Maslow's Hierarchy of Organizational Social Media Needs

Aaron Silvers, Weblog, Sept 24, 2010
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I think the idea of a hierarchy of organizational social media needs is interesting and will appeal to a lot of people. That said, I have some significant reservations that are only moderately mollified by pointing out that this model applies specifically to collaborative organizations, and not looser forms of organization. Take goals, for example. "Without business goals," writes Aaron Silvers, "you're dead in the water when it comes to making social media work, internally or externally." Maybe, from a business point of view, but if you expect all the participants, even in the business context, to share these goals, you are mistaken. A social network needs to address the diverse goals of its members, and not to conform to some centrally defined business-driven goal.

The additional layers are equally suspect, even within an organizational context - it's almost as though they've been taken from a Harvard Business School seminar on team-building and applied to online communities and social networks specifically. Thus, observations about 'governance', 'community' and 'collaboration' really misinterpret the social media context. And don't get me going about putting 'win' at the top of the pyramid. You can't just take existing business concepts and apply them to social networks; this simply ignores the fact that social networks are different.
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