The 4Cs and S.O.C.I.A.L.

Cook's 4 Cs

Cook’s 4Cs

The 4Cs

Cook’s 4Cs approach provides a framework to categorise social software tools based on their actions rather than characteristics.

The model of Communication, Cooperation, Collaboration and Connection, provides a framework which can be used by businesses who are using Social Media, to establish their current structure and which tools will assist them to achieve any changes they may be considering.

Cook’s description of each of the 4Cs is as follows, along with some examples of social software tools for each:


Communication platforms are those that allow people to converse with others, either by text, image, voice or video, or a combination of these.

Examples:  blogs, discussion forums, text messaging, emails


Sharing software enables people to share content with others in structured and unstructured ways.

Examples:  social searches, cataloguing, bookmarking, media sharing


Collaboration tools encourage people to collaborate with each other on particular problems, directly and indirectly in both central and distributed ways.

Examples:  Wikis, shared documentation with version control applied


Networking technologies make it possible for people to make connections with and between both content and other people.

Examples:  social networking, tagging, syndication (RSS feeds)

Purposes of the framework

The framework can be used for a variety of purposes including helping to identify what type of structure is currently in place and following that, identifying the preferred social software footprint for the organisation to get the best results.  Once the current framework is identified, businesses can then make informed decisions on where to focus time and effort for the best results, and if necessary, make changes to their structure to align with the organisational objectives.  This framework can be used to support proposed organisational changes.

By applying tools and technologies, an organisation’s culture can be identified.  Depending on the objectives of the business, this framework then identifies specific tools which could be used to improve each aspect of the 4 Cs categories.

Cook's 4 Cs Social Software Technology Framework

Cook’s 4Cs Social Software Technology Framework

Why are the 4Cs important to Social media and social networking

The 4Cs provide a structured approach for businesses to identify their current organisational strengths and weaknesses; identify tools which will assist if any changes need to be made to the business.

Functional Building Blocks

By contrast, Kietzmann, Hermkens, McCarthy and Silvestre (2011), provide a framework about social media that is made up of seven functional building blocks:

  1. Identity
  2. Conversations
  3. Sharing
  4. Presence
  5. Relationships
  6. Reputation
  7. Groups.

The focus of the honeycomb approach is to identify the Social Media functionality and the implications of the functionality, a different approach to that of Cook’s 4Cs framework.

What is Cisco’s S.O.C.I.A.L. approach

Cisco’s S.O.C.I.A.L. approach is the organisation’s philosophy on how they approach social media.  It provides processes and guidance for all employees on the expectations of how Cisco employees should approach the use of social media via policies, see Cisco Social Media policy for an example.

The S.O.C.I.A.L. philosophy’s framework is based around five areas:


The business actively encourages its employees to participate in social media – all employees are expected to do so within the guidelines of the Cisco Social Media Policy.


Cisco actively monitor social media to engage with customers and to identify the tone of the social messaging about their business out in the world of social media.  Listening is turned into business value by identifying the Action-Based Conversations (ABCs) and prioritising them.



Focus is on the quality of Cisco’s social conversations.  Their engagement process consists of The 5 Ws:

5 Ws


Key social metrics are measured and analysed as follows:



Cisco actively look for both advocates and detractors of their business.  Social media provides a platform where those individuals can be identified and engaged with.



Cook, N. (2008).  Enterprise 2.0:  How social software will change the future of work.  Hampshire:  Gower Publishing Ltd.

Gorman, G. E., & Pauleen, D. J. (2011). Personal Knowledge Management : Individual, Organizational and Social Perspectives. Farnham: Gower.

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