Maslow’s Hierarchy of Social Media

In the year 1943, Abraham Maslow created his most notable work, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In his theory, human needs are divided into five categories; Physiological, Safety, Love/Belonging, Self-Esteem and Self-actualisation.

Physiological– Basic physical needs of air, water, food, shelter and clothing.

Safety– Security of body, finance, morality, health and property.

Love/Belonging– Love, affections, relationships

Self-Esteem– Confidence and achievement, mastery, independence, status

Self-actualisation– Creative fulfillment, personal growth seeking, and peak experiences.

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_92.htm

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His hierarchy of needs is usually portrayed in the shape of a pyramid/triangle, starting with the most fundamental at the bottom and the need for self-actualisation at the top.  An individual need to master a category to be able to desire and move upwards to a new stage.

So how does this relate to social media?

Well, I’m betting that all of you who are reading my post have at least one social media account that you feel and have the need to open at least once a week, am I right?

Aside from physiological needs, which obviously need to be physical, our social media has been providing all the other stages of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Let me introduce you to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Social Media:

PS: Note that the social media sites listed below are not restricted to one stage of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it could overlap with two, three, or even all the stages. Also, there are still many other examples of social media that could be applied to this context. So below are just a few examples.

Safety- Linkedin, where you are able to find jobs and networks that could open doors for your career path.

Love/Belonging- Facebook, Google +, where you are able to reconnect and gain relationships, whether it is in the form of acquaintances, friends, lovers or family.

Self-Esteem- Twitter, where you are able to share your experiences, achievements that will help you boost your confidence and gain respect from others.

Self-Realization- Tumblr, Blogspot, Wikipedia, where you are allowed to share your knowledge, interests, inner thoughts and your creativity.

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 3.53.36 PM

I really think social media has become a dominating factor in our lives. Whether we think of it just as a helpful tool to keep in touch with old friends, make new ones, or to be able to share our thoughts, just being able to access to all types of social media can actually make our life more fulfilled. Your thoughts?

Cheers,

Val.

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39 thoughts on “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Social Media

  1. I don’t think it’s a matter of hierarchy, I think each platform serves its own particular purpose. Instead of a pyramid, I visualise different types of social media as a Venn Diagram. Each platform serves its own purpose but might also cross over to another social media’s purpose, which in turns serves our own specific needs.

    • I actually wrote that each social media is not restricted to a stage and there are so many social media that could be included. But yes, I agree with you, it could also be made up as a Venn diagram because it many of its attributes overlaps with another.

  2. Hi Val,

    Nice writing. Very good!! I love it!! in fact, i learn a lot from your post. Val, what is the danger if they rely on the social media to meet their need? I really agree, that social media plays a huge role in our society these days, it makes our life easier too sometimes.. Hahaha.. but most people are really attached and find their security, fulfilment, and even create their own identity in social media.. My question, what do you suggest that we can balance our lives that we are still ‘up to date’ and the same time, we are having a real life, living in a real world, meeting real people, showing a tangible love and care to our own neighbour.

    Could you give me some ‘enlightments’, heheheh..

    cheers,

    deb

  3. hmm interesting. another possibility that Maslows’s hierarchy can relate to social media might also go like this: safety – owning a social media allows them to be found more easily or to get connected to people thus increasing sense of security, belonging – then people started to feel like a sense of belonging to a group of people that use the same social media i.e youtubers, facebookers etc. Esteem – started to matters when people started to compare friends, likes, followers, photos etc. self-realization – when people started to use social media as a platform to express and promote themselves. so each platforms of hierarchy in Maslow’s diagram does not necessarily represent a specific social media but it represent behaviors of people that uses a particular social media.

  4. Up to certain level, I think social media are able to fulfill human physiological needs. Although it cannot provide the physical objects of the human needs such as the actual house or clothes, they do provide us with the platform in which we are able to access and share information so that we can make a well informed decision about our needs. Examples include websites such as realestate.com.au and property.com.au and also online shopping websites such as ebay that can provide us with variations of products and price ranges. Therefore, in my opinion, social media can partly fulfill physiological human needs according to Maslow hierarchy of needs.

  5. I think Facebook definitely crosses into the Esteem category, as does LinkedIn. But this is another interesting way to visualise the role each platform plays. Personally I think the roles/functions of social might be better visualised in a Venn diagram due to the overlapping nature of their services/applications.

  6. Hi there,
    Well I think that after the term social media is firstly coined, there has been a growing needs for us to be socially accepted in these ‘social media’. As our world keeps on evolving and that technology becomes even more integrated into our life, we have a tendency to be more dependent on these social media platform.

    I believe it is true that as our dependencies on these social media keep on growing, we are somewhat more affected by these social media. I mean, if people are wishing happy birthday on our birthday, we will feel that we are being loved. Socially, but not Physically.

    So in our generations where technology has become an integrated part of our lives, social media would be able to fill our needs “maslows’s hierarchy”. Its interesting to see that perhaps maybe one day, we only need social media to fulfill our psychological needs?

    Have a good day

    Kelvin

  7. I think that it’s true that the social media does, to a certain extent, provide a certain sense of security and belonging in this modern era. The social media isn’t essentially a human need–definitely not something we cannot live without.

    But funny enough, we spend so much more time on the social media instead of focusing on our physiological needs–I know people who are practically on Facebook 24/7 yet never bother to shower (yes, gross)…or people who lose sleep over browsing and stalking people online.

    So I think that as much as we would like to say that we can live without social media–the awful truth of it all is…we can’t.

    Social media has officially become a physiological need in itself.

  8. Hi valen, nice article.
    Personally, I find social media very useful in providing information such as contacts, activities, locations, products, etc. They are of course useful for both leisure and business purposes. On the contrary, however, some people may not be aware that the information that they share could be a little to personal that others could take advantage for, or may offend / disrespect others.
    Social media is a quick powerful tools to spread knowledge if used responsibly. It is accessible almost anywhere anytime with just clicks away on our mobile devices.

    So, yes… Social media has changed my life. It introduces me to people I have never met, takes me places I have never been, shows me things I have never seen, tells me story I have never heard.

    🙂

  9. I think the social media is now has become a thing that almost every single person in the world is forced (by the development of technology) to have a new way of how to fill up their needs. We are not limited with creativity, as the existence of the internet really helps us to explore the world without really “travelling the world”. When we have various creativity, competition arises among us where we have an intention to present the best innovation. I am seeing this as the outcome of the need of our self-esteem, as we want to make ourselves feel good by having our own creation appreciated.

  10. For me, this is quite mind blowing. The fact that the needs of people in 1943 and 70 years later, humans still have that same needs. Only today, we have more ways to achieve it. And easier!!!

    Seems like it’s so easy for us to achieve that hunger for psychological needs. (I.e getting likes on Instagram or Facebook). Very interesting article and I’m sure I can find a creative way to figure out the next trend by sticking to the same principles of Maslow’s hierarchy.

  11. Wow. This is actually very interesting.

    Never really thought that you can categorise the different networks into different needs.

    Great topic and great read.

  12. Couldnt agree more, yes it is true that within this globalization era, almost all the people just cannot live without technology and social media stuff,its just too powerfull and without we realise its just become part of our life and we feel way more secure and comfortable with that ,and this habbit shift our our interest and perspective to always looking for somthing that makes our life easier , quicker , faster without making too much effort , yes u can get lots of positive impact from that, but also huge negative impact especially in humanity such as : interaction betweeen people .

  13. Social media…definitely not the same as traditional media – like TV, papers and mags, radio, internet and search engines…is fast taking over.
    Taking over very fast as people and technology develops. The push to social media is also partly driven by commercial opportunities to sale, to promote, to target diverse people segment. And obviously the speed in uptake of a particular social platform will determine its success.
    Appreciate your insight into each of the space these platform fill…

  14. For me Social Media like FB in particular are very useful to keep in touch with friends and family near and far. What I mean by near, sometimes we can be living in same city but yet we know the updates from each other FB. Some of my friends commented that they never felt we have left Australia because of my updates in FB. Some felt that we just live around the corner. With FB, I can also re-connect with my friends from my childhood, although maybe they live in America or as near as Surabaya, we still can keep in touch and as if we never leave each other all our lives. With FB we can see each other’s kids growing up from photos or videos attached. I used Google for convinience to find any information, from traveling, to health, and even a location of certain place I need to visit. Definately what I can say about social media that it serve me conviniently, because I can do it from the comfort of my home, when I am stuck in the Jakarta’s traffic, or when I was climbing the great wall of China on an icy freezing afternoon. I told my kids that they are very spoiled with this social medias and information where ever they are. I don’t know how did we all live before without these Social Medias!

    • For me Social Media like FB in particular are very useful to keep in touch with friends and family near and far. What I mean by near, sometimes we can be living in same city but yet we know the updates from each other FB. Some of my friends commented that they never felt we have left Australia because of my updates in FB. Some felt that we just live around the corner. With FB, I can also re-connect with my friends from my childhood, although maybe they live in America or as near as Surabaya, we still can keep in touch and as if we never leave each other all our lives. With FB we can see each other’s kids growing up from photos or videos attached. I used Google for convinience to find any information, from traveling, to health, and even a location of certain place I need to visit. Definately what I can say about social media that it serve me conviniently, because I can do it from the comfort of my home, when I am stuck in the Jakarta’s traffic, or when I was climbing the great wall of China on an icy freezing afternoon. I told my kids that they are very spoiled with this social medias and information where ever they are. I don’t know how did we all live before without these Social Medias!

  15. Hi,

    I love how you incorporated Maslow’s needs with social media. I actually agree with the hierarchical aspect of this. Yes social media is beginning to be an essential part of our daily life, And if you think about Maslow’s hierarchy of need, it suggest that the ultimate goal is the sense of personal achievement and meaning, finding our place in the universe, I believe that some people tend to get stuck in the bottom of the pyramid. The number one rule for social media is to engage with people and I reckon that’s how one moves up the pyramid. In the social media counterpart , we have to complete our “basic needs” before moving up to our “social needs” ultimately reaching our social optimization. And i guess, the point of social media is combining sharing with self interest isnt it?

    😀

    Thank you for a great visual representation of social media.

    Sharleen

  16. Hi Val,

    Firstly thanks for this. it really opened up my paradigm on this topic. I just wanted to put my 2 cents worth or even broaden your thoughts about social media. For me I think that we live in a society that depends on technology which some people have mentioned in earlier posts. I agree with Maslows theory and combined with technology and the fact that our society is time critical and wanting things to be done now is the reason for the popularity of social media. Some people use social media as a tool to spread the word or to share information to relatives and friends around the world. If there is a world event, news stations requests submission of pictures for them to upload which is a benefit to us. In saying that there is also some psychological concerns in regards to people being unstable and too needy and depend on the comments or likes or retweets of what they have posted which then they become subject to cyber bullying. Another concern is that of privacy law. Currently there are no privacy law for social media and pretty much “enter at your own risk”. Social Media is accessible to everyone. Some people are not aware but University Dean’s, Future Employers all check social media to see their history or what kind of person they are and make a decision based on that. Another problem is that it is subject to identity theft. I believe social media is part of that. Everybody knows what you do, where you live, where you work, where you go to eat, what your hobbies are, etc.

    To sum it all up, there are benefits and problems with social media. We live in a ever changing society and we need to create laws or find solutions that can promote social media as good rather than bad. In saying that we don’t live in a perfect world and we can just try our best.

  17. Very interesting..

    I do think that social media has become a huge part of lives today, not only for personal use but i personally believe, to some extent, it is also important for business purposes.

    The advantage of social media for business?
    Social media helps create a platform between businesses and the customers. By using social media, you can advertise your company / products and also to communicate with your customers on a more personalized level. Social media allows company’s to connect with customers while shaping their perceptions of products etc.

    On the other hand, by using social media your business can be at risk. Customers can be very critical with their opinions on your product. They have the ability to use social media as a way to express their opinion. Your company’s successes or failures are publically displayed.

    However i think the benefits of using social media for businesses outweigh the risk. Therefore, in this day and age, i think social media is also important not only for personal use but also for business purposes.

    Cheers
    Wil

  18. Hi val I came across this concept of the maslows hierarchy and it sounded interesting, so I did a bit more reading about it. I realised how humans are always in need of these 5 components on the maslows triangle. And social media is starting to be a dominant force in filling our lives with some of these needs, I see social media sites as an alternate medium from the real world to temporarily fill our mental needs.

    Have you ever been in a situation where you go out to an event or a party and you just feel disconnected from the society. Sometimes you tend to loose the sense of belonging in the environment, and I usually check my social media account in my phone to find the sense of belonging and security.

    Some people might argue that belonging, safety and esteem are not physical objects and the social media has evolved to suit those needs, but I think the social media can only act as a temporary fulfilment to these needs as it is in a virtual world. Like my experience it’s just a temporary escape and it actually doesn’t give a concrete fulfilment in real life.

    It’s just an opinion, but I guess different people’s perception of mental fulfilment would be at a different standard. I see social media as a helpful tool to connect with people and try not to depend on its temporary fulfilment to suit safety, belonging and esteem.

    • you’re right in a way, social media really does fulfill our needs only to a certain extent, but i guess it’s almost like that with everything in life. There is no constant satisfaction, and we are always in search for something to fulfill ourselves, this is where I have to say social media comes in as a helping tool for us to be able to fulfill our needs.

  19. Hi Val,

    Interesting read and analysis. I absolutely agree with your article. Social Media brings out our inner need for security and acknowledgement. People now strive to get the most number of likes and comments for posts and photos; this concept of acknowledgement is on every single social media platform; youtube, twitter, instagram, facebook etc. We are in an age where IT has allowed our generation to validate our self worth through social media platforms. It might not necessarily be bad because it is a fun way to pass your time. But i believe once people start working and enter a new phase in their lives, their priorities will change and social media will definitely take a back seat 🙂 our obsession with social media is just a temporary phase in life.

  20. I think that ironically, while being a very important part of our nowadays life, social medias tend to make certain kind of people less-sociable in real life, and even make some people neglect their human needs just for them to be able to spend more time on those social medias. As a result, instead of helping in fulfilling our human needs, social medias sometimes just simply mess everything up.
    What do you think?

  21. Pingback: The problem with surviving, and safety. | DailyParadox

  22. Hi len, I love your concept in applying social media to Maslow’s hiearchy of needs. Honestly at first i wouldn’t say this is right because I think people still can leave without social media at certain point. Yet after I think about it again, people’s trend of life has now changed (to be fair). Why would you see people with at least two phones? This proofs that we can’t deny that to be connected with others/the world is crucially important. And so how you want to be connected? Through social media you get what you needs, wants, and looking for at any time and everywhere. And not to be forgotten, though this doesn’t directly fulfill our physical needs, it is indeed a tool/reference for us to get it. Followed by giving us; safety in terms of fulfilling what we actually looking for, belongings in terms of being connected/loved with your surrounding, self esteem especially when we know that we are actually acknowledged by public and lastly self-actualization.

  23. A good article, Valen! I like the way you correlate the role of social media to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There is another side of the coin though. To a certain extent, I think social media is indeed able to fulfill our higher levels of needs. However, I believe that there are limitations to its capacity in satisfying those needs; I don’t think that we would ever be able to survive on food, clothes, shelter and social media alone.

    Our needs of love/belonging, for instance, cannot be completely satisfied by mere virtual relationships via Facebook and Google+. While these platforms are indeed tools to help us communicate with friends and else, the fact that we are living in the real, actual world means that we require physical, face-to-face interaction nonetheless. Also, we need to be careful on how girls at tender age of teens, even up to early adolescence, are prone to build their self-picture based on social media profiles (e.g. the number of likes and followers). This only serves as an insecurity mask that some girls put on to feel better about themselves (to climb up the intangible, unreal idea of social ladder), not a means of building healthy self-esteem.

    While I agree that social media has done an above-and-beyond job in keeping people connected, sometimes we just need to take a step back and realize that there are other conventional aspects of life that are simply irreplaceable.

  24. Pingback: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Social Media | sandysworldsite

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