The internet and social media have changed the world in a variety of ways. It’s created a new breed of fame seekers, spawned trolls more fearsome than any in fairy tales, and led to a few additions, like the condition commonly referred to as FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. People have become so used to receiving information constantly from websites, e-mail and social media that some literally fear being away. Business owners can, and should, take advantage of this sentiment to help market their business and increase brand awareness through social media.
The existence of the FOMO sentiment is backed up by recent research. A study from MyLife.com showed that 56 percent of peeople are afraid of missing our on events, news, and important status updates if they are away from their social networks. This sentiment translates into action. About 27 percent of the study’s participants said they visit social media sites as soon as they wake up. But it’s more than people constantly checking their updates. Another study shows that people feel left out when they see the photos and status updates of people having fun and doing exciting things. So much so that they can experience symptoms like depression and anxiety.
Some people have argued that such ritualistic use of social media is akin to an addition. But as far as addictions go, this is relatively harmless and no different than the results and usage habits of other forms of media. The last time most Americans went an entire day without watching some television either involves being a grounded teenager or some sort of power failure. And media has been sparking jealousy since the wedding announcement page in newspapers and shows like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” were around. Rather than being a harbinger for the end of society, what the FOMO sentiment suggest is that social media is becoming as important of a channel for information as television and radio, and a way for people to fill legitimate social needs for group interaction.
There are a variety of ways business owners can use this information to build better marketing campaigns. Since people want to feel like they are part of a group and a part of the action, using a brand’s social media channel to encourage discussion taps into that primal desire for group membership. For example, a restaurant can encourage people to post pictures of their meal to social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. Now, a routine trip to the restaurant gives them something to post about and a way to be a part of the group. And since food is one of the top things people like to share on social media, this tactic would increase brand awareness among the friends of the poster. They may even decide to visit the restaurant out of fear they’re missing out by not going.
Another way businesses can take advantage of people’s fear of missing out is to host events. Service, retail, and nonprofit organizations can host a small barbecue to show off their goods. Whether people attend or not, they like the idea of being invited and they will associate those positive feeling with the brand. Additionally, the audience now has more reason to check the social media channel of the brand. They will check status updates more often to be sure they don’t miss the next event.
Simple things like fan-only coupons and specials can also build that sense of belonging and urgency. If certain promotions are only available to fans on social media, it makes the fans feel like they are part of an exclusive group. Again, it brings them back to check the page often because they know they might miss out on big savings or events. Even if they don’t take advantage of the specials and deals, it’s something they can tell other people about. It’s lets the consumer feel like they are “in the know.”
The takeaway from this is that people want relevant content. About half of the people on social media networks say they plan on taking a break from one of their profiles (but to be fair, think of how many people say they plan to lose weight and quit smoking every year). What’s interesting is that 40 percent of these people only want to do it because they feel the content they receive isn’t important or relevant. The kind of content that was mentioned above would be important and relevant to the user, so brands employee this strategy are most likely to keep their fans. As a long-term strategy for gaining and maintaining social media fans, relevant content that capitalizes on the “Fear of Missing Out” is a better route to brand awareness than the “Like This Post If You Like [Insert Something Everyone Likes]” posts that some social media marketers use.