Social Media Two Factors of Motivation

I saw a presentation from Lego regarding their social media presence back in about May, and I was jealous (this article summarises Lego’s approach). They have it all; a solid strategy for their online presence, a global team to support it, a growing community, user generated content, and co-creation.

It was presented as something attainable for all of us but I had my doubts, after all Lego has a simple, versatile product. A product that connects to childhood, play and creativity.

Social Media is increasingly important for companies, it is often where customers first look for a company or ask a question, but not all companies can use social media in the same way. There have been a few examples over the past year where companies have tried to use social media according to all the principles of openness that that should work – only to have it backfire. Most notably JP Morgan who last month tried to launch the hashtag “#AskJPM” encouraging Twitter users to take part in a Q&A with Vice Chairman James B. Lee.

It sounds like a good idea; banks need to increase the openness and trust they have with customers, at least that’s how I imagine the idea was sold internally. But JP Morgan has been hit by waves of financial scandal and at the time of the invitation tweet was in the middle of negotiating a huge settlement over mortgage issues. The Twitter backlash was fierce – you can still read it next to the original invite tweet.

It’s easy to see that there’s a difference between the emotion people have for Lego, vs that they have for banks. Particularly after almost five years of crisis. But what about a “happier” brand, perhaps a coffee company. Well last year Starbucks launched a hashtag #SpreadTheCheer around Christmas – sounds festive. Except that Starbucks were right in the middle of a tax controversy so that hashtag was soon hijacked.

So what does all this mean – should you stay away from Social Media every time there’s a “public relations” issue? No, that would be a short-term and self-defeating approach. Instead your social media strategy should include how to act when there is a reputation question, your social media experts should be flexible and able to handle both positive and negative situations. And perhaps most vitally companies need to realise that for the customer there is no difference between PR/communications/marketing – anything said about your company in any medium is fair game.

I’ve been thinking of this along the lines of Herzbergs two factor motivation theory. Herzberg theorised that there were some factors that were motivating in a workplace, and some factors that were not motivating by their presence but were de-motivating by their absence. I’ve been thinking about what needs to be present for people to be motivated to support your brand and how that might relate to the traditional ideas of an engagement ladder. This is what I’ve come up with so far.

The engagement ladder is the engagement companies should aim for, traditionally it’s thought that people take small steps along it. Of course it’s possible that if your company is facing a high profile legal issue that your customers will share content about you – but it’s unlikely to be positive.

Companies that are working with a “hygeine” strategy can still work on co-creation, but then not via social media, do it with core groups at specific innovation days.

There isn’t a one size fits all answer on how to use social media successfully. It will depend on the industry, the target audience, the business strategy and the reputation of your company. But every company can think through a strategy, and every company should be thinking about social media both from a motivated/marketing perspective and from the hygeine/reputation perspective – and be ready to use both sets of tactics.

Would you work harder for more money?

What motivates you? Do you know? Do you think you would work harder for more money?

Well, possibly not.

According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs once our physiological and safety needs are satisfied, we need belonging, esteem and self-actualisation – things that can’t be bought, and that having more money won’t really deliver.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Look around at your colleagues, I’m sure you’ll find someone motivated by the social aspects of work, the guy who gets everyone coffee, who knows everyone’s story, and who might organise social events for the team. They’re sometimes called “the glue”.

You might also find someone who seems to be motivated by money. Perhaps they’re rather interested how their salary compares to that of their colleagues. Dig a little deeper; money might be how they measure status or achievement. Most of my team measure achievement by projects completed, problems resolved or value delivered and are motivated by that.

For truly creative types the act of creating, the opportunity to be original is motivating in itself. This can also apply to those deep geeks who are into writing “elegant code” as one of my favourite geeks calls it.

So does money come into our motivation at all?

Yes. If we believe we are underpaid it is demotivating according to Herzberg who categorised salary as a “hygiene factor” in his two factor theory of motivation. But paying ourselves more won’t proportionally raise our motivation.

How do these factors play out?

There’s currently a big debate in the UK regarding bonuses being paid to RBS investment managers. The controversy arises because the UK government now owns a significant part of the bank, and in the current economy it’s very difficult to see people who could now be seen as government employees getting a bonus when no other government employees will. But the argument from RBS is that they will lose the people needed to rebuild the bank if they cannot pay bonuses competitive with other banks (not all banks are limited in this by government ownership, Barclay’s for instance has not taken a capital injection from the UK government).

This can be framed as a motivation problem. The RBS needs to motivate its employees to rebuild the company, but they employees are demotivated to the point of leaving if they do not receive a bonus in line with competitor companies. Perhaps because they seem themselves as then not being paid a fair salary that reaches the “hygiene level” prescribed by Hertberg, or because they are status driven and measuring that status by money earnt. At the time of writing it seemed likely that the UK government would relent and allow RBS to pay bonuses as planned.

However at least one eminent commentator, Henry Mintzberg, argues against bonuses, particularly for executive level managers. In his view bonuses do not reward actual contribution, and are likely to motivated the wrong behaviour of executives.

Do you know what motivates you?


Maslow’s hierarchy Work found at / CC BY-SA 3.0