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The Motivation Behind 'I’m Facebooking'

In today’s world we associate “social networking” with websites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. There has been an enormous shift from physical or real, to virtual contact, and it has extended to businesses, and marketers. Online social networking has become a global phenomenon.  However, the concept has old roots in the simple notion of relating to others.

Social sites are direct, instant, and very personal.  You can feel connected to someone without their physical presence.  This is great for introverts, but also fulfills a basic need of all people (to feel connected).  Facebook, and other sites have tapped into everyone’s desire to belong, and to feel important.  As noted in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, all humans have five needs we strive for, or long to be met.  The hierarchy begins with the most fundamental of needs, physiological and safety, which encompass human survival, security, and well-being.  In order to move up to hierarchy however, one must achieve each level with full understanding.

Deeper than physical needs, Maslow’s theory states humans strongly desire to belong.  People see themselves through others.  We seek to gauge reactions of those we associate with to define who we are or want to be.  Feeling like you do not belong to any particular group, or place infuses feelings of lonely and unhappiness.  Social sites provide that perfect platform to combat loneliness.  You instantly have full access to those in your circle.  You can feel connected to the world easily and instantly, and can even put faces and voices to the text, with photos and video.

In addition to wanting to belong, people also strive to achieve self-esteem.  According to Maslow’s theory, this includes the desire for respect of others, and respect by others. People need to be engaged to gain recognition, and have a sense of contribution, to feel self-valued.  Enter statuses, liking, and commenting.  How good does it feel to post a picture of yourself, and have a friend comment on how great you look?  And again, it is the immediate gratification of feeling important.  Both the need to belong, and acquire self-esteem seem to fuel the continual, and growing use of social websites.

Although social networking has been present in our lives for just under a decade, psychological research on the matter is still very young, and recent studies seem to indicate what logic would conclude.  Social networking is, at its heart, fueled by long-existing psychological tendencies: the desire to be loved, and to be relevant to our world. 

In the business of marketing, that means social media sites are the place to be to be to reach the millions of users every day.  So when marketing to individuals in these networks, keep in mind the importance of each person’s need to be recognized; keep in mind their need to connect...  Their need to “facebook."

Join The Conversation

  • Sep 18 Posted 5 years ago WebSelf Agent (not verified)

    The most fundamental and basic four layers of maslows Heriarchy of Needs are called "deficiency needs" or "d-needs": esteem, friendship and love, security, and physical needs. These needs are sometimes attainable when one is a member of a social media community. Though physical or personal interaction is not present, they can be accomplished in different ways such as personal message, live chat, etc.

  • Sep 14 Posted 5 years ago Steve | lifemar... (not verified)

    Thanks for the article.  You're right, i've now added facebook to my website: so others can see who else has joined our community.  People are looking to belong and to associate with others with the same interest.

    good read.  Thanks again.

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