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The Hierarchy of Needs for Social Media Evangelists

What do you need from your job to succeed? Good salary? Short commute? Work/life balance? Everyone has their own dealbreakers and must-haves – what’s important to one person may not matter to another. These variables differ greatly from profession to profession too. I remember weighing  a competing job offer some time ago that offered a higher salary, but I was the only one they had a budget for – I would no longer be working as part of a team. That, for me, was a dealbreaker because one of the things that I like most about my current position is the fantastic people I work with everyday. Being a part of a team of intelligent, ambitious people I trust and respect has become one of my fundamental needs.

This got me thinking back to my Psychology 101 class and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. According to Maslow, an individual’s most fundamental needs (breathing, water, food, etc.) must be met first before they can begin focusing on other kinds of needs (friendship, self-esteem, etc.). I’m sure my old Psychology professor (thanks Dr. Hull!) would be happy to see that I think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs also applies to my work, albeit in a modified way.

Here’s how I would imagine the Hierarchy of Needs for the Corporate Social Media Evangelist.

Social Media Hierarchy of Needs

The Social Media Hierarchy of Needs

Physical Needs
These are the most basic needs of the social media evangelist. A salary that is competitive with what other social media managers/directors/specialists are making, the ability to access sites like Twitter and Facebook, and the knowledge and skills to use social media effectively. Without any of these basic needs, I’d think it would be very difficult for any social media evangelist to truly succeed in their jobs.

Intrinsic Needs
Along with the Physical Needs above, intrinsic needs are things that an individual must feel. These needs can’t be met with more money or a corner office, but are met with an individual’s beliefs match up with an organization’s mission. These intrinsic needs include job satisfaction, a shared belief in the mission, and a passion for the work they do. There’s a reason you don’t hear about too many social media evangelists who hate their jobs – because if/when they reach that point, there’s a good chance they aren’t going to be around too much longer.

Empowerment Needs
After the Physical and Intrinsic needs are fulfilled, the social media evangelist looks to fill their need for empowerment and to effect change. Fulfilling these needs falls squarely on the shoulders of the managers. These needs include having the top cover to take risks without fear of punishment, having their voice heard, and permissive policies that give them the ability to rally others to do the same.

Motivational Needs
As an individual’s motivational needs are met, they are more likely to remain engaged with their work and put in extra effort wherever they can. Not because they want more money or a promotion, but because they are doing challenging work that is on par with their abilities; they feel as though they’re making a difference, and because they feel a profound sense of team where they want to succeed not just for themselves, but for the others around them.

Career Goals
Maslow refers to his final need as the need for self-actualization, stating that “what a man can be, he must be.” Similarly, I have Career Goals at top of my pyramid. Do you have the ability to become all that you can be at your current organization? Is there a clear career path? Is there an end in sight that allows you to reach your full potential or is that not possible in your current organization? Being able to clearly articulate your path to answer these questions and achieve your own career goals is the last phase.

Based on my experiences, this is how I would envision a social media hierarchy of needs, but I’m more interested in hearing your thoughts – what other needs are there? Where would they go on the pyramid?

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