During my ongoing discussions about social media with colleagues across the industry, I continue to be reminded about how infatuated we have become with the underlying technologies and our own motivations as businesses, that we forget about the audience we are trying to engage with. Abraham Maslow’s pyramid is today a well-accepted principle not only in psychology but is also regularly taught at Marketing courses as a way to understand consumer behavior.
I thought it was then appropriate to capture my thoughts on the equivalent pyramid for social business, including a feeble attempt at mapping my definitions to Maslow’s pyramid:
Teach me / help me (Physiological): There are numerous examples in this area ranging from the chat rooms and forums of the 1980s (remember the Compuserve Forums?), to the more recent example of how @comcastcares was able to change the perception of its brand by leveraging Twitter to proactively address customer service issues
Save me money (Safety): While this is fairly new, there are again numerous examples ranging from how Dell uses @DellOutlet to dispose of refurbished inventory to a recent study by ExactTarget that cited the #1 reason people ‘Like’ a brand on Facebook is to receive discounts and promotions
Make me part of something bigger (Love/belonging): Anthropologists define a tribe as ‘societies organized largely on the basis of kinship’. If there is one thing the internet has accomplished, is to allow us to organize ourselves in communities that transcend cultural and geographic boundaries. They vary from your friends on the 500+ million people Facebook communities, to the 300 thousand+ Ning networks.
Help me build my brand (Esteem): Let’s face it, peer recognition is still important and many people engage with social media to help build their own personal brand. My example here is from my own company. SAP has a 2 million+ member vibrant community and based on my query earlier today, 39 of the top 50 lifetime contributors were non-SAP employees.
While we can debate the order of these motivations (and they do vary based on cultural biases, industries, etc.), I hope no one will argue that unless we begin to empathize with our audience based on what they need, we will not be successful. As for me, I am still trying to find self-actualization.
What do you think? Do these represent the four core needs people try to satisfy when they engage with a brand?