The Psychogenic Needs of Social Media



If you have vivid memories of sitting in a high school desk, listening to a potentially droning voice wax eloquently about our subliminal desires and Freudian egoes, you probably were in Psychology 101.

As a marketer, your high school self may not have known that psychology would most likely be one of the most important languages to be fluent in for any success at all in marketing.

Besides a good sense of standard written English and solid ingenuity, psychology is the key to successful marketing and an actual translation from marketing efforts to a return on investment. Our specialty at Social Media Contractors is translating that importance and making the psychology of your customers paramount to a general marketing strategy.

Not quite sure what that means? Well, let’s think about it in terms of Murray’s Theory of Psychogenic Needs. Renowned American psychologist Henry Murray is most poignantly remembered for his theory that our personalities are simply a reflection of behaviors controlled by needs– most of these function on the unconscious level.

His entire list of psychogenic needs is numerous, but we’ll just share a few most relevant to social media marketing:

Achievement: To overcome obstacles and succeed

Acquisition: To obtain possessions

Affiliation: To make associations and friendships

Contrariance: To be unique

Exhibition: To attract attention

Exposition: To provide information, educate

Play: To relieve tension, have fun, or relax

Recognition: To gain approval and social status

Understanding (Cognizance): To analyze and experience, to seek knowledge

Even just reading through this list, you’ll probably identify a few different things, including 1. your motivations for marketing, or 2. the reasons that you think your clients might want to connect with you through various marketing efforts, including but not limited to social media. Is the purpose of your marketing to exhibit a particular product and attract attention? To acquire something (most likely a financial return) on your efforts? To gain social status for your brand or product? To expose or educate customers on the goal of your brand? Marketing is a culmination of these psychological desires. The first step is identifying the desires of your customer, and filling them in a meaningful and valuable way.

So as a marketer, why work with a social media company to figure this out? Well for one, social media is an instant way to understand the desires of your customer. With an analytics-driven strategy, a marketing firm like SMC can move quickly and react to a dynamic customer and troubleshoot for a more effective marketing strategy as a whole, not just digital. By posting in a variety of different mediums and methods (think funny photo, think witty banter, think informative blog), we can explore what your customer really, truly wants (or more importantly, needs) and how to provide that for them in the most efficient manner possible.


If you subscribe to Murray’s theory, the idea of using a business like SMC (and we happen to have a collectively massive amount of experience in audience psychology) makes a lot of sense. We love identifying the needs and personalities of customers– it’s the most intellectually stimulating type of challenge. You might think you know your clients– but do you know what and why they need?

Reprinted By Permission

Image Credit: CC by Allan Ajifo

About the author: Maggie Happe

Maggie Happe is a recent graduate of Creighton University and a contributor to Social Media Contractors.

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