Social Media for Listening, Learning, Adapting

Listen, Learn and Adapt with Social Media

If you have been in digital marketing for a while, you know how valuable social media is. In fact, some might say that social media and all that it encompasses is a marketer’s best friend, valuable for listening, learning and adapting. In other words, it’s all about the conversation that is happening all around you, right now.

The Conversation Prism V4.1
The Conversation Prism V4.1

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Social Media Organized, De-Mystified

Chances are that you have been exposed to The Conversation Prism which is a great, perhaps the best, social media landscape visualization that I have used.  What I like about The Conversation Prism is that it addresses the complex social media landscape on a one-page Infographic. When you think about it, that’s amazing!

While not intended to be a exhaustive list of social networks, which would have to be viewed through a microscope to be read assuming someone was able placed all their logos on one page, The Conversation Prism organizes the latest social media landscape while enabling viewers to see social media through a “strategic lens.”

This well-known and respected social media visualization can be used as a tool to use when communicating with clients and management to explain that social media and the conversations that are taking place all around you are about much more than merely marketing on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The Conversation Prism History and Genesis

The Conversation Prism, at the time of this post, is a fiver year collaboration  between Brian Solis is an Altimeter Group Principal, well-known digital analyst, keynote speaker, bestselling author and Jesse Thomas, a New Zealand-American graphic designer, founder and chief executive officer of JESS3, a creative agency specializing in data visualization and social media marketing.

Brian Solis’ initial vision for the Conversation Prism was:

Organize the emerging social media landscape as a way of helping enthusiasts [demonstrate the] significance of the new media world. He also hoped to provide strategists with a visual tool to consider unforeseen opportunities through a holistic lens. Source

The original (version 1) of the Conversation Prism was released by Brian Solis and JESS3 in August 2008. Soon after its initial release, images of the Conversation Prism began turning up on blogs, websites and presentations. For more information about the evolution of the Conversation Prism including views of past versions, check out The 2013 Social Media Landscape [Infographic].

The Conversation Prism Version 4 Version 4.1 Released

At the time of this post, The Conversation Prism has had four significant iterations, with version 4.0 recently released, then a minor update, version 4.1, the need of which highlights just how fast the social media landscape is shifting. Mashable refers to the latest version of The Conversation Prism as 2013’s Complex Social Media Landscape in One Chart.

For more information about how to read and interpret The Conversation Prism, check out Brian’s post YOU are at the center of The Conversation Prism.  This excellent post by Brian really frames the intent of The Conversation Prism, while addressing some of the ongoing conversation, controversy and debate that it’s created in the industry.

In his post, Brian covers each of the four halos (rings) that make up the core of the Conversation Prism, namely:

  • Halo 1: Bringing it Home: The Brand YOU,
  • Halo 2: Vision. Purpose. Value. Commitment. Transparency,
  • Halo 3: Brand, Lines of Business, and Corporate Functions,
  • Halo 4: Always Be Improving (ABI) – Listen. Learn. Adapt.

The Conversation Prism 4 – Conversation Categories

The outer ring of the Conversation Prism V4.1 is comprised of 26 conversation categories including:

  1. Social Networks,
  2. Blogs/Microblogs,
  3. Crowd Wisdom,
  4. Q&A,
  6. Social Commerce,
  7. Social Marketplace,
  8. Social Streams,
  9. Location,
  10. Nicheworking,
  11. Enterprise,
  12. Wiki,
  13. Discussion & Forums,
  14. Business,
  15. Service Networking,
  16. Reviews and Ratings,
  17. Social Curation,
  18. Video,
  19. Content/Documents,
  20. Events,
  21. Music,
  22. Livecasting,
  23. Pictures,
  24. Social Bookmarks,
  25. Influence,
  26. Quantified Self

The follow conversation categories from v3 where removed in v4

  1. Virtual Worlds
  2. Blogs/Conversations

  3. CRM
  4. Attention/Communication Dashboards

  5. DIY + Custom Social Networks
  6. Collaboration

*Categories added to v4 from v3, *Categories removed from v4 from v3.

Clearly, there are many conversations going on today, using an ever-evolving set of tools in an shifting social media landscape, serving a diverse and dynamic set of needs.


The latest version 4.1 of The Conversation Prism provides an excellent lens to view the 2013 social media landscape. It also emphasizes that there are dozens of categories of services supporting the core business functions of listening, learning and adapting. By design, the user is right at the center of  The Conversation Prism, choosing the appropriate social channels to demonstrate vision, purpose, value, commitment and transparency to their constituents and stakeholders.

The Conversation Prism clearly communicates that social media and the conversations that it supports, extend well beyond the sales and marketing functions of a business, supporting development, customer and partner service, community, brand, human resources and communications functions. This infamous visualization can help sales and marketing explain to key stakeholders how deeply and complete online conversations drive the business in ways that may not be obvious to all stakeholders.

Lastly, if one is familiar with The Conversation Prism following its evolution over the last five years, its striking how quickly the social media landscape is evolving right before our eyes, as evidenced by the release of version 4.1 due to the changes that transpired shortly after the release of version 4 (e.g. shut down of Google Reader).

I for one look forward to the further developments including new Conversation Prisms that focus on important vertical markets as hinted to by Brain in one of the posts mentioned above. Now go forth and join the conversation!


Rick Noel is an experienced digital marketer enabling businesses and organizations to grow through the Internet, while maximizing marketing ROI (Return On Investment). Rick is the CEO and Co-Founder of eBiz ROI, Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency located in Ballston Lake, NY.

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