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The Most Misunderstood C of the 5 Cs of Social Media

by Phillip G. Clampitt (aka Dr. So What) and Danielle Bina

In every model or framework, particularly a brand new one, there always seem to be one key concept that proves difficult to fully understand. In the “5 Cs of Social” framework, that dubious honor goes to the Coordinates concept. So, let’s try to clarify the concept.


Coordinates are connected, aligned, and synced goals. Coordinates operate at a deeper level than goals. Think of it this way: At the first level, you can develop a good or bad goal. Some experts on goal-setting use the SMART acronym to highlight attributes of good goals – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timed. Poorly conceived goals are missing one or more of those attributes. Other experts think of goals in more abstract terms. The key idea is that goals serve as targets or objectives to strive toward; they provide direction.

Coordinates operate at the next level because they ask, “Are the goals synced with one another?” What exactly does that mean? Here’s a four-part test:

  • Are the goals aligned (not contradictory) with each other?

  • Are the goals mutually reinforcing?

  • Are the goals connected to one another?

  • Do the goals collectively cultivate synergy?

Think of “ARCS” for a memorable acronym.

Examples and Possibilities

The diagram suggests four possible scenarios:


Coordinates are good goals that are synced. This is the ideal: good goals that are aligned, reinforcing and connected to one another in a way that produces synergy. Establishing the right coordinates dramatically increases the probability of success. Think of it this way: If you want to lose weight (your mission), the best response is a combination of establishing the right diet (goal 1) and committing to the right exercise program (goal 2). These objectives sync and enrich one another. They are coordinates!


Mismatches are good goals that are not synced. This happens all the time in organizations. A department pursues worthy goals but the goals have no connection with one another. Consider this social media example. Assume two of your goals are to: 1) drive traffic to your website to encourage sales, and b) increase awareness of your brand through Twitter by live-streaming events. These are both worthy goals, but they are not necessarily self-reinforcing without some other goal that connects them.

Toxic Alliances

Toxic Alliances are bad goals that are synced. Ill-conceived goals can be coordinated with one another but they can still create a toxic brew. Consider two social media goals that are synced to one another but are poorly conceived: 1) post more pictures on our Facebook platform that we also post on our Pinterest account, and 2) frequently alert followers on Facebook and Twitter about the new pictures of our products. These are coordinated goals because they both highlight the central role of our products’ pictures. However, they are not particularly good goals because they fail to consider what our audience expects regarding appropriate content for the platforms (product pictures on Facebook).

Total Flops

Total Flops are bad goals that are not synced. Total flops combine the worst features of both levels. The goals are ill-conceived and they are not aligned with one another. Consider social media goals of: 1) post more pictures of our products on Facebook, and b) post more excerpts from our annual report on our Twitter account. These are poor goals because they don’t abide by the social conventions of each platform. They are not coordinated because the goals are essentially isolated from one another.

So What?

Clearing up potential misunderstandings about Coordinates should help you:

Make decisions about channels, content, connections and corrections — the other Cs. Coordinates stand at the apex of the social media strategy decision-making process and should guide all your other choices. In fact, if you get the coordinates wrong, every other strategic choice suffers, except by happenstance. In short, effective coordinates provide a useful roadmap to the future. Poorly conceived coordinates almost guarantee you’ll run off the road into mismatches, toxic alliances, or total flops.

Better define the space where you want to compete in the social media universe. McDonalds, for example, uses social media channels that are designed to appeal to potential workers by showing how fun it can be to work at their restaurants. Syncing their messaging with channel choices carves a distinct competitive space in the race to attract quality workers.

Establish a position of strength. Coordinates are stronger than a great collection of goals. It’s the difference between having a “team” of strong individuals pursuing different directions verses a team of strong individuals pursuing the same direction, mission, and purpose. It’s best to place your bets on the second team.


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