Transposing Maslow's needs hierarchy to digital

This is an extract from Red Ant's white paper 'Planning and creating a digital strategy'.

From his work as a clinical psychologist, Abraham Maslow devised a model for explaining the essential needs for healthy psychological development. Maslow's hierarchy of needs are used in building motivational routes by a number of different disciplines.

Maslow's needs hierarchy can be used to rate the engagement of each idea from the brainstorming session. Each particular idea may only reach certain level within the hierarchy of needs when based against the audience requirement.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs

Deficiency needs

Deficiency needs are those that must be satisfied to ensure the ideas (or individuals), existence and security. Unless the idea comprises of a very small part of a channel the deficiency needs must be met for the idea to be even moderately successful.

Physiological / functional needs

Physiological needs are elements such as food, water and air, the most basic of all needs for a human to survive. These have their corresponding needs when evaluating ideas, do they meet the aims or part of the aims of the digital strategy. If these functional needs are unsatisfied an individual's actions will be dominated by attempts to fulfil them opening up a second set of needs or more often than not causing the individual to move on.

Safety needs

In Maslow these needs relate to obtaining a secure environment in which an individual is free from threats. Transposing these into digital ideas there is a direct parallel in security, but also the factor of the barriers to entry to consider. Does the idea make the audience jump through a number of hoops and assumptions to be of any value?

These digital safety needs are most often unmet when the idea is closely aligned to internal brand perception and not audience aligned.

Social / user experience needs

Social needs are the needs for friendship and interaction within the physical world. In the digital world these are mirrored initially over user experience, not the more obvious parallel of social media networks. This is due to the role of digital and the expectation of the audience, otherwise to hit these criteria every idea would have to be through a social media network. The interaction in this place is between the audience and the idea.

Growth needs

For Maslow growth needs are concerned with personal development and realisation of an individual's potential. Within the digital strategy sphere the individual is replaced with the aims of the digital strategy and audience progression and / or evolution to these aims.

Esteem needs

Esteem needs include within Maslow the desire for achievement, prestige, recognition as well as the appreciation and attention from others. Ideas can be rated against these (consider the games and quizzes on Facebook), to see what return a member of the audience receives from the effort they will be expected to put in.

Self-actualisation/engagement needs

This is the ultimate goal, the achievement of complete satisfaction by an individual successfully fulfilling their potential. In rating these ideas these are essentially ideas without barriers that allow the audience to move from being inactive participants to being influencers and advocates and physiologically partners in pushing the digital strategy's aims.

This blog post was written by Richard Conyard

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