Study shows that thanks to social media we’re now into “cyberdisinhibition”

New buzzword of the week – ‘cyberdisinhibition.’   According to Ad group Euro RSCG this means “the increased willingness to behave online in ways that wouldn’t be attempted in person” (source Marketing Charts).

Cyberdisinhibition comes out of the report ‘Social Life and Social media.’   Conducted among American social network users it shows how on one hand social media both brings people together, and on the other how the anonymity of the Internet makes people bolder to the point of recklessness.

Online interaction no longer ‘sad’
One of the things Euro RSCG looked at was to gauge the acceptability of socialising with people online.  Women more than men were more likely to agree that electronic interaction is more convenient and that online groupings can be truly ‘social.’

Though both men and women disagreed with the statement that online soclialising is for sad, anti-social types (something I still occasionally hear), women were much more likely to disagree at 65.7% vs 57.6%.

Other trends in the report include the move towards ‘hyperlocal’ – using technology to create connections with people and businesses in the immediate vicinity.   Foursquare is obviously a good example of this, as well as various applications that sit on smartphones that allow you to explore your immediate area.

And what about cyberdisinhibition?   With 43% feeling less inhibited online, this “can lead consumers to do ill-advised, inappropriate things such as engaging in flame wars, cyberstalking and posting compromising or defamatory content that can be damaging to reputations all around.” The ever talked about example of employers stumbling across so called inappropriate Facebook pictures is a case in point.

Perhaps more relevantly this business of consumers losing their inhibitions online also means they are more likely to blast away if they don’t like something about your brand or products, with 20% – or 24% of males – feeling empowered to lash out at brands online.

The obvious conclusion is that this is as much about ease of use (send a tweet in 30 secs) and evidence of success (enough brands listen and react), as it is about not being shy to voice your opinions when you are behind a computer screen.

However the study concludes that as no offline contact can breed more extreme views, brands should try and marry off and online elements of contact – I assume this means something as simple as directly getting in touch with a complainer, and not via the Internet!

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