Guest post: Social media adresses the hierarchy of needs

Judith Wolst is running the blog where she writes about Internet related stuff such as social media, e-commerce & Online PR (well, almost obsessed with the internet :D). Professionaly she works with e-commerce – currently responsible for Online Marketing and Social Media at

In this post she describes some of her thoughts about Social Media.

Social media adresses the hierarchy of needs

Us humans have a need to put things into a context, to somehow get a perspective on what is happening around us so the world we live in will becomes easier to understand. Or perhaps perceived to be easier to understand.

People create theories and models about almost everthing, it helps us understand. One that most of us knows about is the hierarchy of needs. Based on ingredients such as food, shelter and self-fulfillment, it helps us to understand why the absence of motivation occurs, when the cornerstones of the pyramid is missing and how this affects us. Maslows pyramid is wildly spread and heavily used.

As humans we are on a quest to put things and events into a context and Social Media is certainly no exception. One could almost say that Social media takes us one step further since it almost DEMANDS a context in order to be understandable…


Models like the one above – gloriousely named “The Social Media Landscape” or equivalent – are now very common. Various efforts to describe and map the digital conversation are being made but these don´t explain WHY things happen. They do not identify the underlying driving forces.


Some choose to explain social media like an “ecosystem” (picture above) which is ONE approach and perhaps a reasonably fair comparison?

What I am trying to say is that things change and that many of us are trying hard to pinpoint this change.

Larry Webber (“Marketing to the social web”) describes the market-based transition in the following steps:

  • Step 1: Mass Marketing – arose in the context of national publications, national radio and national television.
  • Step 2: Direct Marketing – the opportunity to communicate via mail, telemarketing and catalog.
  • Step 3: The era of Social Web – is the third period of marketing where customers (and potential customers) are more in control of what they read, hear and watch. Web2.0 technologies that put the individuals in the driver’s seat.

Yes. We can all agree that the platforms and the logic has changed. But it is not because of technology or meth that we are so involved in social media. There must be something else that encourages our passionate communication.

I Googled on “Social Media” + Psychology and found a very interesting blog post. Its author, Doug Firebaugh, lists seven underlying needs he claims drive our social interactions online.

1. To be Acknowledged
2. To Gain Attention
3. To Be Approved Of
4. To Be Appreciated
5. To Be Acclaimed
6. To Feel Assured
7. To Be A Part Of

Not totally unlike a cocktail party! Or an effort to become a natural part of your middle school class. It constitutes a summary of our efforts to find ourselves and by various methods to express our identity. Quite simply put- our need to communicate.


And on the Internet, we do this through the written word, audio and video.

5 thoughts on “Guest post: Social media adresses the hierarchy of needs

  1. Aage_Reerslev August 19, 2009 / 11:21 am

    @jonasl RT @martinkallstrom @jonbuscall @twingly Guest post by @judithw – “Social media adresses the hierarchy of needs”
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  2. ExpertCivil August 19, 2009 / 11:06 pm

    Wait, what you say? lol RT: @HeatherCinOC This is why we have decided that social media induces ADD… (via @Rebecca_Rose)
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

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