The social media needs of the modern communicator can be explained through Abraham Maslow’s well-known “hierarchy of needs” theory. The theory presumes that each individual has certain needs and desires that must be met in order for the next level of needs to be recognized and sought after. Similarly, people have needs and desires associated with their social media activities. Followed is a breakdown explaining how each tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs relates to your social media needs.
Typically represented by a pyramid, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is grounded by a base of physiological needs. These needs must be met before someone can focus on more fulfilling desires. Physiological needs usually entail the body’s needs for food, water, air and other essentials to survival. For the purpose of social media, physiological needs are represented in the basic tools needed to actually use social media. Tools like WiFi, a smart phone or computer to access it, and access to the actual social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. Without having these very basic components you do not advance to the next tier.
Maslow’s idea of safety needs revolves around the need to feel safe and secure. For your social media needs, safety is all about possessing the self-security to initially put yourself out there. It involves first making those social media profiles, creating the profile pictures and about me sections to go with them. It also includes making those first posts for the world to see. All of this requires some level of self-security and confidence in the digital landscape. This stage must be met before you get to the next level of actually engaging with others on social media.
Maslow’s third tier of needs is where the social part really comes into play. After we have dealt with our basic physiological and safety needs, we then begin to focus on the need to belong in society. This is where our social identity is formed and where we develop friendships and love lives. Our social media needs in this tier involve anything to do with social engagement and connecting with other people on social media. Every friend added, post liked or commented, tweet retweeted, etc. involves this tier of our needs. This stage is the “getting your feet wet” phase of social media and must occur before you can focus on your esteem needs.
Esteem needs are those desires you get when you want to master a craft, be recognized for your achievements, or be accepted for your intrinsic value. It’s your need to be respected and understood. Your social media needs involving esteem are met when others comment favorably on your posts. Those compliments about your great ideas, your new haircut, etc. all add to this stage. You’ll notice you’re ready for this stage when you begin checking the number of likes on your posts, how many followers you have and what people are saying about you. Your esteem needs through social media are met when you feel accomplished and recognized for who you are online.
Maslow’s concept of self-actualization is the pinnacle of personal success in his theory. It involves achieving your full potential and feeling a profound sense of joy in your accomplishments. For a social media communicator, this stage is attained once you’ve mastered the social media landscape and have accomplished your social media goals. This rarely attained position is where you’ll find those social media celebrities, thought leaders and celebrity bloggers. It should be noted, however, that this is not the end of achievement. There is always more to learn and greater accomplishments to strive for.
If you’ve enjoyed this breakdown of social media needs and would like to know more, here are a few links for your reading pleasure. Thanks for reading! Please comment below with your thoughts and opinions.