Social Media Sucks. That’s why it works.

Ok, so I posted this awhile back with less details. This time I want to give you an idea of what I mean when I say Social Media Sucks. That’s why it works. I along with several others have been studying social media and the true reality. Why it sucks, why it works, and why it is so massive. The thing I found most interesting was talking with parents and watching students and young adults interact with social media.

Here is what I will argue. I am sure you have all heard of Maslows Hierarchy of Needs. If not, it is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow about humans innate curiosity and stages of development.  What I believe is that our society has created a tool using technology to fulfill the most basic of human needs. I also believe that today more than ever people including myself are in search for instant gratification. The world has taught us to not trust anyone, hence why we appreciate transparency and realness online. And, I can sum it up in a broken world filled with unmet needs. How do we begin to fill these needs? Social media I guess. The sad thing, these basic needs should very well be met in other ways. Do you not agree?

Let me break it down a little deeper. The amazing credible source Wikipedia puts it nicely. “The basic four layers of Maslows pyramid contain what he called “deficiency needs” or “d-needs”: esteem, friendship and love, security, and physical needs. With the exception of the most fundamental (physiological) needs, if these “deficiency needs” are not met, the body gives no physical indication but the individual feels anxious, tense, and can even feel depressed. Maslow’s theory suggests that the most basic level of needs must be met before the individual will strongly desire (or focus motivation upon) the secondary or higher level needs.”

Now, social media does really suck. However, it works because we are getting the most basic of our needs met. Which, ultimately motivates and drives us to fulfill our other needs. Interesting how this works. Right? Now let me break it down and give you the psychology of Social Media and how this plays a huge part in the social media world. It plays a larger part then most people even realize. Understanding and validating basic human needs is a key component to Social Media engagement. You probably are thinking why is he going so deep into this. Here is why. I was not just interested in social media or marketing. But, why are we using it? Why is it growing so fast?Then I realized it is just so simple. Look around at the broken world we live and you can find the simplest of answers. Isn’t that always true, the answers seem to be right in front of us.

Here are some of the questions I was asking. Why are people into it? What are their goals and motivations? What are they looking for? Why are people so passionate about it? I have also been asking parents questions like. How is it affecting your family? What have you noticed differntly about your kids? How long do they sit on social media? Then came the big questions. What are you doing to fix it? Parents never really looked at it this way. They might have a part in this famous play!

Through our research efforts we have begun to compile our results. We have found what we call The 7 A’s of Social Media which represent the different human needs that are being filled through social media. Not at home or through real human relationships. It is what we have observed, and consistently found as part of this ongoing study. 

1) To Be Acknowledged.

We have observed that the first thing most people want and need is acknowledgement. They want to be acknowledged that they are part of this world and simply, ‘Hey I am here!” Look at me. There hand is raised and they simply want to be noticed and felt welcome. What is important is that everyone gets acknowledged in the social media world no matter how busy. If this was only true in the real world. Right? Someone will remember your birthday for sure! I can promise you that. People feel loved more and more each day in social media world. They also sense and feel a realness factor. Being REAL is one of the primary anchors of social media. Some call it authentic. Simply people letting people know that they are welcome and acknowledged makes an enormous difference to people and their lives. This can also build trust.

2) To Gain Attention.

People once acknowledged, desire some form of attention. This happens all the time. For example it as simple as responding to a follow on twitter or a post on a blog, or friends on Facebook. Simple. To the point. But when attention is given to someone beyond “hello”, it creates potential conversation which we all need and desire. And if you are a marketing, branding guru, conversation is critical in the social media world. Conversation, we all need it.

3) To Be Approved Of.

Next up, people need to be approved of-especially when they have put themselves out in the world, they are nervous and afraid, and are trying to contribute. In the social media world everyone feels welcome. Not in the real world. A simple “Thank you for the message” or a “hey great share!” happens daily and millions of times per day. Everyone wants to draw people into their sphere of influence and have some interaction. Most people have self esteem barriers or low self esteem, they get help in social media by people approving, encouraging, and letting them know that we not only approve of them, but “thumbs up” to their efforts. People will let them know they are on the right track, and keep up the good work. Again, if you are a marketing person this is critical online today if you are going to be social.

4) To Be Appreciated.

Can you remember the last time someone appreciated you at home or at work? Probably not. What you can remember is the last time someone gave you appreciation on social media. Who in this world does not love and need this? We all do! It is critical to show appreciation to people. People take the time to let people know that they are appreciated for their work, and for their tweets, and for their Facebook notes all the time. This is a breath of fresh air when it comes to letting people know you appreciate their efforts. Appreciation must go everywhere and it does in social media. If only this happened else where. I guess when people talk about being real this is what it’s all about.

5) To Be Acclaimed.

People love to see their name in the spot light and there are several simple ways this happens in social media.

a) Being answered or featured in a conversation.

b) Being retweeted, featured, or talked about in a conversation.

Question. Can you remember the last time your name was in the spotlight in the real world? Maybe social media is becoming the real world and this does suck. However, it works.

Praise is important to people. Being praised even slightly says, “great job!” and “keep it up!” Who does not love that type of praise? Put people in the spotlight-even unknowns, for a job well done and you will have lots of happy campers. Social media is public and this is why it makes people feel so good. Psychologically, people love praise, and when that happens, they have a tendency to also praise the praiser! 

6) To Feel Assured.

People want to be Assured that they are doing the right thing, being the right person, and taking the right actions. This happens in social media. As simple as this seems, people really need it. In the social media world, assuring people that they belong, they are needed, and they are growing, happens all the time. It may or may not mean much to the person that is doing the assuring but it does mean allot to the person. Assuring people that you are going to be there for them for whatever reason-if they have a challenge or just need your HELP. Now that is reassuring the person of a good decision or a good move. Reassurance happens often, and it is working very well. Just ask the parents. Parents can do this too. I would tell them in interviews, “You can do this. This will be a reflection of your character and love.” People want to know that they are relevant and needed.

7) To Be A Part Of.

People in the social media world feel apart of something much bigger than they are. Things are happening there and they love it. Here is what is happening out there.

People include them.                  People invite them.

People listen to them.                People engage & entertain them.

They not only feel a part of something, but also want to contribute to the whole that will help everyone else. You can be the person that others want to be around and connected to because they like how they feel about themselves when they are connected to you. When they read your stuff. When they see you constantly bringing value to the conversation and party. People feel a part of what you are doing in social media. If only we could do this outside social media.

Well there you have it Social Media Sucks. That’s why it works. If only we would start fulfilling these basic needs in our homes, in our marriages, and in our everyday relationships we wouldn’t need all this technology and social media to fill us up. However, that is why it works and that is why it is sticking around for awhile. Thank you for reading and listening. Please add to the conversation. We want to know how you feel about this.