In an article called “Why Do People REALLY Tweet?“, the author Beirut*, measures our tweeting habits according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
Ms Beirut asks why people would spend hours tweeting to complete strangers they’ve never met. She later deduces (interpreted below in my own words, and omitting the ones that double up and that I think are kak) that we tweet because:
- we want to build relationships (as a more base need, we want to have fans. More followers. “Moar!! Give. Me. MOAR!”)
- we want to validate ourselves (cos nothing boost our confidence like other people thinking we’re funny, smart or retweetworthy! or being connected to other totally cool people 24/7);
- we want to express ourselves creatively (via thinking of funny / smart stuff to tweet in 140 characters or less);
- we want to improve ourselves (via reading lots of articles posted by our peers so we can “be a part of the conversation”; or crowd-sourcing solutions to our research problems ie. what everyone had for breakfast thereby increasing the likelihood of knowing the toast-to-cereal ratio in your timeline. Which is totally cool);
- we want to belong / fit in / be “in on the joke” (because I can totally relate to @msFrankieB who has so many windows open on her computer that she can feel a draft. LOL)
- and basically, we want to be famous / popular (because real fame is having like, a gazillion followers that hang on to every word we tweet).
The above are mutually inclusive. We cannot have one without the other.
I have a confession. The reason why I started tweeting was because all the cool kids were doing it. I wanted to be cool by association, and then, when my friend Alex jumped (into the twittering inferno), so did I. And now I tweet. I tweet because I am, and because it’s fun. FTW!
So what can we learn here? People are influenced by other people. The top tier of Maslow’s cool triangle of cleverness, says we all need self-actualisation. We all need to succeed. Tweeting as all about “me”*. It is a selfish indulgence designed to stroke my ego and to give me a platform through which to be “myself” and as a double-whammy, it helps me succeed, because, it makes me cool by association.
The real question is however, how am I being shaped by Twitter and how, as a result, and I shaping my tweets? Am I still me on Twitter?
Maybe that’s why clever brands do so well on online. They can get away with not being a real person. Being just an amorphous preconceived identity, living in a brand cloud made up of brand bubbles, constantly adapting to consumers’ behaviour. Creating and managing perceptions, creating a “me” that’s acceptable to us. Someone cool!
You can read Beirut’s article here and make up your own mind: http://tweepi.com/blog/2011/06/why-do-people-really-tweet-the-psychology-behind-tweeting/
* Turns our Beirut posted this article for the first time in 2009. Wonder why she rereleased it 2011? Maybe she needed to be revalidated… http://blog.thoughtpick.com/2009/08/why-do-people-really-tweet-the-psychology-behind-tweeting.html
“The basic premise of this theory is that humans are born with certain needs, which can be categorized into levels depending on their degree of importance. Our most fundamental needs are physiological needs, and then safety needs, love needs, esteem needs, and finally the need for self-actualization. The idea is that as we fulfill our most basic needs in life we are able to move upward and fulfill the more complex needs represented higher on the hierarchy. We will not seek to reach higher levels, however, until our most basic needs are realized. http://www.guidetoonlineschools.com/library/maslow#ixzz1Q5dw2nkf”
* Read more about the Philosophy of Self here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy_of_self - thank goodness for Wikipedia!
We can assume the same for any online platform that enables the participant to fulfill the same needs through self-publishing. For the sale of the argument and in response to the original article we’ll focus on Twitter.
Check out what the populus of Twitter loved and hated in 2010.