Friday, 12 December 2008

Social Media: Bloggers Motivation & Maslow

Abraham Maslow, in 1943 completed his paper on "A Theory of Human Motivation". This has since been adopted worldwide and applied to business, education, sport, defence etc. To simplify the whole thing, Maslow created an easy to understand hierarchy, represented by a pyramid. The very top cannot be reached unless all the layers below have been fulfilled.

So why am I blabbing on about this? The web, specifically social media, provides a platform for absolutely anyone to become a "voice" (can you detect the irony?). Everyone can become a reporter, critic, expert etc. The question is...what motivates them to do this? Hence Maslow.

If the bottom two layers are in place (I think the last thing on your mind would be to create a blog post if you felt you were in danger....although you might update twitter with your mobile to call for help.) then the remaining three may provide some clues to the motivation of people online.

Love & Belongingness: Well if you're a single Billy No Mates then there is a strong possibility you'll be using social media (including dating sites and networks) to find that special person or to join in discussions with like minded people. 

Self Esteem: The next layer is all about status and recognition. To be seen and recognised by others for something extremely important to you. This is where I think the majority of the blogosphere resides (this is the irony about this post). How many people on facebook update their photo's and status (interesting term!) to show everyone how cool they are? How many bloggers out there create posts or contribute comments to posts just to see their name in lights? How many Google themselves to check their online profile? Being totally honest, there is an element of this in me...but I'm not too hung up about it as it's a stage I need to get through in order to reach the top of the pyramid..I think I'm getting there. Being bold, and knowing that 65.6% of statistics are made up on the spot, I would think 80% of bloggers reside at this layer. Agree? Disagree? This would mean that the value of a blog post to the writer isn't the content at all, it's the fact that they can be seen online, and become recognised as an "expert" in a certain sector/subject. Does that then mean the vast majority of blogging content has very little value? An interesting concept.

Purpose: The very top or apex can be split into smaller sub layers, but basically this is about knowing who you are; what your purpose is; enjoying life; accepting of others and helping others. Finding the 20% of bloggers who have reached this later can be challenging, but typically they are the ones who provide the most valuable information around the subjects they talk about. They also come back to the people who leave comments, as long as those comments aren't just a link building exercise!

So why have I written about this? Well, I think it is important for active contributors to be aware of this and think twice about updating their twitter feed telling everyone how drunk they were the night before, because we're really not interested. And to help brands to understand this, so they can start to open themselves up and provide meaningful and helpful information to those who want to know about them and their services.

And finally...I'm just going to Google myself and see what pops up!!!
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