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Social Media "Explained" In 6 Pictures


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A collection of diagrams that TRY to illustrate the range of Social Media, Web 2.0, and related applications. I compiled this to show a client that "Social Media" (or So-Me as I often call it) is much …

A collection of diagrams that TRY to illustrate the range of Social Media, Web 2.0, and related applications. I compiled this to show a client that "Social Media" (or So-Me as I often call it) is much more than just Twitter and Facebook.

But warning: 1) they're geeky, 2) they're mind-bending in their complexity, and 3) are only somewhat successful...

I particularly like the Brian Solis Conversation Prism and the Robert Scoble Starfish, while ugly, is a classic.

The last two are just for fun.

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  • 1. Social Media "explained" in 6 complicated (but thought-provoking) pictures A collection of diagrams that try to simplify the social media universe….
  • 2. All right, so "explained" is a bit much…
    • All of these diagrams are pretty dense. But what all of them try to do is to show that:
    • "Social Media" includes a huge and growing range of Web-driven conversation tools;
    • As Social Media gets more diverse, sub-genres are defining – and re-defining – themselves;
    • There are many ways of viewing this universe; but
    • There's still a lot of noise... clarity is hard to find.
  • 3. The Scobleizer "Social Media Starfish" Author Date (ish) Source URL Robert Scoble / Darren Barefoot Nov. '07
  • 4. The Scoble Starfish
    • Source: The (admittedly ugly) graphic was developed in Nov 2007 as an attempt by blogger Darren Barefoot to meld his diagram (top) with one developed by former Googler, uber techie, and Shel Israel collaborator Robert "Scobleizer" Scoble .
    • How it helps: Compared to others, the image makes its point quickly – if unattractively.
    • Meh: It came from an engineer's whiteboard and it shows. Examples are dated and slanted to Scoble's personal enthusiasms (Bacn?). And "Conversions" in the middle? That's not the heart of Social Media! People are.
  • 5. Author Date (ish) Source URL Yael Elish Apr. '07
  • 6. The Web 2.0 Ecosystem
    • Source: This was taken from a slide that was created by  eSnips ' CEO Yael Elish as a way of showing the relative (estimated) market value of different Web 2.0 start-ups in mid 2007. While she blanketed it with disclaimers about how unscientific it was, it was widely circulated and still pops up in my Twitter stream .
    • How it helps: It allows you to see a different slice of the Web 2.0 pie – one based on the *perceived* value / influence of the different players.
    • Meh: It's also very dated ( Worth $1 Billion plus?) and of course slanted to highlight eSnips. It would be nice if there were a more objective version of this out there.
  • 7. Author Date (ish) Source URL Ross Dawson May 2007 h ttp://
  • 8. Dawson's Web 2.0 Landscape
    • Source: In May 2007, Ross Dawson mapped out 62 companies across a dimension grid from Content Sharing to Recommendations/ Filtering; and Web Application to Social Network. Other graphs here .
    • How it helps: It relates Social Media to Web 2.0 apps and divides them by what they DO.
    • Meh: Sadly, it also comes from the spring 2007 chart boom. It also tries to cover a few too many apps so inevitably, you end up glazing over the weirdos you'll never hear another word about.
    • Clean up please! Try a version with just the "biggies".
  • 9. Version 1.0 – Jun '08 Version 2.0 Author Date (ish) Source URL Fred Cavazza Apr. '09
  • 10. Cavazza Social Media Landscape Redux 2.0
    • Source: In April 2009, French consultant Fred Cavazza updated a more "blobular" version 1.0 by a) refreshing the list of players, and b) making it a touch cleaner and better organized.
    • How it helps: It places "Social Platforms" like Facebook and MySpace at the centre of the picture and differentiates between "sharing" "networking" and "expressing" – which is imperfect, but an interesting vein of thought.
    • Meh: Again, far too complicated. Too many apps.
  • 11. Version 1.0 – Aug '08 Version 2.0 – Mar '09 Author Date (ish) Source URL Brian Solis / Jesse Thomas Mar. '09
  • 12. Solis / Thomas conversation prism
    • Source: guru Brian Solis and designer Jesse Thomas created this eye-pleasing chart in March 2009 – and they've created a mini-site all about it where you can download, share, embed, or buy a poster-sized version for your wall: .
    • How it helps: It's pretty strong if you have the time to explore. But you've got to have some time and some coffee to take it all in.
    • Meh: Again, is there an easier way to show all this? This is way too big and comprehensive for a single PowerPoint slide.
  • 13. Author Date (ish) Source URL Tom Cunniff Aug. '08
  • 14. God Bless this Mess
    • Source: This mash-up by Tom Cunniff makes its own point for those weary of diagrams.
    • How it helps: it's a nice antidote to the danger of taking ourselves too seriously.
    • And maybe all the charts miss the real point.
    You can't map the art of human conversation. And even if you could, would anyone listen?
  • 15. Social Media Venn Diagram Author Date (ish) Source URL T-shirt at Jun. '09
  • 16. Of all the charts, this one is my favourite
    • Because:
    • It surprises us.
    • It's so simple, it's funny.
    • It's bleak, but it maps Social Media to real human stuff.
    • It fits on a t-shirt.
    So how about it gurus? Can you do better?
  • 17. 'nuff said. Thanks for your time.