Five million people use Twitter every day. Each month, more Americans visit YouTube than watch the Super Bowl. It’s clear that the Internet is fundamentally changing. What does this change in online behavior mean for e-commerce?

The Great Attention Stream Migration
By now we’ve seen that Black Friday and Cyber Monday numbers were stronger than expected. E-commerce continues to be a vibrant force in the economy, even during uncertain times. But at the same time the online shopping landscape is changing. As people spend more time on social networks their online behavior is evolving. Consumers are doing the same activities as before such as shopping, browsing, and searching, but on social sites. Increasingly, they are finding recommendations on what to buy from their friends or others that they trust. The 00’s saw a migration of the attention stream to social places.

It’s the job of networks, publishers, and advertisers to adapt to the changing online shopping landscape and find ways to use social networks to engage consumers.

Social Media Grows Up
According to eMarketer’s 2010 Social Media Marketing Benchmark Report, social media marketing is now reaching maturity, meaning that it’s becoming more measurable. Whether it’s the numbers of followers, fans, or subscribers, advertisers are able to set measurable goals and then track ROI. Until now social media has been used primarily for branding and customer service but more marketers are seeing the direct response opportunities that lie within social networks. As social media matures as a channel, marketing objectives will focus towards sales growth and lead generation. MarketingSherpa reports that the retail/e-commerce sector is poised to increase social media spend by an average of 79% in 2010. Social media is not an experiment for marketers anymore – it’s a must-have.

Smart publishers are using social networks to promote their own brand and drive sales, as well as enabling their customers to share deals within their own social networks. By allowing consumers to share links on social sites you open up a vast new distribution opportunity, so long as your content and offers are compelling enough to be shared. Every publisher and advertiser should be thinking about how to incorporate social sharing links on their site. is a great example of how it should be done, with nice integration of Twitter, Facebook, and email options for every deal on the site.

Networks Plugging In
CPA and affiliate marketing are channels well-suited to helping marketers capture the new attention stream. At a 10,000 foot level, social sites represent distribution opportunities. As more marketers turn to social media as an actionable channel, affiliate programs can assist the distribution of their products on social sites.

Networks, such as ourselves, also need to think about how they can help their customers be aware of and involved with emerging shopping trends. At LinkShare, what we call our Bento Box is a sandbox for plug-ins where we offer a number of tools like WordPress plug-ins and a Google Gadget that make getting links outside of the LinkShare Dashboard seamless. Tweetshop and the Social LinkGenerator bookmarklet enable publishers to create tracking links to advertiser pages and then share it on their social sites, with a click of a button. As a demonstration, go to Twitter and take a look at all the tweets with the hash tag #tweetshop. You’ll fi nd Twitter users recommending products to their followers in real-time. We see social networks as a distribution channel for our customers to not only to drive awareness, but also to drive sales.

As social networks have come to command a greater share of shoppers’ attention so online marketers have adapted. Now it’s time to take it to the next level and treat social media as a mature channel not only suited for branding and customer service but also for sales and leads.