Have you ever seen a long line of people outside of a store, or a huddle of people in public and wondered if you were missing out on something? Our inclination is to find out what is so exciting and possibly join in if it is worth it. This fear of missing out, or ‘FOMO’ is a psychological experience which can create anxious feelings within a person, and it convinces them they might be missing out something that everyone else is doing/eating/buying/attending, etc. The four-letter acronym attempts to describe why people make certain choices because they psychologically think the people around them might have better life experiences. So, is FOMO real and can it be applied to marketing? Let’s look at the statistics!
The FOMO sensation has been around a very long time but has increased dramatically since the internet has allowed us to see what anyone in the world is up to at a given moment. Statistics show 69 percent of millennials are afraid they may miss out on something if they don’t keep in touch with social media. That’s almost every seven out of ten millennials! Even if a business’ target market is not millennials, the internet has allowed information and photos to be posted, sent and received at a rapid pace, allowing anyone to see the interests and activities of the people in their network in a given moment. On Facebook, timelines show us “Susie Q. and 4 others like ____ detergent” or “Brandon T. and 45 others like this photo.” As a brand, FOMO can be leveraged by marketing to the Facebook friends of consumers who already like our page. On Instagram, we can show ads to profiles similar to those of our followers. The internet creates a way for the everyday consumer to share their new jobs, new pets, favorite restaurants, and any other detail they want to share, and we check these social media and other internet outlets to learn what is out there. If enough people in Johnny’s social network post about the new ice cream place down the street, Johnny is going to be influenced positively or negatively as to whether he should go there.
FOMO can also be used in marketing by sharing photos, videos, or reviews of other satisfied customers who have already used the service or purchased the product. In a restaurant study, menus which stated an item was “the most popular dish” had a 20 to 30 percent increase in sales compared to other items on the menu. Hotels found when they put up a sign which said “75 percent of people reuse their bathroom towels”, 30% more people reused their towel. Also, 68% of people trust the opinions and reviews of others online when looking to make a purchase.
The statistics don’t lie… FOMO is affecting our culture and buying habits. As the FOMO epidemic continues to grow through the power of the internet and social media, it is possible to channel this energy to help your business in a positive way. Social media, advertising, and great reviews are just a few ways to leverage FOMO in marketing. How will you use FOMO?