Winning in Social Media by understanding basic human needs – why Abraham Maslow knew that Facebook will be a success.

Technologies change, our basic human needs don`t or like Peter Economides coined it lately at a conference in Cyprus: “Everything has changed. Nothing has changed.” Yes, we are living in a fast changing world. Every day there is a new hot startup or product which facilitates or sometimes complicates our lives. The same counts for the emerging social technologies or the web 2.0. What is actually different to the web 1.0? And what does it mean in terms of our basic human needs?

Well, as the term “social media” already states the word wide web has become more social: We can interact easily (social networks). We can express ourselves (blogs). We can participate (forums/communities). We can collaborate (wikis) and so much more. We – the users – shape the internet and we become media ourselves. And all of the above mentioned activities have always been part of our basic human needs. Abraham Maslow created the hierarchy of needs as part of his paper about “The Theory of Human Motivation” in 1943.

The key take-aways are that once we have secured our survival and have found shelter and security in our life – we care about more than that. All of a sudden things like social belonging, to live our dreams and being part of something greater than ourselves gain importance. And it has never been easier to fulfill those needs – online in the social web! Have you ever wondered why people write articles for Wikipedia without having a financial benefit out of it? Have you ever asked yourself why developers from around the world contribute to open source projects without receiving a penny? Or why some geeks love being part of virtual worlds and games which they help building just for the appreciation of their fellow players?
But this goes beyond the internet: Why do we care about green and sustainable products lately? Why do we look for fair-trade supplier chains when buying groceries or clothes? Generally speaking and on a global level there has never been more wealth around the world than today and it is part of our basic human needs to rise above pure existence. We want to feel good about ourselves and about what we do, buy and use.
Knowing this it should be no surprise anymore that human beings – as consumers – long for products and services who satisfy these needs and allow them to be part of something greater, e.g. a cool brand or product community like the Apple iphone users. Hugh McLeod created a cartoon about this which is pretty much to the point:

Hugh McLeod -



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