Although the fear of missing out (FOMO) has only officially been a term since 2013, the idea behind this angst is timeless.

Even before social media and smartphones, the idea that you were missing out on the fun happening somewhere else was a relatable experience. The cliché of someone sitting at home alone while their peers party elsewhere has been the basis of almost every teen movie ever.

So how do we, as marketers, capture the power of this age-old experience in our communications?

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Create urgency



The idea of urgency isn’t anything new to marketers, but it’s a staple because it works! From flash sales to limited stock items, urgency consistently entices consumers to spend more money. Embracing a sense of urgency in your communications will trigger your consumer’s FOMO and they’ll be motivated to act before time runs out.

You can use visuals like an interactive countdown timer or send a series of reminders as you reach the end of a sale or discount. By giving your recipient a limited time frame to act and claim their discount or reward, you trigger their fear of missing out and make them more likely to act, click or purchase.

Run a user-generated content campaign

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Despite the age-old quality of FOMO, it’s modern incarnation is firmly rooted in social media. A recent study of Canadian millennials found that 68% had made a reactionary purchase because of FOMO triggered by witnessing someone else’s experience.

Creating a campaign that draws in the consumer and makes them feel like they’ve had a collaborative experience with your brand is the key to gaining their participation.

By inviting your audience to interact with your brand and share content related to your product or experience, you’ll create a sense of FOMO in your customer’s followers. It’s a tactic that can help boost brand awareness and loyalty, as well as attract new customers!

Find user-generated content and more with media monitoring – download our free monitoring guide for content marketers!

Cultivate exclusivity

Everyone loves a secret club. From the childhood days of treehouses with “No Girls Allowed” signs, to the ancient fabled Freemasons, nothing attracts attention like some exclusivity.

Creating a sense of exclusivity in your campaigns can activate the recipient’s FOMO. Fostering the idea of an elite club will make your recipient feel special for being offered up the content you’re serving them.

Encourage your consumers to join your loyalty program with a campaign that promotes the special benefits they’ll receive. Be sure to use imagery like a velvet curtain or words like “elite” or “private” to activate their FOMO and ensure they’ll sign up.

Flip FOMO on its head

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While the fear of missing out makes a great motivator, any human who interacts in the digital sphere can tell you it can also be an exhausting, anxiety-filled process.

I’m sure you’ve spent a late night or two endlessly scrolling through social media and feeling overwhelmed at all the fun going on around you, without you. I certainly have! Capitalize on the trend by flipping FOMO on its head and inviting your consumers to unplug and interact personally.

An anti-FOMO space where digital products are left at the door and consumers are invited to interact with your product or service face to face would make a great experiential campaign at a millennial-packed event like a music festival or spring break celebration.

Aligning against FOMO is a trendy move that would prove your brand “gets” millennials, boosting brand awareness.

Notify them

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There’s nothing that soothes FOMO like a well timed notification. Sometimes that Instagram like or quick text from a friend is all you need to reassure you that your life is just as much fun as those you see on social media. Notifications can trigger FOMO though too, like a ping from a shopping app telling you a product you had viewed is almost sold out.

In-app notifications and triggered emails containing interactive content are perfect for this kind of campaign. Let your customers know if they’re running out of time to get a deal, or if stock is getting low on a limited item. They’ll be afraid of missing out and motivated to act before it’s too late.

Closing thoughts

Clearly, FOMO is more complex than it seems on the surface. The nuances of our fears in the digital age mirror those of generations before us, and missing out on the fun still ranks high on our list of concerns. We can use this age-old fear to generate a sense of urgency and exclusivity that helps make our campaigns engaging and successful.

Meanwhile, FOMO is also deeply rooted in the age of social media and instant gratification and takes on a societal component that can be activated with collaborative user-generated content. No matter how you choose to use FOMO, incorporating it into your next campaign will prime your consumers to act and ensure your brand remains relevant in the digital world.

Guest Blogger @Zembula

Alan is the Senior Strategic Copywriter at Zembula. Connect with him on Twitter at @alancassinelli.

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