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What motivates people to move up the social media ladder?

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During the ESADE conference, Sue Vaux Halliday presented her work on “user-generated content and its creators: consumers and commentators”. During her presentation Sue introduced the concept of social media ladder (also called social technographics ladder: see the slideshare presentation below for more information) which allows to segment the population according to the usage of social media tools.

At the bottom of the ladder you have “inactives” and at the top “creators”; the categories are (from bottom to top): Inactives – spectators – joiners – collectors – critics – conversationalists – creators. Sue gave a very good overview of the characteristics of each member of those categories and engaged the audience on the narratives she collected for her research work.


What motivates people to use social media

After her presentation my thoughts went to the drivers pushing people from one level to the other. You will certainly agree with me that the higher your climb the ladder, the less people you will find in each category. Yet, it is not obvious for me what motivates people to go upwards. While Sue was dealing with the importance of followers or fans for the people she interviewed, it became clear to me that there is a reward-based stimulus in the process.

For a collector (for instance curators on Facebook or Twitter) the number of followers is probably a good indicator of how popular you are and of the impact you may have. This is the reward.

For conversationalists, I can imagine that the number of comments they generate or the density of the conversation that they contribute to is also a reward.

For creators (bloggers for instance), the analytics (number of visitors) is the drug they are addicted to.

 

How to explain there are less creators than collectors

What I think is that people’s propensity to move up the ladder is obviously determined by their own willingness but also by a more subtle stimulus: namely the effort they have to deploy compared to the reward they can expect.

I think this is this ratio that explains the rarefaction of people in the top of the ladder. For curators the ratio “effort / followers” is low whereas for bloggers the same ratio is definitely higher. In the first case you need a limited amount of effort to quickly get followers / fans. In the second case it takes a large amount of effort, a long time and much discipline to make a blog known and read. As you can guess, the hihher the ratio the lower the motivation.

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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