Our Social Media Landscape is healthy and constantly evolving

The latest version of the Conversation Prism (now in version 4) was published recently by Brian Solis. Versions now exist for 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013.

While Solis has always provided a very useful 'take' on the social media landscape, more interesting as far as we're concerned is in what the 'prism' now says about the changing landscape.

Find out which categories have appeared, disappeared and stayed constant over the last 5 years. Understanding your Social Media Landscape is critical to your ongoing success in this area.

A closer inspection of each of the previous infographics shows that while most of the current 2013 categories (such as Social Bookmarks) have remained constant (14 of the 26 categories have not changed since 2008) new ones are constantly appearing:

  • 2 new categories appeared in 2009 to reflect the growing popularity of Review & Ratings sites and Forums
  • 5 new categories were added in 2010 to reflect the importance of Business Networks, Question & Answer sites, Social Curation, Social Streams and Social Commerce
  • 5 new categories were added in 2013 to reflect the importance of Enterprise, Influence, what's known as 'Quantified Self', Social Marketplace and Service Networks

The following categories now appear in 2013:

  • Blogs & Microblogs (renamed in 2013) e.g. WordPress, Tumblr
  • Business (since 2010) e.g. Linkedin, Xing
  • Comments (renamed in 2013) e.g. Disqus
  • Content / Documents (renamed in 2010 and 2013) e.g. Slideshare, Prezi
  • Crowd Wisdom (renamed in 2010 and 2013) e.g. Reddit, Storify
  • Discussions & Forums (since 2009) e.g. GoogleGroups
  • Enterprise e.g. Salesforce Chatter, Yammer
  • Events e.g. Eventbrite
  • Influence e.g. Klout, Kred.
  • LiveCasting – Video and Audio e.g. Justin.tv, Ustream
  • Location e.g. Foursquare
  • Music e.g. Spotify, Pandora
  • Nicheworking (renamed in 2009 and 2010) e.g. GetGlue, FoodSpotting
  • Pictures e.g. Flickr, Instagram
  • Q&A (since 2010) e.g. Quora
  • Quantified Self e.g. Jawbone, Nike+.
  • Reviews & Ratings (since 2009) e.g. Yelp, ePinions, Tripadvisor
  • Service Networks e.g. MechanicalTurk, DesignCrowd.
  • Social Bookmarks e.g. Instapaper, Evernote
  • Social Commerce (since 2010) e.g.LivingSocial
  • Social Curation (since 2010) e.g. Pinterest, Paper.li
  • Social Marketplace e.g. Groupon, Kickstarter.
  • Social Networks e.g. Facebook, Google+
  • Social Streams (since 2010) e.g.Twitter, App.net
  • Video e.g. Vimeo, YouTube
  • Wikis e.g. Wikipedia, Wikispaces

(Download a version of the 2013 Conversation Prism here)

While the Conversation Prism still covers an enormous range of applications in 2013, it is the regular changes (reflecting more recent trends and discarding out-dated and less popular categories) that are most interesting.

Out with the old?

obsoleteOver the last 5 years we have lost the category of Micromedia e.g. Yammer and Twitter. These apps now appear in Enterprise (Yammer) and in Social Streams (Twitter). We have also lost Video AggregationBlog Communities and Lifestreams e.g. FriendFeed (the latter usurped by Social Networking and the megalith that is Facebook). Twitter Ecosystems have also disappeared. Interestingly, Twitter is no longer the 'free-for-all' it once was and now tightly controls who gets access (for a price). Blogs / Conversations e.g. Technorati, Social Mention, disappeared in the most recent iteration. These services are offered (more effectively) through Social Media Monitoring Tools. Virtual worlds e.g. SecondLife, are no longer included but is this a surprise – we've not discussed or buzzed about these for some time. Finally, Solis has chosen to omit Customer Service Networks e.g. GetSatisfaction. Perhaps because Social Customer Service is no longer platform specific, customers are using and expecting support from a range of channels including Facebook and Twitter.

And in with the new?new

The following categories have been added to the latest Conversation Prism and reflect some key trends:

  • Enterprise reflects the increased use of social technologies within the organisation
  • Influence tools help to measure our influence and that of others around us; they are part of an increasing focus on network performance
  • 'Quantified Self' tools also help us to measure and monitor but from a very personal perspective
  • 'Social Marketplace' where we not only transact with 'social' retailers but also sell, partner and even fund using these services
  • 'Service networks' allow us to procure new skills and resources from our wider networks. Even if we don't have the skills someone in our network does. 

Categories whose omission seems incongruous (but in checking are likely to signal more dedicated graphics) include:

  • Collaboration e.g. Google Docs, Zoho
  • DIY & Custom Social Networks e.g. Ning
  • Attention / Communications Dashboards e.g. Hootsuite, Tweetdeck
  • Listening & Targeting e.g. Alterian SM2, Radian6; and
  • sCRM e.g. Salesforce, Jive

Overall, the Conversation Prism is worth a detailed view. Its portrayal of the Social Media Landscape feels just about 'right'. It reflects some important trends as Social Media moves towards Social Business and the Collaborative Economy; these are key themes and ones we blog and tweet about regularly.

The latest iteration tells us that 'social' is in a very healthy state and constantly evolving. We look forward to further developments as new applications (like Vine, Instagram, SnapChat, Pinterest) appear and even redefine what went before.

Understanding your changing Social Media Landscape is a key step in strategy development and the Conversation Prism (and others like it) provide a very useful means of identifying the wider range of applications that can offer a return on investment for your business.

Start to think a bit wider than the usual suspects – Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

As always your comments are most welcome.



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