Social media, once the name we gave for a platform like Facebook, has become quite difficult to define. Even Facebook and Twitter don’t typically refer to themselves as social networks — at least not exclusively that.
A newly released infographic might just help us grasp the social media landscape: “The Conservation Prism 5.0.”
Brian Solis, an author and digital analyst at Altimeter Group, first launched the aptly-named “Conversation Prism” back in 2008. His project — designed with creative agency JESS3 — covered the streets of Austin, Texas during South by Southwest that year and continues to be a popular reference among marketers.
Now, he’s back with the latest update since 2013. Four years and so much has changed. Over that time, Solis, with the help of Jaimy Szymanski, kept track of the movements — like the entrance of social media darlings Peach and Meerkat that did not make the map.
“There are constant iterations in how social media is used. Remember Peach?” Solis said in an interview with Mashable. “To update this with every new announcement and every new shutter, it sort of defeats the purpose, but there are times in its evolution where the trends are so dramatic.”
Those trends include the growth of livestreaming, messaging apps, and conversational commerce, Solis said. Big players, like Facebook and YouTube, have also spread across multiple categories as they follow each of those trends — a fragmentation and simultaneous expansion of their reach.
Solis and Szymanski removed 84 companies, added 141, and created four new categories: messaging, crowdfunding, travel and hospitality, and connecting IRL.
As in versions past, the center of the Conversation Prism is “You.”
“It’s meant to remind the viewer that social media is about the people in the center of their online experiences. Social media is much more than a series of broadcast networks. You shape the experiences of others as they shape your online experiences,” Solis said.
The next ring is the ways “you” can interact with a network. The second ring expands on how they can impact the networks. The outer ring shows all the categories of the networks, which “you” can interact with to create your own brand and community.
Solis said he will continue to keep tabs on the landscape and plan future updates. That also may include a new design. He noted the rise of other vertical markets like influencer site Patreon.
“This will never be 100 percent completed. It’s a snapshot in time,” Solis said. “I’ve already started to think about version 5.1 is going to have in it.”