Making the most of FOMO

Making the most of FOMO

As a kid, I resented my family for not having Foxtel as I never got the chance to experience afternoons of watching back-to-back shows on Nickelodeon. During my early teenage years, I was the only one in my group of friends to not have a Nokia 3310 which meant I couldn’t spend hours playing Snake on the school bus. These were some of my first (or at least, most memorable) encounters with FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), an acronym that was added to the Oxford Dictionary Online in 2013.

Among psychotherapists there is a theory that FOMO stems from our survival instincts – that is, when we perceive others to be enjoying life more than we are, our brain sends signals that make us feel unsafe of threatened. Did not having a Nokia 3310 mean I couldn’t enjoy life as much as my mates? Maybe… Snake was pretty awesome.

For communications consultants, the concept of FOMO can be easily harnessed and there are a number of ways brands can tap into the cultural phenomenon.

1: Create an experience

Uber has mastered the art of partnering with brands and organisations to create unique experiences for customers.

All anyone has to do is check Uber’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram on either of the Uber/Messina or Uber/Kittens promotion days to see how successful these collaborations were. Social media feeds were flooded with posts about these partnerships, fuelled via the use of simple hashtags.

It’s likely those who weren’t lucky enough to post a pic with a friendly feline or chow down on gelato will be more inclined to engage in future promotions in order to capture content and be part of these one-off activations.

2: Leverage exclusivity

The recent partnership between Alexander Wang and H&M is a prime example of how to leverage exclusivity in order to create FOMO.

Alexander Wang, one of America’s most sought after fashion designers, joined forces with the fast fashion retailer to create a limited edition line of clothing and accessories. In the build-up to its global release, items from the collection were flaunted by celebrities like Rihanna and Solange Knowles. Mass hysteria ensued. When the collection finally hit the shop floor, customers stormed H&M stores with many having queued for hours (in some cases, days) in order to ensure they didn’t miss getting their hands on a piece of fashion history.

The ‘must-have’ mentality was fuelled by clever use of social media and celebrity seeding. It prompted many everyday customers to post photos with their purchases long after its release.

3: Moments in time

Another way brands can leverage FOMO is by harnessing specific moments in time. From national holidays like Christmas, to major sporting events like the State of Origin, and grassroots activities like the Colour Run, there’s no shortage of calendar dates to hook into. For Millennials, research from the University of Essex found 60% said their experience of an event was made better if shared via social media. The obvious knock-on effect is those who don’t attend or take part in an event feel ‘left out’. For brands, the challenge is to find ways to be included in these social conversations without crossing the commercial line; creating experiences that are deemed cool enough to post about by participants and wider audience groups.

For those working in PR, tapping into the sense of missing out is the perfect way to gain traction and word of mouth around a product or initiative, ultimately helping to drive interest, engagement and sales.

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