Social media isn’t easy for a brand. It’s not easy because people are complex – and with social media, you are engaging with people. And not just by giving a company’s status a thumbs up, or marking a tweet as a favorite.

You are vouching for some thing.  Good or bad.  You are creating an impact.  You aren’t participating in a conversation, you are shaping it.

You received a free Living Social deal because enough of your friends bought it.

You gave an Etsy seller a positive ranking because you loved the super-adorable-one-of-a-kind-hand-crafted thing-a-ma-jig you couldn’t live with out. They sold out of all of their thing-a-ma-jigs two days later.

You found your best friend at that random Meetup you went to about foreign films and their impact on the local brewcraft industry.

You sourced a Wikipedia entry because it’s accepted common knowledge. Granted, it was to settle that bet with your best friend about Kevin Bacon’s age. You won the bet.

You watched an entire season of Mad Men on Netflix (I showered that day, didn’t I?). Then Netflix insisted you’d love season 1 of Portlandia.  It was right.

You RSVP’d to an event with Eventbrite, because you needed an excuse to shower and the invitation said there’d be food (I might have forgotten to eat that day too). So you better be part of the head count or there won’t be enough to go around.

They ran out of food at the event because other people didn’t RSVP, so you got two free appetizers at your favorite hangout because you checked in on Foursquare and Yelp.

And then you shared a picture of them on Instagram, because you are proud of your tasty thriftiness.

Finally, you tracked your run ride with MapMyFitness because free food can do a number on your waistline.

You may not think half of those things are “social media” but they are part of the landscape in the latest version of the Conversation Prism created by Brian Solis. Originally developed in 2008, it was recently updated because, like people, the landscape is listening, growing, and adapting.


The online conversations influence your perceptions, which in turn affect your patterns and actions. While you will likely share those actions with others via social media, this conversation does not chain you to a monitor. Those who get the most value from this online conversation are also sharing experiences in real life.  You have real conversations.  Most likely with your best friend over a tasty highly rated espresso you found on Yelp, but with which you got the free biscotti cause you checked in on Foursquare.

You aren’t easy to figure out because you are complex and evolving and all a brand can do is be where you are when you are to keep the conversation going. All I can say is we better get to work.