Digital strategy and communications


Some of these have been around for a while, but I thought it worth putting them all together in one blog post, as they all add insight into understanding, categorising and visualising the complexity that social media now is, and how to understand that in a business/communication context.

Fred Cavazza created the diagram below in 2008. It segments sites and services partly by function (sharing, discussion, etc) as well as by type (Virtual worlds), which may not be entirely consistent (it missed out comments for example) but it does at least give us a fairly broad view of the landscape. It also helps us to understand why some functions within each tool may not be as prominent as in others. For example whilst it is possible to network and connect with members using Delicious it’s main purpose is bookmarking and sharing those finds.

The Conversation Prism (below) by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas of JESS3, now in it’s second iteration, takes this several steps further. It segments social media by type (wikis, blogs etc.) that currently exist and also their function and role within different forms of communication. It has been designed expressly for understanding social media within the business and brand context.

(Click on the image below to view the image full scale).

Conversation Prism

Conversation Prism

Although it’s worth noting that the downside to greater precision is that the over view that we could see in the first diagram is lost in amongst the masses of detail.

Forrester’s segmentation of social media behaviour by users, which it describes as Social Technographics, helps with another piece of the jigsaw. Forrester classifies people into how they use technologies and aims to quantify the size of each group through regular surveys. The classifications are:

  • Creators
  • Critics
  • Collectors
  • Joiners
  • Spectators
  • Inactives

This slide show explains more:

The basic results of their surveys are freely available via the Groundswell Profile Tool. For example, here are the results for 25-34 year old females in the UK:

Forrester Groundswell tool example

This last diagram by Gary Hayes and Laurel Papworth shows a possible way of structuring a ‘campaign’ or long term ways to communicate.

Note: To me the diagrams also begin to hint at a much older science, one which the Victorians excelled, that of identification and classification, but development of that idea is perhaps for another day.

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