Fast forward 64 years to a new cyber-psychology view: people are looking to fulfill six essential social needs online, and businesses that help facilitate those needs are more likely to create deeper emotional bonds than usually exist between companies and customers, according to a new research report released today by Communispace. These deeper relationships in turn result in greater consumer insights, advocacy and loyalty.
The Communispace researchers, building on the work of social scientists, have identified the specific social needs that are met through participating in social networks.
- 1. Expressing personal identity:online social networks provide people with the ultimate tool for defining and redefining themselves, as evidenced in profile pages on Facebook and MySpace.
- 2. Status and self-esteem: 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. Giving and getting help: 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. Affiliation and belonging: 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. Sense of community: 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. Communispace tapped its other research on social networking behavior and found that when companies meet the full range of social needs, they gain trust and deep insights into their consumers and community members - marketing nirvana. And when companies go still further to actively embrace and act on people's ideas they fulfill a sixth social need:
- 6. Reassurance of value and self worth. 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. online social networks provide people with the ultimate tool for defining and redefining themselves, as evidenced in profile pages on Facebook and MySpace.