The 5 Cs Of Social Media

If you were to ask five different people what the fundamentals of social media were, you’d probably get five different answers. In fact, I asked an entire group of SteamFeed authors and got 9 different answers!

Most of those answers fit into one of the five categories we’re going to go over in this post: Content, Community, Conversation, Collaboration, and Conversion.

Using the 5 Cs together will ensure you’re building the foundation to a solid social strategy.


To me, content is the cornerstone of social media. You simply cannot waltz onto a social network and be successful without amazing content and some sort of content marketing strategy.

Good content is:

  • Valuable
  • Engaging
  • Searchable (SEO, anyone?)
  • Easy to read
  • Actionable (which leads to the 5th C: Conversion)

Actionable can mean several things:

  • Likes, Plus 1s, comments, shares
  • It creates a snackable bite that someone else wants to use in their writing, podcast, study, blog post, etc.
  • Conversion: A sign up, a subscriber, a download, a prospect or a lead

As Keri from Idea Media Girl put it, content is less about you and more about what your would-be consumers are looking for.

Back in February fellow SteamFeed author Linda Dessau of Content Mastery Guide interviewed me on a three-part series. The topic was the 3 C’s of Social Media, but  we were really focusing on social media as it relates to content.

Your content is the hook that will draw in the community. Without it, your community will likely be nonexistent, small, or uninterested in what you’re saying on your social media sites.

facebook postCOMMUNITY

Once you have great content to lure interested parties to your social pages, you begin building a community.

This is the hard part for a lot of peeps because they focus on the medium (social media) and not the meaning (relationship building).

Carrie with BTC REvolutions hit the nail on the head:

“Be the biggest fan of your fans.”

If you focus on putting people first, it will lead you to do things like:

  • Picking the platform where your target audience is, rather than picking the place you think will work
  • Creating a strategy for disseminating content
  • Testing guidelines that are firm, but fair, to run the community
  • Allowing — and ENCOURAGING — conversation and discussion
  • Celebrating your community members

A good community will help you shape and mould your brand. A good community will spark ideas for new content, and maybe even new products & services.

You’ll know you have a good community when the conversation flows easily (with or without you).


With our tag line being,

“Think Conversation, Not Campaign”

this is probably my favorite C. Conversation drives everything on social media.

If you’re putting your people first — while still trying to get to the 5th C, Conversion — then you should be trying to understand your community. You need to know what drives them, what makes them buy.

This doesn’t happen by sharing kitten memes or quotes from Zig Ziglar. That’s one-way conversation. And while it may be entertaining, it doesn’t move the process along.

As Darin from ZipMinis points out,

“… what we have to say as bloggers is powerful too. You must be in harmony with the audience while highlight your voice and ideas.”

And Kim from Kimberly Yuhl Media Works shows the other side of that, which is also important:

“Stop using [social media] purely as a distribution channel and just talk to people.”  

So how you you play both sides? How do you make it about them but make sure you’re getting what you need too?

Think of it like dating. You’re going to have to “woo” your community with great content and even better conversations. You’ve got to prove you’re trustworthy, and more valuable than the next guy or girl.

You’ve also got to prove you’re:

  • Truthful and transparent
  • Caring
  • Helpful
  • Accepting

Emotional marketing comes into play here.

You should be using psychographics — beliefs, feelings, opinions, attitudes, values — in conversation to extract the psychographics of your audience.

The power of taking your would-be consumer’s feelings and putting them to work for your brand can help you make direct correlations to their buying patterns.

Psychographics answer the question every marketer is trying to answer: What do my buyers want?

Once you’re past the dating phase and having regular conversations with your community, you’ll get to the 4th C: Collaboration.


Collaboration is where savvy brands are sitting right now.

Look at brands like Target and Urban Outfitters. They are taking user-generated content (UGC) and changing the way their stores are laid out, using customer photos on Instagram, and even changing the way their website looks and feels.

That’s collaboration at its finest.

You have to realize that these brands worked very hard to get there. They started with content, built a loyal community, and started having lots of in-depth conversations.

And it was through those conversations that they were able to start the next level of social media marketing … collaboration.

Dorien from More In Media highlights this when she comments,

” … Great Team … Solid Strategic Plan … Oh, an an understanding of basic human sociology.”  

Collaboration can happen on the backend, the frontend, and definitely through social media channels.

It’s taking those psychographics and doing something useful with them. It’s listening. It’s having more conversations than you’re having now. It’s showing that you listened, that you care, and that you DID SOMETHING about the feelings, opinions and beliefs of your community.

One of your goals and KPIs (key performance indicators) should be to garner collaboration from your customers and community. By meeting this goal, you’ll help make more conversions (our final C).

facebook comments


Finally. We’ve made it to the part that most companies start with. What’s my ROI (return on investment) for using social media?

Conversions take a lot of work.

As Daniel, Growth Manager of Social Media for /newsrooms said:

“Start with a top level strategy … what KPIs are important to you …”

If you can’t see your ROI in the other 4 Cs, maybe social media isn’t the place for you.

It’s this simple: With social media, I don’t think you can have a ROI without a ROC (return on conversation).

You also won’t see a continuous ROI with:

  • Lack of strategy
  • Sucky content
  • No sense of community
  • No efforts for collaboration

Maybe it should be: You can’t have a ROI without a ROCs! Cs = Content, Community, Conversation and Collaboration.

You’re going to have to leave your comfort zone.

You’re going to have to think differently.

You’re going to have to think more deeply about the conversations you’re having online.

The bottom line is that you can’t afford to see consumers as dollar signs. You can’t even “see” them as the avatars that pop up on your social media sites. User1234 isn’t buying your fluff.

If you want to get to conversion, then you’re going to have to work through ALL 5 Cs of social media.

What Cs do you need help with? Am I missing any points, or Cs? Please let me know in the comments section below!

See you in the social sphere!


About the Author: Brooke Ballard
brooke ballard

Founder & Chief Digital Strategist at B Squared Media, LLC
Like many of you, Chief Digital Strategist and Founder of B Squared Media, Brooke Ballard, has seen a fundamental shift in business due to social media. How do businesses take advantage of this? Where do they start? Is social media for everyone? In-the-trenches online media experience helps B Squared Media answer these questions for companies seeking to formulate successful social strategies. Using tactics developed in her yearlong honors thesis study, Brooke helps bright and innovative entities develop social strategies around content, community, conversation, collaboration, and conversion. Simply put: Think Conversation, Not Campaign.™

Join me on www.b2onlinemedia.com