Understanding the true scale of the conversation prism [SMW Series: Part Three]

Understanding the true scale of the conversation prism [SMW Series: Part Three]

Digital and social media consultant at Keene Communications, Michael White, finalises the post series ‘A whistle-stop tour of Social Lobbying’. Discussed content is based upon Keene’s Social Media Week London event.

I’ve lost count of the number of companies who pronounce that they have a grand social media strategy, when in actual fact they are spending time and money managing social media accounts. Great, you have a Twitter account, but what is the point? Have you checked that you are speaking to the right stakeholders? If you are customer facing, then are your particular customers present on that platform?

Originally published in 2008, the social media conversation prism graphic by Brian Solis provides the perfect visual guide to where conversations online may be happening about you. It’s the perfect catalyst to think about social media in a wider sense than the usual suspects, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on. It’s a return to marketing 101 and the vital question: are you speaking to the right audience?


I use the word audience with my tongue firmly in cheek, because the likelihood that a business has an eager group of people hanging upon your every word is nonsensical in the digital age. We live in an era of information overload, messages are overwhelming our senses every minute of the day and nobody really has the chance to be an audience anymore. There is too much going on.

So if you have a Twitter account, tweet away, but don’t lose focus of the wider social media picture. That is conversations may, and probably are, happen about you across a multitude of other social sites. The latest conversation prism categorises these sites as crowd wisdom, wiki, social curation and other social networks.

So when we consider the digital side of a social public affairs programme, we remember that setting up a client’s social sites may not even be necessary – because we may instead join debates across issue based blogs or forums instead. Of course, sometimes the best course of action may be to simply monitor and take no action at all.

The point is that social media has fragmented argument and debate across thousands of sites. If you want to keep up, find your interest groups first, and remember the conversation prism – your strategy needs to be a lot bigger than a Facebook page.

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