Social media and human need satisfaction: Implications for social media marketing

Reference: Zhu, Y., Chen, H. (2015). Social media and human need satisfaction: Implications for social media marketing in Business Horizons, Article in press


Social media has become an integral part of people’s lives whether they intentionally access social media platforms, or they come up as suggestions on phone applications or internet pop up sites. Moreover, it has become a tool for companies to communicate messages to their customers, so a B2C communication tool.

An increase of investments in advertising on social media platforms was what most US based companies did in order to stay connected to their customer and also attract potential customers’ and serve them better. However, studies have proven that most of these advertisements on social media platforms didn’t impact most of the consumers’ buying decisions and left people with negative feelings towards these ads. One of the main reason for that finding, is that people connect themselves on social media for the purpose of interacting with other people and finding long lost contacts from the past or maybe just to be entertained on the web, whereas, marketers’ main goal with their presence on  social media platforms, is to sell their products or services and persuade people to do so. There is no coherence between what the customers want and what the marketers have to offer them, and most of the time people ignore any advertisements provided to them on social media platforms. Marketers need to go deeper in understanding of why people connect on social media, and for what purposes, in order to create a need-congruent lens, meaning, to adapt people’s expectations and needs to what the company and the message conveyed on social media can offer. For this reason, this articles wants to answer the question: “what exactly are the needs behind these purposes and how should we use this knowledge for social media marketing?” To be able to answer this question,  two things must be taken into account: the type of messages posted by the person on his/her social media accounts and what basic human needs is answered and satisfied when a person is connected on social media, will help marketers identify the different needs conveyed by different people.

As mentioned in the article: “ social media marketing campaigns must help people satisfy their needs, whether this takes the form of building relationships, enhancing self-presentation, feeding self-esteem, finding solutions, or simply admiring beauty”. So this is a challenge most marketer face nowadays, to decide on the precise social media platform to be present on depending on the message they are trying to convey and the type of product or service they would like to present and make people aware of, and also to target the right people and answer all kinds of needs, from primary and basic to luxurious needs.