It seems that there is always something new that businesses have to be aware of and take into account with their digital marketing strategies. One that we have been watching for a couple of years and that is gaining increasing notoriety is FOMO. For those of you who have missed out on the acronym, that’s Fear Of Missing Out.
FOMO is described as the uneasy, and frequently all-consuming feeling that you are missing out on what your peers are doing, that they are in-the-know or in possession of more or better (experiences) than you.
By far, the most susceptible to this phenomenon are Millennials; young adults aged 16 to 35. JWT reports that 4 out of every 10 Millennials report they experience FOMO often. Amplifying this phenomenon is the onset of real-time, location-based social media channels, allowing us to be aware of what everyone else is doing, 24 hours a day.
With ¾ of people reporting they feel that others use social media to brag about their lives, the prevalence of smart phones has provided the channel to engage each other in a game of online one-ups-manship. #Hashtag events have elicited hashtags with people bragging about being there while others feel left out. 78% of this age group reports that they are more likely to spend their money on experiences rather than things and that most are interested in posting about those experiences on social media outlets.
Posts and tweets from peers portraying an image of an offline charmed or glamorous life drive relative deprivation and dissatisfaction leaving viewers with the feeling that they are somehow missing out followed by a feeling of guilt about not doing the things others are, even if it is something that they would not enjoy.
It’s not just posts from our peers that drive FOMO, it can be experienced over television, a party, a gadget or that really good burrito from your favorite food cart. Symptoms of FOMO can include anxiety, indecision, procrastination, shortness of breath, pacing, heart racing, sweating, itching, and compulsive updating of your Facebook and Twitter feeds.
An Eventbrite survey reports that 82% of Millennials rank attending concerts, festivals, and sporting events high on their list of priorities and attend at least one live event every year. The study also showed that Millennials have an overwhelming aversion to materially keeping up with the Joneses making this a bona fide trend that businesses should heed when creating their digital strategies.
FOMO has powerful potential since it heightens participation on social media platforms and motivates consumers to do more. Millennials have grown up using FOMO inducing tools, the phenomena is weaved into the fabric of their being, which means that they aren’t likely to grow out of it as they age, so brands should be thinking about how they can use FOMO in their strategies, like creating over the top, exclusive experiences to inspire FOMO and encourage people to take part. Brands tapping into FOMO by either focusing on it, easing it, escalating it, making light of it or even turning it into a positive can cash in. Powermat used FOMO to sell its products to those who never want to experience FOMO.
Several brands have embraced this fear, have leveraged their brands and have built extraordinary campaigns around it. Smirnoff produced a project called the Night Life Exchange Program that incited its viewers to post pictures about the nightlife that they were experiencing where they lived. They even held events that promoted the types of nightlife they were looking for and partnered with Madonna to draw audiences to the events. A select few were chosen from their posts to swap nightlives with someone from another part of the globe. The program elicited a huge response and garnered Smirnoff with millions of new fans, their target audience who were interested in going out and partaking of the products that Smirnoff sells.
Another brand, Heineken prompted their audience to drink responsibly with their campaign, Sunrise Belongs To Moderate Drinkers, by prompting them to tweet their Sunrise. Which pushed more viewers to watch what they drank to take part in the promotion.
(View campaign here: http://www.heineken.com/pr/enjoyresponsibly/our-campaign.aspx)
More mainstream brands have used FOMO in their brands ads like that of AT&T who shows people with other services happening upon events and finding themselves the unwitting “left out” party.
Even smaller brands such as the Eastern Idaho State Fair have cashed in on using FOMO to drive their audience.
As most viewers have an attention span of less than 10 seconds online, brands must be able to effectively draw their audience with this tactic quickly. Brands who are able to tap into this fear and can escalate it to motivate consumer actions have the potential to drive spending by driving participation online.
Although most know that this is an unwinnable endeavor, to keep up with everyone else. Brands can use this knowledge by pushing their viewers not to do everything, but to be choosier about the events they attend and make those events more engaging by tapping into the social currency.
There is also a counter-movement happening that tries to help sufferers realize that they are just as fab as those that seem to have a more glamorous life. There are tools out there to avoid FOMO and ensure the afflicted that they are not missing out on as much as they think. Some FOMO combating apps like Color (relaunched) bring brief bits of life (30 second broadcasts in brief intimate moments) to allow those who are not there the ability to share in the experience.
Time Raiser explicitly promises to never let you miss out by helping you find things coming up without missing out on the things that you have to do. Bar Space TV which is at participating bars in the U.S. televises things going on in other bars so you can make sure to catch up on what they are doing and not miss out on any of the fun.
While the counter approach preaches to just enjoy the moment and focus on what you are doing, not on what everyone else is, is out there, don’t think that FOMO is going anywhere. Watch for it to get bigger as more generations grow up in this environment.
Remember Friends Don’t Let Friends Miss Out.