The 4 C’s of Social Media

Back in 1998 I started building my first website for an Insurance company. The CEO had heard that in one of my graduate school classes I had had to submit a class project using html. He decided that I was just the person he was looking for to build the companies first website.

It was true that I had used html in that project, but all I really did was sit next to a project member while he copied snippets of code from a book to create our first web page. At the time I started creating the companies website it was cool and cutting edge to have a website but it wasn’t necessarily viewed as a business requirement. That would change over the next year.

In 2010 I think we’re at a similar point. Social Media/Networking is still viewed by some as not a business requirement but I expect that will change over the next year. Some will do so because they get it, others because they fear getting left behind. Even if they’re not sure what it is they might be left behind by.

To start off the new year I’m going to discuss what I call the 4 C’s of social media. These are the four concepts we focus on with our clients.

Traditional advertising and marketing is about interrupting. Social media is about sharing and interacting. You have to have someone listening in order for interactions to happen.

The interesting thing is that people want to interact. The following statistics make that clear.

  • 78% of social media users interact with companies or brands via new media sites and tools, an increase of 32% from 2008.
  • 95% of new media users also believe companies or brands should have a social media presence
  • 89% believe that they should interact with their consumers using social media

Its important that you build communities on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter that are made up of your prospects and clients.

Content is King. Its been that way since cavemen began writing on walls. Since then only the means of delivery has changed.

One of the mistakes I see is companies jump into using social media and immediately begin communicating sales messages. A sales message here and there is likely fine but when its all you do…Houston we have a problem.

Regardless of what you sell someone out there is looking for information about it. They want to be informed, educated, and even entertained. If they like your content they will like you. If you share good content consistently over time they will likely begin to trust you.

Social media provides great vehicles to share video, photo’s, written, and audio content.

The difference between traditional advertising and marketing and social media is the difference between talking at someone and talking with them. If you’ve built the right communities and are sharing the right content conversations should naturally happen.

There are different levels of conversations. A comment on a blog post, a retweet, a comment on your LinkedIn or Facebook status are all forms of conversations. Tou just need to be sure you are tracking these responses and reply back.

Even something that seems as trivial as a “Thumbs Up” on a Facebook wall post is a positive. The important thing is you put out a message or content and someone chose to respond.

These conversations and those among others will have an impact. These two statistics support this.

  • 51% of respondents saying that social media has influenced their online transactions.
  • 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations

The final piece of the puzzle is for the preceding steps to lead to conversion. If you’ve taken the time to develop a strategy than all of the pieces should work together to lead to this point.

One of the mistakes that I see is that companies indiscriminately send people to their home page. While that may help you build site traffic it may not necessarily help you with conversion.

If you’re communicating about a product or service why not funnel any responses into a Landing page. Seth Godin has been talking about landing pages since 1991 and lists five actions that the page can generate:

  • Get a visitor to click (to go to another page, on your site or someone else’s)
  • Get a visitor to buy
  • Get a visitor to give permission for you to follow up (by email, phone, etc.). This includes registration of course.
  • Get a visitor to tell a friend
  • (and the more subtle) Get a visitor to learn something, which could even include posting a comment or giving you some sort of feedback

Your home page can generate these five same actions but its not designed to focus on one of these five actions specifically. Sending them here is like sending them to a neighborhood rather than a specific location.

Wrap Up
The 4 C’s are important if you want social media to work for you. There are different ways to build communities on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. There are different ways to communicate messages on each. The conversations are even different.

Focus on applying the first three to each of the networks and begin to see the Fourth C happening a little (maybe a lot more) frequently.

What do you think?

Social Media Sonar provides the following four resources for FREE… 1.  The Blog, 2. The Online Marketing/Social Media Blueprint, 3.  Conversion Rate Optimization Guide, 4.  Resource Center.  If these help you implement your own online marketing program, great. We love helping people. If you decide you need some help, great. We love new clients.  Contact Us if we can help you.

About Sean Nelson

Sean has been a Keynote speaker at Norvax University, conducts social media workshops and webinars, and has released three books on LinkedIn and written several social media guides.

Sean currently runs Social Media Sonar, which in addition to providing free resources, manages social media strategies and tactics for companies. He is also a partner in Surge Labs, a conversion rate optimization company, helping companies improve conversions and profitability through scientific testing of Landing Pages, Websites, Email communications, and Shopping Carts.


  1. Brendan Murphy says:

    Thank you for your informative blogs. It is very helpful to me, a small home builder, in these difficult times.

  2. Nichole Bazemore says:

    Thanks, Sean, for explaining the “why” behind marketing with social media. I think a lot of new, small business owners like myself feel the pressure to use social media, but no one really articulates why we should, other than to “sell, sell, sell.” Thanks for adding real value!

  3. rohn smith says:

    Hi I am new to social media .And your blog provides good information for the beginner.Well i am keeping eye on this post and waiting for a new update.

  4. Sean Nelson says:


    Thanks for the comments.

    Took a look at your site and love your concept. My in-laws grew up in Hapeville.


  5. Sean Nelson says:

    Nicole, thanks for the comments. The “why” is one of the first steps to having an effective presence.


  6. dave coulter says:

    Great stuff. The photo of the record store sign seems very appropriate. Thanks

  7. Thanks for the 4C’s . I am trying to work on that and hopefully will have good “Conversions” later. Happy New Year Sean!=)

  8. Sean Nelson says:

    Thanks Dave. I just thought it was a cool picture.


  9. Sean Nelson says:

    Thanks Raymond.

  10. Matthew Brent Beaty says:

    I think you have hit the nail on the head. It’s all about engaging with people and maintaining a high level of constant interaction in order to drill down to their point of need. Great Post!

  11. Robin McIntire says:

    As always, your information is helpful, especially to us “newbies’. Thanks again. Robin

  12. Sean Nelson says:

    Matthew we share the same perspective. Thanks for the comments.

  13. Sean Nelson says:

    Thanks Robin.

  14. Marquerite Lesco says:

    I must say that generally I am really impressed with this blog. After reading your post I can tell you are well-informed and knowledgeable about your writing. Keep up the great work and I’ll return for more! Cheers!

  15. Sean Nelson says:

    Thanks. Let me finish the redesign and I hope to put some thought down.

  16. stephanie meyer says:

    hey marvelous little blog site ya got right here :-) I use the very same theme on mine and yet for whatever reason it seems to load more efficiently on this site eventhough your own features even more multimedia. Have you been applying any plug ins or widgets which will speed it up? Do you think you could give the names so maybe I would be able to use them in my web pages so twilight breaking dawn users could watch twilight eclipse online trailers and films more easily I would always be grateful – thank you ahead of time :)

  17. Sean Nelson says:

    I had some plugins on the previous blog … wp-cache, wp-span, greet box, all in one seo. Not too many and have not added any since starting the rediesign. Right now it is basically the Thesis template with a customized header.

    I’m still trying to decide what the look and feel will be.


  18. Blacksmith says:

    Great article.

    I am preparing a presentation on social media for our communications mention the first week of September and will definitely mention the 4C’s!

  19. Sean Nelson says:

    Glad they help provide some context.

  20. Mark Stern says:

    Hi Sean,

    Great article on the 4 c’s of social markting
    I am an instructor at UCLA Extension and teach a class in Marketing Principles. May I have permission to use your description the the 4’cs in PPT presentation for class and of course, acknowledge you as the source.
    Mark Stern

  21. Sean Nelson says:


    Definitely go ahead and use.


  22. where are your stats from?

  23. Sean Nelson says:


    Stats came from the Cone New Media Study 2009. The post is a year old so some of this will have changed by now.



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