Emotional Branding Can Happen In Online Social Networks

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Over the years I’ve mentioned Maslow’s hierarchy of needs on countless occasions when looking at why Social Media and Online Social Networks have taken hold. While I’ve never taken a psychology class (correction: I’ve never passed a psychology class), I’ve always enjoyed understanding why humans do things, and then why they are compelled to share it with others. It turns out that there is a serious connection between Maslow and the current rise and success of online social networking.

From the Center For Media Research and their Research Brief e-newsletter for Thursday, December 27th, 2007 comes this: Emotional Business Bonding On Social Networks. According to a recent report called, Meeting Business Needs by Meeting Social Needs…, by Communispace, they have uncovered that human beings’ needs are being met through online social networking. They have connected "Six Social Needs" in order to help Marketers understand how to create better affinity with their Consumers.

Here are six key points from the research:

"1. Online social networks provide people with the ultimate tool for defining and redefining themselves, as evidenced in profile pages on Facebook and MySpace.

2. The need for autonomy, recognition and achievement are essential to our sense of self-worth and are fulfilled in online communities, blogs, and social networks that provide a way to develop and manage a virtual reputation.

3. People have a need to both seek and provide help to others. Mutual assistance between strangers is a phenomenon that has been uniquely enabled by the Internet.

4. Online communities are becoming the way people find, create and connect with others ‘just like me’ – people who share similar tastes, sensibilities, orientations or interests.

5. A sense of belonging or affiliation alone is not equivalent to a true sense of community. Achieving a real sense of community requires long-lasting reciprocal relationships and a mutual commitment to the needs of the community as a whole.

6. People want to be reassured of their worth and value, and seek confirmation that what they say and do matters to others and has an impact on the world around them. Meeting all 5 + 1 of these social needs generally requires the level of intimacy and facilitation that are the hallmarks of smaller, invitation only online communities."

While there may be nothing new here for you if you’re a frequent reader of Six Pixels of Separation, I think these six points do illustrate that we are moving towards a world where online reputation and personal branding are taking hold. If people connect more to one another through their personal brand online, we are going to see the connection for emotional branding in these channels. My guess is that many Marketers are looking at specific channels as fads (whether we’re talking about Blogs, Virtual Worlds or Widgets), and not paying enough attention to what the net result will be: more and more people finding and making brand decisions based not on the corporate line, but on what a mass of individuals have said, done and collected.

This can’t be a trend because it will transcend all technology and media channels. The technology (or the online social networks) will just be the platforms by which these consumers connect. Much like a search box is how people now find information online, these emotional branding connections will happen much in the same, easy way.

You can read more about it over here: Center For Media Research – Emotional Business Bonding On Social Networks.


  1. You’ve mentioned the one of the few physological models that I remember from my courses! I probably remember it because I think it’s quite true.
    The blogosphere and social media can help fulfill several of Maslow’s needs. Specifically, level 3, Beloging, can be partially satisfied by the relationships we make online. Esteem, level 4, can also be achieved. Just think of the energy directed toward Esteem. Many of us strive for high rankings on Google and Technorati. We eagerly wade through Analytics to see how popular our sites are. We count the number of people in our Facebook groups. We want to increase listners to our podcasts. Often, I think this intense pursuit of Esteem prevents us from completely reaching level 5. If we exert so much energy toward recognition, do we have time truly understand our social connections? Do we have time to explore? And, ultimately, can anyone reach self-actualization in this transitioning space?
    Happy New Year, Mitch.

  2. Great points Sean… I would add to it that if we are spending that time looking at how we’re doing and ranking, what are the odds that we’re able to still create content with authenticity while constantly worrying about how (and where) we “rank.”

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