3.6 Social media options motivation

Learning Objective social media options motivation: recognize and determine social media options for using motivational methods and structures for subject areas.

Reading time: approx 9 minutes

Exercises: Exercises are in the PDF of all exercises of this course. Download it from here.

Basics social media options motivation

Derivation of options for action for strategy definition:

We derive the options for action in the following areas and in this order:

Topic areas: we use this to determine in which markets / sub-areas of markets we operate with social media. 

User benefits: we decide on one or more user benefits that we benefit through our social media strategy. The user benefit creates the attractiveness of our social media strategy. 

Usage formats: we use this to determine which usage formats we want to use in the selected markets. The usage formats used have a major influence on the competitiveness of a strategy because they define the performance of the social media offerings. 

Participation: through the participation of social media users we achieve significantly more impact – as long as the participation also has the desired effect. What we should secure through our strategy. 

Motivation: Through motivation, we ensure the use of our social media offerings and the desired effect. Depending on suitability, we can motivate individually and situationally or use comprehensive motivational structures to turn this component of our strategy into a competitive advantage. 

Social media channels: The social media channels used are the connections to our users and are therefore indispensable. Since they also represent the technical basis of our strategy, they have a direct influence. We make sure that we align our strategy with the potential of markets and social media and adapt the use of channels to the strategy instead of aligning the strategy with the channels used.

The options for action are the basis for the strategy and essentially define the competitiveness of our draft strategy.

Derivation of the options for action for motivation methods and structures

As a reminder, motivation methods and structures are components of a social media strategy that are relevant to success. The more we succeed in motivating social media users to behave in a desired way, the more successful our strategy can become.

Motivation explanations

Sources of motivation: we know intrinsic and extrinsic motivational approaches and should be able to transfer both to our users and the respective topics and assess their effect. For extrinsic motivations, we consider their social impact/social component. Some extrinsic motivations that benefit from social media are particularly powerful. A typical example of such motivation is a positive effect on one’s own self-presentation through a certain behavior.

Temporary motivation: When we motivate users in the context of an event focused on a moment, the motivation fades with the event. If we motivate “only” in and for a content, the effect of our motivation fades with this content.

Permanent motivation: In addition, we can use systems(motivational structures) that permanently and permanently contribute to the motivation of users. For example, when we reward an achievement, like activity, with a special status or title. Systems are even more effective when they enable development, i.e. when the user can grow and advance within them.

Motivational structures can

  • based purely on software(software-based motivational structure),
  • on the motivation of users by users(user-based motivation structure) or
  • from a combination of both,(combined motivational structure).

Problems and decisions

Information deficits: if we don’t know our user groups well enough to be able to assess the effect of the different motivational sources on them, it will be difficult to achieve the impact we can with the appropriate motivational method in social media. Knowing your users is essential to successfully designing social media strategies. If we do not have this knowledge ourselves and it is not available elsewhere in the company (e.g., market research, mafos, marketing, sales), we must build up this knowledge in advance of strategy development if possible or obtain it externally.

Channel deficits: if our social media channels allow motivation only to a limited extent or not at all, we are faced with the choice of either dispensing with this tool altogether or developing a solution that solves the channel problem. One solution approach is to bundle or combine required external channels with more powerful in-house social media channels where feasible by the company. Considerations of the cost of this approach should include the effect of channel issues on the success of the strategy and the cost of the strategy overall. Moreover, channel deficits probably arise not only from a motivational perspective. We will also encounter channel deficits in user participation, in the use of usage formats, and probably also in user benefits. The sum of the deficits can make the use of external social media channels seem less attractive. Nevertheless, a renunciation of it wants to be considered very carefully. A hybrid solution of indispensable external social media channels combined with complementary but independently functioning social media channels can provide valuable services both to compensate for deficits and to secure user contacts and relationships.

Opportunities and risks Strategy component Motivation

The main opportunities arising from the strategy component of motivation lie in the leverage effect that motivation has on user behavior and in the impact that motivation has on user behavior.

Leverage effects: if we use motivational structures to encourage users to behave in a desired way, the company’s benefit from the social media strategy will grow. If this is done software-based / automated in a comprehensive way, this activates the users of the social media reach and leads to a significant contribution to the company’s success. If participation and motivation are perfectly coordinated and cover the user reach extensively and permanently, the effect from this combination increases. If we were able to combine user participation and company benefits, the leverage has a direct impact on user benefits.

Charisma: visible motivation of users not only reaches the users themselves but also makes visible the recognition given to these users. This in turn motivates other users as well.

Risks lie in an arbitrary use of motivational methods and structures. If the motivation itself has no benefit for the user, if the user only understands it as a manipulation or if the form of the motivation does not correspond to the interests and behavior of the user, the motivation can quickly turn into its opposite.

Summary of the required motivation (including motivational structures) for all topics

Motivation is an individual effect. I.e. it depends on the fact that it corresponds to what moves the individual user.

We summarize the motivations and motivational structures that contribute to our ability to be more successful than our competitors in a given subject area.

Goal and result: we recognize the opportunities to shape the competition in our subject areas through motivation and use important success factors for our strategy. At the same time, we also recognize which design options competitors can also use in these subject areas. Motivations and motivational structures that we do not use enable our competitors to gain competitive advantages.

Motivation can have a one-time effect, or it can work systematically.

Goals of the strategy component

Motivation has the goal of promoting a desired behavior. We therefore first define the behavior we want to promote and then the motivation with which we support this behavior.

We often know desired behavior from the classic forms of participation – sharing, commenting, and liking. So if we want to get users to share more content, we need to design our motivational methods and structures to reward that behavior.

However, we should not limit ourselves to the more present methods of activity but consider the whole spectrum of user activity that is important for the company.

Practice note

The objective of motivation has the logical consequence that we first define participation as a strategy component before we design the strategy component motivation.


As part of this strategy component, we make decisions for the following areas:

  • Motivation methods: here we determine not only whether we use intrinsic or extrinsic motivation but also which concrete measures we use within the respective method and how.
  • Motivational structures: here we define how we motivate, i.e. whether our motivation is ad hoc or we work with motivational structures (software-based and automated), whether motivation comes from the operator or from social media users, or a combination of both.
  • Motivation goals: here we define what we motivate for, i.e. what goals we want to support with our motivation. This mostly concerns a desired behavior of social media users.


Requirements for the content of the strategy element

The strategy component Motivation should address at least the following points:

  • Motivation type
  • Motivation structures
  • Requirements for other strategy components from the contents of the motivation
  • Motivation goals – User
  • Tasks from the motivation for the company
  • Resource requirements for the strategy component
  • Interactions that we should pay special attention to

Work steps

Step 1: Motivation method

We define which intrinsic and extrinsic motivations we can use for our subject area. In doing so, we are guided by the respective suitability of the subject areas for which we use the motivation. We are intrinsically motivated when we do something entirely of our own accord, without being externally influenced to do so. We are extrinsically motivated when we act due to external influences.

Example hobby:

  • If we practice a hobby and are completely indifferent to how the rest of humanity views our activities, we are more likely to be intrinsically motivated. We’re doing this all by ourselves. For us, the joy that the hobby brings is enough. The angler who practices his hobby because he finds absolute peace in it and prefers to fish all alone and undisturbed is thus our intrinsic example.
  • If we practice – the same – hobby in order to generate public recognition and appreciation, we are rather extrinsically motivated. The angler who finds his joy in the successes in competitions and in the recognition for his trophies is our extrinsic example.

If we look at the social component of both approaches, we see that our extrinsically motivated angler is more likely to be social media savvy in his hobby.

Step 2: Motivation structure

We define which motivational structures are possible for the motivational methods. The more important the social component in our motivational method, the more effective motivational systems based on it will be. It makes little sense to invest resources in a motivation system if the motivation method underlying the system is only marginally interesting for the user.

So for the motivation structure, we also need to know the meaning of the motivation method and consider it accordingly.

Example: We stick with our anglers. The extrinsically inclined angler is likely to be much more interested in awards and publicly recognizable recognition in his hobby and accordingly more willing to behave in such a way that he receives this recognition than our intrinsically motivated angler.

So if we are dealing with strong extrinsic motivations, a motivational system, a structure that systematically creates visible public recognition is a turbo for the success of our strategy because users contribute to the spread to make their own recognition visible.

Suitability of motivational structures

As a reminder, we know software-based motivational structures, user-based motivational structures, and combinations of both.

  • In software-based motivational structures, we reward users for certain behavior by giving awards that we have linked to criteria defined for this purpose.
  • In user-based motivational structures, users reward each other for a behavior that we have defined.

For simplicity, let’s stay with our anglers and apply the two motivational structures as examples:

Software-based motivational structure: our software automatically assigns awards for specific states, such as.

  • a status based on the duration of membership,
  • a status based on a number of activities such as posts,

User-based motivation structures allow users to express their appreciation for certain achievements and activities. In such a system, users can

  • Rate other users’ posts positively,
  • Confirm the competencies of other users in an area.

As sources of information for this we use the topics of the subject area and our knowledge of the users. At the same time, we keep an eye on the user benefits we create in and with the themes.

Working note

For this phase, write down the essential elements of motivation. The contents of motivation are elaborated in detail in our corresponding strategy component. The primary task now is to determine the basic options for action and then compare them with what our competitors are offering in this area.


  • Social Media Responsible
  • Market Responsible
  • Person responsible for customer relations

Process result

Preferred motivational structure, methods, goals and measures for social media strategy / strategy alternatives.

Use of the result

We contrast the motivational opportunities for each topic area with the competitive situation in those topic areas. This enables us to identify which approaches to motivation are competitive and which are less advisable. At the same time, we receive important input for the strategy definition: we recognize which motivational approaches are suitable to win and activate users for us in competition.

Information sources

Topics and subject areas, user needs, motivation methods and structures in social media.

Exercise Action Options Motivation

  • Define 2 extrinsic motivations your company could use in social media.
  • Describe examples of user-based motivation for these extrinsic motivations.
  • Define 2 intrinsic motivations your company could use in social media.
  • Define examples of user-based motivation for these intrinsic motivations.