Brian Solis’s Conversation Confusion Prism

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Let me start by saying something very important. We like Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas’s The Conversation Prism. It provides a very comprehensive view of the web content distribution world. It was developed to address a number of issues that new media agencies deal with on a daily basis.

  1. The corporate website is not the center of your universe.
  2. Diversified content portfolios equal success.
  3. And, as always, the value is in quality content.

Another thing the prism does very well is to identify the various content platforms that people consume online. From presentation sharing to lifecasting. Live broadcasting to social networks.

That sure is a lot of colors

While the methodology behind creating the prism is sound, putting it into practice is more complicated. Mr. Solis writes, “If a conversation takes place online and you’re not there to hear or see it, did it actually happen?”

That’s all well and good, but what then? It identifies an exhaustive list of distribution channels, but what’s the next step? Do I have to participate in all of them? It can get too cumbersome very quickly.

We’re going to keep on saying it

Carpet bombing the web with your content will deplete precious financial and human resources.

In contrast, when content is passed along from connectors and trusted sources it’s considered more valuable by the consumer, who is therefore more likely to trust it and engage with it. This doesn’t have to be a volume game. Content producers need to identify and participate in the channels where their most influential people are participating and where their content will be the most effective.

Mr. Solis doesn’t disagree with this assertion. It’s part of his philosophy as outlined in The Essential Guide to Social Media. But this is where the prism falls a touch short: these ideas get lost in translation to the prism, and we need a bridge from the prism to the practical.

Specifically, we need a discriminating portfolio. Tippingpoint Labs developed the New Media Life Cycle Analysis to help brands select from the full spectrum of social media. Each brand must determine the right platforms and channels for content distribution. The NMLCA is a method of analyzing the trajectory of quality content growth within platforms and channels, along with audience growth or attrition, so brands can more effectively produce and distribute on the web.

It’s all about the content

Once a brand distributes the right content in the right place, all the pieces should fit into place. The right audience will consume it, engage with it, and pass it along, and the brand will earn the trust of valued individuals. In turn, this will help influence their — and others’ — buying decisions.

Forward Thinking examines the present to envision what’s coming.

5 Responses to “Brian Solis’s Conversation Confusion Prism”

  1. Amelia Vargo

    A very good point, well put! When you think ahead on things you can start to plan what you want to happen. I’ve learned that the hard way, by not planning ahead on some things, and I’d never recommend that approach to anyone!

  2. Brian Solis

    Thanks guys for pointing this out and giving me the opportunity to clarify the goals of the prism.

    Initially, the conversation prism ( was designed as a map of the social web to remind experts that there is more to the proverbial conversation than twitter and facebook. What’s missing in this post however, is the keystone to the prism and the main reason why we had to write a pseudo instruction manual for it…people tend to take graphics at graphical value without seeing the bigger picture.

    As you say, “But this is where the prism falls a touch short: these ideas get lost in translation to the prism, and we need a bridge from the prism to the practical.”

    It is for that reason that I wrote the following guides:


    These two posts instruct any brand on how to listen using the prism to define a specific social map that does the opposite of carpet bombing the web, it creates a detailed and accurate index and set of directions on where to focus specifically. Each brand map, as a result, will differ.

    This is not about chatter, conversations, or content. It’s about focus and identifying paths to influence by understanding everything from relevant communities to sentiment to opportunities for influence. Once you have that intelligence you can embark on an “informed” New Media Life Cycle process.

    • Brad Schwarzenbach


      I’m so glad that you had a chance to read the post and even more thrilled that you left a comment.

      Thanks for fleshing out just what it is that the prism can do for brands looking to engage in the social media space.

      The only point of yours I might challenge is that it’s not about content. I believe it is. You put the brand at the heart of the prism. However, if you put content there, all of a sudden the brand is focused less on immediate gain and more on how IT can contribute. While gain might make more business sense, if content is at the center, the resultant trust will be of greater brand value, long term.

      Does that make sense? Or am I not understanding something? It’s totally possible.

      Thanks again for the contribution to the discussion! Looking forward to further insight.


  3. Brian Solis

    Hi, I don’t disagree with you, so allow me to explain a bit…

    Content is technically not as valuable without brand essence, personality and purpose. We garner perspective in order to inject meaning and relevance into the content we create and distribute. In the process, we convert content into social objects.

    Make sense? I think we’re saying the same thing, but it today’s world of “confusion,” it’s better to be literal. Rock on.

    • Brad Schwarzenbach

      Brian, I think you’re absolutely right. We’re on a very similar track here. And that’s a very valuable point: The perspective gleaned from monitoring better informs the content you should provide.

      Even further, that knowledge can better inform all aspects of business practice, often making operations more efficient and effective.

      Really appreciate the insight!


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