The Four Ps of Social Media Marketing

Classically-trained marketers will be familiar with the 4 Ps of marketing, one of the best known marketing mix models, first expressed in 1960 by E J McCarthy. Best summed up as putting the right product in the right place, at the right price, at the right time, they are:

  • Product (or service)
  • Place
  • Price
  • Promotion

For decades, the 4 Ps model has helped marketers define their marketing options in terms of product, place, price and promotion, when planning new ventures and evaluating existing offers to optimise the impact with a target market. The model clearly still applies today (it’s all marketing, after all) but perhaps there is an additional 4 Ps that apply in this digital age; the 4 Ps of social media marketing, if you like. If so, I consider them thus:


Brand personality cannot be faked on the social web, and the penalty to reputation from such fakery can be high. With authenticity as the new baseline for every brand, truth and transparency may pose challenges for many organisations but are increasingly non-negotiable. Social media is personal, so having a genuine personality is the key to achieving competitive advantage in the new digital age.


Every organisation starts from the same base when it comes to social media. Building a presence where authority is defined not by legacy, size or past initiatives, but by contributing – and being seen to contribute – to the online communities that matter to customers in the ways they want and expect, is essential to social marketing success.


It is not sufficient to have presence alone, however. Companies need to be in it for the long haul, contributing consistently and with real purpose – not just to sell products. They should ask, who are we and how can we add value? not where is our audience and how can we target them?


Marketers must know how social marketing assists/affects organisational objectives, in the short, medium and long-term. They need to deliver a strong social performance across all functions, processes and channels, putting the right internal and external resources in place to achieve that. This performance needs measuring against real indicators of success, in order to learn and improve.

I consider these 4 Ps to be additional (and complementary) to McCarthy’s 4Ps, not a replacement for them. His remain the fundamental building blocks of marketing a product or service, whereas I am perhaps suggesting some new considerations that relate directly to Place and Promotion in the original model.

What do you think? Does this encapsulate what you consider the key aspects of social media marketing? Is the 4 Ps a good model to augment or is it already outdated in the digital marketing age? Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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2 Responses to “The Four Ps of Social Media Marketing”

  1. Robert Clark April 6, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    I like it! Along with purpose goes engagement I think too. It’s not just enough to have purpose either if you aren’t engaging your followers with it.


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