We’ve been hypersocial for a while

Suddenly there seems to be a bandwagon around social media and its tipping point has been reached, the latecomers declare. The worst thing about being late into a momentous trend is to display your ignorance by assuming that your arrival heralds the tipping point.

Responsys declares that “social networks are now a true marketing channel”. This is ironic coming from what was, essentially, an email marketing company, not so long ago. The phrase ‘true marketing’ rings totally untrue in the world of social media where the basis of communication is determined by consumers and not corporations.

Responsys advertisement

Display advertisement from Responsys

But all to the good. Social media is certainly all-pervasive and how most of us consume the Internet. We link to people rather than sites, the social rather factual. We are hypersocial beings, most of us anyway, and we need to group ourselves around interests, discussions and (occasionally) brands. The hyper-social organisation is even being studied academically.

Could hypersocial be defined as ‘one who manages their social network identity, often via frequent updating of status, at the expense of real, human relationships’. And what of the hyposocial? Are you hyposocial if you have a drink with some mates, turn your smartphone off and consume some ‘old media’ like England’s World Cup campaign?

The Urban Dictionary defines it thus: “To possess a distinct lack of social skills. From the Latin prefix -hypo, meaning ‘Less than normal.’ [Greek prefix, actually, but let’s not quibble]. It is a descriptive word used to define individuals who display qualities that are against social norms, ie not bathing, use of inappropriate subject matter with peers or co-workers, distinct anti-pop culture attitude and dress. Can be shortened to simply ‘Hypo’.”

Most of us are electronically hypersocial and corporates are still trying to come to terms with a world in which they have to match the pervasive, transparent and exposed nature of social media. Marketing is becoming what it always should have been: listening, absorbing and understanding before communicating.