberg closes his article by asking, “So what does this shift mean for brands, marketers and advertisers?”

It means the game is changing. It means Search 3.0 is here. It means we have to be creative. It means that we need to keep our footing during the paradigm shift.

More specifically: What does it mean for online marketing and affiliate networks that social media is emerging as an important search tool for individuals?

If internet users are utilizing online connections with people they know offline, creating new connections online, and using social media to find products they want and need, where and how does marketing fit in?

In his book The Tipping Point , Malcolm Gladwell talks about Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. Connectors know lots of people, Mavens are who you turn to for advice, and Sales(people) know how to get you to want what they’ve got.

Peter Hershberg’s article about what Social Media means for Search overlaps with Gladwell’s theory. Social Media becoming Search 3.0 means that Connectors will know exponentially more people, Mavens will be turned to by exponentially more people, and Salespeople will have to find new, innovative ways to get people to want what they’ve got. But wait…

Yes, salespeople will always try to get people to want what they’ve got, but the beauty of Search 3.0 and its reliance on the personal network is that people already know what they want and know who to ask about it. The new sales and marketing opportunities for online affiliate marketing and affiliate networks are not shrinking but expanding.

Mavens and Connectors will become even more powerful as Search 3.0 grows and matures. Online marketing will need to adapt not by getting the attention of people in personal networks like Twitter or Facebook but by becoming part of those networks. Affiliate networks have the distinct advantage of being structured the way Search 3.0 works already anyway. Good news for affiliates!

At the end of his article Hershberg specifies three types of emerging online connections: Direct Connections, Interest Generators, and Experience Sharers.

This week I will be looking at how to utilize each of these emerging online connections as an affiliate or online marketer.

The future is Social Media as Search 3.0 for online affiliate marketing.
Go ask your personal network!